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Sheffield festival celebrates 40th anniversary

Broomhall Festival chairman Alan Wellings, of Broomhill, with his collection of festival programmes.

Broomhall Festival chairman Alan Wellings, of Broomhill, with his collection of festival programmes.

Broomhill is an area as famous for being student-friendly, as it is for its popular annual festival.

And, as the 40th anniversary celebration gets underway, it turns out the two are linked.

It was an architecture project by Sheffield students in 1975 which first sparked the idea.

“One of the problems we found was that Broomhill lacked a lot of community,” said David Cash, who was one of the students.

“There was the university and the hospital, which dominated the place more than making it a place to live.”

Students spoke to residents about what the area needed to bring it together – and the rest is history.

David is now a company chairman living in Cheshire and returned to his student stomping ground for the opening night yesterday.

He said: “It’s probably the case that now there is a lot of community, and that’s in part because people have got together and celebrated Broomhill. It’s extraordinary it is still going.”

The very first festival took place in a marquee at Weston Park and attractions included a jam tart competition.

Now it lasts for the better part of a month, attracts thousands of people and there’s everything from political debates to football. Charities also benefit.

Jonathan Earle has been involved for a decade as part of a volunteer team totalling 100 members.

He added: “It’s good for the community and businesses. One pub last year took £2,500 in one night.”

One stalwart of the festival is St Mark’s Church.

For years the chairman was former vicar Adrian Alker but now that job is held by Alan Wellings, of Broomhill.

Asked how he thought the festival had carried on, he joked: “Bloody mindedness!”

“It’s a good question because now it is part of the character of Broomhill. If you create something for a neighbourhood that gives people the determination to carry it on,” he added.

Visit broomhillfestival.org.uk for a full programme.

 

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