The Mulberry Bar and Venue on Arundel Gate is making a few waves on the Sheffield music scene. It follows a few years of decline for the Mulberry Tavern, empty in the 1990s, later reopening as Affinity, a short-lived gay venue.
However, it’s the name of the pub that gives us a clue to the history of the site.
This 1970s reincarnation is named after the original Mulberry Tavern on Mulberry Street, behind Arundel Gate, reputed to have been Sheffield’s second-oldest pub after the Old Queen’s Head in Pond Street. In fact, photographs from the 1960s show it as being called The Ye Olde Mulberry Tavern.
According to Sheffield City Council, both Mulberry Street and the Mulberry Tavern were named after a tree that once stood here.
How long is it since mulberry trees grew in Mulberry Street, a very unlikely site for a tree of any sort?
There is no Mulberry Street on Gosling’s plan of 1736, but it duly appears on Fairbanks’ map of 1771. At the earlier date the area was made up of gardens between High Street to Alsop Fields, through which Norfolk Street was later constructed.
But we can bring the date a little earlier because, in 1757, John Wesley’s Methodists turned what had been a warehouse in Mulberry Street into a Preaching House.
The street had been made through gardens in which, no doubt, there were mulberry trees – a more popular fruit than it is today.