History in Structure

The Wheatsheaf, including bowling green viewing terrace

A Grade II Listed Building in Sutton, St. Helens

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Latitude: 53.4282 / 53°25'41"N

Longitude: -2.711 / 2°42'39"W

OS Eastings: 352853

OS Northings: 392618

OS Grid: SJ528926

Mapcode National: GBR 9XHS.WS

Mapcode Global: WH87C.B395

Plus Code: 9C5VC7HQ+7H

Entry Name: The Wheatsheaf, including bowling green viewing terrace

Listing Date: 24 August 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1428132

ID on this website: 101428132

Location: Sutton Leach, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA9

County: St. Helens

Electoral Ward/Division: Sutton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: St Helens

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Sutton St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

Tagged with: Pub

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Public house, 1936-8, by W A Hartley. Brown brick and rendered elevations with painted-stone dressings and applied half timberwork, pitched and hipped slate roofs. 2-storeys. Brewers' Tudor style.


Public house, 1936-8, by W A Hartley. Brown brick and rendered elevations with painted-stone dressings and applied half timberwork, pitched and hipped slate roofs. 2-storeys. Brewers' Tudor style.

PLAN: the Wheatsheaf has a squat U-shaped plan and is set at a slight angle to Mill Lane, facing on to the junction of Mill Lane with Reginald Road, Hawthorne Road and Leach Lane. A parallelogram-shaped bowling green exists to the rear with a viewing terrace along its eastern side. Internally there is a central service corridor running east-west that forms the bar servery, with a public bar off to the front left and a buffet and former off-sales off to the front right. Drinking lobbies to each rear corner provide access to a bar parlour, smoke room and dining room contained within rear projections.

EXTERIOR: all the building's windows have plain leaded glazing.

Front (north) elevation: this principal elevation incorporates a central section of painted stone that projects forward slightly with canted sides. A large arched opening to the centre of the ground floor that was originally open and accessed a bottle store and pulley system that lifted goods up to a first-floor cellar has since been in-filled and a doorway and windows inserted. The arch is flanked by 2-storey buttresses, which also frame a frontispiece above, including a first-floor niche and a stepped parapet. The ground floor is lit by cross windows, whilst the first floor is lit by paired mullioned and single-light windows. A doorway to the right with a mullioned overlight originally led into the off-sales, which is now a food preparation area. Flanking the central section are gabled bays with brick ground floors, half-timberwork to the first floors and gables, and modern signage boards. Both bays are lit by 6-light mullioned and transomed windows on the ground floor and 3-light mullioned windows on the first floor. The pub's two main entrances are set to each end of the elevation and consist of Tudor-arched doorways containing partly-glazed panelled double doors. Single-storey flat-roofed brick projections containing the pub's toilets exist at each far end of the elevation. The western end also has an additional 2-storey block with a half-timbered first floor that forms part of the landlord's private accommodation and which is accessed by a plain domestic-style panelled door on the ground floor leading to a private entrance hall and stair.

East and west side elevations: the east elevation is more plainly detailed but still has a brick ground floor, leaded windows, and some half-timberwork to the first floor. At the western end of the building a high brick wall encloses a small service yard containing a former wash house and coal store.

Rear (south) elevation: this elevation overlooks the bowling green. The main central part of the pub is rendered at the rear and is lit by 3-light mullioned windows on the first floor. Attached in front is an early-mid C20, flat-roofed, rendered 2-storey extension* with a tall chimneystack, and attached in front of this is a single-storey extension of a similar date (depicted on a 1950 architect's plan as the 'bowling green verandah')* with leaded windows, which has been truncated at its western end by the addition of another single-storey flat-roofed extension*; all three additions are not of special interest and are excluded from the listing. A modern smoking canopy*, which has also been attached to the verandah room's south elevation, is not of special interest and is also excluded from the listing. Two-storey projections (containing the bar parlour and smoke room) exist to the east and west with brick ground floors, close-studding style half-timberwork to the first floor, and pyramidal roofs. Each projection's ground floor projects forward as a canted bay and is surmounted by an embattled parapet. Both projections are lit by mullioned and transomed windows on the ground floor and mullioned windows on the first floor; an 8-light mullioned and transomed window on the ground floor of the eastern projection has been partially blocked up and converted into a 4-light window. Set to the western end of the elevation is a shallower 2-storey projection (containing the dining room) with a brick ground floor, rendered first floor and a stepped parapet hiding the roof from view. A large 8-light mullioned and transomed ground-floor window has a modern inserted fire door to the centre. A 4-light mullioned window exists to the first floor and a 6-light mullioned and transomed window exists to the ground floor of the west return.

ANCILLARY STRUCTURES: the bowling green to the rear has a concrete and painted-brick tiered viewing terrace along its eastern side. This terrace, which is legally classed as a structure, is included within the listing.

INTERIOR: internally the plan layout remains largely unchanged. Sloping floors exist throughout the building due to subsidence from coal mining in the area.

The left (eastern) entrance leads into a vestibule with a panelled dado and two sets of double doors with Tudor-arched etched glass panels reading 'Bar Parlour' and Public Bar' and leaded overlights. The doors lead into a drinking lobby, which maintains the panelled dado of the vestibule and has toilets off to the eastern side. Glazed double doors in the lobby's north wall with Tudor-arched heads, etched glass panels reading 'Public Bar' and a multipaned overlight lead into the public bar, which has fixed-bench seating incorporating bell pushes, and a brick and stone fireplace with a gas-fire insert. A service corridor running east-west through the centre of the pub forms the bar servery and has original counters at each end in the public bar and buffet. The bar counter in the public bar retains its original bar back and top lighting as depicted on a 1936 plan, and a pot shelf with leaded-glazed panels and rosette relief decoration.

