This blog has reached last Thursday, as the floods descended on Sheffield, leaving my son James at risk of being unable to act as Matthew’s model for his barbering finals.


So I set the alarm for 5am the next morning and set off for Sheffield (again), diverted via the M1 as the A1 north of Newark was a swimming pool.


A quick stop at Leicester Forest East to confirm that, yes, all trains from Sheffield to Manchester were indeed cancelled, and I pressed on into the dawn.

By 9 I’d picked up James at the Uni and was at the foot of the Snake Pass, where “NO ENTRY” signs were just about to be plonked near Rivelin Dams.


We pressed on. Grief, what a journey. The Pass looked spellbinding in autumn colour, the pools of standing water scary.

Five minutes later and the Pass would have been closed; we’d never have made it to Ancoats for 10 via Woodhead.

After driving since 5.30 I needed sustenance. Thank you, Texan brunch at Home Sweet Home.

Yeah but

James headed for a James Bond makeover at the barbering school,


While I had a rare tourist morning in Manchester, waiting to see if he’d be able to get a train back to Sheff by the afternoon.

I don’t need to tell you this, but Manchester really is the greatest city on Earth.

STILL not been in since non-refurb
Manc wit

The Christmas markets have arrived; I’ll definitely pop in here soon.

It’ll be cheaper than the Stingo on cask in London

For 25 years I’ve been walking past the medieval Chethams School of Music that you pass on the way from Victoria to Selfridges, always deterred by the word “organised” in “organised tour”.

This time, I succumbed, joining a motley dozen tourists from Australia, Cologne, Japan and Ludlow. I booked on-line while I was standing in the queue.

It’s the oldest public library in Europe, but you can look up the history yourself.


The guide, a Rochdale lad, gave us an entertaining history of collegiate life, when he wasn’t being probed about Rochdale pubs by yours truly.


The chained library is the highlight, with an original copy of Johnson’s Dictionary which has a definition of BRAPA as “incontinent but entertaining rascal”


Unburnt copy
Mr Chetham

You can also see the desk at which Richard Marx invented Corbynism.


Utterly wonderful.

Meanwhile, over at the London School of Barbering, Matt had successfully completed his butchery of James. This is his logo.


Time for a pub.

10 thoughts on “SNAKE PASS TO CHETHAMS

  1. The Unicorn hasn’t been refurbished yet as the plan to turn it into a sports bar was shelved when it was granted Grade II listed building status in June after a last minute application to English Heritage by CAMRA and the council. I’ve not been in since then, but apparently it’s gone downhill, with the interior now very scruffy and the clientele rather rough after the temporary manager, probably unwittingly, readmitted a lot of the dodgy characters the former landlady had barred.


  2. Are you suggesting that parts of Mancunian collegiate life don’t involve pubs? Unless you mean curry houses.

    You’ve got the Johnson quote slighty wrong, it’s actually “Entertaining rascal, should be sent to the continent”. The level of success in this case can be viewed by the outbreak of the 7 years war the year after publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love Matt’s new logo and that he is staying in the Manchester area:) Mom and Dad will like that! Library looks really nice. We did not visit since no tours happened pre 11:00 opening time. Big miss based on the photos.


    1. Now that you’ve a barber in the family, I wonder what happened when René Magritte went for a haircut?

      I mean, you’d feel a bit silly saying “would you like to see the back of your head, Sir?”, wouldn’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My friend in Macclesfield took me to the Christmas markets in Manchester during my last visit– a happy memory, though I don’t think I actually bought anything!

    I do hope you’ll get a pint of Sam Smiths Yorkshire Stingo on cask at some point and give us a report; I greatly enjoyed a bottle of it a few years ago over here (though I didn’t enjoy the price tag!), and can only imagine how good it might be in this newly available form.


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