Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2010/04/23 Vestry Halls

Sheffield FridayNightRide Ride Report
Vestry Halls
Friday April 23 May
Ride report

It was a calm, mild evening with a bit of haze, and Waitrose was busy. Mick arrived, got some money out and was immediately useful as the bloke on the next ATM had had his card swallowed up so Mick waited there whilst he went off to get somebody from Waitrose to sort it out.

A new nightrider was already there and so we started to chat, over 200 hits on the map by Friday p.m. and usually that means about 15 people and by 6.25 that was right, by 6.35 it was just on 30(!) people had gathered (there goes Mick’s predictive model) including 9 new to nightriding and many nightriders back to enjoy the long evening and pleasant weather. It was brilliant; once you’re that mob-handed you can cycle with real assertiveness and respect from other traffic. Monster ride: it’s the only way!

We assembled at the back of the Sharrow Vestry Hall; by 6.40 we had scooted round to the front, talked a bit about vestry halls per se, noted this bijou example of Victorian gothic architecture and the ‘ancient’ wooden road name sign on the wall for Napier St and then we were off up Napier St, right into Harrow St and then through the old Ward’s Brewery site along the Porter, right to cross Ecclesall Rd and into Broomhall. Mick met Mr Yafai, who he hadn’t seen in ages, and caught up with news of Mr Y’s family. (Mr Y owns Yafai’s – a fantastic shop in Filey St with full range of goods from every country in the Middle East, great olives, dates, spices, and frozen goods – try the samosas – and it is a halal butcher). By the time Mick caught up everybody was the top of Brunswick St the crowd was wondering where to go and one more rider had joined us.

Across Glossop Rd, that was the route, carefully marshalled across by spontaneous volunteers, then a dog-leg up to the University Concourse and through the campus onto Crookesmoor Park Rd. A steady climb up there and at the lights we took a right turn as a mob down Crookesmoor Rd to Crookesmoor Vestry Hall, which again is a fine example of late Victorian gothic architecture but now sadly neglected. (Ian has dug out the latest news on this fine building and it is at Let’s hope it doesn’t get into such a state that it gets pulled down.) We compared the building with the style of the old school building across the road and the nearby church up the hill and realised that it is all pretty harmonious.

Then a relaxing drop down to Upperthorpe Rd round the back of the old Royal Infirmary and Tesco and down Watery St across the tramlines at Langsett Rd and then to the crossing on Penistone Rd into Philadelphia to gather at the side of the Globe Works (looked it up later: possibly the first purpose-built cutlery manufactory 1818 – classical architecture almost in the style of a grand home) Once all gathered we pedalled off through Kelham Island, past the Fat Cat and out to the new part of the inner ring road which we followed round to Spital Hill. Again really good spontaneous marshalling from people who know as we negotiated lights, filter lanes and turns and we all gathered again halfway up Spital Hill. Brilliant!

From there it was a short gentle climb to filter right at the lights at Ellesmere Green onto the pavement outside the Burngreave Vestry Hall (1864). We looked at the fine architecture, noted the wonky front arch (bomb damage? Foundation problems?) and glanced down the side at the extent of the place. We caused much comment from all the people out and about – Burngreave is teeming on a mild night. Heavy S3 gang presence down the side street (maybe get a good deal there?) and we had a look at the hall and Mick mentioned the website about Burngreave Voices where there are memoirs from a woman who had her wedding reception there and another one from a bloke whose dad had been the caretaker before WWII.

Next to Attercliffe, so we all got going down Gower Street and then left into Carlisle St where a long, straight, flat road was all the stimulus that some of us needed to produce the response of pedal like crazy. Then we noticed the determined yellow topped, lycra-clad cheerless commuter on the swish road bike who may as well have been on a Raleigh chopper for all his style and speed as we overtook him on fixies, hybrids, town bikes in all kinds of clothing and couldn’t get a hello or a nod – oh well, suit yourself.

Gathered again at Newhall Rd and then it was across to Attercliffe Rd and Attercliffe Common to stop in front of the Attercliffe Vestry Hall and Mick talked about its place in Women’s history in Sheffield as the venue of the first ‘open’ Birth Control Clinic in the 30s (and also the birthplace of Robert Hadfield – a steel magnate and creator of high spec alloy steels) Some peeled off here, having showed solidarity with FNR for joining whilst they had some spare time, as they had other things to do – and that is what FNR is about; join in when you can.

We turned right off Attercliffe Common to go along Coleridge Rd and left into Tinsley Park Rd to eventually pass the Arena and the peaceful canal on our left, go under Broughton Lane and end up at Shepcote Lane where we all assembled again at the start of Europa Way and the ‘long’ ride out Woodhouse, passing the site of the moribund steelworks, the defunct airport, the half empty offices, the active shopping centre by the Parkway, (some choosing to experience the cycle lane tunnel under the Parkway), the sites of the defunct collieries, the exhausted open cast mine and the defunct coking works at Orgreave to arrive near the A57 in Handsworth. Mind you deep shaft mining was no pleasure and nor was the work in a coking works or on a foundry floor and nightriders remarked on how pleasant the new landscaping was and what a nice ride on excellent roads/paths it was on such a clement evening. How will we define ‘wealth creation’ and what it means to be ‘well off’?

Gathering just past Orgreave Lane we chatted a bit about the Battle of Orgreave and the miners’ strike and the July FNR to sites mentioned in Philip Hensher’s book, The Northern Clemency. Then a brief warning about the crazies who drive on the A57, Retford Rd, and it was into this to quickly filter right onto the switchback of Beaver Hill Rd. Up past Handsworth Grange School, then a fabulous fast, smooth drop down and then a little steep ride up to Woodhouse with all of us avoiding the confused dog in the middle of the road.

