The lesser-known city of Sheffield has a lot to offer the world, ranging from the homey and honourable to the weird and wonderful.
Locals know Clare Middleton as an icon, the Crucible Curse isn’t a rejected Harry Potter spell and Phlegm isn’t to be feared but encouraged.
We’ve collected samples of the most vibrant, impressive and intriguing aspects of the city of industry’s noble history.
1. There’s a National Park in the City
Around a third of the city is actually inside the Peak District National Park – no other city in the UK has part of a National Park inside its boundaries. The Peak District was actually the first area in the UK to gain National Park status in 1951 and is spread across areas of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and Staffordshire.
2. It hosts the world’s oldest football club
Sheffield is home to the oldest football club in the world that plays association football – Sheffield F.C. was founded in 1857 by members of a cricket club based in Sheffield. They adopted the official FA rules in 1878; they now play in the Northern Premier League.
3. Sheffield also has the world’s oldest football ground
As well as Sheffield F.C., the city is also home with Sheffield Hallam F.C. which is the second oldest football club in the world, having been founded just three years after Sheffield F.C. The club has played at their grounds in Crosspool since formation, earning the Sandygate Road pitch a place in the Guinness Book of Records as “The Oldest Ground in the World”.
4. There are a lot of green spaces
Sheffield is perhaps most known for being a city of industry, factories and steel. However, since the decline of the steel industry Sheffield is being recognised as a cultured and scenic city with outside areas and green spaces to die for. The city is home to more than two million trees – that’s the highest ratio of trees to people for any city in Europe. Sheffield also has around 250 parks, woodland areas and gardens, including Crookes Park, Norfolk Heritage Park and the Botanical Gardens.
5. Beware the Crucible Curse
For nearly 40 years, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has been home to the World Snooker Championship, the leading professional snooker tournament with regards to prestige, prize money and points available. Since the tournament has taken place at the Crucible, no player has been able to defend their first title win at the Crucible – a phenomenon commonly referred to as the Crucible Curse.
6. Sports mad locals are well served
Facilities including Ponds Forge International Sports Centre and Sheffield Arena are home to local sporting teams such as the Sheffield Swimming Club, the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team and Premier League Darts. These facilities, although built for the purpose of sports teams and events (such as Ponds Forge being designed and built for the Summer Universiade 1991), were also built to renew the city and increase tourism in the early 90s after the local Meadowhall Shopping Centre saw the city centre start to decline.
7. You have to go uphill a lot
The logic generally observed in Sheffield is that you have to go uphill. If you want to go from your house to the shops, it’ll mean going uphill. If you then want to get back to your house from the shops, you’ll have to go uphill again. Since Sheffield is regarded as a natural amphitheatre, with surrounding hills forming a sort of bowl shape, the centre is located in the middle, at the bottom of said bowl, with the city on the surrounding hills facing either the city centre or out towards the countryside.
8. Sheffield has its own Walk of Fame
— Mark Ansell (@MarkAnsell) October 28, 2015
Yes, Sheffield has a Walk of Fame. It’s basically Hollywood Boulevard for Yorkshire. Located outside the Town Hall, plaques in the shape of stars adorn the pavement, engraved with the names of famous Sheffield-ers and why they are famous. So far, there are 19 stars on the Sheffield Walk of Fame, including athletes Jessica Ennis and Sebastian Coe, as well as actor Sean Bean.
9. Tramlines is growing every year
As well as a Walk of Fame, Sheffield has also created its own version of a world renowned music festival – Glastonbury. The Tramlines festival has taken place every July since 2009. It takes place at over 70 venues across the city, with four main stages in the city centre, these include The Leadmill, the Peace Gardens, O2 Academy Sheffield and the main stage situated at Ponderosa Park. Notable artists who have played on Tramlines include Pixie Lott, Example, Professor Green and Olly Murs.
