Sheffield city farm celebrates 40-year history with pop-up museum on Heritage Open Days

As part of its 40th birthday celebrations this year, Heeley City Farm will host The People’s Museum of Heeley.

Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 6:26 pm

The pop-up museum event takes place on September 17-19 as part of the Heritage Open Days weekend festival celebrating history and culture, featuring dozens of events in Sheffield and hundreds around the country. Details of all the events taking place can be found online at www.heritageopendays.org.uk. This year’s festival has a food theme.

The People’s Museum is a specially-curated community archive telling the story of Heeley and the life of the farm over the last 40 years through information collected from local residents.

The farm’s community heritage manager Sally Rodgers said: “Heeley City Farm has been a part of the local community for 40 years. It is hoped that the 40th anniversary celebration will reinvigorate engagement with the farm’s history as well as the history of wider Heeley.

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A protest against the bypass plan for Heeley

"Through the archive of photographs, documents, maps, and objects we can explore the history of changing Heeley and the farm's role within it.

“The People’s Museum aims to celebrate all aspects of Heeley life including its farming history, the houses that were on the site and demolished prior to the farm’s construction, the proposed bypass and subsequent successful protests against its construction, the lives and stories of residents, and the significance of an iconic Heeley pikelet factory!

“It is hoped that by exploring and celebrating Heeley’s many intertwined stories we can enjoy learning more about our local area and continue to do so for (at least) the next 40 years.

A history display at Heeley City Farm

“Heeley City Farm’s community heritage team is currently planning a larger project which will encompass the findings of the People’s Museum.”

The land on which the farm was built, used to consist of many houses and in 1963, Sheffield City Council had approved plans for a bypass.

Residents in Heeley were concerned about the bypass - running parallel to London Road - as it would completely split the community, so the plans were eventually dropped in 1978 after a hard-fought campaign by local people.

Residents faced 15 years of uncertainty and insecurity in that time as their neighbourhood started to be demolished, tearing apart streets of terraced houses, corner shops and pubs and other small businesses.

Houses being demolished in Heeley to make way for a bypass that was never built

The council did not know what to do with the land once it was cleared but not needed after the road plan was dropped. However, the Heeley Residents Association wanted to make the area a better place to live, which is where the idea for a city farm came up.

The Heeley People’s Park, run by another organisation, Heeley Development Trust, sits alongside the city farm on land that was also cleared of houses for the road scheme.

Heeley People’s Museum will be based in the community heritage office at Heeley City Farm on Alexandra Road and is free to visit.

Donations of archive material such as copies of photographs, copies of documents, objects and stories are greatly encouraged. Contact Sally Rodgers for more details – email [email protected] or call 0114 258 0482.

An illustration of old Heeley Hall, dated 1879
An old map of Heeley, covered in fields