City that tops the bill

Chris Wilson is a promoter who moved to Sheffield in his late teens. Now semi-retired, he estimates that during his 25 years in the music business he’s been involved in over 3,500 shows at various venues with artists as diverse as Jools Holland, Arthur Lee and Love, The Damned, Robert Plant and David Gray but one artist he’s particularly proud to have worked with is the Paris based Algerian superstar Soaud Massi. Chris is married with two grown-up children and three grandchildren. He lives on the edge of the Peak Park where he’s renovating a cottage.

Leah’s Yard, Cambridge Street

An important piece of Sheffield’s industrial heritage. Built in the early 1800s, it’s grade II listed, red brick and with an archway for coaches leading through to a courtyard at the rear that’s surrounded by many workshops with external wooden stairs. Once occupied by Little Mesters, it’s stood empty for many years and is in a very sorry state.

Police box, Surrey Street

How many children are disappointed when they sneak a peak in here and discover it’s not the size of the Tardis? This is the only survivor of over 100 boxes introduced into the city in the 1920s by Mr Sillitoe of gang-busting fame.

For anyone who fancies a garden shed with a difference, there’s a company in the South selling refurbished ones for £25,000.

The Greystones

Formerly The Highcliffe, now completely renovated by Thornbridge Brewery. A warm, welcoming place with open fires, stripped floorboards, nice staff and a good selection of real ales. The Backroom, in the space of only seven months, has got itself firmly established on the live music circuit attracting top names from all over the world. The new soul of the Sheffield music scene. I like The York at Broomhill, too. It’s a great place to meet with friends on a Friday or Saturday night.

Record Collector

A favourite stop off for touring bands, particularly the American outfits, their first question at load-in often being for directions to Starbucks and Record Collector. It’s a fantastic place to just browse around made even better by friendly and knowledgeable staff. Owner Barry has supported my often adventurous musical capers for many years and I could never thank him enough.

Wilko Johnson

A very good friend and one of the main reasons I’m in this business. Founder member of Dr Feelgood, Wilko is always associated with Canvey Island but his mum was from Sheffield, he went to school in Sheffield and he still has relatives in Sheffield so I think I can include him in my favourite things. I’ve worked with him and Blockheads bassist Norman Watt Roy – he’s in Wilko’s band – for over 20 years and even after all that time I still get goose bumps when they step on stage. Without a doubt the most exciting r’n’b band in the world. They normally play big venues but you can see them up close at the cosy Greystones on December 9. Get your tickets early, they sold out two nights at the same venue in February.


We’re very fortunate to have stunning countryside and interesting walks right outside our front door. A favourite when our grandchildren come to visit is a stroll up to Our Cow Molly’s farm at Dungworth, an area of outstanding natural beauty, then on to Bradfield, particularly good if there’s a cricket match. It’s worth checking out Fair House farmhouse on Annet Lane while you’re here as well. Built in the early 1600s, it survived the Sheffield flood – remarkable when everything around it was swept away. rom here head to peaceful Ughill where residents spend their every waking hour hand-crafting the famous Ugg boots, of course, and where William the Conqueror had connections, then head back to Dungworth for a pint of Farmers Blonde at The Royal before the trek home. Marvellous.

The Boardwalk

Now closed. A fabulous place with a fantastic atmosphere and an amazing history. It took many people who shared a passion, many years to make it such a great place but only days for its heart to be ripped out three weeks after it had been voted the fourth most legendary venue in the world ahead of one of my other favourites, CBGB’s in New York.

Cementation Furnace, Shalesmoor

Thousands of people must pass this every week and not give it a second glance. Built in the 1800s, it was still in use through to the early 1950s and I think I’m right in saying it’s the only undamaged one in the UK. The strange device on top is a blackout cover fitted during WW2.

Bole Hills

Always breezy with some of the best views in Sheffield. Burial remains dating back to 1500 BC were discovered here. On a nice summer evening grab a bottle of wine and your camera and go and sit on the rocks to see the most amazing sunsets. I used to spend hours here with our dog when we lived in the area. I was told just recently that the Northern Lights were clearly visible from the Bole Hills early last year.

Eating Out

I was a huge fan of those advocates of lard, the Two Fat Ladies, and their unpretentious, calorie-loaded recipes, so anywhere that does good quality traditional food is always my first choice. I also came to like Moroccan food after we spent a considerable amount of time in Casablanca and Marrakesh a couple of years ago, so occasional trips to Otto’s at Hunters Bar make a change. Contrary to popular belief, at no point in the film Casablanca did Humphrey Bogart say “ Sam, you couldn’t run a pie shop in Barnsley.” I also like, in no particular order, Saffron Club, Artisan, Rajput, West 10, Lahlou’s and Cafe Ceres.

Going Home

Most of all, I love going home.