Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2010/03/26 Social Housing II

Ride Report Social Housing II Friday March 26 2010
You can say what you like about Sheffield FridayNightRide but uneventful it ain’t. As Sam said whilst pedalling along, ‘If you weren’t out on the ride seeing all there is to see and all the people out and about you would be at home, maybe on your own, not even knowing all this stuff outside was going on in your home town. Much better to be alive and be out and to be part of it’ And I thought, ‘She’s right. Riding around like this we add to this rich tapestry and become part of city life’ Mind you, we’re pretty strange to many people we see but perhaps not quite as strange as the young black woman taking her white polecat for a walk on a pink leather lead along the pavement of London Rd amongst the noodle bars at 10 o’clock on the Friday night of the Women’s Movement ride in early March. That sight brought even us to a stop.

No polecats on this last ride, Social Housing II, but over 20 nightriders with three newcomers joined in for a steady, fluid ride that had achievable ascents and a thrilling and spectacular descent. It was still spitting a bit as we assembled and just started to ease off as we set off up Glossop Rd for a few yards before turning left down Broomspring Lane and right into Dorset St where we looped round into Gloucester St past the 70s flat-roofed experimental houses and back onto Broomspring Lane

Straight down Broomspring Lane across the inner ring rd and left up Gell St to Jessop’s and then across Brook Hill to go down Beet St and turn sharp left under the arch to enter the hidden world of the inner courtyard of Edward St flats where we pedalled for what we were worth round up a ridiculously short and steep incline on Edward St to stop by the Solly St exit to survey the subdued lit flats with their balcony walkways and talk about this example of social housing. Many nightriders had passed these flats for years and didn’t realise what was behind the exterior walls, and the kids inside who enthusiastically greeted us and who wanted to join us had probably never seen a peloton like us lot.

Out on to Solly St back over to Mappin St down Portobello and Trippet Lane to the top of Townhead St where we surveyed the Edwardian social housing on Townhead St and Hawley St as we spead past (NB the ‘service alley’ between the rows and between the above streets.

From there we set off for High Wincobank following the old tram route for the most part so the gradients were long but as shallow as could be. Bank St, Waingate, Wicker, Spital Hill, Burngreave Rd, Burngreave Cemetery, Osgathorpe Rd, Fir Vale, Firth Park, Stubbin Lane, Sheffield Lane Top, Hatfield House Lane, Concord Park – is this Sheffield FNR’s own Northern Line?

Having passed and got a good view of the social housing of the Shiregreen Estate, we stopped at the corner of Concord Park and, gathering together, noted the Graves Trust Houses (philanthropic social housing) on the corner of Shiregreen Lane and Bellhouse Rd. From there it was down Bellhouse Rd to turn right into Primrose Avenue and the Flower Estate, an Edwardian exhibition of social housing. So we pedalled around for a bit noting the wide avenues, generous gardens and the different examples of housing built by builders and architects almost as tenders for council housing, there is even a ‘village green’. Check it out; very interesting.

And now the thrilling part, from the estate along the pleasant Wincobank Avenue to join Jenkin Rd (a tricky straight-on which is technically a major to minor right turn) for a short sharp incline to the top of the ridge opposite the path up to the Wincobank fort, where we regrouped. A quick warning about going down a 14% incline and I was off like a dog out of a trap yeeha-ing all the way but then I realised I am nothing compared to Ed who overtook me on his Brompton. The view of the Don Valley at night all lit up with the nearly full moon above us as the clouds had cleared made a wonderful urban panorama

We went south-west along Brightside Lane, then south-east on Newhall St to arrive at the Greyhound on Attercliffe Rd where there is an enclosed space to park and lock bikes and, joy of joys last Friday, good cask ales at £1.50 a pint. The couple in the snug generously shared the space (did they have a choice?) and joined in some of the chat and the bloke was persuaded to try a different ale. Beer was drunk, a meal was ate and the it was out and saddle up to head back into town over Park Hill roundabout and up South St past the Park Hill flats and then up through Norfolk Park and stop and gather at the top to admire the view of the city from there.

Having got our breath back we took a right up along Guildford Avenue to stop at the corner with Park Grange Rd which gave us a good view of the eco-houses built as social housing there and also more flat-topped housing, remnants of the old Norfolk Park estate, the other side of Guildford Avenue and, across Park Grange Rd, between the wars council housing of the Arbourthorne alongside new 90s and 00s social housing flats along the tram route near Spring Lane. Brilliant location for a field-trip for a course on urban housing.

I think by this time I was high on endorphins and the two pints I had in the Greyhound and felt the evening was just perfect: the genial company; the clear, crisp night with a waxing moon, the quality of the ride – yes! And so carefully along the tramtracks and left down Kenninghall Rd onto East Bank Rd and across to Hallyburton Rd, roind a corner into Derby St and then follow the paths past the side of Derby Terrace flats to stop in front of them and look at the layout of layered single and duplex apartments with their walkways and handrails and what must be superb views up the Sheaf Valley to make the most attractive social hosuing in Sheffield – another one ot check out. We noted the modular, pre-fab private houses here too and then cycled along the impressive length of the Derby Terrace and Derby Walk flats before dropping down Gleadless Rd to the Sheaf View where soem of those left went home and the last 7 or 8 drank more pints until closing. I think I got in about 12 or thereabouts.

Punctures: 0 Things, including riders, falling off bikes: 0
People tripping over bikes: 1 – Mick!
Total ascent and descent about 1300ft and total length approx 14 miles

PS Contrary to what you may think I don’t make this all up. If you’re interested in how Sheffield has grown, developed and changed shape the website below is brilliant

And this is one of my most looked-up reference books, great on buildings and districts and the why, what, when of the buildings in Sheffield:

Sheffield by Ruth Harman and John Minnis (2004) Pevsner Architectural Guides Yale University Press ISBN: 0 300 10585 (about £10 – good value, the cost of publication is supported by a buildings trust)

Next Sheffield FridayNightRide
Vestry Halls
Friday April 23 2010
Start 6.30 pm Corner of Waitrose Car Park near the ATMs

Route Sharrow, Burngreave, Attercliffe, Woodhouse, Manor Top, Heeley, Meersbrook final stop: Sheaf View –again! (hope they stay open later this time

Sheffield FridayNightRide.
Social Housing II
Friday March 26 2010
Meet 6.30 pm
Start: car park of the West End pub, Glossop Rd/Clarkson St
What’s it about:
Following on from Social Housing I in Sep 08 we are off to visit and explore significant social housing in
• Broomhall (60s and 70s experimental houses),
• town centre (early examples of council housing),
• Firth Park/Shiregreen (between the wars council housing),
• Wincobank (An Edwardian exhibition of social housing influenced by Bournville and the Garden suburb movement),
• Norfolk Park (new green/eco-houses as social housing)
• and Heeley (probably the best social housing in Sheffield?)
• before finishing in Sheaf View or the Union – again!
Some sites we have visited before but as Sheffield FNR is a fluid constituency many who come on the ride may not have been to the sites before

Route and the sites’ details are on the map at,-1.436119&spn=0.018676,0.055575&z=15
Most of the route is very familiar to us – its the sites we haven’t concentrated on.

Heads Up! This is all on roads or metalled paths and should suit any bike. About 14 miles.

Warning there is some climbing (and some scary descending too!) so if you want to check out an elevation section then go to this site
pass the cursor ‘Show’ and click on elevation profile