I had planned to walk around the ring road today, but almost half way there I met a very interesting gentleman, he was very friendly, he walked with me for very long time. He talked with me about Sheffield, he lived here for decades, he loves here but ‘we are going through a tough time… Sheffield seems forgotten.’
I was almost bored at the end of this walk, he was over friendly, it seemed he cannot stop. But anyway, I did gain lot of information:
Sheffield town hall once had a huge extension, locals gave it a nickname ‘eggbox’. And in 2001-2002 it was demolished to make way for winter garden and St Paul’s complex.
Just give an idea of what ‘eggbox’ looks like
We talked about Castle Markets, he said it will be demolished this year, and move to another place about 20 mins away outside city centre. Then I asked about its future, he told me one of the possibilities is to remove existing markets and expose the foundation which is the old castle. He said there is no point to dig it out and no one would like to visit.
We didn’t talk about Meadowhall directly, I asked where can I shop in CBD, he said the best place to shop in Sheffield probably is Meadowhall, and it was located out of city centre. It dragged a lot of attention, shops moved to there, ‘regional people from Doncaster or Barnsley, they drove to there shopping and drove back, they will never came to city centre … parking is another problem, in city center, roads are narrow and you need to pay relative expensive parking fee; car parking in Meadowhall is nice and clean, and it is absolutely free.’
Leeds vs. Sheffield v
Very often, he used Leeds to compare with Sheffield: ‘when you get out of Sheffield train station, all those water features are very exciting and give you a very positive impression, but it is another story when you walk into the city centre. Leeds train station is quite ordinary, but when you walk into its city centre you will be amazed.’ He said, after the war, a bunch of planners sat down and talked about Leeds' future, Leeds was well planned, Sheffield never gets that. Leeds has an amazing shopping centre in the middle of the city, Sheffield city centre has empty shops everywhere. Take CO Hughs (maybe I spell wrong) as an example, it is empty now but it used to be a shopping complex but with shopping on one level, charity shops on the other level, ‘it was absolutely ridiculous, there are many such places, this place is pretty run down.’
To me, Sheffield was like a dying hero, he was strong, but glory time has passed. Comparing with Leeds again, Sheffield has two universities, good transportation (bus, tram, train, taxi), more hospitals, larger physical area, but contains smaller population. On the other hand, Sheffield people seem to refuse change. Take Park Hill as an example, its philosophy was ‘a city inside city’, it was far ahead its time, but people are still leaving. And Sheffield never has enough attention, ‘we can find new developments in Leeds, Liverpool every now and then, but Sheffield hardly has had any change.’
- Yunhao Guan (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning)