‘I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the UK’

Rob Cole of Sustainable Kitchen at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 8th January 2018. Photo by Glenn Ashley.
Rob Cole of Sustainable Kitchen at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 8th January 2018. Photo by Glenn Ashley.
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It’s not easy being green, admits campaigner, environmentalist and owner of Nether Edge-based Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens, Rob Cole.

That’s because recycling items like old school benches and church pews and turning them into stunning new kitchens is a labour of love — but an extremely rewarding and eye-catching one.

Rob went on his first environmental protest march in his early teens and later studied for a degree at Sheffield University, where he became passionately involved with environmental campaigning and has stood as both a Green Party candidate for Hallam and councillor in Nether Edge and Sharrow last year.

However, after working as a kitchen fitter, he became disillusioned with the wastefulness of the industry and decided to start his own company in the teeth of the credit crunch. This month, Rob’s team of 12 are celebrating their first decade of designing and building beautiful bespoke kitchens while focusing on sustainability.

Sheffield, as a place to live

I sort of ended up in Sheffield for University by accident but I’m really pleased this is where I landed. It’s a fantastic city, the people are friendly, there’s plenty to do, and where else could you have such brilliant countryside so close to a big city? I feel Sheffield is a well kept secret; people expect some sort of industrial wasteland, but it’s lovely and green and the Peak District is so close.

Kelham Island Industrial Museum

There’s some fantastic stuff there for both adults and children and it’s a brilliant reminder of the city’s industrial heritage. The enormous steam engine in action is an incredible site to behold! It’s also sandwiched in what has become a great part of town. I love how Sheffield has grown and developed since I came here 18 years ago, it’s so much more vibrant than it used to be, but I’d love to see more made of the area by the river between Kelham Island and Victoria Quays.


I have been a big fan of Bragazzi’s since they first opened over ten years ago. The coffee is fantastic and there’s always some interesting and tempting cakes on offer.

It’s somewhere I escape to occasionally for a bit of head space away from the office if I need to get something done, do some thinking, or just get a bit of a break.

Again, we’re really blessed with a lot of fantastic cafes in Sheffield.

Abbeydale Road particularly seems to have gone from strength to strength over the years and is really vibrant these days and I do think that’s in part thanks to places like Bragazzi’s which have brought people to the area.

Derwent Edge

We have so many fantastic edges in the Peak District, they’re all great to explore and adventure - Millstone has great climbing and amazing views, Bamford feels wild and peaceful, but it’s probably Derwent Edge that is my favourite. It’s longer and a bit more broken up than some of the other edges, this means there are loads of distinct and characterful spots along the edge. It’s a great place to run, walk or even climb. It’s one of my favourite places to escape the city and get some space, getting out there never fails to cheer me up and chill me out. You’ll have to ask me in person for my favourite spot, we can’t have everyone knowing it now can we? That would spoil the tranquillity!

Vero Gusto

It’s hard to choose just one favourite restaurant, but if I had to, it would be Vero Gusto. The food is fantastic - particularly the desserts! - and they have a brilliant wine list. We have a lot of great independent places to eat here, others on my short list include Ashoka, All Siam and Canton Orchard. I think it’s really important to support small independents and they’re really thriving in Sheffield.

Howden and Derwent Reservoirs

I’m a keen fell runner. I find it’s a really good balance to running my business, helping me unwind and get some space from the challenges of work. West from Howden and Derwent Reservoirs is a beautiful and often deserted spot with some great rough running to go at.