A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: IIPlatform 1b, Sheffield Station, Sheaf Street
The original 1905 first-class refreshment room, re-opened in 2009 following careful restoration in which the tiling, terrazzo floor, parts of the bar-fittings and other joinery were beautifully restored. A must-see. Sheffield Midland Station’s long-neglected first class refreshment room, built in 1904 or 1905 under the Midland Railway’s company architect, Charles Trubshaw, was brought back to life in 2009. It is a splendid room with Minton-tiled walls, terrazzo floor and fine bar fittings with a long bar counter to allow speedy service. All this has now been beautifully restored. Items beyond repair were carefully replaced or replicated, including the entire ceiling with its skylight. Changes have seen a second room (a former taxi office) added to give street access and the counter has been cut back on the right-hand side. In 2013 the even more splendid first class dining room to the north was also resurrected. It is L-shaped and has pale ceramic-clad walls, large mirrors and terrazzo floor. The bar fittings and seating are, of course, new. The smaller, street side area is now occupied by a Tapped Brew Co. microbrewery which adds to the interest in this fine room. The compartmented partly glazed ceiling is carried on big console brackets. The fixed seating is new.
The old First Class Refreshment Room was originally built by the Midland Railway (company architect, Charles Trubshaw) as part of their 1905 station extension and adorned inside with Minton tiled walls and fine ornamented bar fittings. The rooms became disused in the 1960s, becoming a waiting room in the 1970s before closure in 1975.
The original mahogany bar top was removed and the ornate fireplace and features taken from the building. It was locked-up in 1976. The listed interior was left to decay until 2008 when restoration began. Sheffield Station and the attached bridges were grade II listed in 1975, the most recent amendment was in 2014.
The Tap re-opened in 2009 following a comprehensive overhaul in which the tiling, terrazzo floor, parts of the bar-fittings and other joinery were beautifully restored, while items beyond repair were carefully replaced or replicated, including the entire coved and sky-lighted ceiling. Certain layout changes were made including some minor re-configuring of the bar counter and annexation of a former taxi office to give street access, while further rooms have been added later. The toilets were created from pre-existing station toilets located in the street-side half of the building.
The only significant layout changes made to the old Refreshment Room have been some shortening and re-aligning of the bar-counter and the creation of a doorway opening through the west wall to give access to the new 'Snug Room' and the street beyond. The bar-counter would once have extended right up to the north end wall (enclosing the 'outside' door/hatch within the service area) but it now stops short by around 3 metres, with a return to the back-fitting. The back-fitting itself still projects fully up to the north end wall.
The wall tiling has been repaired/made good where necessary but is essentially original. The terrazzo flooring is also original and has been extensively restored. The ceiling, however, was badly water-damaged and had to be completely replaced. It has been exactly reproduced by handmade technique to match the original as closely as possible (by a local firm who took detailed profiles and castings of the original mouldings). For the decorating generally, expert advice has been obtained for paint colours etc.
The building is single-storey and was flat-roofed over (for basic weatherproofing) in an earlier station refurbishment – with the result that the top panels in the ceiling's 'domes' no longer function as glazed skylights and now have an opaque green finish.
The upper part of the bar back-fitting, with its central clock feature, is original and has been sensitively re-polished. The clock itself had gone missing but has been replaced with as faithful a modern replica as possible. At some time after 1975 the entire bar-counter had been dismantled to provide more storage space and the counter-front pushed back to below the back-fitting and holes cut-out for heating radiators. The counter-front is in fact the only part of the original counter to survive and it has been very carefully restored (by West Yorkshire company, Andy Thornton) moved back to its original position, and mounted on new traditional timber framing with a new wooden counter-top.
The original fireplace had been bricked-over beyond repair and the present hearth, fireplace (a salvaged version), fire-surround and over mantel, together with the modern mirror above were newly-supplied. Original door and window joinery is retained, but with modern glazed panels.
However, it is the addition, in 2013, of the former First Class Dining Room that has taken the entire project to a whole new level. The tiled and mirrored interior of this fine room (left largely to rot since 1976) has been splendidly restored and an on-site brewery and viewing gallery skilfully integrated. This large room with a terrazzo floor has an L-shaped plan with the trackside area having new bar fittings (there were none in the past) and display cabinets of bottled beers of the world, and the smaller street side area now occupied by a microbrewery. The Tapped Brew Co. began brewing on-site in January 2013, utilising a 4 BBL kit.
Considerable effort has been put into the beer range, so not only is the Tap an attraction to train passengers and those with an interest in historical buildings, but also to serious beer lovers. In addition to the eleven handpumps, there is a very extensive range of internationally sourced bottled beers.
In 2010, the Tap won the National Publican Food and Drinks Award Cask Pub of the Year, the Modern Railways Restoration Award and a CAMRA/Heritage England Pub Design Award (Best Conversion to Pub Use). The Sheffield Tap has been lovingly restored and as one of the UK’s last surviving historic railway buffets, is a must-see. The Tap became an Asset of Community Value in June 2016. Soon after, the owners of the building, Network Rail requested a review. This was subsequently rejected by Sheffield City Council.
Other historic buffet bars include:
• Bridlington Station Buffet, Station Approach, Quay Road, Bridlington, YO15 3EP
• Centurion, Central Station, Neville Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5DG
• Stalybridge Station Buffet, Railway Station, Station, Rassbottom Street, Stalybridge, SK15 1RF