Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2011/06/24 Free Love and Socialism: visit to Edward Carpenter’s house

Sheffield FridayNightRide
Fri 24 June 2011
Free Love and Socialism
Ride report and did one ever need a waterproof!

By 6.45 35 or 36 of us (they kept moving about, I lose count) had assembled for the postponed Free Love and Socialism ride to Edward Carpenter’s house at Millthorpe, Derbyshire. Must have had close on 10 people who were new to night-riding and some just returned to cycling – brave people considering this was probably the most ambitious FNR yet, 20 miles and a lot of climbing but what the hell …
So as the clouds thickened and gloomed we set off through town and by the time we got to the bottom of the Moor it had started to rain. Thankfully lightly but still wet. Picked up three more riders through Heeley and into Meersbrook and then it was a steady climb up through Meersbrook past Bishop’s House and up Warminster Rd to gather in the car park at Bunting Nook to review progress. By this time we had climbed most of the height we needed to. We glistened with our films of water and looked like wet rags and we were wet but John made the most sense, may as well continue we’re wet now, and I was thinking, good we’ll be running out of Fridays to postpone to, and everybody said OK. People had been really looking forward to this ride.
And with renewed strength in our legs and determination in our hearts we pelted across Graves Park (with some stopping to check out some coots) and up Little Norton Lane past the Graves Trust Houses, through the path to Meadowhead and across the main road into Greenhill, a pretty little gem of a village in the middle of all the suburbs. Keeping straight on we reached Hemper Lane and then Bradway Rd. As we pedalled through Bradway I phoned our speaker Sally Goldsmith so she could meet us in 30 minutes time.
We gently climbed a bit more into Holmesfield and enjoyed fabulous views over the grey-looking fields and moors. And we had all kept going, gathering together at the Travellers’ Rest we prepared to enjoy the descent into Millthorpe. Spinning down we had to slow up for a small troop of heifers ambling down the lane in front of us, are they escaped?, will people think we are rustling? but they knew their way and disappeared up a track at the side of the lane and then we arrived at Millthorpe, turned right past the Royal Oak to Carpenter’s House and all pulled into the sweeping drive onto the yard where the doors into the house are. The yard looked out onto a small paddock and at the bottom a line of trees where the stream is and where Carpenter skinny dipped all year.
So we mooched around for a few minutes, Mick told people what he knew about Carpenter and then Sally with her partner Rony Robinson arrived. The owner of Carpenter’s House, Jo, came out to meet us all too. Sally talked a bit about Carpenter and his work and writings, his background, character and characteristics. A man impossible to summarise in a few words but he was a bohemian, almost prototype hippy, (nearly) vegetarian, (nearly) teetotal, and his writing an thinking connected the personal and political. The house was a place of pilgrimage for many and a place where Carpenter could not only meet with politicians, radicals, feminists, poets, authors but also live in partnership with his lover George Merrill. Anyway read the biographies on the internet but the thrilling thing is to stand in the spot where people like HG Wells, EM Forster, William Morris visited and stayed. Many questions were asked and answered, some of us wandered around to look at the house and grounds, a group photo taken and then we went to the Royal Oak where there is a fine, large mounted photo of Carpenter in his older prime.
The barman looked a bit surprised to have nearly 40 cyclists arrive and you would have thought he would have been pleased to see so much being drunk annd crisps being ate – but hey we were probably not the usual clientele (- its a bit posh in a snobby kind of way: menu looked good though). Sally had bought some early editions of Carpenter’s books and some photos for us to share and look at and talked with us as we settled into chatting and making and renewing friendships and took the chance to dry out as much as we could.
By the time we left it was approaching ten and we set off as the usual lantern parade to climb/walk up to Owler Bar and by 10.30 we were all there – sorry folks, it looked flat on the screen! It was the third birthday of SFNR and we sang Happy Birthday to Us and agreed to enjoy the descent all the way back into Sheffield and people peeled off as we sped downwards. Chris and I made it into the Sheaf View dripping wet (but I was dry under the waterproof – amazing, I can’t recommend Mountain Hardware enough as a brand) for a last couple of pints

