Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2010/07/16 The Northern Clemency

Sheffield FridayNightRide The Northern Clemency Ride report

The rain had stopped and the sky was brightening as we gathered in the Georgian splendour of Paradise Square. Shame it’s a car park; another example of Sheffield missing a trick with the tourist/sightseeing market. We were a large group of cyclists next to small groups of Wig and Pen customers, some of us had a drink before we went. It was the first time I had been in there – ever; its strange being ready for a ride, anticipating the sights of the route, the moral rewards of some effort, the physical buzz of the exercise, the bonhomie of the company whilst waiting to be served amongst the slopping beer, the half pints of wine, the boorish loud professional bragadaccio, the excessive wait as you are not perceived as a ‘regular’ customer. Or maybe its just standing there in T shirt, 3/4 cycling shorts, accessorised with cycling gloves, shoes, glasses and a bandana that makes one stand out in a crowd. Hmm I know where I won’t be going in a while.

Paradise Square gets a brief mention as Peace Square in The Northern Clemency and after noting this point, 28 of us including 6 neophyte nightriders left via the Queen St exit and headed up Bank St to Castle Market, up Haymarket to Fitzalan Square down Pond St, up the pedestrianised Howard St across Arundel Gate along Surrey St around Peace Gardens past the front of the Town Hall into Fargate by the Big Wheel and right down Norfolk Row, left down Norfolk St and back onto Arundel Gate, left to Castle Square and then up High St to the Cathedral and then Orchard St to Leopold St round to Barkers Pool and on down Division and Devonshire St, through W1 and out onto Convent Walk across Victoria St, round the back of the Bath Inn onto Gell St and right up to Leavygreave Rd.

During this quick city tour we had managed to pick up one more nightrider, making 29 of us in all, and stopped to point out locations named and described in the book (see the map for locations and route) and, depending on one’s experience of Sheffield, to reminisce or learn about how the city has changed in the last 35 years. It’s the Hole in the Road that does it for me; its hard to believe that there was this take on a roundabout where pedestrians were offered a subterranean route and shopping opportunity in a modernist rotunda open to the sky whilst traffic circled above

Very 60s and all now buried beneath the present Castle Square and the tramtracks.

Back to the ride route, up Leavygreave Rd, across the inner ring road, through the University to Winter St and back past the City Museum, now beautifully cleaned up compared to its reference in the book, in Weston Park then down past the Royal Hallamshire to cut through the paths and lanes of Broomhall and Collegiate Crescent campus to visit the site of Birkdale Prep school, King Ted’s and the Girl’s High School before ascending into Broomhill. From there we pelted along Fulwood Rd by which time the capricious weather had decided to drizzle so we stopped at the Ranmoor Inn to have a drink to see if it would blow over. Again we were a contrast to the regulars and I wondered if 6″ stilettos could be adapted with cleats. The drizzle stopped whilst we had a drink and then started again when we got going up Ranmoor Rd, some dropped out but most stuck with the ride and noted the general swishness of Ranmoor. We missed out Crosspool so we could get to the site of the main street in the novel, named as Rayfield Avenue in the novel. So we headed up to Sandygate and waited on Redmires Rd opposite Sandygate Park for the three riders who had missed the mass departure because they were still in the pub. See, nobody gets left behind – you just need a mobile phone

And then with about 25 of us still left we rode through the upper middle class Sandygate estate and, ringing our bells, past 22, Burnt Stones Drive, where the author Philip Hensher had lived, and which street he used as as the central location of the novel. At the bottom we turned sharp left and burst out of suburbia through a dark clump of trees into a dazzling panoramic view of the Rivelin Valley on Bell Hagg by which time it had stopped drizzling and spitting. Riders stopped to dry off and soak up the view and those who had read the book could understand the frequent contrasts in it between the ‘stifling’ nature of home life and the ‘untamed’ nature of the immediately available but semi-concealed countryside.

As we looked down on the Rivelin Valley, the location in the book for Daniel’s and Helen’s restaurant and dance school, riders decided whether to complete the route via the Rivelin Valley or turn back. About 10 of us continued and we went off route down the bridleway which emerged onto Manchester Rd not far from Rails Rd. We turned right onto Rivelin Valley Rd which we followed to Tofts Lane and then stopped for a drink at The Rivelin. A friendly pub but no draught beers; none of the locals drink it and passing trade is so light that the untapped beer goes off in the pipes. So a couple of nitrofizzes or bottles later we emerged about twenty past 10 (I think) to belt, alcoholically fuelled, allong Tofts Lane, Roscoe Bank, down Stannington Lane over Malin Bridge before racing each other through Hillsborough and down Penistone Rd. We waved our goodbyes about the end of Neepsend Lane and I got home – later.

Many thanks to one and all for a fine but slightly damp ride – damn Metcheck and the Met Office.

Map The locations in the novel that are in Sheffield have been mapped out and has a couple of routes that are mentioned in the book. I’ve added the route of the bridelway from Sandygate down to Manchester Rd,-1.480579&spn=0.036106,0.111151&z=14
Next Sheffield FridayNightRide 17 Sep 2010 – Amazing Attercliffe – come and discover one of Sheffield’s oldest, once busiest, and most interesting districts. Fairly flat ride after the excesses of the holiday season Start 6.30 pm at a location tbd.

Next Sheffield FridayNightRide,
16 July 2010
The Northern Clemency
Start 6.30 p.m. Paradise Square, S1

The July Sheffield FNR is a ride to visit Sheffield locations , some plain others thinly disguised, used in the recent novel The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher.

We’ll visit locations (all mainly in the west of the city), perhaps read extracts from the novel, or talk about how Sheffield changed across the span of the novel (mid-70s to mid noughties and since) and ride on again, stop for a drink somewhere, and then ride on again until we’ve done about 15 miles and we can go to the pub – again.

Route: A suggested route has been mapped out
It will be City Centre ->Broomhill -> Ranmoor ->Crosspool ->Sandygate -> Lodge Moor (maybe)-> Rivelin -> Hillsborough -> City Centre

Map The locations in the novel that are in Sheffield have been mapped out and has a couple of routes that are mentioned in the book.,-1.480579&spn=0.036106,0.111151&z=14

Heads up! This route will involve ascending whichever way we go but we will do it at a reasonable pace and wait for all to gather and take a breather before we set off again. It will involve some descending too!

Background to The Northern Clemency
If you don’t know this book then I recommend it wholeheartedly.
It is an epic, all set in Sheffield, spanning 30 years (approx 1975 -2005) and centres on the lives of two aspiring families. It is about everyday life and ordinary lives but it weaves in, and touches on, political and social changes in those times too.
For me it is a 20th century equivalent to Middlemarch – ‘ordinary lives’ described and mapped that occur in shifting social, political and economic times that shape the lives. It was shortlisted for the 2008 Booker Prize.
Philip Hensher was brought up and educated in Sheffield and attended Tapton School – some of you may know him?
So this notice is to say that it may help you appreciate the ride more if you have read the book – Broomhill and Lodge Moor will never be the same again!
It’s The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher, the paperback was published 2009 by Harper Perennial.
We’ll visit locations (all mainly in the west of the city and on the 51 bus route), perhaps read extracts from the novel, and ride on again until we’ve done about 15 miles and we can go to the pub – again.