Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2012/06/05 Golden Jubilee Ride to Wortley Hall

SFNR Golden Jubilee – its at least 50th ride
Tuesday 5 June Afternoon!
Brief Ride Report

Thanks to all for a great ride yesterday. It stayed dry on the way out and we cycled to Chapeltown on the TPT and then took the public roads, farm roads and tracks through Thorpe Hesley and Tankersley to Wortley Hall. Chains falling off and splitting meant we got there just on time but 29 sat down to a waitress service, fab high tea in the small but perfectly formed FBU room. A rest after that mooching around the Hall and grounds or chatting in the bar and then about 7.30 we rode back in the soft rain climbing up along the ridge to descend through Grenoside all the way to Wadlsey Bridge and back into town. A small contingent peeled off to The Gardeners Rest for a last one or two. I’ll catch up with all the site admin and stuff that is coming up later on this week

Next SFNR Tuesday 5 June (bank holiday)
in the afternoon
SFNR Golden Jubilee (50th) ride to Wortley Hall (a get-away from the other jubilee)

Start: TBC but approx 3.00 pm at Barker’s Pool – gives plenty of time to get there and to enjoy the grounds, tour the Hall.
The planned ride to Wortley Hall on Tuesday 5th June is more or less the 50th SFNR; its Golden Jubilee.
I have booked a sit-down high tea that will be served in the stupendous Fire Brigades Union Room
Cost: £8.50 pp (I trust you to pay on the day[like the brewery tour], I’ve paid a deposit; judging from last year’s ride to Wortley I just think enough people will come along) If you don’t want the tea then just hang out or go for a walk round the gardens and join the ride back

I’ve set up a doodle for this ride. Sign up if you are definitely, probably or possibly coming, select veggie or meat ‘tea’

The Route: Route out through back roads through north of Sheffield via Thorpe Hesley and Tankersley, return like last year through Grenoside, down to Oughtibridge and back through Beeley Woods – just over 22 miles (sunset 9.35 pm)

Map: At present I’ve only drawn it from my house out to Wortley and back to the Gardeners’ Rest

View Golden Jubilee Ride Wortley Hall ( in a larger map

The event: Following last year’s “Be a citizen; not a subject” ride on the day of another Royal Wedding to Wortley Hall I took the chance to book a sit-down high tea for (initially) 30 people (meat/veggie salad + trifle + tea or coffee) served at 5.30 pm in the stupendous Fire Brigades Union Room for riders to enjoy the day off due to ER’s Diamond Jubilee

Even if you don’t want to do the ride, then come out and have the tea. Wortley Hall is well worth a visit

My first encounter with Wortley Hall was way back in 1986. I’d just moved back to the North, living in Rochdale, to work on a national school science curriculum project. My patch was the metropolitan boroughs of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, South and West Yorkshire, plus Cheshire and Lancashire. I was organising a conference for teachers and education advisers within this patch and needed a congenial venue that was good value and would be seen as an interesting, if not grand, place to stay. I was tipped off about Wortley Hall and went to scout it out. I walked into a small but perfectly-formed stately home, nestling in fertile farmland, that had the beautifully appointed grand rooms such as the classical, peaceful Amalgamated Engineering Union Lounge and the Fire Brigades Union Room which is a riot of rococo decoration. At that time little of the accommodation was en-suite and much of it was sharing three or four people to a room.

I learned that the accommodation was originally intended to provide holidays and relaxation for workers and a venue for unions to hold conferences. It had been a place of welcome respite for families and their children during the miners’ strike from 84 to 85. The place had been bought off the aristocratic Wharncliffe family after WWII by a trust established by unionists and the co-op movement and the place had been converted by grants from unions, a 1p rate levied on local union dues, and the voluntary unpaid labour of workers, most of whom were from South Yorkshire, especially Sheffield. With its photos and displays of its post-war history I found it inspiring and the staff were extremely helpful; I felt that still had the original mission of the place in their hearts.

I warned the conference delegates that the accommodation was not en-suite but we managed to organise sharing and we started on a Friday afternoon in May 1987 with high tea in the FBU room. We collected our plates of ham or cheese salad and sat down together at long tables, communally passing teapots of strong Yorkshire tea and plates of buttered slices of white bread. And that happy tea was the communal event that kicked off the conference: the sharing of food and the learning of names and the chatter of like-minded folks. Needless to say the first plenary talk in the evening was followed by a session in the comfortable bar and the subsequent laughing and joking of sharing accommodation with people you hoped you would get on with; like sleeping over on a large school trip – but we were all from different schools.

The Saturday of the conference proceeded with its workshops (break-out spaces had not been invented at this time), plenaries, keynotes and all that stuff; the food was as hearty as the first tea. Now relaxed into our venue, our company, and newly made friendships, even more of us crowded the bar in the evening. My memory was that many local people came to the bar as well and conference delegates and regulars chatted and drank with each other. The raffle started and Stuart, a colleague from Bolton, sat at the table I was on, won the top prize, a china dinner service. He said, ” My wife is going to say, ‘Had a good conference, dear?’ and I’m going to have to say, ‘It was really hard work and we were very busy, oh, and by the way, here’s a dinner service; I won the raffle.’ How am I going to explain that away?”.

On Sunday morning everybody was a bit bleary but we had an inspiring talk from a Sheffielder, HMI Brian Harris (before HMI was a mere collection of automatons) who critiqued the coming of the Education Reform Act and evaluating and accounting for education by results, then we finished with the usual plenary, action points etc and after a buffet lunch left for our respective homes, with professional relationships and friendships made and renewed. I really feel that Wortley Hall, as a venue developed through solidarity and co-operation, was an integral part of the success of that conference.