Along Tannery St in Woodhouse and turn right to the Vestry Hall which is no.1 Tannery St. Dave spotted the date 1838 (one year after Victoria came to the throne, which makes it the oldest vestry hall in Sheffield). We hung out there, it had gone dark and the waxing moon had appeared, a couple of people did recces and we zipped round the High St to park up at the Royal. A solid, working-class, grand pub, who were pleased to see us and find out what we were up to, a great dead end alley and railings to park the bikes – did the landlord offer us CCTV monitored parking next time? Tetley’s and Stones’ on draught too.

Plenty of chatting with each other and Woodhousians, some nightriders were dead smart and were at the bar in no time at all and others had to wait a bit for their drink but hey it was all relaxed and some chose to sit inside or stand outside and carry on the repartee. Passed out some FNR cards and so after one, one and a half, or even two pints for some, re-assemble outside, we noted the observation of the guy who had been peeing arms akimbo in the gents’ loo there – not a nightrider I hasten to add; we just don’t do that, and then it was back along Tannery St to start the steady but not arduous climb up Stradbroke Rd on the right, over Mosborough Parkway, past City School (Jarvis Cocker went there, don’t you know) to reach Richmond Rd. Left up this and another left down Hunter Lane (apologies to the riders who went too far ahead, I gave the wrong road name, but Paul was great at chasing and rounding them up and getting them back – one man and his bicycle?) Across Normanton Hill (either on the crossing or not(!)) to go down and up across Intake Rd and onto Hollinsend Rd and continue the climb up to Ridgeway Rd.

Across at the lights here at Gleadless Town End and then right up onto Gleadless Rd where a group of teenagers on their way somewhere genuinely applauded our efforts. God stuff eh, who says the youth of today is ‘broken’. We gathered and Mick gave a final warning about the steep descent which he then ignored to go hell for leather down the hilI, informing riders as he went that they were now viewing the Gleadless Valley and the 70s Gleadless estate (which won prizes for its buildings and landscaping in its day).

Through Newfield Green accompanied by wild yells and shouts from the nearby flats and carry on down to fork left at Heeley Green and Judith and Mick in the vanguard reached the Millennium Park to be stopped by lads(young men) in a souped-up car looking for a pub at Heeley Bottom and then looked in amazement as the two cyclists they stopped became more than 20 as the peloton condensed again, so they chatted about what we were doing, we told them as best we could where their desired pub may be, they took cards and said they may join us at some other time. A really pleasant encounter.

Through the park onto Albert Rd by the Heeley Tramsheds, and round on Chesterfield Rd to Meersbrook Park Rd and the Meersbrook Vestry Hall (now flats) on the corner with Burcot Rd where we stopped. We chatted for a bit about this building, riders had used it for functions in the past, and then a couple of people came out into its car park and when politely asked what they knew about the place, turned out we had met the guy who used to or still does own it and did it up. He told us its history (1905, won architectural awards in its day, used for Sheffield Council admin, negative associations for some as it was where you went to be means tested in the 30s, sprung floor dance hall, Grade II listed edifice and entrance hall) and his work on it (bought in 91 for £60k, first used as student accommodation and now done up as swish flats but in such a way that it could be restored to the original and so on) – that was a result. He had an audience of, by then, 25 cyclists and he learned of three Sheffield Vestry Halls he hadn’t heard of. Grateful thanks to him and he was carded too.

I really appreciate the range of bikes and people on the ride united by one activity, enjoying a bike ride in company – respect to the fixies as well, some steep punchy inclines at some points but generally gentle slopes up, crazy slope down at Gleadless which must have played havoc with their legs.
Thanks to nightriders who spontaneously acted as marshals , eg Ed A-W blocking on Glossop Rd, and much thanks to Tony G who acted as back stop and tail-end Charlie.

Next Sheffield FridayNightRide.
Six Vestry Halls – I forgot about the one at Crookesmoor!
Friday April 23 2010
Meet 6.30 pm
Start: Waitrose car park end of Waitrose by ATM machines

What’s it about: Vestry Halls were administrative (mainly poor laws) and social centres associated with parishes and generally preceded the Victorian local government reforms and creation of towns, boroughs, cities etc. ( There are SIX left in Sheffield and we will ride to them in the order of Sharrow (still functions as a meeting hall), Crookesmoor (derelict awaiting development) Burngreave (now restored see- and see, for its history), Attercliffe (now a not-for-profit training organisation), Woodhouse (yes all the way out there but I think the Vestry hall is an estate agents) and then back to Meersbrook Vestry Hall (now converted to flats)- to finish at the Sheaf View.
I propose a stop out at Woodhouse – can anybody recommend a pub there?

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 (revised!) map at
Most of the route is very familiar to us it’s also fast and good riding round the airport and we go through the crazy underpass of the Parkway, we clip the edge of Rotherham and then up into Woodhouse – it’s the sites we haven’t concentrated on. It may be a bit hairy round Manor Top but if anybody has got a safer, pleasanter route let me know (we found one! – see ride report and amended map)

Heads Up! This is all on roads or metalled paths and should suit any bike. About 16 miles now we are passing the Crookesmoor Vestry Hall

Climbing is steady so if you want to check out an elevation section then go to this site
pass the cursor ‘Show’ and click on elevation profile – it’s a total of about 1300 ft up and down overall, min 141ft max about 710ft

PS this is a change from the advertised Coalpits ride – I am still researching that one