Monday, 4 April 2011

Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Returning from the South Western colour of 2009 to January 2011 was always going to be difficult particularly as the travel diary was looking pretty empty for this month, however I am gently easing myself back into normality with this post. I had contact by e-mail with the organiser of last years Scarborough trip, who came from Sheffield, to share the photographs of the trip. The 8th January was a free day for me after all the snow had gone and I was invited to see what I could do photographically with Sheffield ! At less than two weeks notice, the train fare was the same price as the petrol price so I opted for the more convenient and less restrictive time constraints of the car.

I had visited Sheffield once before within the last 10 years and remember a few interesting things about the place amongst the predominantly shopping area. My guide tried hard to give me the expert tour while I snapped away with the new camera.

Brightening up the shopping streets

Unlike other cities I have visited recently, Sheffield had an insignificant early history and only came to prominence following the industrial revolution. The name comes from a settlement that was built in a field next to the River Sheaf and became a town when the Normans arrived.

Sheffield City Hall was the first location after we got the bus in from the suburbs. The 1932 grade II listed building was almost hit by a World War II bomb but miraculously escaped.

We were only allowed to see the ornate ceiling in the foyer of this grand building following a £12.5 million 2005 re-fit.

The next location on the list was the externally austere Town Hall where the council sit and make decisions about the future of the city.
Henry Fitzalan-Howard unavailable for appointments today !!
Unfortunately the welcome we got was as friendly as the one we got from the last mayor and first appointed Lord Mayor in 1897 when the building was opened. The story goes that as mayor, he was refused good seats to important events and was given royal approval for the title.

Interestingly enough, when the building was opened by Queen Victoria, she didn't even leave her carriage and the gates were operated by a primitive remote control method. I wonder if she suspected the same greeting that we received or was it just that Mr Fitzalan-Howard had been annoying her for years about it !! Whatever the reason, it was time for us to return outside for some "welcome" sunshine !!

"Forkocactus Spoonelliflora" & "Barking up the wrong tree"
During the 14th century, Sheffield became an important centre for the making of knives and eventually before the industrial revolution it was the main city in England for the production of cutlery. With the development of steel production, the product was greatly improved and additionally with subsequent silver plating methods.

Forkocactus Spoonelliflora ( foreground object) was the work of Johnny White and was commissioned by Sheffield Museums in 2008 to celebrate 10 years of operation. It is a kinetically operated sculpture designed for collecting money... very ingenious!! As the coins are dropped into the slot, they make a chime by bouncing of an internal musical instrument. The inspiration for the design is a mix of the nearby Winter Gardens cactus and his first design in 2000 using cutlery in "Barking up the wrong tree".

"will someone pull these knives out ?, I've got a pain in the neck"or "am I barking up the wrong tree"
Relaxation in the city
During the late 20th century, Steel was no longer economic to be produced under the conditions that had prevailed for years and consequently many of the steelworks closed. To prevent Sheffield from becoming an industrial and economic wasteland, regeneration schemes were introduced to improve the city such as the Millennium (Art) Galleries built in 2001 which hosts the above sculptures in the corridor. The adjacent and connecting Sheffield Winter Gardens were opened by the Queen in May 2003 and it seems like a nice place to go to escape the busyness of the city.

The building is state of the art with a heating system that cools in summer and heats in winter 2000 plants from all over the world.

Larch was chosen as the construction material as no preservatives are needed for this wood. The chemical free atmosphere in turn is beneficial to the preservation of the plants.

Outside The Winter Garden doors are a reminder of the past with a sculpture of steel balls.

It was time for a bit of lunch in the coffee shop opposite and under the shadow of the Roman Catholic Cathedral church tower of St Marie.
(This was a defining moment of the length of my day out as I was originally going to have something hot to eat here but opted for something lighter due to the recommendation of a local indian curry near my friends house later in the day.)

