In these sombre, soul – searching days for Sheffielders who love their city with a passion, yet are frequently frustrated by how it performs on a national and local level, there is an under-reported issue which is unlikely to have much local media coverage in the current climate.
The Heritage Conference that took place at Sheffield Hallam University on April 16 was attended by many Friends Groups in order to seek how a city council, pressured and short of resources, can deliver what its CEO acknowledges it needs , a Heritage Strategy for what remains of Sheffield’s heritage – a strategy that puts the past into the package for Sheffield’s future.
It has to be a package – Sheffield can never be a York or Lincoln and heritage covers more than old buildings or earthworks, but heritage has always been the bridesmaid and never the bride in this city.
It is regarded as too much a Middle England thing. Tell that to the self-effacing Trustees and Friends Groups of Kelham Island and Weston Park Museum, Sheffield Castle, Manor Lodge, Bishop’s House, Wardsend Cemetery, the General Cemetery,the Old Town Hall etc.
These are people of wide – ranging backgrounds and professionalisms and some more astute folk are reimbursed for their heritage activity.
The majority let their heart rule their head and do it for love and interest.
I remember when Keith Cheetham introduced heritage into Sheffield’s infant tourism project and trying to put it in the equation for the City of Culture bid.
Yes, lip service was paid but ‘fine words butter no parsnips’.
What it needs is civic leadership at the highest level.
The Cathedral has shown what can be done and the big guns – both Universities – have seen the light.
We have a ‘heritage champion’ riding into the lists – Coun Ian Saunders – but he mustn’t end up tilting at windmills like Don Quixote.
Are you listening Julie, luv?