In praise of city folk

Folk musician John Scholey at his favourite place, The Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend Sheffield
Folk musician John Scholey at his favourite place, The Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend Sheffield
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John Scholey is a born and bred Sheffielder. Educated at St. Mary’s Church of England School, Walkley and King Edward VII School, Broomhill, he then spent three years at Manchester University before returning home to Sheffield. He was a director and co-owner of Selima Software Ltd, payroll and HR specialists, before selling the business three years ago and becoming an employee. He is 63 and will retire next month. John’s main interests are folk music and photography and he has been morris dancing for a Sheffield side for over 40 years. John has lived just off Psalter Lane with his wife Enid for 26 years.

Folk music scene

As my friend Dave Eyre says on his radio programme, Thank Goodness It’s Folk on Radio Sheffield Live: “Sheffield is the epicentre of the folk universe”. There are music sessions in many Sheffield pubs on most nights of the week. I play the mandolin and can usually be found in the Gardeners Rest on a Monday night and occasionally in either the Hillsborough Hotel or the Kelham Island Tavern on Sunday.

There is a wealth of very talented young musicians in Sheffield and the Sheffield universities are top of the list for anyone interested in folk. In addition, Sheffield is now home to several nationally and internationally known folk artists. There are some great concerts and concert venues with perhaps The Greystones (the resurrection of the old Highcliffe) being the pick of the bunch.

Sheffield City Morris and Grenoside Sword Dancers

I have been morris dancing for a long time now, originally with Sheffield University and for the last 30-odd years with Sheffield City Morris, and my knees are starting to show the strain. We have danced all over Europe – France, Spain, Poland, Hungary – and in 1992 were the first morris side to visit Ecuador, performing at an international folk festival, staying in army camps and touring the country. We even danced across the equator with three men on each side of the line.

Over four years ago I joined Grenoside Sword Dancers. This tradition goes back well over 100 years and every Boxing Day the team dance in the village outside the Old Harrow pub.

Walkley and the Rivelin Valley

I was brought up on the hills of Walkley and my 92-year-old mother still lives on Fir Street in a house that has been in her family for over 130 years. In my youth I spent many happy hours in the Rivelin Valley. We would go paddling in Rivelin paddling pool or fishing for tadpoles in the Round Dam. When I was a bit older we would have a drink in the Rivelin Hotel before walking back home to Walkley.

Pubs, landlords and landladies

I have always been a fan of real ale, preferring a pint of the amber nectar to a glass of red wine. Sheffield is quite proudly the real ale capital of England with many great pubs and now more breweries than any other city. I spent many years frequenting the Grapes Hotel with Bob and Lucy Rhodes in charge and used to play mandolin on a Saturday night with Maurice Malone in the Dog and Partridge run by Ann Flynn and her late husband Frank. Then there’s Fagan’s, a great little pub, still run by Tom and Barbara.

In recent years I have frequented The Blake, brought back from the dead by James Birkett, the award-winning Kelham Island Tavern, admirably run by Trevor and Lewis, and perhaps my favourite, the Gardeners Rest where Pat and Eddie serve Five Rivers from Sheffield Brewery Company, one of my favourite beers.


My father worked for Joseph Rodgers and Sons all of his life and that is where he met my mother. Some of her uncles also worked there and one of my great grandfathers, Thomas McClory, was originally a partner with his two brothers in the cutlery firm of John McClory and Sons. You could say that cutlery is in my blood and I still have my father’s habit of picking up the cutlery, no matter how prestigious the restaurant, to see where it is made. Sadly, these days, it is not likely to have been made in Sheffield.

Sheffield Photographic Society

I have been interested in photography for many years but regrettably only joined SPS three years ago. The society was formed in 1864 and is one of the oldest in the world. It is now thriving with over 100 members. A great bunch of people and a varied programme catering for all aspects of photography. A good social side as well and I have made many new friends. There are some great photographers in the club with the daddy of them all being Ray Brightman, who joined the club in 1954 when I was six, and who is still showing us ‘youngsters’ how to take photographs.

Trees, woodlands and parks

Sheffield is the greenest city in the UK and quite possibly in Europe. There are some great green spaces – Woolley Woods, Greno Woods, Beeley Woods, the vast expanse of Ecclesall Woods, Weston Park, Endcliffe Park, Graves Park, Concord Park, Millhouses Park, Hillsborough Park and many more. Sheffield has over 175 woods and two million trees and a third of Sheffield is within the Peak District National Park.

Sheffield Theatres

Both myself and my wife are big fans of live theatre and the Sheffield Theatres complex is reputedly the largest outside London. We have seen some great shows there over the years and I was fortunate to have a small part in Far Away in the Studio a few years ago. I think that Sheffield Theatres goes from strength to strength and Daniel Evans is just the latest in a long line of great artistic directors. Sheffield also has some great amateur venues such as the Library Theatre, the University Drama Studio and the small but perfectly formed Lantern Theatre in Nether Edge.

Sheffield Wednesday

I couldn’t really leave out the Wednesday. Although I never go to matches these days I always search for their result on a Saturday afternoon and it invariably affects my mood for a short time.