Sheffield, Steel City

Once known as the ‘Republic of South Yorkshire’ because of its strong socialist traditions, and set in the valleys of five rivers, Sheffield is world famous for its cutlery, heavy steel and coal industry. Today it produces more steel than ever in the past, but without polluting the air, and with a tiny work force of highly skilled workers. Remarkably Britain’s third city with a population of more than half a million, is Europe’s greenest city, and was awarded the Entente Florale in 2005. There are two million trees dotted around, more trees per person than any other European city. The splendidly renovated Botanical Gardens is maintained by a host of enthusiasts, and the green theme is continued with the handsome Winter Gardens in the centre of the town, opened in 2003, and by the Peace Gardens nearby with its poignant plaque of penitence for the bombing of Hiroshima and the names of local people who died during the Civil War in Spain. And nearby there is the Peak District National Park, the second most visited national park in the U.

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This is a student city with more than 50,000 students in its two Universities and Further Education Colleges; two of our daughters have been amongst them. Like most cities in the north of England, Sheffield has been trying to diversify its amenities, and is the fastest growing city outside London. People’s interests may have been at risk in the economic furore, and to local people ‘consultation’ must often have seemed little more than a public relations exercise about what was going to happen anyway.

Sheffield has three lively theatres, their present director the gifted actor and director, Samuel West. The Crucible, a theatre -in –the-round, also hosts the World Snooker Championships each year. A newly renovated Concert Hall has a programme of popular visiting artists and the highlights of the international concert prospectus are the visits of the Halle orchestra under its charismatic conductor Mark Elder.

The Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is one of the finest in the country.

Football as we know it was invented here on October 24th.1847, its H.Q. was a potting shed and greenhouse on the edge of the city. Today the two football teams – United and Wednesday-enjoy a rivalry fuelled by their many supporters. Long before its industrial expansion, Mary Queen of Scots, spent time in Sheffield Manor, during her captivity between 1570 and 1584. That other Queen, Victoria, visited the city to give it its city charter in 1893, but though given the keys to the City Hall and graciously touching them, was unwilling to leave her carriage.

We lived here for twelve years and we continue to think of the place and the people with great affection.

Bryan