For many busy passengers boarding a tram is simply a quick way to get around.
But author Lawrence Whyte believes travelling on Sheffield’s Supertram network offers a unique way to look at the city’s landscape and learn about its history.
His new book - Discovering Sheffield by Supertram - explores the routes in their entirety, examining the surroundings of each of the city’s 48 stops.
Lawrence, a retired nurse, isn’t a transport buff - instead, the inspiration to start writing struck while waiting at Fitzalan Square tram stop on a rainy morning in the city centre.
“The book started to become a reality over the next year or so,” he said.
The book is aimed at Sheffield residents and visitors from elsewhere, Lawrence explained.
“Visitors can travel around Sheffield and see a bit of the city in a historical and contemporary way, and some people who live here perhaps don’t know too much about the city,” he said. “The tram offers a good alternative to other forms of transport.”
The book is a comprehensive work. It documents the successes of the local steel industry, the origins of Sheffield Wednesday and even recounts chilling tales of the ‘red-eyed prowler’ said to have stalked Attercliffe in the 1970s.
But it cannot be exhaustive, as Lawrence pointed out, because of a single obvious factor. “Large parts of the city are not covered by the tram,” he said. “There are lots of parts of Sheffield that would benefit from it - up to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and to Crookes, for example.”
Father-of-five Lawrence, aged 60, lives in the city centre with his wife, Steph. During his time as a nurse he worked at Riverdale Grange hospital, Ranmoor, as well as spending time in Australia and New Zealand. He is now a full-time writer - his first book, about walking the Camino St Francis route through northern Spain, was published last year.
Reaction to the Supertram book has been positive so far, Lawrence added.
“Stagecoach were very happy with it,” he said.
Copies are available on Amazon, priced £5.20, or £2.99 for an e-reader version.