Volunteers to breathe new life into Attercliffe

The John Banner building in Attercliffe
The John Banner building in Attercliffe
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Town team set up to revive the fortunes of a once-thriving business centre now dubbed by some in Sheffield just ‘a road to Meadowhall’

A former bustling centre but now a ‘road to Meadowhall’ – Attercliffe has changed drastically over the years.

The Adelphi in Attercliffe

The Adelphi in Attercliffe

Once industry thrived, there were many homes for steelworkers and high class shops dominated the high street...but now there are many buildings which have been left empty, some for decades.

Today plenty of shops are open but there are few people browsing on foot, while endless lorries thunder along on the route to somewhere else.

But a group of volunteers are hoping to help restore this community – just one mile from the city centre – to its former glory.

“I grew up in this area and it was a thriving community,” said Mohammed Maroof, one member of the Attercliffe Town Team.

Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner, Coronation Street) opening Isherwood's on Attercliffe Road in the 1960's  Submitted by W J Pettigrew, 171 Longley Hall Road, S7FF

Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner, Coronation Street) opening Isherwood's on Attercliffe Road in the 1960's Submitted by W J Pettigrew, 171 Longley Hall Road, S7FF

“The streets were absolutely thronging at one time – nobody ever went to the city centre because all their shopping was available in Attercliffe.

“I think people now think Attercliffe is a road to Meadowhall, and that’s one of the reasons we created the town team to try and create something different, to get people to stop here.”

The town team is trying to get businesses working together for the good of the area, which it says has struggled since Victorian housing sites were cleared, leading to the closures of schools and shops.

The last recession was another bitter blow.

Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner, Coronation Street) opening Isherwood's on Attercliffe Road in the 1960's''Submitted by W J Pettigrew, 171 Longley Hall Road, S7FF

Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner, Coronation Street) opening Isherwood's on Attercliffe Road in the 1960's''Submitted by W J Pettigrew, 171 Longley Hall Road, S7FF

Street cleaning sessions, festivals, new hanging baskets and the first Christmas market have been organised in the past three years.

The team also entered this year’s high street of the year contest.

It’s a challenging task, with no funding available from Sheffield Council to back up the work. Other projects to revive the area have been tried in the past.

Volunteers hope they could replicate the success of other areas of the city, such as the new antiques quarter in Heeley.

Other developments could give the scheme a welcome boost – Sheffield’s Ikea superstore is to be built nearby after council planners gave approval, as well as a new school on the Don Valley Stadium site.

The iconic Grade II listed Adephi Cinema and former Burton suit buildings have also recently been purchased by a developer.

Mohammed, a consultant at a chartered surveyors, added: “If you’ve got Ikea so close this area can’t fail to be regenerated in some way – that happens at Ikea sites up and down the country.

“There are so many people still working in Attercliffe as big organisations are based here. If we can get their staff to use its high street more then the footfall would be better.

“We want to improve the high street a little bit more. Parking is still a problem.

“We have monthly meetings to look at what we can do and the turnout to the last one was double that of the first so I think people are starting to engage.

“It’s one mile from the city centre, one mile from Meadowhall and close to Junction 34 of the M1 – it has all the ingredients of a successful regeneration centre.”

Town needs greater exposure

More exposure and fewer lorries is what Attercliffe needs to be revived as a destination, trader Ian Scott believes.

Mr Scott has run the Courtyard Cafe and Bar in the old John Banner Centre, a former leading department store which closed in 1980, for seven years.

He said: “I think it needs better exposure about what we have got to offer down here.

“People have a lot of loyalty to Attercliffe, they remember what it was like in the 1960s and 1970s.

“We get people coming here from Penistone for their Saturday breakfast – once people have been they come again.

“There have been a number of projects that have tried to take off – this new one seems to be the one that is lasting longest.”

The next meeting of the town team, tomorrow, will discuss the problem of so many lorries using Attercliffe Road – with calls for new restrictions to be considered.

The number of sex shops and establishments in the area is also an issue.

One new venture in Attercliffe that is hoping to spread the word about the community is Iman FM community radio station.

It has started operating after securing a five-year licence.

Chief executive Mohammed Mughal said: “We do want to promote the area and work with the team to see how we can go forward.

“When there are empty shops the public don’t turn up so we do want every shop to be busy and as lively as possible.”

FACT BOX

* Attercliffe’s John Banner department store was the first building in Sheffield to get escalators

* The Adelphi Cinema, dubbed the Grand Old Lady of Attercliffe, held 1,350 people in its auditorium. It was a bingo hall and nightclub before closing in 2006

* Attercliffe had a railway station until 1927