Born in Lancashire but now proud to be an adopted Yorkshireman, Paul Moorhead originally worked in the textile industry and then launched his own business, processing fabric for the lighting industry. When that business failed, he turned he retrained in law, specialising in insolvency issues. Today he is the head of Moorhead Savage and is the only insolvency practitioner in the UK with a PhD in insolvency law. Paul lives in Penistone with wife Nicola.
We went to the Lyceum pantomime for our office party last Christmas and we had a great time. It reminded us all of our childhoods – good old-fashioned fun and we did all the things we should do, singing and cheering and enjoying our ice creams in little tubs in the interval. The theatre itself is beautifully restored, of course, and the money they have spent on Tudor Square has made it very impressive, though I don’t think they should have got rid of the grassed area. We’ve never been to the Crucible, I have to admit. I think the difficulty is finding something Niki and I both like because she’s more into musicals and I would rather see a good play. Perhaps we’ll go and see Hobson’s Choice. I saw it once at the Bolton Octagon when a friend of mine was in it and it’s a great piece – a real slice of Lancashire heritage!
PENISTONE TO SHEFFIELD RAIL LINK
We’re very lucky that we have a train service through Penistone, on the line from Sheffield to Huddersfield, and we still have a station too, something that Dr Beeching managed to forget about when he was implementing his railway closures. Even though it’s a single track line with a little train that chugs along quite slowly we do like to use it now and again. The trains run mainly hourly and it takes about 50 minutes because they got rid of the direct route when the Woodhead Tunnel closed, so it now takes the long route via Barnsley. The tunnel’s still there on the Pennine Trail and there’s a movement gathering momentum to get it reopened as a heavy goods route from Sheffield to Manchester which would be great because it would take all the traffic off the Woodhead Pass and it would give us a much stronger transport link between two of the north’s most important cities.
I suspect a lot of Sheffield people don’t know Cannon Hall because it’s on the west side of Barnsley, but it’s not very far to go. Niki and I went there for a day out with our nieces earlier this year and we had a fantastic time. It was lambing season and there was so much for the children to see and do and explore. They’ve also had the genius idea of selling packets of food so you can feed their animals for them! It’s well laid out and family friendly. The house is very dramatic, with views of the countryside. You certainly wouldn’t imagine you were so close to Barnsley. It’s a great place to go for a picnic in the summer and next door there’s the famous maize maze. We got lost in there for a couple of hours, which was great fun. We did have a very tall friend who could just about see over the top but nevertheless it was an entertaining experience.
The West One area is a great place for an evening out. It’s very good for networking events because it’s got some good bars and it’s very close to the city centre. The whole of Devonshire Green is extremely vibrant – a great place for people-watching. Another good thing is that when the cocktail bars of West One become a bit too much for you, you can always slip across the green to the Devonshire Cat, where they have an excellent selection of real ales and bottled lagers, as well as some great food. Again, it’s a bar with a really good atmosphere and an interesting mix of people.
I simply love the setting of Chatsworth – the way you approach it along the great drive and then see the house on the side of the valley. The last time we were there they had laid out the main dining room exactly as it would have been in the time that the sixth duke – I think the one they called the Bachelor Duke in the 19th century – was the British Ambassador to Russia. It looked amazing! I love the little chapel too – simply beautiful. Then there’s the wonderful parkland. The last time we were there they had a sculpture exhibition that demonstrated perfectly that art doesn’t only need to be seen in a gallery.
THE SHEFFIELD TAP
Apart from the Devonshire Cat, I don’t think there is a better place for real ale than the Sheffield Tap. It’s a restored Victorian railway station bar but it’s not been over-restored to the point where it loses all its character. The beautiful tiles and the old bar have survived intact and the authentic ambience, slightly draughty, means you almost expect to smell the smoke and the coal dust from the steam trains on the platform, a bit like a scene from Brief Encounter. Whenever I’ve been in it’s been packed which is always a good sign and it adds to the atmosphere. You really do feel you are part of a railway experience with people coming and going and discussing the journeys they are making or have made.
The great thing about Sheffield City Hall is that we’ve seen everything from the wonderful Toby Foster and the Last Laugh Comedy Club to something as exciting as the Buena Vista Social Club. On another night, it can be a fabulous performance from Jools Holland or something entirely different like opera or ballet. We don’t realise perhaps how lucky we are to have a venue in Sheffield that offers such a varied selection of nights out. The building has been very well restored but the one criticism I would have is that the bars are not great. They just let the side down a little.