Bin the guidebooks: here’s what Sheffield really has to offer…
Blogger and Steel City local Lydia Abraham picks out 25 fantastic things only locals will be aware of.
1. Meadowhall is a mood changer
Oh Meadowhall, how you can provide so many treats and yet be a place of utter hell at the same time? There are days when you can’t beat a good day’s shopping at Meadowhall. However, there are also days where it’d be easier to get past riot police than it is to get round parents with prams, OAPs and over-enthusiastic teenagers. From October onwards, enter at your own peril.
2. Everyone will call you ‘love’
Or ‘duck’. Or ‘sparrow’. It doesn’t matter what your age is, what your gender is, or what your personal preference in Chinese food is…round Sheffield everyone calls each other ‘love’. It’s just a habit we’ll never get out of.
3. You realise how important it was when these came down
When they took these guys down it was a big deal for us all. Some called them ugly, but these giant cooling towers were part of our skyline. Despite not being used since the ’70s, the two concrete skyscrapers were a sight that residents of Sheffield had grown up with. Acting as the city’s Star of Nazareth on M1 trips home, they are sorely missed. RIP Sheffield Cooling Towers.
4. Steel is our thing
[Tony Hall / Flickr CC]
We’re known as the Steel City, mainly for our part in dominating production during the industrial revolution. We’re totally blowing our own trumpets, but steel to Sheffield is Kim to Kanye, or Ben to Jerry’s. It’s our cutlery that’s the real big deal though…so much so that even Chaucer was mentioning our knives back in the Canterbury Tales. Now that’s a shout out.
5. Hanging out on Division Street instantly makes you cool
If you’re young, trendy and cool, Division Street is where you need to be. From days spent trying to fit in with the skater crowd as a dorky 14 year old to heading up that way on your 18th birthday, Division Street is a haven for creating teenage nostalgia.
6. Fish cakes aren’t really fish cakes
A fish cake to anyone from Sheffield is actually a fish sandwich. Only the bread is potato. It’s an odd one, but it’s also a lump of battered goodness that will sooth your insides like only greasy food can. When heading down to a Sheffield chippy, sample the delights of this carb/battered fish combo.
7. Kelham Island isn’t actually an island
[Duncan / Flickr CC]
Nope, it definitely isn’t. Many of us had that excitement as kids being told we were off on a school trip to ‘Kelham Island’. How exotic?! In fact, it features the Industrial Museum, which is much more interesting to anyone above school age. Now updated with funky bars and city flats, Kelham Island has quickly become cool.
8. When you ask for a sandwich, you’ll be eating it on a bread CAKE
Not a bap, or a bun, or any other terms we won’t even consider. Here in Sheffield, a cake isn’t just the Victoria Sponge variety. When asking for a bacon butty, it’ll be on a bread cake.
9. Our football heritage has one thing in common with Real Madrid
And one thing only. Evidently, we’re not talking about the Blades or the Owls here. It is in fact Sheffield FC, the oldest running football team in the whole wide world. Just like Real Madrid, Sheffield FC is the only other team to be awarded the FIFA Order of Merit. Established in 1857, Sheffield FC is still on the go today.
10. You’ll use this one as your useless fact at parties…
Sheffield originally took its name from a big river: the River Sheaf. It runs right through the city centre, eventually joining up with the River Don. When it’s on the news that Sheffield has flooded, it’ll be thanks to this guy.
11. Corp will make you question your life choices
By no means the classiest of evenings is in store, but Corp can definitely satisfy the need for a night on the town. Yeah, your feet might stick to the floor a bit, and yes, you’ll proclaim you’ll never drink again the day after, but when it’s a ‘go hard or go home’ night, Corp is the place to go. Some say Sheffield is known for its status as the Steel City – others say it’s known for Corp Quad Vods burning the lining off the back of your throat.
12. ‘The Hole in the Road’ wasn’t a giant pothole
Nope, we’re not about to have a moan about the debatable state of the roads. The hole in the road was once the cool spot for underground shopping – and unusual, to say the least. From above, it looked like a big washing machine, but inside you’d find a network of shops and underpasses to wander through. By 1994 it had seen better days and the ‘Hole in’t Road’ was filled in to make way for the Supertram.
