Welcome to Kelham Island
Just half a mile north of Sheffield City Centre, Kelham Island is an area that has seen significant change, from an industrial heartland to the best urban neighbourhood in the UK.
Although people refer to it as “Kelham Island”, the Kelham Island bit of the area is actually just a little man-made "islandy" bit in the middle that surrounds the Kelham Island Museum. Water was diverted from the river Don around a little passage surrounding the factories which used to power the water wheels which powered all the mills and factories.
In fact, what is commonly referred to as Kelham Island nowadays is actually the traditional area of Neepsend and parts of Shalesmoor.
So even though the industry isn't really in this area any more and things have moved on and developed, you can still see a lot of that past industry in all the old factories that cover the area that are being converted into beautiful flats and venues and pubs and bars and restaurants. You can also head to somewhere like the Kelham Island Museum, with its beautiful big bessemer landmark outside, where you can see a real glimpse into the past.
The Valley of Beer
One thing the area is known for is its unparalleled real ale scene, earning the nickname of the ‘Valley of Beer’. In fact, Sheffield has nearly five times the amount of breweries as Greater London. Big brands such as Stones, Whitbread and Bass have long since left Kelham Island, but in their place many different independent brewers have emerged.
The Fat Cat is probably the most important pub in Kelham Island, it is the one that started the whole real ale trend. Back in the eighties this was a really run down area and all across Sheffield all the pubs were run by your industrial mass-produced breweries like Stones, Wards, Whitbreads, and Tetleys.
A couple of people came and they bought The Fat Cat which used to be known as The Alma, and they changed it into a free house where they could essentially curate the best of beers from around the country. Even as this area was deprived and it was a bit of a no-go area in some respects, lots of people used to come to this area just for the beer in The Fat Cat.
Then, as they grew through the nineties The Fat Cat expanded and they started to make their own beer, creating the Kelham Island Brewery - which is still going today and is the longest running brewery in Sheffield now.
Best pub crawls in the country
If real ale and craft beers are your thing, then Kelham Island is for you with arguably the best pub crawls in the country, full of award winning pubs. Many people like to start out at the amusingly named The Bar Stewards micropub on Shalesmoor. Right across the road from that is the excellent Shakespeares with its massive menu of hand-pull drinks. It is then just a short walk across to the extremely popular, 2018 Sheffield Campaign for Real Ale pub of the year, the Kelham Island Tavern. This amazing pub is the only venue to have won CAMRA’s national Pub of the Year award in two consecutive years.
If you’re arriving to the area on the Supertram, the conveniently placed Shalesmoor stop sits right next to The Wellington, which is the tap pub of The Neepsend Brewery. From there it is a hop over the crossings to get to the likes of The Ship Inn, a historical pub which has been refurbished to a high standard in the last few years. It is said that two seamen, possibly smugglers, drowned during the Sheffield Flood of 1864 in secret tunnels under the pub.
Coming into the area from further along the A61? You might want to try out The Harlequin on Nursery Street, who’s house beers come from Sheffield’s Exit 33 Brewing Company. Going to the very opposite end of the whole area, the recently crowned Sheffield CAMRA pub of the year is The Gardeners Rest, who are the tap house for The Sheffield Brewery Company.
One of the real success stories of the area, The Gardeners Rest is essentially now community owned, which means that its locals essentially own the place - therefore it is always going to be a really cool friendly place to go. Being a community pub lots of non-profits and charities regularly meet here. It has one of the best beer gardens in the region as well, it is always worth grabbing a nice cold pint at the bar, having a walk through and sitting down by the river in the beer garden.
Beyond the beer...
But what if Real Ale just isn’t your thing? Kelham Island has pretty much everyone covered.
The Kelham Wine Bar is situated just at the end of the Ball Street bridge alongside its sister venue Graffiti Bar and Kitchen, which happens to have a lovely cocktail menu as well as a funky outside pod dining area.
Sat atop recycled shipping containers at the Krynkl complex is INC, Sheffield’s first rooftop bar. Not only is this a cool, and stylish place to come and relax with a few friends, especially in the sunshine, its cocktail menu is one of the finest in Kelham Island.
Spending time in the sun doesn’t stop there - some of the best Beer Gardens in Sheffield can be found in Kelham Island, not least the popular Riverside Kelham and its huge outside area. The recently rebranded Riverside Kelham is now run by the True North Brew Co, famous for other Sheffield venues such as The Forum, The Broadfield, The York and more. Remember to nip across the bridge for a good view of the famous and incredible artwork by Phlegm on the wall behind here.
All you coffee lovers are catered for too. The Grind Cafe in Cornwall Works is a brilliant lunchtime spot whilst The Gatehouse at the entrance to Little Kelham has recently opened to much fanfare.
For something a little more different, Kelham Arcade on Burton Street houses shop units for the likes of The Depot Bakery, and Sheffield Cheesemasters.
