Directors Visit to Kelham Island

Kelham Island Museum Iron

Our recent visit to Kelham Island was a real eye opener. I saw how quickly the area changed from our first meeting with the developer, to what it is now. Last time we had come the old building of where Kelham Works would be located was still in place. Coming back, it was strange to see it all knocked down. But that means works are officially in place to start rebuilding. At the time of our visit it was January, so it was a bit chilly, so we used that as a cheeky excuse to visit the local pubs before seeing the developer for our sit-down.

Earlier this year, the New York Times named Yorkshire as one of 52 places in the world to visit in 2014 and specifically recommended spending an evening in Kelham Island at the Fat Cat pub and the Kelham Island Tavern. So, that is exactly what we decided to do.

The first pub we went to was the Fat Cat, located just around the corner from Kelham Works. It’s a Victorian pub with a wood panel bar and walled garden, acclaimed for its real ales brewed on-site. We had a beer – the Pale Rider – which definitely hit the spot after our journey. It was a Wednesday, so not the busiest of days, but the atmosphere was unquestionably great.

Afterwards we wandered to The Kelham Island Tavern, again just around the corner. It is the only pub to have become the Campaign for Real Ale National Pub of the Year two years running. The staff was great, and the pub grub filling. We even got to say hi to “Pusscat”, The Kelham Island Tavern Ginger Cat who turned 10 this year.

We definitely felt a bit spoilt for choice when it came to pubs. After having a relaxing sit down and some food to fill our stomachs we moved onto some culture. It was approaching 3:30pm and we wanted to visit more of the neighbourhood before our long meeting.

We wondered to the Kelham Island Museum, which is another 5 minute walk from the pub. It focuses on the city’s history of steel manufacturing – one of which is Britain’s biggest surviving working steam engine. Many people probably didn’t know, but the museum actually stands on a man-made island – Kelham Island – which is over 900 years old. The museum told stories of light trades and skilled workmanship to mass production and what it was like to live and work in Sheffield during the Industrial Revolution. It’s definitely worth a visit with the family. We made our way around rather quickly as the museum was closing, but it ended up being perfect for us as we had to head off for our meeting anyway.

We met the developer of Kelham Works at The Grind Cafe, just a few minutes from the museum. It’s a new independently owned Café, which opened in 2010. We had heard it’s Sheffield’s new Hotspot on Kelham Island, so of course we had to check it out! We had our coffee along with some tasty Quiches and Salmon Fishcakes, yum!

We had a great catch-up and saw all the plans for Kelham Works. We couldn’t help but feel like this is truly something unique. Last time we met with him we had done a lot of research and had a strong feeling that this would be an amazing place to invest in. This time we were convinced. Having spent a day there ourselves and having seen such huge changes we knew it was an opportunity we just couldn’t miss out on. Especially as the city has already completed several regeneration projects in and around Kelham Island.

During our last visit we were wowed by the history of the area and the overall feel of Kelham. This time we could actually see the changes taking place. More young people were out and about, people were making their way back home or to one of the numerous pubs after work, a few more new developments had sprouted, and even the warehouse buildings overlooking the River Don had been converted into flats and offices.

It was easy to see why Kelham Island is called Sheffield’s only ‘Urban Village’. It’s full of artisan businesses and workshops. And during peak times the area fizzes with energy and creativity. We could completely understand why people have started calling it the ‘Soho’ or ‘Shoreditch’ of Sheffield. Young professionals and families live in the area and there is a true feeling of community. A feeling that ‘this is the place to be’ now in Sheffield.