Well we did it and it was fab
We were all wet but joyous,
mad with solidarity;
a wonderful experience and a great SFNR birthday ride
and made me think about my aversion to riding in the wet
(No such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing)
The more inexperienced riders should take pride in completing this ride
and sincere thanks to the riders who took the role of tail-end Charlies
and sincere thanks to Sally, Rony and Jo
And thanks to everybody who was part of it – you are now a legend
Deep joy!
Got in at 12.30 and slept well.
Sheffield FridayNightRide
Fri 24 June 2011
Free Love and Socialism
Start 6.30 pm
Meet at Barkers Pool
Good chance of rain – bring a waterproof

The current owner of Carpenter’s House will allow us to visit the garden and see the back of the house, and Sally Goldsmith and Rony Robinson will meet us there to talk to us about Carpenter and his significance in political and sexual culture. (Sally kindly came and met us last year to talk about Ruskin)

A really informative short documentary on Carpenter by Rony Robinson

Provisional map – work in progress – at

View SFNR Free Love and Socialism ( in a larger map
Each POI has some detail about the point and usually a URL to connect you to more info about that POI
Heads up! All on roads or good paths; steep climb out of Meersbrook to Norton, and then OK except for last climb up to Owler Bar and a final relaxing, “newspaper-down-your-shirt-front” descent from Owler Bar to town. Long ride for an SFNR – 20 miles but its light to very late –BUT STILL bring lights and locks
Its the longest Friday of the year and we can contribute to Bike Week for CycleSheffield
The theme of this ride is Free Love and Socialism, – a ride to see the Millthorpe house
where Edward Carpenter (1844-1929)- a nationally and internationally renowned radical, socialist activist, writer and thinker, advocate of free love, early gay activist and ‘bohemian’, – and sandalmaker – lived from the 1880s to the 1920s.
Wear some sandals; the other stuff is optional!
FNR’s 3rd birthday so bubbly and snacks too.

I reworked this ride into two Carpenter trails which the Friends of Edward Carpenter want to establish as visitor attractions in Sheffield about Carpenter.
Ten of us did the morning ride and nine of us did the afternoon ride. We only had a couple of very short spells of mild drizzle. In the morning we had sun and enjoyed riding around town imagining what Sheffield had been like in the late 1870s. We had a fine lunch at the Harland Cafe and then set off to Millthorpe in the afternoon. Not much sun but dry, a good run, the Royal Oak at Millthorpe was a great host giving us complimentary chips and sandwiches, Sally came to meet us to talk about Carpenter and we road back on alternate route and found, in Totley, Woodland Villas on Queen Victoria Rd, where Carpenter and the fearnehoughs lodged while Charles Fox did up a larger cottage for them at his farm in Bradway.

Mon 7 May 2012
Mayday Bank Holiday – remember socialism?
Edward Carpenter and Sheffield

Two fundraising rides for Friends of Edward Carpenter
The aim is to raise funds for a work of art to commemorate Carpenter’s links to Sheffield
£10 pp for morning and/or afternoon ride in advance – see attached leaflet

Morning ride: Start Barkers Pool 10.a.m. Route in and around the city, with stops to talk about Carpenter and his life and work.
Visit where Carpenter lodged, lectured and spoke in Sheffield. About 10 miles
Finish by 12.00
Lunch: Bring a picnic or grab some lunch in town – we can eat it in Peace Gardens or somewhere like that

Afternoon Ride: Start Peace Gardens 1.00 p.m. Cycle out to Millthorpe to pass by places where Carpenter lived and worked on the outskirts of Sheffield and visit Carpenter’s house at Millthorpe. About 20 miles
Back in town by 5 pm or thereabouts.
The Royal Oak Inn at Millthorpe, where Carpenter played the piano (some nights!), has a new landlord who has offered to welcome us with complimentary plates of chips and sandwiches in the afternoon – provided we buy our drinks.
Maps see above

These rides are a spin-off of the SFNR “Free Love and Socialism” in June 2011 to Millthorpe.
This time we spend the morning of May Day touring the city to view locations where Carpenter lodged, lectured and spoke, have a picnic lunch in Paradise Square or someplace and then in the afternoon we head out to Millthorpe, with short explanations to tell you about Carpenter and his work at different locations.

This will be a fundraiser (eg ride fee £10 pp and/or get sponsorship from friends/family etc) to support the establishment of a work of public art to commemorate Carpenter and his association with Sheffield and to initiate a walking/cycling Carpenter trail. Ride and route organised by Mick Nott (Sheffield FridayNightRide) with FOEC.