Sheffield's yellow period threatens Picasso's favourite cafe: Revolutionary traffic plan could liquidate a slice of socialist history. Jonathan Foster reports

PICASSO'S favourite British cafe is threatened by closure because of an abstract masterpiece in double yellow lines. Butler's Dining Rooms in Sheffield charmed Picasso with its artisan ambience and Yorkshire puddings - there were few places in Paris in 1950 where a painter could eat dripping toast, full breakfast, or great meat and potato pie.

In Butler's, Picasso met many painters - and decorators and steel workers and bus drivers.

Sheffield was the venue for the second World Peace Congress, a movement suspicious of Western rearmament and sceptical of the Red menace. Picasso addressed the congress and also drew a dove of peace on a Butler's napkin.

The peace congress and the napkin have been lost, metaphors of the post-Soviet age made more potent by the catastrophic loss of business Steve and Edna Butler have endured since the council's traffic managers caught cubism.

The latest in a series of new one- way streets, bus lanes and accommodation for a 20-mile long tramway have increased traffic past Butler's. But bold double yellow lines have stopped Butler's customers parking outside and restricted times of day when huge potato pies can be loaded for outside catering.

Revenue fell by about 20 per cent. 'It is just about to put me out of business,' Mr Butler, whose father fried the cafe's first egg in 1910, said.

'We were going to pass the business on to Andrew, the lad who cooks downstairs and who's been with me since he left school 21 years ago. All the staff have been here all their working lives, but it's just not fair to him if it's not saleable.'

John Lashmar, a city council traffic manager, said the changes represented 'the biggest thing to hit Sheffield since the war - there are teething troubles, but it is working surprisingly well considering how radical it's been'. Mr Butler claimed his complaints had met council inertia, but Mr Lashmar said parking regulations for a side street clogged with cars parked all day will be changed so Butler's diners can find a bay.

Prospects are less sanguine of finding Picasso's 'Dove of Peace on Napkin with Egg Stain', whose existence has become the stuff of fable. The Peace Congress was denounced as a Moscow front. A Conservative MP, Reginald Bevins, demanded it should be banned, the Labour Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, described it as 'bogus', the Government refused entry to two out of three overseas delegates and Labour Party members were forbidden to attend. Sheffield's obstreperous Labour councillors refused to cancel the bookings and congress meetings overflowed.

Old socialists speak of the napkin entrusted to the attic of a safe house, to reappear when the day dawns, an ark of the left covenant. Others say a Communist Party member in Chesterfield had it and he is dead.

Steve Butler has heard more napkin tales than he has served puddings. 'But I've no idea what's happened to it.' Nor have today's Labour councillors, many of whom embrace the new realism. 'I wish we could find it,' one said. 'We could sell it for a small fortune.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need