Getting to ThOD
Midnight Voices 10th Anniversary Concert, 9th September 2006
The Lantern is a bizarre but beautiful Victorian relic, a miniature proscenium theatre: a bijou music-hall-style venue built in the 1890s by a Sheffield industrialist for his children's entertainment, allowed to fall into disrepair and then taken over and lovingly restored during the mid-20th Century by the Dilys Guite Players, an amateur theatre group. The then owner was so impressed he donated the building to the Players, who still use the theatre, but it also provides a performance space for various kinds of entertainment, including 'unpopular' music. Which is where we come in!
Sitting between Sharrow and Nether Edge, the district we're describing is one of Sheffield's longest-established residential areas, lying just over a mile south-west of the city centre. Sandwiched between the Asian enclave encompassing London Road, Abbeydale Road and Heeley to the south, and the lively student district of Sharrow Vale and lower Ecclesall Road to the north-west, it has retained, especially in the Kenwood Road area, an old-world air of leafy quiet and faded prosperity. It's also notoriously difficult to find your way around.
But first the approaches: the OS 50,000-series map is a good start for orientation. The image shown here loses some detail, but clicking on the map brings up a high resolution version for viewing or downloading.
Most visitors unfamiliar with Sheffield will be approaching from the south, so I hope the others will understand and forgive my concentration on this side. There are a number of routes into Sheffield from the northbound M1, and none of them is very good. But the alternatives are worse, so I'll continue.
Residents of south-west Sheffield (myself included) exit M1 at Jct 29 (Heath) west onto the Chesterfield Parkway (A617). At the terminal roundabout they switch to the northbound A61 which bypasses Chesterfield and Dronfield, and pitches them onto Sheffield's southern ring road at the Norton/Meadowhead roundabout. From here they can wiggle down the slopes ahead and to their left into Abbeydale and Totley, or cross the Sheaf and up the other side to Whirlow and Dore and out into the Peak District. Or they can proceed on the A61 down through ever-congested Woodseats and Heeley to reach the city centre.
Jct 30 (Barlborough) accesses the A6135 (formerly A616) which takes a direct if slow route through run-down parts of the city to the centre.
Jct 31 (Aston) puts the traveller onto the A57, parts of which have been upgraded to bypass the villages inbetween, before it joins the Sheffield Parkway halfway between M1 Jct 33 and the city centre. Use this route if you like roundabouts.
Jct 33 (Catcliffe) is a little further on, the motorway having made a 90-degree looped turn through Jct 32, the M18 intersection. But (road works on this stretch permitting) it's worth the extra mile or five, as it deposits you straight onto the Sheffield Parkway (A630 at this point), and before you know it you'll fetch up at the Park Square roundabout on the edge of the city centre. Jct 33 is also recommended for southbound arrivals.
Off to the right at Park Square are the hotels Bristol, Hilton and Holiday Inn; for the city centre hotels Macdonald St Pauls and Novotel, carry straight on. For the venue take the 11 o'clock third exit (A61 south). This brings you past the railway station, Showroom cinema and Leadmill rock venue, after which you should hold centre or right lane and take the right fork at the Granville triangle (formerly a roundabout). If you didn't miss it, you're then heading west along the city's inner ring road towards the intersections at Bramall Lane (football stadium), London Road (the original A61, now A621 leading to Abbeydale Road), and Ecclesall Road (A625). Here's where you'll probably get lost, but this might help:
Don't be alarmed it looks chaotic, but please click on the map to view or download the full-size image, which renders the street names legible. You might wish to print a copy to aid navigation. Park Square roundabout can be seen at top centre, with the railway station below it. I've highlighted the theatre and the nearby Marriott Hotel where several MVs are staying. The theatre is at the junction of Kenwood Park Road and Priory Road, and the hotel is on Kenwood Road. Also marked are a number of hostelries within a half-mile or so which I'm led to believe serve a good pint of the proper sorts of brew (ale at least I'll bet their tea's not so hot). Here's a close-up:
Some of the pubs shown here offer food service too, the closest to the venue being the Nether Edge Hotel and Tavern on Montgomery Road (300yds). But if you prefer restaurant dining, consider Ecclesall Road for a meal before the show in the 'golden mile' between the Hunter's Bar roundabout and the inner ring road you'll find excellent eateries to suit all tastes. If you're walking down there, note the secluded footpath (shown by the red broken line) between the Sharrow Head roundabout and Ecclesall Road, crossing the lower Porter Valley. Just a word of warning: don't risk the path if alone or vulnerable, or after dark there have been a couple of muggings reported. Go down Sharrow Vale Road instead. Note also that the distances involved may require an early start to your meal, which might rule out some contenders: for instance the point where Ecclesall Road and London Road meet the ring road (Waitrose and Baan Thai) is about a mile's walk from the theatre, and it's uphill all the way back a taxi might be a good idea!
Sheffield City Centre has a thriving bar and club scene, but it's a bit of a hike from the theatre better to hail a black cab, of which there are plenty to be had cruising the Ecclesall Road area. Should you ever need to telephone for a mini-cab, the principal operator can be reached on 0114 266 2662. If contemplating the drive into the centre, be aware that the free-flow system of the '60s has long been demolished, since when short-sighted errors of design have accumulated into an irreversible mess. Today's Sheffield highway planners have some dangerously curious conceptions: here you will find bus and cycle lanes coming and going, intersections, bollards, kerbs and crossings deliberately made hazardous to improve road safety, and prohibited-turn systems which require one to pass each point twice (in different directions) in order to reduce congestion. There are some streets you can see, but just can't get to without a two-mile detour.
To complete the presentation, here's a photo (taken in winter, so not so many leaves!) of the theatre's neighbourhood. As always, there's a high-resolution version yours for the clicking:
See you at ThOD!
Steve Birkill, MV administrator
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