The Lyceum Theatre was built in 1897 and due to financial difficulties of it's day, closed in 1969 and was nearly demolished in 1975. There were various uses for the venue before restoration by the City Council and the re-opening in 1990. On a side note, the nearby Crucible Theatre hosts the World Snooker Championships during late April to early May every year.

The Sheffield Supertram network was opened in 1994 at a cost of £240 million and carries people to a variety of destinations around the city. At the time It had a difficult beginning as it had to unsuccessfully compete for trade with the local bus companies until it was sold to a major Bus company 3 years later. One of the main stops in the City centre is Cathedral.

The Cathedral is the oldest building in Sheffield. Two churches pre-date the current building which was built in 1430 with additional Chapels and transept extensions constructed in the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. Unusually the church was originally known as and dedicated as St Peter's but following the reformation it is now known as St Peter and St Paul. St Marie eventually became the Catholic Cathedral when it was completed around 1850 thanks to the influence of a local landowner, The Duke of Norfolk.

1966 entrance
The 19th and 20th century saw continued changes in the cathedral design with a major exterior feature.

The Lantern Tower was built inside the modern door to improve light in but the glass was changed during a 1998 refurbishment. It is most unusual to stand inside and observe the mix of architecture at the join. One would think that some of the building was bombed during World War II and later replaced.

Steel Nativity
Time to take flight...

... and leave the City centre behind for that promise of a good Curry...

Austere building silhouette 

... And then race up the motorway back home with some loud happy music to keep me awake at this late hour !!


  1. Your photographs and posts keep on impressing me. Great photo's, they all tell a story and make you feel as if you were there to see it for yourself! Well done!

  2. I like Sheffield. The Winter Graden and the modern church with the Lantern Tower were not there by the time of my visit but they add to the charm of the town.

  3. The city of my birth. You have done it proud. That was one busy day. The new camera has done a wonderful job.......cos it hasn't it's the man behind the camera. Another sparkling post.

  4. The lovely picture of the Lyceum theater reminds me that I've read in some article that Sheffield has the largest concentration of theaters in UK outside London. So it's the center of .. cutlery and that of theater. Nice.

  5. i like, very much, the photos from this post. i really enjoy it.

  6. Thank you for nice trip :)

  7. I love all the photos esp the silhouette of the building. Thanks for the tour.

  8. What beautiful photos! I think my favorite is the one of the gate. How I would enjoy a day in that arboretum right now as I look out the window and see snowflakes drifting down! If the Claires there is anything like the Claires here, it amazes me that a place like that can survive. What did you order at the Indian restaurant and how was it? Thanks for the stunning photos and the history lesson. No statue of Sean Bean, huh? ;-)

  9. I enjoyed these photos, especially the last four. Thanks for the trip.

  10. You make a trip to the UK look very inviting.

  11. It's a part of England I've never visited, and now I'm entirely convinced that will have to change it as soon as possible:)

  12. I still find it so amazing that no matter what city you visit in England there is always something interesting and unique to see. Thanks for the great tour of Sheffield.

  13. I like the look of the winter gardens, I take it they don't like you taking photos in the town hall!!!
    Intresting post and photos of somewhere I have not been.

  14. Wonderful pictures! Love the cutlery sculpture! And the buildings' silhouettes are beautiful.

  15. Sheffield. Another trip with you ...
    Today is Friday, a rainy cold day ! They say that the spring is here, but I don't see any sign, any special smell or mood! good that I have this story to read, and that strange Lantern Tower with his light where I can hide till Monday!
    Good Curry and happy music you said?
    Fair enough! ha ha
    I wish you my best!

  16. What a blog! I thoroughly enjoyed it and your`e photos, amazing, you have a natural knack of capturing and making objects stand out.
    Brilliant! not sure about the curry though!

  17. Very beautiful and relaxing place, I hope can travel this town too!

  18. Great post and images, It has been several years since I was in Sheffield. went to watch the World Snooker Championship there at the Crucible.


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