Scents and the city

Sheffield views from the Cathedral..High Street and Fargate, foreground
Sheffield views from the Cathedral..High Street and Fargate, foreground
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Towering in it’s ecclesiastical pomp over the city Sheffield Cathedral spire is quite a sight.

But what does it smell like up there?

Not many people can answer that question - nor would many ask it - but be assured there’s no heaven scent or whiff of sanctimony.

It smells of chips.

Or at least it did in August 2006 when The Star was invited to climb the 182 feet (it seemes taller) up the then scaffolded tower while repairs and maintenance were going on.

It’s not thought that a whiff of chips at nearly 200 feet is in Dr Victoria Henshaw’s book, but the Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Sheffield has written about the use of smell in good urban design.

To coincide with the book she will be conducting a ‘Christmas smellwalk’ in Sheffield on Thursday 12 December at 12.30pm.

Dr Henshaw carries out “smellwalks” in cities to help people better understand the world around them by deciphering the smells that surround them. As she does so, she finds out more about what odours people associate with and detect in a particular city, and how this influences their enjoyment of the local environment.

Dr Henshaw has run these smellwalks across the UK including London, Birmingham and Manchester and in cities in Europe and the United States. This 
will be her first ever smellwalk in Sheffield - anyone can join on the walk and explore the smells of the city which will include the Christmas market on Fargate.

“This Thursday lunchtime I’ll be leading a public smell walk in Sheffield city centre in an attempt to check out what smells people really can detect in the city during this festive period, what they think of them and how these relate to the outdoor environments where we sniff them out.

“The walk is open to all, should take no more than an hour, and sensible footwear and a bottle of water are advised (but not essential!).

“If you can’t make it, I would still love to hear of any smells you think we should sniff out in Sheffield City Centre as part of the walk: email me at or contact me on Twitter @VictoriaHenshaw or Facebook