Independent people, places and organisations in Sheffield

Entrepreneurs, Ethical Cuisine

The Rude Shipyard

Not sure what to do this evening? Why not visit The Rude Shipyard? They certainly have a lot to offer.

The Rude Shipyard has been open since 2009, and is the creation of Pete David and Sally Rowan-Smith, who refurbished the premises.

Pete David and Sally Rowan-Smith.

Almost three-and-a-half years on, The Rude Shipyard is now being run as a co-operative with five directors, and it is more popular than ever.

It is quite difficult to come up with an accurate description of The Rude Shipyard. It is a café, book shop and music venue, all rolled into one.

When I asked Caitlin, one of its directors, about the unusual amalgamation, she explained that Sally simply wanted to create a place where people could enjoy being. Whether this meant meeting up with friends or sitting quietly for a few hours reading, writing or thinking.

“Sally had no business plan as such. She just knew what kind of vibe she wanted. From a business perspective, it is very hard for independent book shops to survive anymore, and there are so many cafes, that in order to be successful we had to do something that made us stand out. I have seen the cafe/book shop combo before in other cities, and think it worked great, but I don’t know anywhere else like this in Sheffield.”

The Rude Shipyard’s love of books is clear. It is also known by its full name, ‘In The Rude Shipyard Beneath My Window’, which is a quotation from David Mitchell’s 2004 novel Cloud Atlas. Sally explained;

“At the time we opened, myself and my then partner had both just read and loved Cloud Atlas. We knew we wanted something far from short and snappy for the name, something a little obscure and imaginative. We played about with lots of ideas but stuck with ‘In the rude shipyard beneath my window’ as a working title. Once we’d been referring to the shop as that for several months in the preparatory stages, it seemed to have taken on its own life, and though we played around with some other ideas it was too late!”

Get comfy with a book

A Customer’s view 
I was in here the other day for a coffee and a bite to eat, it was very nice and chilled. I ended up buying a couple of books too. Its a pretty unique little place – just what Sheffield needs.

The seating area upstairs is paradise for those who love to read. With books stacked floor to ceiling and with unusual antiques dotted around. It has the feel of an old-fashioned reading parlour, complete with a large open fireplace.

The Rude Shipyard’s vibe has been maintained by the co-operative. None of the directors have any business experience, but they draw on their knowledge and interests to keep the business evolving.

The co-operative is responsible for increasing the dynamic nature of The Rude Shipyard.  There are now Tuesday 2pm gigs, the upstairs is offered out for meals and parties, poetry classes take place, a book club regularly meets here and ‘Thursday supper’ has just started, where guests can have a three course meal at a very reasonable price.

They also offer Cupids in Nooses weekends, which is a three day event for those not too keen on Valentines Day. They are currently planning an event to tie in with the Sharrow Festival in July. The Rude Shipyard is also a prominent venue for Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival.

The Rude Shipyard is basically whatever you want it to be.

They plan on offering more in the future. One night a week will be set aside for a cinema night, and they would love to set up more evenings similar to their existing whisky tasting evenings, which have been a huge success.

The Rude Shipyard

Veggie feasts

The food at the Rude Shipyard is predominantly vegetarian. Sally said;

“I think the menu probably reflects my own personal tastes. I was a vegetarian for a large part of my life and I still cook mostly vegetarian food. It also seems appropriate for the nature and location of the cafe. A lot of our customers are vegetarian and vegan so it makes sense to provide a menu geared towards them, without excluding the customers who really like a bit of bacon. The meat that we do use is either from the local Polish butcher or free range.”

There is no designated chef, all of the directors take turns to cook the food, so a meal is never made the same way twice. One thing that never alters is their Guinness cake for which they are well known.

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