10. There’s no business like show business
Sheffield City Centre is home to the largest theatre complex outside London. The Sheffield Lyceum, Crucible Theatre and Studio Theatre, are located in Lyceum Square – another key part of the Heart of the City Project. This beautiful square is home to three theatres which feature shows that come to Sheffield from all over the UK as well as several popular pubs and bars. After the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, the Crucible lights, as well as the Square’s floor-spotlights were turned to red, white and blue to show solidarity with the people of Paris – following in the footsteps of landmarks such as London Bridge, Sidney Opera house, Eiffel Tower and One World Trade Centre.
11. Ordering a sandwich isn’t easy
If you pop out to a local Sheffield café or sandwich shop for a bite to eat at lunchtime, bear in mind this strange sandwich fact. In Sheffield, we don’t call it a roll, bun, bap, sandwich and definitely not cob. No, if you’re looking for something with bread and some type of filling, then in Sheffield, you’re looking for a bread cake (or barm cake).
12. Phlegm is everywhere
No don’t worry. It’s not what you think. There’s a Sheffield based artist called Phlegm who does graffiti style art pieces all over the world. Several of his pieces in the city centre of Sheffield are located near The Leadmill, Plug, The Moor and Charter Row. He paints mural pieces, usually in run-down or drab looking places, using surreal illustrations to tell stories and create visual narratives. He’s been commissioned to create pieces in Norway, Canada, USA, Australia and beyond and his pieces occasionally feature long-limbed individuals, stunning and obscure creatures and musical instruments.
13. It’s a city without an airport
Don’t worry; you haven’t been travelling to Manchester Airport for no reason, the Sheffield Airport actually closed in 2008 after its CAA Licence was withdrawn. The airport opened in the Tinsley Park area of the city, near Sheffield Parkway in 1997. It offered short haul flights to cities including Amsterdam and Belfast, flights were provided by companies such as British Airways and KLM. In 2012 a mystery bidder put in a bid to Sheffield City Council to reopen the airport, however, there’s been no further developments of the site to date.
14. Clare Middleton is a local icon
The city’s Park Hill flats feature some infamous graffiti written on the ‘bridge’ linking two blocks of the building that reads “Clare Middleton I Love You Will U Marry Me”. A decade after the sign appeared, a man named only as ‘Jason’ has come forward, stating that he created the iconic Sheffield writing in 2001. The firm renovating the buildings has since highlighted the writing in neon, in part to celebrate the companies 50th anniversary; it can now be seen from many places across the city. In spite of the romantic gesture, the couple did not marry in the end and sadly Ms Middleton died in 2007.
15. ‘The’ and ‘while’
‘The’ is not a word that exists in Sheffield, it’s all t’ this and t’ that, it’s never THE train station or THE shop. It’s t’train station and t’shop. ‘Until’ isn’t really a word heard oft in Sheffield either. Here it’s “while”. If you ask somebody when their lecture is, or how long their meeting will last for example, it’s “6 while 9” or “2 while 4”. I know these are both generally seen as Yorkshire things but they sort of begin at Sheffield and worth their way north, appearing somewhere between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
16. “Ole In t’Road”
In 1968, many of the older streets surrounding Castle Square and the Market Place in Sheffield City Centre were cleared in order to make way for the new Arundel Gate, now a dual carriageway road that runs through the city – at the time, the road terminated at a large roundabout, built upon the former market place site. Under the roundabout was a network of underpasses and shops, with a central communal area which remained open to the sky. Officially designated Castle Square, the area became known locally as the “Ole in t’Road” or Hole in the Road. The structure lasted until 1994 after its completion in 1967, by then it was very dilapidated and was filled in with rubble, the roundabout was removed and the Hole in the Road was filled in and landscaped in order to make was for the three Supertram lines crossing the Square.
17. Pet names
Pet names are a highly popular commodity in Sheffield. In Derby it’s typically ‘duck’, in Bristol it’s ‘my lovely’ and in Sheffield we like all sorts. You hear ‘darlin’, ‘duck’, ‘me laddo’, ‘sweet’eart’ ‘me cocker’ ‘duck’ and many more. It’s a friendly place if we’re honest.