Comment, Pub news

Thanks, Dave – you changed my life

The Fat Cat

The Fat Cat, pictured by Adam B (cc-by 2.0)

I didn’t know Dave Wickett but he changed my life.

As I’ve mentioned once or twice before on this blog, I lived in Birmingham before moving to Sheffield. I started visiting Sheffield regularly in the early 2000s; the more I did, the more I noticed that the pubs were exponentially better than the ones in Birmingham. And the more I noticed that, the less I wanted to go home. Eventually I could bear it no more, sold my house, and upped sticks to South Yorkshire.

OK, the pubs weren’t the only reason. The people were kinder; the city greener, prettier and easier-going; the pace of life a little gentler. But without the ‘Valley of Beer’ visit I made with a group of friends in 2002 – taking in miraculously good ale at places like the Fat Cat, Kelham Island Tavern, Gardener’s Rest and New Barrack Tavern – I would never have fallen in love with Sheffield the way I did.

Dave Wickett founded the Fat Cat in the early 1980s, an oasis of lovingly crafted cask beer at a time when tasteless keg stuff still dominated. People told him it couldn’t be done. He didn’t just prove them wrong: by making a success of the Fat Cat and the Kelham Island Brewery, he opened the way for Sheffield’s multitude of superb independent pubs and breweries. He kick-started the ale culture of the entire city.

I’d had a rough couple of years in the early noughties. Moving to Sheffield was the best thing I ever did. Surrounded by new friends, warm welcomes, inspiring scenery, and of course extraordinarily fine beer, I felt able to get my life together and make a fresh start.

Dave Wickett died last week at the age of 64. He clearly contributed much and will surely be missed by many. On a personal note I feel a need just to say: thanks for taking me to Sheffield, Dave.

See also
An obituary by Pete Brown
Tributes on the Sheffield Forum


About Pete Green

Poet and musician. Sheffield. Maps, coastlines, walking, whisky, and potentially dangerous levels of wist. Grimbarian. Pedestrian. King of the impossible. Big girl's blouse.


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