THE ORIGINS OF THE FAT CAT
Part 1: The Earliest Records
The precise date of the opening of the pub now known as The Fat Cat
is not known. The first lease of the land in our possession, which covers
"various premises and dwelling houses on land next to Cotton Mill
Walk" was dated October 1st 1832. It covered the land now occupied
by the pub and the beer garden. Perhaps there was a pub included in
that description, but we do not know. What is known is that the original
pub did not have a toilet block and that land as well as the beer garden
contained a number of houses.
Part 2: 1914 - 1981
Part 3: 1981 to present
It was purchased on 29th July by Dave Wickett and Bruce Bentley and opened as The Fat Cat on 21st August 1981. The idea was to provide an alternative to the pubs owned by the big breweries, which at the time dominated the City. A range of beers was introduced that were new to the area. Prominence was given to beer from small independent breweries, and a guest beer policy was introduced, the first ever in Sheffield, which allowed a wide range of choice. The Fat Cat became the first outlet in the Sheffield for beers such as Fullers, Boddingtons, Greene King, Marstons, Theakstons and Timothy Taylors. Traditional scrumpy and unusual bottled beers were also introduced.
At the opening the first pint was officially pulled by the Sheffield footballing icon, Derek Dooley.
A no smoking room was introduced, the first in the area. Open fires
were reintroduced for winter, and it was decided to have no music, fruit
machines or other electronic games or machines. Home cooking was introduced
with a menu that always has a choice for those wanting meat, fish, vegetarian,
and vegan or gluten free food.
Dave Wickett bought out Bruce Bentley in December 1989.
In February 2000 the Bishop of Sheffield mashed in Cathedral Ale in
the brewery and was interviewed in The Fat Cat by both BBC and ITV regional
During August and early September 2003 The Time Team crew, led by Tony Robinson filmed in Sheffield. They drank regularly in The Fat Cat. In late September they held their summarisation meeting at the pub. The programme featuring this appeared on BBC on 22nd March 2004
On 4th February 2004 at THE HILTON HOTEL, LONDON on the occasion of The Morning Advertiser Awards, THE FAT CAT was voted CASK ALE PUB OF THE YEAR 2004
On 16th November 2004 BBC Breakfast News filmed live at The Fat Cat.
Arriving at 4.45 a.m. the first live clip went out at 6.38 a.m. followed
by seven other live clips filmed in different parts of the pub.
The Daily Telegraph chose The Fat Cat as its Pub of the Week on 14th October 2006
25th June 2007
Monday 25th June started much like any other day. It rained all day, and it was hard rain, but nobody sensed that it was going to be anything other than a wet day.
At around 2pm one of the staff said that the River Don appeared to be high. By 2.30 it was clearly rising fast. Around 3.30 water started to fill the car park and it rose at an alarming rate. Three of us worked trying to fill bags with sand. At first it lapped around our ankles within fifteen minutes it was up to our knees. At that point I got all of the staff to leave the premises. At 4.45pm the River Don burst its banks and a wave swept down the street. I just managed to get my car away, later on it would have been totally submerged.
Both The Fat Cat and the Kelham Island Brewery had extensive flooding.
Remarkably the flood waters had gone by the following morning. We were left with a six inch layer of contaminated, stinking sludge which is proving very difficult to remove.
Cleaning out the cellar of The Fat Cat on Wednesday we had numerous helpers and well-wishers including the Professor of Human Resources from the University of Sheffield. He remarked that it made a change from the work he should have been doing. One of the buckets of sludge he lifted out from the cellar contained a live fish. Weve kept him and called him nemo. He deserved to escape.
Soon we were inundated with reporters. Radio 4 and Radio 5 did live broadcasts form the brewery and I was pleased to see that on the Wednesday BBC TV News covered Tony Blair leaving Downing Street followed by the flood at the brewery including an interview with the brewer. BBC news 24 carried it every hour. The BBC obviously thought that the loss of 40,000 pints of beer was almost a big a story as the loss of a Prime Minister!
Sir Bob Kerslake and Jan Wilson visit The Fat Cat
Sir Bob Kerslake ( Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council) and Jan Wilson ( Leader of Sheffiled City Council) paid Kelham Island Brewery and The Fat Cat a visit after the flood.
(Pictured from left. Stephen Fearn, Sir Bob Kerslake, Jan Wilson, Dave Wickett, Dominic Flynn and Michael Williams)
THE FAT CAT RE-OPENS!
2 WEEKS LATER WE WERE BACK