The Albert Pub, Division Street, Sheffield

I read an article the other day about the inherent dangers of underage drinking and the consequences that will befall those in later life who start drinking alcohol at an early age. Well after a bit of thought I have decided to confess that when I was 15, I started drinking beer. I can remember the night I bought and drank my first pint of beer and it something I'm rather ashamed of even to this day. You see it was not the drinking underage that was the problem, it was that my first pint was "Whitbread Trophy." I obviously now know better but in mitigation I can point out that there was not really a great deal of choice in the late 60's with regard to draught bitter - the alternative in the Albert was "Whitbread Tankard" which was a particularly vile drink that was, and still is a joke, amongst beer drinkers. The only good news was the price, 2s -3d which is 11p in new money - those were the days as Mary Hopkin used to say

As you have gathered the first pub I had a pint in was The Albert which was at the corner of Cambridge Street and Division Street opposite the City Hall in Sheffield City Centre. And the date was Wednesday, 15th October 1969. The reason for this memory is that it was also the first time I went to the City Hall to see a concert. Appearing on the bill that night were Jethro Tull, Terry Reid and Savoy Brown.

   

Photograph of Barkers Pool from April 1964, with The Albert on the far right. (Picture by C.J.Farrant)

From "Remember Sheffield in the 50s, 60s and 70s" by David Richardson, published: 2002, ISBN: 09534267-8-5

The photo shows the Albert with Tennant's signage. I am told that Whitbread's took over Tennant's in 1962 and with it some rather good beer was replaced by Trophy and Tankard

The above photo was taken in March 1974 and shows The Albert with Whitbread signage. The main entrance to the pub was just to the left of the photo.

I know very little about the history of the pub. According to Douglas Lamb in his book " A Pub On Every Corner" it first started trading, probably as a beer-house" in 1797 when it was known as the Union. Its address was 2 Coalpit Lane (an earlier name for Cambridge Street). It's name was changed to The Albert as a mark of respect for the Queen's husband and Consort Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at sometime in the mid nineteenth century. The 1881 Census notes that it was "The Albert Hotel" which seems to indicate that it was an establishment that provided lodging and usually meals and other services for travellers and other paying guests, as opposed to a public/beer house. The thought of stopping as a guest in the Albert is quite amusing!

In his book Sheffield Public Houses, Michael Liversage, remembers the pub as "dank" and "depressing" but to be truthful I have rather fond memories of the place. I used to go to a lot of concerts at the City Hall in the 1970's and the Albert beforehand was just a regular part of the night out. The back room had a rather good jukebox and in the front bar, a dartboard hung over the fireplace. I should add that it was very much a Formica and lino pub.

It closed in 1980 as it was reckoned that the building had become unstable. I read one report that maintained that the instability was due to a German bomb that had exploded near to the pub during the Sheffield Blitz of December 1940. (You can still see the damage on the City Hall). Others put the instability down to mining subsidence Anyway demolition proceeded soon after, and for many years after it remained as waste ground and then a council car park. 

 

The top of Cambridge Street taken from the corner of Balm Green. The Albert by this time was demolished 1985 

In the late 1990s, the site was redeveloped and Friday 13th August 1999 a new bar was opened by the name of RSVP. The name may have changed but the owners hadn't - Whitbread.

Photo taken November 2006 - the Albert was sited where RSVP is now

In January 2008 I received an e-mail from  a person who obviously knew the Albert fairly well.

"the manager at the time it closed was Dave Pycroft, who I know well and still see now and again in Wadsley Bridge WMC. On the day it closed he took me up to the attic and showed me a broken oak beam about 18 inches square that was broken in half and resting on another beam of equal size that had cracked under the strain, he told me that a bomb had hit the roof during the war but had not exploded! My friends and I always drank in the back room directly under these beams so I suppose we are lucky they didn't come through. Incidentally I remember listening to Joe Cocker and Frank White practicing in the upstairs room before Joe made the big time"

And so it looks as though the Albert's demise was hastened by a German UXB and not an explosion

A month later the following was posted on the excellent Sheffield History Forum

Posted 10 February 2008 - 07:24 PM

The Albert was the first pub my parents ran in the early 1970's. They went on to run the Old Heavygate on Matlock Road, The Earl Grey on Eccelsall Road and the Bradway Hotel. I remember when we first moved in Mum had to clean mouse droppings from behind the optics! It was a very spit and sawdust pub and very busy. The back room was a meeting place for the Hells Angels and once one of them was so drunk he vomited all over the floor and Mum who was about 5 foot and never took any "salver" off anyone, took him the mop and bucket and made him clean it up. My sister and I were about 10 and 11 at the time of the Albert. We used to play the fruit machine and the pinball and were quite good at it. I used to think it was like a fun house at the fair as there was a lot of corridors and all the floors sloped. We had to use chocks under the wardrobes the floors were that uneven. The practise room upstairs was off limits as it had been condemned. I remember coming home from school and Mum said I was to help with sandwiches for a band playing in the back room. The band was the Glitter Band who were playing at the City Hall and just had hits with Rock 'n' Roll parts 1 and 2. Another time Dad called me into the bar and asked me if I knew who the man was sitting on a stool with a full length fur coat on, i didn't until he told me it was Rod Stewart and I was too shy to get his autograph. My sister and I used to play on the City Hall steps and go next door to the Picciolo cafe for sausage and chips on our own when Mum was too busy in the bar to feed us. Good memories.

And on Saturday 23rd February 2013 the following article appeared in the Sheffield Star. 

 

Notes

Previous landlords of the Albert were

Albert formerly Union,
2 Coal Pit Lane, S1 became Cambridge Street
1797 - 1988 191years

1881 Mrs Hannah Naylor (3 Division Street) - see below
1893 Robert Gill
1901 Arthur Jackson (2-4 Cambridge Street)
1905 Robert Hynett
1911 John Picken
1919 John Picken
1925 Mrs Agnes C Mahony
1948 George William Swinburn
1951 George Booth

1881 Census

Household Record 1881 British Census

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
Hannah NAYLOR Head W Female 48 Sheffield, York, England Licensed Victualler
William ELSDEN Serv M Male 49 Sheffield, York, England Licensed Victualler Assistant
Annie GREATHEAD Serv U Female 13 Sheffield, York, England General Servant
Jane TAYLOR Serv U Female 24 Sheffield, York, England General Servant
John SHEPPARD Visitor U Male 34 Sheffield, York, England Iron Monger
Ada REDPETH Visitor U Female 19 London, Middlesex, England No Occupation
Thomas HYDES Servant O Male 61 Sheffield, York, England General Servant (Hotel Keepers) (Inn Servant)

Source Information: Dwelling No 3 Division St (Albert Hotel) Census Place Ecclesall Bierlow, York, England
Family History Library Film 1342118 Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 4630 / 16 Page Number 25

Sources

Remember Sheffield in the 50s, 60s and 70s" by David Richardson

Sheffield Public Houses by Michael Liversage

A Pub On Every Corner - Douglas Lamb

Sheffield History Forum

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This page was last updated on 13/05/15 16:40