Singing the praises of a city and its music history

Stuart Basfoird at the City Hall
Stuart Basfoird at the City Hall

Stuart Basford was a police officer in South Yorkshire for 21 years before becoming a music promoter. Many of his concerts have been in the Memorial Hall, where he has brought a succession of American acoustic musicians, but he has also staged events in the City Hall, Lyceum, Crucible, Montgomery Theatre and pubs such as the Pheasant at Lane Top and, most recently, The Greystones. As a sergeant, he was heavily involved in the policing of the Bruce Springsteen concert at Bramall Lane in 1988. His passion for Springsteen’s music has taken him to America many times. Stuart lives with wife Karen in Ridgeway.

Geographical Position

We are lucky to be almost in the centre of England. The motorway system passes close by and the train service is usually quite good and reasonably cheap if you book in advance. I love travel and there are for airports within an hour’s reach where numerous no-frills airlines operate from. And how wonderful to have the Peak District, Pennines and Nottinghamshire countryside so close to our doorsteps. No more than seven miles out of the city and you have views to match any in the world. For me, there’s nothing better that a walk around Bakewell or a cycle on the Monsal trail or Clumber Park. If friends visit, then a trip to Chatsworth, the Major Oak or Creswell Crags are great ways to spend time.

Sheffield 12

For someone who likes travel it is odd to have lived in one postal district for 51 of my 61 years. My parents lived on the Basegreen estate, and my father still does. I have lived on Charnock Hall and for the last 15 years in Ridgeway. It always feels like the countryside and village life but 10 minutes to the city centre. I still count as close friends people I met at school, Frecheville youth club, the Rock Club and Old Harrow at Gleadless and we have a reunion every now and then. Many, like me, still live in S12.

Pete Stringfellow/ Tony Smith

I consider myself lucky to have been a teenager in the 1960s when the best music ever made was recorded and live acts played in small clubs and the back rooms of pubs. Tony Smith brought many to Frecheville Rock Club at the community centre. I remember seeing Spencer Davies with a 16-year-old Steve Winwood, Long John Baldry with Rod (the mod) Stewart, all in a room for 300 people.

Pete Stringfellow was so far ahead of his time and put Sheffield on the musical map. He got me into soul and blues and I saw many of the great acts live in their prime. He booked the Black Cat club and I saw the Beatles at the Azena Ballroom just as Please Please Me made number one. The Kinks played the Blue Moon and at the Mojo Club Ike and Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, The Yardbirds, John Lee Hooker come to mind. The Esquire Club, part of what is now the Leadmill, was great as well, and I can’t remember how many times I saw Joe Cocker play the Birley Hotel, Barrow Hill Hotel and numerous other pub back rooms.

Sheffield City and Memorial Halls

Everybody played the City Hall before the advent of arenas. I’ve spent some great evenings there watching the major touring acts. Bob Dylan opened the Don’t Look Back tour in 1965 there, Pink Floyd, Van Morrison in the 70s and many more. They were brilliant nights followed by a pint in the Albert pub across the road. I have promoted Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Kate Rusby and Paul Carrack there and have used the Memorial Hall for loads of concerts. Before the refurbishment it was the best 500-seat venue in the UK. Artists and the audience loved it. It was a D-shaped amphitheatre and the audience wrapped around the stage. It was like being in your front room with a great live band playing. Myself and some other local promoters have introduced Sheffield to some of the best acoustic music around. It’s always a nice feeling when people thank you on the way out for a great evening they have had.

Sheffield football clubs

To support either team in the city is a lifetime of nearly being there. My dad took me to Hillsborough in 1958, we played Chelsea, lost 3-2 and got relegated that season. I was hooked and remember the 60s when we finished second to the Spurs double-winning side and should have won the cup in 1966. There were two cup finals in the same season, 1991, when we beat Manchester United to win the League Cup. I am still a Wednesday season ticket holder in the south stand. I was a police officer for 21 years and worked many a game at Bramall Lane but my highlight there was without doubt being involved in the Bruce Springsteen concert in 1988. An amazing two days. You are never short of something to talk about.

Kelham Island

For the last six years I have worked in this area as a manager of Kelham Island Brewery and seen it change from an industrial backwater into a thriving residential and leisure quarter. The Fat Cat, Kelham Tavern and the brewery have made it a real ale feast and, with the addition of a new coffee bar and the Milestone, it has become a destination for foodies. The student and residential flats bring a wide variety of cultures and what a pity that, with the recession, major plans for another 3,000 flats are on hold at the moment.

My Back Garden

I have a large garden with amazing views down the Moss Valley. I consider myself lucky to live there with my wife Karen. We are both keen gardeners and spend most of our spare summertime in the garden. We have a large deck and every other year have put a music concert on, raising money for Macmillan nurses.