13. It’s not all pies and peas
Aside from Sheffield’s penchant for all things with a pie crust and slathered in gravy, we also do healthy, and boy do we do it well. For a breakfast that you can’t even pronounce, head down to Nourish – the latest in healthy takeaways. You’ll find everything from superfood salads to the schmancy take on a bacon sarnie.
14. Everyone’s a snooker fan when the World Champs start
As a city, we love snooker. It’s pretty chilled out, there’s no big team divide (*ahem*.. the ‘are you a Blade or are you an Owl?’ debate), and world class games are just a bus journey away. Every year, the Snooker World Championships brings the globe’s top players back to the city at The Crucible. Whether you’re a hardcore fan or more of a ‘thinking I’m Ronnie Sullivan on the pool table after a few beers’ sort, it’s an annual event you’ve got to try.
15. This is a ‘jennel’
[mattwi1s0n / Flickr CC]
A jennel is the small gap you sometimes find between houses that you can walk down. There is no other word one could possibly use to describe such a thing. Discussion over.
16. Park Hill flats is a listed building
If you’ve been in Sheffield for a good while, you’ll have had the ‘that’s a listed building’ moment on being told that Park Hill flats is indeed a protected site. Georgian mansion it ain’t. Having said that, the flats have now had their face shined up and have since become a hip new spot for city buyers.
17. There’s fun to be had at the fountains
If you’re a people watcher, an hour or so sat by the fountains is a must. Plonked right next to the town hall and the Peace Gardens, your lunch break will suddenly improve the minute some kid runs through this enticing water display and gets soaked as their horrified parents look on.
18. A Real Ale Trail will show you the ‘real’ side of Sheffield
To truly experience Sheffield head off on a real ale trail. Celebrating some of the best ales in the region, the trail takes you right through the city’s top pubs in town and Kelham Island. Some top spots include Fagans, yet to change in 40 years, and The Riverside, for afternoon’s boozing in a beer garden.
19. This will become your condiment of choice
The Hendersons Relish factory. Makes you proud to be a Sheffielder.. pic.twitter.com/UjRcsJYeOc
— Bacardi Oakheart (@Midgetgems26) June 8, 2013
Some may call it the nectar of the gods, others refer to it as Henderson’s Relish. With Sheffield still being the only place to make this tangy condiment, it’s a thing of local pride. Whether it’s slathered on cheese & toast or mixed in with gravy, you know you’re a true local when you get through this stuff like tap water.
20. You know what ‘mardy’ means
People will say ‘mardy’ to you and expect you to know what it means. In the eyes of everyone from Sheffield, the word ‘mardy’ is a nationwide term understood by all. In reality, it’s an Arctic Monkeys song that people just about get the gist of. For those still wondering, mardy = grumpy.
21. It’s a lot greener than you’d think
With about a third of Sheffield lying in the Peak District National Park, it’s surprising how green it really is. Heading off into the countryside is mere minutes away, making it easy to take off on a rural retreat.
22. You’ll spend your life on the Supertram
Some days you will see it as a transport saviour, quickly whizzing you from one side of town to the other. Other days you will cling on for dear life, wondering why you spend your commute with your face in a stranger’s armpit. Despite the bad times though, we wouldn’t be without Supertram.
23. There’s a place that cures hangovers…
How did Sheffield ever cope without Street Food Chef? Serving up freshly made Mexican grub, this amazing establishment has taken on the fry-up to become the hangover cure of choice. On weekends, you’ll find students in zombie-like states heading over to refuel on burritos and churros.
24. We have our very own Glastonbury
Sure, Tramlines Festival is not quite on the same scale – and is a mere baby entering its seventh year running – but it’s still a big one for the locals, and attracts a cracking line-up. With live acts scattered throughout the city, it’s well worth a trip into town.
25. And our very own Jack Sparrow
Some would say you haven’t truly lived until you’ve woken up from a night out to find you’re tagged in a picture with Jack Sparrow. Alright, it’s not the Jack Sparrow, but the Sheffield version comes a close second. He’s a notorious busker in the area; so much so that his own Facebook page has over 6,000 likes. He’s a proper eccentric and we love it.
Sample the best of Sheffield…
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