Here's what we made of a 'murder and mayhem' walking tour in Sheffield with a former police sergeant

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The wind in Sheffield was biting and cold as I walked toward Five Weirs Walk on a Friday morning. I was on my way to meet Kevin, a retired police sergeant who was going to be taking me on a walking tour of the Steel City to teach me all about Sheffield’s darker side.

The Law and Disorder, Murder and Mayhem walking tour touches on the details of Sheffield’s gang wars, the chartists, the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots and the history of the city’s law enforcement. I have always been interested in historical crime and punishment. Looking into a city’s past is a great way to see how it has grown and developed and can give you a real appreciation of how it is now.

I’m a big fan of walking tours as I think they are a great way to get to grips with a city. Having come to Sheffield for University in June 2022, I still have a lot to learn about the Steel City. As Kevin introduced himself it quickly became clear why he was the best person to show me around. As a retired sergeant and former court usher at the Sheffield Combined court, he had in depth knowledge and a wealth of real experiences to share. He told many stories of his own as we walked alongside the tales of Sheffield’s criminal history.

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Starting at the birthplace of Sheffield, Five Weirs Walk, I was asked to use my imagination to send myself back in time and imagine Sheffield castle as it once stood. We headed through the city, stopping at several points of interest along the way: the magistrates court, Corporation Street, Paradise Square and the town hall to name a few.

Being a tour of Sheffield, there were many steep hills and inclines to walk on, meaning that the walk may not be suitable for everyone. I was certainly glad to have put on my walking shoes. Towards the end of the tour, as we walked down Figtree Lane, Kevin turned to me and told me this was his favourite place in Sheffield from a historical point of view. This little, unassuming side street is home to a lot of firsts for the city.

He told me it was the home of Sheffield’s first school for boys, the first bank, the oldest brick building and the oldest barristers chambers. He pointed out a worn plaque on the wall of Victoria Chambers, which stated the building was home to the original Sheffield Hospital for Women. My personal favourite story that was told to me on the walk is that of the notorious criminal Charles Peace. As we stood outside the Emergency Services Museum on West Bar Green Kevin told me a story of burglary, murder and deceit.

By far the most fascinating part of the story is how a criminal from Sheffield became a pop-culture staple. From a silent movie to a play and a children’s adventure comic, Charles Peace was everywhere. The crime walk runs throughout the week. It is free to attend and runs based on cash tips from attendees who feel that they have learnt something. If you are interested in experiencing the walk for yourself and learning about the darker side of the Steel City, you can book on Eventbrite or GuruWalk.