Cobblestones returning to Sheffield streets with Western Road, Washford Road and Trent Street completed

For some, they may be the stuff of Victorian films and Sherlock Holmes novels.

Friday, 21st January 2022, 2:13 pm

But on a number Sheffield streets, cobblestones are making a return after decades of tarmac.

Highways bosses are looking at bringing the old fashioned surface back on some streets as part of their ongoing road re-surfacing programme – and some have already seen the work done. Others are now being considered.

The most recent of these, Western Road, in Crookes, has just re-opened with cobblestones, after being closed for around six months while work was ongoing.

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Western Road, Crookes, Sheffield, has seen its surface changed back into cobbles. More Sheffield Streets could follow. Pictured is resident and cyclist James Halliwell.

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But council officials have confirmed they are now looking into doing more roads in the same way.

Sheffield Council’s executive member for roads, Coun Paul Wood said: “We would like to thank residents for their patience whilst our contractor, Amey, carried out the planned refurbishment and replacement of cobbles on Western Road as part of the Streets Ahead programme.

“Having worked closely with Amey to agree on the most appropriate designs and delivery timescales, they were able to complete this work prior to Christmas 2021. The restoration of the cobbles will ensure the historic pertinence of the street and minimise the environmental impact of the repair work.

Western Road, Crookes, has seen its surface changed back into cobbles. More Sheffield Streets could follow. Pictured is Coun Ruth Milsom

Washford Road and Trent Street

“Several other cobbled streets have been repaired in the past twelve months, such as Washford Road and Trent Street. Other sites similar to that of Western Road will be considered as part of the 2022 resurfacing programme and will be confirmed in coming months.”

Not everyone is pleased.

Western Road, Crookes, has seen its surface changed back into cobbles. More Sheffield Streets could follow. Pictured is Coun Mohammed Mahroof

One Western Road resident wrote to the council complaining.

He wrote: “It was with great dismay and indeed a lack of belief, that it appears that the old cobbles have been left unsurfaced and that the upper part of the road between Springvale Road and Northfield Road would remain unsurfaced whereas the lower part of the road has benefitted from a new surface of good quality.

“The unsatisfactory cobbles have several major drawbacks which I hope the council has taken into account.”

He raised concerns they would be slippery and dangerous in snow and ice both for road users and pedestrians, and a hazard to cyclists who may find them both unpleasant to ride on and dangerous if the wheels become caught in the cobbles.

Western Road, Crookes, has seen its surface changed back into cobbles. More Sheffield Streets could follow.

He also said it was noisy when vehicles drove over them, disturbing people trying to sleep in the rooms overlooking the road.

“In my opinion the cobbles are aesthetically ugly – indeed they have the effect of replicating a slum,” he added.

But the councillors who represent the area have found views on the subject are divided.

Coun Mohammed Mahroof said there had been a mixed reaction from people since the initial consultation decided to retain the cobbles.

He said: “Some think they absolutely should be retained, and we should go further along. Others are saying they shouldn’t be retained because they’re not 21st century, and they’re not designed for present times, because if you’re driving in a car it’s quite shaky, and there’s the noise it makes when cars drive past.

“From my own personal perspective, it brings back memories for me, from the days at Attercliffe when it was all cobblestones. It does add a little bit of quaintness to the area.”

Western Road, Crookes, has seen its surface changed back into cobbles. More Sheffield Streets could follow.

Coun Ruth Milsom said it had been a journey of discovery when the cobbles were first uncovered by the workmen, and found to be relatively well preserved from the time they were covered over in asphalt.

She agreed there had been a roughly 50-50 split in residents' views but said she was not sure if that was enough to justify going ahead with the change, adding it may be something to look at as being ‘experimental’.

She said she had concerns over its appearance.

Will more Sheffield streets see cobbles brought back?

She added: “To me, it doesn’t quite look finished, and that’s something I will be raising with Amey. I’m going to be following up on that.

“I’m not sure (if it will be replicated elsewhere in the city). It's been a long story – it was supposed to take 12 weeks. It’s gone way over its time scale and is a lot of specialised work. If it can be replicated, I’m not sure. It’s come at no extra cost but whether it’s sustainable to replicate it, I don’t know.”

The work, done by specialists, took a long time because of Covid isolations, she added.

Residents shared their views with The Star.

James Halliwell is a keen cyclist, He spoke to the Star as he was taking his bike out on a ride.

He said he was happy with the cobbles – because it meant fewer motorists were using the street as a rat run.

He said: “I prefer it. I think aesthetically, it looks nicer. This road is not big enough to be used as a main cut-through, and it’s made more people use other roads instead, and freed some congestion here.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it around here. And my feeling as a cyclist is that it's nicer to ride on than some potholed roads.”

Sam Armstrong and Richard Anderson were walking along the street together. Both live on Western Road.

Richard said: “I’ve got mixed feelings. We wanted to have them, but the work took much longer than we had expected. It was supposed to take six week, but it ended up taking more like six months.”

He added he was concerned it would be slippery in wet weather, and made for a more bumpy ride in a car.

Sam added: “I think it adds character. Maybe it will bring the film production companies for Victorian dramas?”