The bar parlour (now a games room) at the rear of the eastern drinking lobby retains its original glazed door with Tudor-arched etched-glass panel reading 'Bar Parlour' and most of its fixed-bench seating (a section along the east wall has been removed). A heavily painted Tudor-style brick and stone fireplace has a later gas-fire insert.

A Tudor-arched doorway in the eastern drinking lobby's south-west corner leads to a small rear lobby providing access to the bowling green. A later partition wall and double doors have been inserted on the western side, which lead into a narrow room that was formerly known as the verandah room* and has been altered and truncated, and is not of special interest.

A former off-sales lies off to the north side of the servery corridor and is now used as a kitchen preparation area. It retains its entrance vestibule frame and leaded overlight, but the off-sales counter has been removed.

The right (western) main entrance leads into a similarly styled vestibule and drinking lobby as that to the eastern end of the building, but here the vestibule doors are etched with the words 'Buffet' and 'Smoke Room'. Off to the north side of the lobby glazed double doors with Tudor-arched heads and etched glass panels reading 'Buffet' lead into the buffet, which has a bar counter, bar back and pot shelf in the same style as those to the public bar, but shorter in length. The bar back retains its original shutters. The original fixed-bench seating survives, along with bell pushes and a Tudor-style painted-stone fireplace with a tiled insert and modern gas fire. The fireplaces in this western half of the building are slightly larger than those in the eastern rooms.

A glazed door to the rear of the western drinking lobby is in the same style as those to the rest of the main rooms and incorporates etched glass reading 'Smoke Room'. This leads into the smoke room, which is the same size and dimensions as the bar parlour at the opposite end of the pub. It retains fixed-bench seating and a Tudor-style painted-stone fireplace matching that of the buffet, with a tiled insert and modern gas fire. A later doorway has been inserted into the room's west wall to connect into an adjacent dining room, which has wall panelling up to picture rail height, applied ceiling beams, a timber fire surround with a gas fire insert, and fixed-bench seating. The dining room's main entrance lies on the north side and is accessed off a passageway that runs westwards of the drinking lobby. At the western end of the passageway are ladies toilets and off to the north side is a private hall and straight stair flight accessing the landlord's first-floor accommodation. The first floor was not inspected, but it is understood that the original first-floor cellar, which was served by a pulley system, has since been converted into a bedroom.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Inter-war ‘improved’ or ‘reformed’ pubs stemmed from a desire to cut back on the amount of drunkenness associated with conventional Victorian and Edwardian public houses. Licensing magistrates and breweries combined to improve the facilities and reputation of the building type. Improved pubs were generally more spacious than their predecessors, often with restaurant facilities, function rooms and gardens, and consciously appealed to families and to a mix of incomes and classes. Central, island serveries with counters opening onto several bar areas allowed the monitoring of customers and also the efficient distribution of staff to whichever area needed service. Many, although not all, of the new pubs were built as an accompaniment to new suburban development around cities, and a policy of ‘fewer and better’ was followed by magistrates both in town and on the outskirts. A licence might be granted for a new establishment on surrender of one or more licences for smaller urban premises. Approximately 1,000 new pubs were built in the 1920s – the vast majority of them on ‘improved’ lines - and almost 2,000 in the period 1935-39. Neo-Tudor and Neo-Georgian were the favoured styles, although others began to appear at the end of the period.

The Wheatsheaf was constructed in 1936-8 for the brewery Greenall Whitley & Co. Ltd of Warrington and St Helens to designs by W A Hartley. In keeping with many other areas around the country at the time, the granting of a licence for the new pub was conditional upon the surrender of the licences of three other public houses in the locality: the Crystal Palace, the Engine and Tender and the Wheatsheaf Hotel. Originally the new pub was to be called the new Engine and Tender. However, the landlord refused the new tenancy and instead the licence was granted to the landlord of the old Wheatsheaf Hotel, who carried the pub's name with him. On the pub's opening day in 1938 a group of local temperance campaigners gathered outside to preach about the perils of drink.

Alterations were carried out at the rear of the building in the mid and late-C20, and in the 1980s the upstairs cellar was converted into a bedroom. The former off-sales has also been converted into a kitchen preparation area. The Wheatsheaf is included in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, where it is identified as possessing an interior of national importance.

Reasons for Listing

The Wheatsheaf, including its tiered bowling-green viewing terrace, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Building type: it is an interesting example of an inter-war pub built to serve a semi-rural mining community, its large scale being unusual for its village location and representing the level of investment the brewery Greenall Whitley placed in its reformed pubs;

* Architectural quality: it is a good example of the 'Brewers' Tudor' style of public house architecture, which was popular in the inter-war period but survivals of which are now increasingly rare, and the style is used consistently both externally and internally;

* Degree of survival: the exterior is well-preserved with limited alteration confined mainly to the rear, and the interior is virtually unaltered, retaining its original plan layout and fixtures and fittings;

* Interior quality: the fixtures and fittings are of a good quality throughout, and the interior’s room hierarchy remains clearly evident, with the lower-status bar parlour and public bar being decoratively plainer than the higher-status rooms of the buffet, smoke room and dining room;

* Socio-historic interest: it exemplifies an 'improved' pub of the 1930s, retaining the tiered bowling-green viewing terrace that serves its recreational facilities.

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