Amazing food venues
The Milestone is the gastropub that started the revolution of Kelham Island as a food destination. It was one of the first big food venues to pop up as the area was still a hive of industry. The Milestone might be best known for being a semi-finalist in Gordon Ramsey's Best British Restaurant series, but not only is it great for food itself, the Milestone Group has helped with the revolution of Kelham Island as an area - they own Craft and Dough just down by Kelham Island Museum, they also have a hand in INC and Jöro in the Krynkl shipping container buildings and they have also recently opened up Cutlery Works, a big food hall which has opened to much acclaim.
And what a place Cutlery Works is! Located in and named after the old Rutland Cutlery Works on Neepsend Lane, this amazing building has 14 food outlets and three bars on two floors - making it the largest food hall in the North of England.
You’re spoilt for choice here with everything from fantastic pies and burgers to amazing sushi to mouth-watering vegan desserts and everything in between. There’s even a bean-to-bar craft chocolate factory on site!
Don’t make the mistake many do of sticking just to the downstairs hall, head upstairs for a continuation of all the goodness - and if you want a Cutlery Works protip: Just find a table, download the Milestone Group App and order with no queuing, along with some hidden special offers and to earn loyalty points.
One of the newer bars around Kelham Island is Piña, a building that is easy to spot with the huge Kid Acne graphic on the wall. It is the result of a couple of people who went to Mexico and tried out the food and the drink and the culture and brought all that down into a little old workshop that exists here in Kelham Island.
Piña is not only the best place to go get Tacos, it is really cool venue with an upstairs where you can watch the sport on the screens, a downstairs where you can have cocktails and it is just a fun, nice place to go to.
Around the corner on Hicks Street is The Old Workshop, which is again situated in, well, an old workshop. One of the most dedicated craft beer bars in the whole of Sheffield, this place is very quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best bars in Kelham Island. For food they serve a selection of Pinchos from their open kitchen - think Tapas, but with the lovely fresh food stacked on slices of bread and held in place with a toothpick.
There’s no prizes for guessing what food is on offer at Stew and Oyster, situated by the beautiful old Green Lane Works entrance and clocktower. This bright and airy bar and restaurant has an amazing menu to match its wonderful, large outdoor space.
If you're looking for the really cool end of Kelham Island you have to visit Church: Temple of Fun. It is called the Temple of Fun for a reason, because it has got all kinds of cool stuff in there.
There's not only a shop from Drop Dead, there is a tattooist and a 'barcade' - so you've got lots of arcade machines and video games to play. Everything in Church is Vegan - there's a massive vegan menu of food, one of the best in the country, from Make No Bones. Occasionally they'll host events and gigs as well, one of the guys that owns this place is actually one of the members of Bring Me The Horizon the huge Sheffield band that have done really well, and he is investing back into Sheffield and into the area through things like Church, through things like Drop Dead and all this Temple of Fun stuff. It is one of the best places to come down and give a try.
Kelham Island has a good reputation for amazing events too. Every few months the Kelham Island and Neepsend Community Alliance arranges the ‘Ball Street Deli’ - where the road is closed and a food, drink and makers market is set up along the gorgeous Grade 2 listed Ball Street Bridge.
Music is very much in the DNA of the area with practice rooms and studios aplenty. Yellow Arch has seen the likes of Sheffield sons Arctic Monkeys, Reverend and the Makers and Richard Hawley practice, play and record there, not to mention International superstars such as Kylie Minogue, James, Texas and even one of the many Sugababes line-ups.
Located in a former nuts and bolts factory, The often overlooked, but really nice Yellow Arch bar and lounge is open for all throughout the day and a plethora of gigs, parties, club events and much more happen in the dedicated event space in the evenings and through to the early hours.
If you’re looking to hire a different kind of space for a party, wedding or other occasion then look no further than the amazing Chimney House by the Kelham Island Museum, or their new sister venue The Mowbray on Mowbray street.
A must-visit event is Peddler, a night market that takes place at 92 Burton Road warehouses on the first Friday and Saturday of every month. This incredible space houses a huge rotating assortment of street food vendors, drinks, makers’ stalls, art and live music. This combination of proves extremely popular, ensuring a unique, entertaining and unforgettable experience each and every month.
Into the future
And all that is not the end of Kelham Island either - there's lots more coming in the future. There is a really cool new container unit yard, called Steel Yard Kelham, being built where there is going to be loads of shipping containers with lots of little businesses in there, bars, restaurants, cool gig nights. There's even talk of a brewery and a distillery there as well.
Beyond that the old Ski Village is being done up again and renovated as a brand new extreme sport village as well, by Extreme Destinations, so look out for that in the future.
There’s so much to take in across this amazing area, and there’s probably more that we’ve missed on this non-exhaustive list plus all the new spaces opening all the time, but how will you ever know what’s going on? Luckily, Kelham Island is the only area in Sheffield to have its own dedicated app with all your listings, offers and much more so go download the This Is Kelham app for iPhone or Android now.
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