GLASSES were raised for the last time as a Sheffield pub closed its doors for good after more than 200 years.
The Robin Hood Inn, tucked away in countryside at Little Matlock in Stannington, was packed last Sunday with regulars and others witnessing the end of a piece of local history.
“There was a stream of people during the day we had not seen before, taking pictures and saying we want to take one last look,” said Bridget Appleyard, whose family bought the pub eight years ago.
“Quite a few of the locals brought food down and we had a barbecue. It was like an old-fashioned get-together. It was lovely.”
Sunday night “was all about being the hub of the community. Some of the children were crying. They had been there since they were toddlers. It was the place they had gone with dad when he took the dog for a walk!
“When it got to about midnight, everything stopped and one of the locals read a speech and another had written an ode to the Robin Hood.
“People said were really upset the place was closing but they understood. In all fairness, they said they had been given an eight-year reprieve and they wished us all the best.”
The Appleyards bought the Robin Hood to save it from closure and established its reputation as a place for good food, real ale, community activities and attractive accommodation.
But after the whole family “put their heart and soul” into trying to keep the pub going, they say they can no longer continue pouring their money into the business.
One of the main obstacles was the relatively remote location in the Loxley Valley.
With the pub having been on the market for a year, and no takers, a planning application has been made to the council to convert the grade II-listed building at the end of Greaves Lane, off Wood Lane, into three apartments with the intention that the family move into all of them.
They say they are not motivated by property development but the pub has proved to be financially unviable.
The pub was built in 1804, with trees and shrubs planted in the area to replicate Matlock in Derbyshire.
Half of the building was originally cottages, whilst the other half overlooking woodland was called the Rock Inn, which survived the 1864 flood.
The name was later changed to reflect the Loxley connection.
Bridget’s daughter Keeley was licensee and husband Scott, son Elliot and Bridget’s mum, dad, mother-in-law and uncle and friends have all pitched in.
Scott flew back from working as a project manager in a paper mill in Brazil – a job taken to help meet the pub’s overheads – for the last weekend.
“It’s your social life as well as a business,” said Bridget. “We have made a lot of friends, and it’s the end of an era.”
The family are still waiting to hear from the council about the planning application. “We are no further forward. We don’t know where we are,” said Bridget.
The council says it is still assessing the application and the implications for the listed building.