News that a new £65 million Chinese development was going to “bring the area around Bramall Lane alive” and create 400 jobs has prompted this look back.
Plans announced include shops, cafes, a Chinese supermarket, office space and student accommodation, as well as a 20-storey ‘business incubator’ to enhance trade between the UK and China.
This was a thriving industrial area in Victorian times, with buildings like Portland Works on Randall Street housing Little Mesters workshops. Stainless steel cutlery was first manufactured there in 1914.
Later, W A Tyzack and Co Ltd occupied the larger Stella Works in Hereford Street.
Portland Works, which is being preserved as a working space by a group of enthusiasts, is one of the last surviving examples as much of the area changed with slum clearances of the 1950s and 60s.
In the early 19th century, part of Bramall Lane was still rural. Writers describe crossing the River Sheaf on the way from Sheffield to Heeley, which was a separate village, by a single plank at Cutler Wood, where there were frequent robberies.
The two main landmarks in the area are St Mary’s Church and Sheffield United’s ground on Bramall Lane.
The church stands next to the roundabout on the dual carriageway.
St Mary’s was consecrated in June 1830 and cost £12,649 to build, on a site given by Henry, 13th Duke of Norfolk
It is now a thriving place with a conference centre and a popular cafe and runs community projects involving the local multicultural inner-city population.
Sheffield United opened as a cricket ground in 1855 and the first football match was played in December 1862. Sheffield FC, the oldest club in the world, played Hallam in that first match, making Bramall Lane the oldest professional football ground.
According to Sheffield City Council, the earliest reference to Chinese settlers is in the burial register for St Paul’s churchyard (now the Peace Gardens) for 1855. A Chow, son of Too Ki, a magician, was buried there.
The next reference is in a 1910 trade directory when laundry proprietor Yun Wong was basedon Abbeydale Road.
Larger-scale immigration to the city began in the 1960s. People have come from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and other parts of Britain.
Their numbers have been swelled in recent years by larger numbers of students coming to city universities. Many new businesses have opened up as a result.