10 great things Sheffield has got right

It’s one of the biggest cities in the UK, and it has had tough times in recent years.

By David Kessen
Thursday, 15th July 2021, 6:46 am

But while things may not always go smoothly for the city, which recently suffered the blow of losing its John Lewis store and is still paying the bill for 1991’s World Student Games, there have been many things that this city has got exactly right over the years.

Here are 10 of them.

Cheap bus fares

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TRAMLINES 2014 Hip Hop giants Public Enemy storm the stage at Devonshire Green

One of the most important issues in the city has always been transport.

Today, bus price rises are a regular source of public concerns. Companies backed down over a rise this year after strong public criticism.

But it you speak to people over a certain age in Sheffield, many speak warmly of the cheap fares which covered the city’s public transport in the days of the old South Yorkshire Council. Until Government legislation in the mid 80s ended it, bus fares in the city were subsidised.

Children’s fares were 2p, rising later to 5p. Adults would pay 10p.

Supertram on the streets of Sheffield


Another area of transport which has seen Sheffield ahead of the game was the introduction of Supertram in 1994.

The city was one of the first in the country to bring back a light railway system, initially serving Meadowhall in 1994, and with a line to Halfway opening the following year.

Over the last 25 years Supertram has welcomed over 304 million passengers - enough people to fill both the Sheffield United and Wednesday grounds 4,500 times, with tram-trains now taking the route to Rotherham.

SHEFFIELD CUE BALL l/r: Steve Davis Willie Thorne and John Parrott the snooker table in the Winter Garden at the Sheffield Cue Ball, Millenium Galleries. 16 April 2004

The UK’s watchdog for transport passengers and road users, Transport Focus’ survey, published June 2020, found that 96 per cent of Supertram respondents were satisfied with their overall journey and, out of these, two thirds were very satisfied


Love it or loathe it, Meadowhall has been a big retail success.

The shopping mall was the second largest shopping complex in the UK when it opened in 1990, attracting 20 million shoppers in its first year to a site which had previously been the site of the Hadfields' East Hecla steelworks.

This double decker bus was the worse for wear after it was driven under a low bridge on Meadowbank Road. The roof was badly damaged and the tyres had to be deflated before the bus could be released - 12th May 1980

It continues to attract visitors from the wide region to its shops, restaurants and cinema. Although it has been accused of taking shoppers away from the city centre, it has been a big success.

Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

It’s technically over the border in Rotherham – but the University of Sheffield research centre has brought some of the world’s biggest engineering firms in the world to its site next to the Sheffield Parkway.

It is now 20 years since the site opened, bringing a radical new approach to working with industry. Among the projects, the AMRC has worked on include titanium landing gear components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Boeing Sheffield opened there in 2018. It worked with Rolls-Royce to cut production time of machining aero-engine disks. Rolls-Royce opened a £110m factory nearby.

And three years ago, the supercars manufacturer McLaren opened its Composites Technology Centre, making lightweight carbon fibre chassis for cars. It created more than 200 jobs.

English Institute of Sport

The facility on Coleridge Road has worked with some of the biggest names in sport including the boxing world champion Anthony Joshua, and Sheffield’s own Jessica Ennis-Hill.

It provides science, medicine, technology and engineering services to Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK, expanding over the years from more traditional sports support such as medicine, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning, into services such as biomechanics, performance innovation and sports intelligence data.

Former sports minister Richard Caborn told the Star the EIS would have been 12th in the 2012 Olympic medal table on the basis of athletes it worked with.

Sheffield Arena

Built as part of the World Student Games in 1991, it has gone on to host some of the biggest performing acts in the world with Paul Simon having been the first act to take to the stage there on the day it opened.

Since then it has averaged over 122 shows a year, including 31 shows by Westlife. It has also brought top comedians including Peter Kay to the venue, and is home to the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team

The Leadmill

Sheffield has a proud arts heritage. The Leadmill opened up in 1980, and has gone on to become one of the most iconic arts venues in the country.

Since it first started, it has staged gigs by some of the most famous emerging bands in the world, as well as holding well known club nights.


Another arts success for Sheffield has been the Tramlines festival. It was initially launched as a free event in 2009 with the council’s support, to provide a summer boost for city centre businesses when the student exodus has taken place and many workers are on holiday.

Acts have ranged from Public Enemy to The Manic Street Preachers.

More recently it has been a ticketed event at Hillsborough Park.

In 2016, research by Sheffield Hallam University estimated the festival was worth £9 million to the city's economy. It is due to return this month.

The World Snooker Championships

The Crucible Theatre became an iconic sporting venue after the World Snooker Championships moved the the city in 1977.

Before that, the annual Championship had been held at several different venues across England and the rest of the world, including South Africa and Australia.

The decision to move the tournament to the Crucible was said to be inspired by the tournament promoter Mike Watterson’s wife Carole, who recommended the venue to her husband after seeing a play there.

Footballer development

When England came within a hair’s width of winning the Euro 202, two of the players in the final, and three in the overall squad, had learned their trade with Sheffield clubs.

Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all started their careers going through the city’s football academies, and before that playing for local junior clubs.

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