Retro pictures show how Sheffield's futuristic monorail would have looked

Forget Supertram – in the 1970s a futuristic monorail system worthy of a science fiction novel was proposed in Sheffield city centre.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:24 pm
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 1:45 pm
Thousands of people went to see the plans in Sheffield in the summer of 1973. The proposals were produced by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners with the city council.
Thousands of people went to see the plans in Sheffield in the summer of 1973. The proposals were produced by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners with the city council.

The Minitram would have been a driverless, automated network, involving the use of small cars each carrying around 15 passengers.

In Sheffield, the monorail would have connected the city’s shopping areas, operating on two-and-a-half kilometres of track with nine stations.

Thousands went to look at the blueprints in a public exhibition at Cole Brothers, which is now John Lewis – but the scheme was abandoned in 1975.

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Artist's impressions were created after the Government's Transport and Road Research Laboratory commissioned a study into how and if the system could work in major British cities. This picture shows the guideway over Barker's Pool seen from the City Hall.

Parts of the Minitram route re-emerged in Sheffield’s modern tramway. However, these artist’s impressions and photos show how the revolutionary Government-backed monorail would have looked.

A model of the proposed minitram/monorail in Sheffield in the 1970s.
Developers claimed the system would eventually carry 10,000 passengers an hour and could be extended to Rotherham in one direction, Hillsborough in the other and London Road in a third. This drawing shows a guideway on The Moor.
Doubts began to surface among the public - people questioned whether the city council would be left to foot the bill, rather than the Government.
There were also questions over the route, which followed the shuttle journey taken by the old Clipper bus. Many people were also appalled at the thought of a large track being elevated in mid-air in front of the Town Hall and the City Hall.
The monorail would have glided noiselessly on five-metre stilts, travelling from the Midland railway station, above the Hole in the Road and up to Fargate before heading down The Moor. This image shows the monorail's guideway over Commercial Street.
The Sheffield Minitram exhibition opened in Cole Brothers (now John Lewis). This picture shows a model car and a length of track with posters in the background.
The project was cancelled by the Government in 1975. No system was built anywhere in the country - and in 1994 Sheffield became one of the first UK cities to have a modern tram network instead.
Proposed designs for the minitram were submitted by Hawker Siddeley Dynamics.