Building a reputation

Gordon Ramsey outside one of his favourite places........the Churchgates Shopping Parade on Ecclesall Road South.
Gordon Ramsey outside one of his favourite places........the Churchgates Shopping Parade on Ecclesall Road South.

Gordon Ramsay celebrated his 80th year of being born and bred a Sheffielder last year and has only recently retired from his careers of architect and then video producer.

He has lived in Ecclesall his whole life, married his wife Moira 57 years ago and has a son and daughter who live close by, and three grandchildren.

The grandson of the builder of much of Ecclesall Road, Gordon studied architecture at Sheffield University and designed spectacular homes and interiors for Sheffield’s glitterati, shops and offices around the country throughout the 60s and 70s.

After the opulent Egyptian-themed Sidewalk cafe on Chapel Walk, he was asked to design a nightclub for the US Airforce at Lakenheath and a bar and cocktail lounge at RAF Finningley. Gordon went on to design the millionpound Embassy Suites at Gleneagles where King Hussein of Jordan honeymooned.

As a video producer in the 80s, he filmed in New York for William Hill and produced Government anti-terrorism training videos for airports, maritime ports and the Channel Tunnel. Unlike his infamous chef namesake, Sheffield’s Gordon Ramsay doesn’t swear (much) or cook.

Education

I have nothing but happy memories of my schooldays at King Edward VII School and the same goes for the five years at Sheffield University studying architecture. Back then our department was in the basement of a disused church at Walkley, which also housed the university pathology department. We were always intrigued and curious about the contents of the different-sized wicker baskets being carried in.

Churchgate Parade, Ecclesall Road South

The shops opposite Ecclesall All Saints Church, beloved of George Cunningham and built by my grandfather, are special to me. From the offices above, my brother and I have looked out over the seasons and shoppers. It’s so important to support local shopkeepers as supermarkets threaten to take over. On this parade you can get everything from artisan cheeses, delicious bread, fish and chocolates to my son’s shop’s specialist range of hand-made cards. You can even hire your wedding suit here.

Bramall Lane executive suite

The parking place, comfy seat and lunch were the best thing about the Blades’ performance. There were 70 years and four generations of high expectations, dashed hopes and disappointment before I gave up my ticket in favour of a Sky box. I said at the time it was that or a heart attack!

Marco@Milano, Millhouses

When my business was at its height, I loved to eat their delicious food regularly, usually my favourite pepper or venison steak. I am also rather partial to Rossi’s in Sharrow Lane. I enjoy food but not cooking. My daughter warned me I might get invited on to Gordon’s show and last year the researchers called. I refused politely.

Specialist wine shops

I love fine wine and was a regular at the sadly lamented Menzel’s, so I’ve now transferred allegiance to Mitchells, because, as one Sheffield wine merchant put on his sign, “a day without wine is like a day without sunshine!”

My garden and glorious garden centres

Gardening and plants are the love of my life and I enjoy sharing that passion with like-minded knowledgeable enthusiasts at nurseries such as Ferndale. I am fortunate to have a south-facing walled garden, and believe me I make the most of it, constantly changing plants round to create the perfect view and occasionally smuggling yet more new ones in unnoticed… or so I think.

Sheffield University Students’ Union

This is a special place to me as it hosted the regular dances I enjoyed in my student days. It’s where I met my wife, Moira. We were engaged in weeks and married a few months later.

St Thomas Church, Crookes

I became a Christian in the late 70s and have worshipped there and at the St Thomas’ Philadelphia site since. I still remember the excitement of being part of a congregation who sacrificially fundraised nearly £1m in the 1980s to re-order the church to accommodate hundreds more people and grow to being one of the UK’s largest.

Ecclesall Road

I recently contributed my family archives to Chris Keeling’s book. I love the whole road, much of which my grandfather Walter Ramsay built and have family connections along its whole length, from my grandfather Ingram’s tea business in Plantation House at the city centre end to the Whirlowbrook Park end, the site of one of my grandfather’s houses, Broomcroft, which is now a nursing home. He never actually lived there. His wife claimed it was too big and refused to move, then a film company wanted to buy it from him and burn it down for a film. I remember the halcyon days of the Golden Mile of shops in the 70s, my grandfather’s house with the cannons at the top of Abbey Lane and number 331 where I grew up.

Parkhead Cine Society

My builder father, Alan Ramsay, was also a keen film-maker and when he built 331 Ecclesall Road South, he built a 40-seat cinema underneath it...probably what eventually led to my move into video production. Movie star Bebe Daniels and her actor husband Ben Lyon were honorary presidents.

The graphics/animator was Arthur Humberstone who later went on to work first for the Rank Organisation and later for Walt Disney. I still have hundreds of hours of the movies they made, which make a living family archive.