The Old Heavygate Inn - Crookes Sheffield

Just recently it was announced that the Old Heavygate Inn was to close permanently, and that the site was going to be a residential development. Over the last couple of years people have contacted me and stated that the pub is part of Crookes and Walkley's heritage and that it should be listed or even given protected status. Leaving aside the economics and demographics relating to the closure of the pub, it must be said that there is nothing of architectural significance in the building at all. Various breweries over the years have seen fit to "renovate" and "modernise" the building, and so any original features it did have, have long gone. Sadly there are just no grounds whatsoever for preserving the building for posterity.

The actual pub came into being in the nineteenth century, but the building prior to that may initially have been a farmhouse and then at the beginning of the eighteenth century became a place where tolls were collected. Above the doorway to the bars is this date stone stating the year 1696 and the initials of  the owners. I seem to recall the E standing for "Ellis"


On a sparsely named  map of 1637, Steel Bank  is named and there's evidence of Heavygate Road already existing. The name could well predate this map and could be an ancient name that's survived. Certainly Crookes was connected to the village of Owlerton by the pack horse track which descended Walkley Lane and continued to Owlerton.

There has been a discussion over the years as to how the building/pub got it's name.  One explanation is that it is related to the name of a field adjacent to the farmhouse, and the gate that secured it. Another is that it is named after the " heavy" gate was placed across the road where tolls were collected But my preference is for this explanation. 'Gate' probably doesn't mean gate here. It's more likely to mean 'road' from Middle English derived from Old Norse 'gata'. So a 'heavy' gate is a steep road. And 'Heavygate Road' is a tautology, and the pub sign is a misunderstanding. A variation on this is that heavy means muddy or hard going and gate means road.

In the book "A Short History of Walkley" by Albert Stacey (1985) he states that.

"Later the road that went over Steel Bank became a turnpike road and a heavy gate was placed at the point where Heavygate Inn was later built. The first licensee of the Heavygate Inn was John Webster. He was keeper of the Tollgate. His family had farmed Steel Bank Farm years before. In the time before the Heavygate Inn was built in 1698 a survey was made by Harrison in 1637 and a view from Steel bank was mentioned where one could look down on the town of Sheffield....."

Sadly he does not give a source, evidence or exact dates for the above statement and so I cannot use it as a fact. But he does indicate that the "Heavygate Inn was later built" which seems to infer that the Inn replaced an earlier building.

According to a 1855 map, the area is still pretty much open countryside . But when the tolls were abolished in the mid-nineteenth century, it is thought that it was then that the Heavygate became a pub. 

Rather surprisingly additional information on the pub is sparse to say the least

The pub was certainly doing business by the Christmas of 1876 because The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated 3rd January 1877 reported that William Guest the landlord had been found guilty of "having his house open for the sale of liquor at 11.45 on the morning of Christmas day". PC's Johnson and Moore seem like a right bundle of Christmas cheer! Still it landed William with a fine of over £80.00 in today's money plus costs - somethings never change! 


The next report is from the same newspaper but dated 24th July 1884 in which Mr John Ridden is conducting a bailiff's sale by auctioning goods in order to recoup rent owed. I am unsure who is the defaulter but my hunch


is that it may have been the landlord. At least the parrot was sold with his cage!

The final report is from The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated 22nd September 1896 which showcases the annual exhibition of the now defunct Walkley Floral and Vegetable Society 

The only other element of note I came across was a cutting from 1896 when the then landlord roasted an ox to celebrate the bi-centennial of the building.


And apart from these reports that is it. The Sheffield History forum has this information

Old Heavygate Wharncliffe Road or 114 Matlock Road, S6
Open 1871 Closed Span 137
Comments - 114 Matlock Road - (Date stone above door reads 1696.) Earlier 1871 William Osborn 1948 Albert Allison

and also this information that was posted in 2007 by Barbara M









"This was my parents first pub that they managed for Whitbread Brewery , they moved in after the licensee Albert Allison retired in 1969.The brewery updated the premises putting the toilets inside etc to what it is today ......that is if it's still open ,Barbara M
This photo was taken the day they moved in as Albert Allisons name is still over the door !! Yes , I was surprised too......when my parents took over part of the upstairs was a " Club Room " , I remember thinking it was like the Dickens book with all the cobwebs hanging down , the one with the wedding breakfast !! It hadn't been used for years & there was lots of pots & plates etc , don't know what happened to those !!
In the picture is the outside toilets that the men used & if any women went in , Mum let them use their toilet upstairs !!
There was a snooker room in what is now the lounge & the men carried there pints from the bar through what was the private kitchen & my Grandmother was sat watching the T.V & she spoke to them all as they passed through....she was very popular !!

After about 3/4 years my parents moved to the Red Lion in Bridgegate , Rotherham & finally retired from the Dene Brook, Dalton Parva, Rotherham in the mid '80's".

Another contributor noted " Top of Matlock Road off Heavygate Road. Only ever went in there twice. The first time (early 60s) it had bar made up of two barrels and a plank....and it went quiet when you went in. The second time it had been refurbished and looked like every other 'modernised pub. Preferred the original decor....but not the welcome!

Advertisement from 2005

Old Heavygate Inn - 2008

No longer an Inn - April 2013


Turnpike roads were first created in the early 18th century but their number radically increased in the second half the century Further improvements with new roads and diversions that were easier to use in winter occurred in the early 19th century. These roads replaced the pack-horse routes which had developed over time as rights of way across commons and which were usually unsuitable for carts and coaches. The Toll Bar was precisely that, a house on a turnpike road where the tolls were collected, often easily recognised by windows built out which allow a view of the road(s).

Trusts were first set up to build improved roads in the early-18th century and gradually the modern network of roads was established, much of which was in place by the mid-19th century.  The roads were gradually paid for by charging tolls and many redundant road-side toll houses survive as dwellings. Some of the 18th century turnpikes across the Peak District, most of which followed pre-existing traditional routes, proved to be difficult to use in winter because gradients were too steep for wagons.  As a result new 19th century diversions were created that took gentler but more sinuous routes.  Sometimes these were short, re-routing around awkward sections, but in other cases longer diversions and totally new roads were constructed. 

The turnpike roads that replaced the hollow ways from the 18th century also have interesting road furniture; each Turnpike Trust had differently designed milestones or cast-iron posts and these often survive at the roadside.

In 1706 Parliament created the first turnpike trust, a scheme by which local business people could charge a toll for using a road, using the money received to maintain the road. After 1750 there was a ‘mania’ for turnpikes: 870 acts were passed in the 20 years after 1751, and by 1830 there were some 1,100 trusts, created by around 4,000 separate acts, administering more than 35,000 km/56,000 mi of road. Whereas the first turnpikes had been in the counties close to London, trusts after 1750 were set up mainly in the midlands, and after 1790 were concentrated in the north of England, reflecting the changing pattern of economic growth during the Industrial Revolution. Many of the trusts were fraudulently administered, and the Turnpike Act of 1822 required trusts to keep accounts. Nevertheless, it has been estimated that, by the 1830s, the turnpikes were investing about £1.5 million a year in the UK road system. The improved roads allowed a significant increase of haulage traffic, passenger coaches, and a national postal service.


The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated 3rd January 1877 - 24th July 1884 - 22nd September 1896

Sheffield History Forum


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This page was last updated on 31/12/18 12:47