First-time visitors to Sheffield might be forgiven for asking locals ‘why do some of your trams only go half the way’?
The confusingly-named Halfway is actually the final stop on the blue line, its name shining down from the front and back of trams as they head south east through the city.
As a the area is known by most Sheffield residents, even if they’ve never been there.
The most common suggestion for Halfway’s origin is that it was a stopping point on the road between Rotherham and Chesterfield. An entry in the British Pub Guide says records show a pub called the Halfway House existed in the 18th century.
But the suburb has since evolved from a tavern to a home for hundreds of people. And most are pretty happy with their lives in Halfway.
Wendy Tinley, a website designer who lives on the new estate around Oxclose Park Rise, said Halfway had all the facilities people might need.
She highlighted the range of local shops and mix of established and emerging businesses, and praised in particular the Fuggle Bunny brewery that has sprung up on an industrial estate off Station Road, which becomes a pub on Fridays.
“That’s a great little addition. It’s just a factory but there’s a pool table and a dart board and the beer is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “If you want to you don’t have to leave Halfway,” she added.
But Halfway’s position on Sheffield’s outskirts comes with benefits.
“The tram makes it, because it’s so quick to get into town if you need to,” said Wendy. “And it’s 10 minutes to the M1.”
What Halfway doesn’t have is much of a high street. Station Road has industry, and there are plenty of homes either side of Rotherham Road. But there is nothing comparable to London Road, Ecclesall Road or Penistone Road.
But that’s not a problem, according to Wendy.
“Morrisons is pretty much your high street,” she said. “You always bump into people you know and have a chat.”
The supermarket plays a big role in the lives of many Halfway residents beyond the usual weekly shop.
Sam Goddard has been community champion at Morrisons since transferring to Halfway 10 months ago, and she has been busy building and maintaining links with schools and local groups. “We support the local foodbank, we go into schools and they come to us,” she said. “Tomorrow I’ve got some Year 10s coming in from Eckington for an enterprise day. Next week I’m going out to a school and doing healthy eating with sandwiches. We try to fit in with their curriculum.”
The supermarket also has access to grant funding which it can pass on to charities in the area.
“It’s anything we can do to help groups in the community,” said Sam.
And although she is not a Halfway resident, many of the Morrisons staff are, which helps create a strong sense of community in the supermarket. “We all have a laugh here,” she said. “There are some good characters.”
With companies as varied as tyre shops and scuba diving centres in Halfway, a fair amount of passing trade is inevitable.
This is something Nick Dawson has taken advantage of. He opened a sandwich shop on Station Road three years ago, and has been building his business ever since.
“It’s been very good,” he said, taking five minutes before the lunchtime rush.
“Trade has picked up and it’s going very well at the moment.”
Nick lives down the road in Ridgeway, Derbyshire, but grew up in nearby Mosborough and knows the Halfway area well.
“The area is all right – we don’t have any issues,” he said. “There’s only a few rows of houses near the shop. But we get on all right with our neighbours.”
While the Supertram does finish in Halfway, it’s likely many people get off at Crystal Peaks. The shopping centre has taken custom away from smaller shops, and a visit to the Halfway Centre off Streetfields reveals closed shutters and graffiti.
One business that has survived is Design One, a salon run by Deborah Windsor.
She has been there for 32 years, living in Halfway for six, and has seen plenty of change.
“One thing that’s putting everyone down at the moment is that until Christmas the end shop was a convenience store, but that closed. During the day we are the only one that’s open.”
Deborah said the centre was ‘thriving’ when she set up her business, but Crystal Peaks and Morrisons had proved tough competition. “If this precinct was to open again, or at least we could get a shop back, that would please most people,” she said.
But the community remains close, according to Deborah.
“I’m a little bit of a celebrity here – everyone knows me,” she joked.
“There are some really good times and some really nice people. I have been very lucky and have made some wonderful friends.”
And while some businesses may have moved out of the area, plenty of residents have moved in over the years. The new estate south of Morrisons could soon be joined by an extra 207 homes if Taylor Wimpey gets planning permission to develop off Oxclose Park Road.
At the heard of the new homes is Heathlands Park, a green space that was developed with developer contributions totalling £375,000.
But the work may not have been done without the Friends of Heathlands Park, which pushed Sheffield Council to do something with the money it had requested.
The park now boasts a range of play equipment, a 3G pitch, a zip wire and a community orchard. It has been popular with all ages since it was opened by boxer Clinton Woods in 2011.
Bob Rastrick was one of the founders of the friends group. He said: “The city has seen some parks disappear, due to lack of interest and support. But this is a nice park, everyone likes it and it’s well-supported from a usage point of view.”
The friends group has tried to bring in external funding for improvement work and activities. There has been some success, including a partnership with Activity Sheffield to provide inflatable play equipment at the weekends.
But with councils facing continuing funding problems, the burden is increasingly falling on volunteers.
Bob said: “Because of cutbacks the parks department doesn’t have as much money, so it needs friends groups.
“We can get certain amounts of funding that the parks department doesn’t have. Without the friends groups there wouldn’t have been the drive to push to keep them maintained - so we need people to keep on top of the council to maintain it.”
Fellow friends group member Jonathan Pickard said the park was a key component of the community. “It’s a friendly area,” he said. “We know the neighbours, and that’s as good as it’s going to get.
“And they are building a new estate so this park is even more important in terms of opportunities to bring more money into it.”
To join the friends group visit heathlands.org.
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