Sheffield 3: around the city

Time for a look round Sheffield’s city centre. If you follow the World Snooker Championships on TV you will know the Crucible Theatre which has hosted them since 1977. The theatre opened in 1971 so it was still very new when I arrived as a fresher in Sheffield in 1975. Students were able to purchase tickets for 50p so I spent a lot of time there – at that price, I could afford to see just about every production.

Round the corner is the Graves Art Gallery which sits above the Central Library. I spent a lot of time there too (no prizes for guessing that).

I liked the art work in the stairwell connecting the two institutions – Blue Bird (2007) by Seiko Kinoshita.

Sheffield Cathedral isn’t spectacular from the outside – it looks like the parish church it was until the Diocese of Sheffield was created in 1914 and its status was upgraded. It’s interesting inside though. The Steel Nativity by Brian Fell honours Sheffield’s major industry.

As a Methodist, I didn’t often attend the Cathedral. I went to Wesley Church in Broomhill, a large, dark building which took up the entire corner now occupied by a more modern church and a block of flats.

Back to the city centre – just behind the cathedral is the beautiful 18th century Paradise Square, quite different from all its surroundings.

Heading back in the direction of the university is the City Hall where I graduated in 1978. Here I am on the steps with my family after the ceremony.

Two new features outside the City Hall are the golden post-box and the Women of Steel Memorial. All Team GB gold medal winners at the London Olympics in 2012 were honoured with a gold painted post-box in their home towns. This one is for Jessica Ennis who won the Women’s Heptathlon – the only other one I have seen is Andy Murray’s in Dunblane. Women of Steel by Martin Jennings also dates from 2012 and celebrates the women of Sheffield who worked in the city’s steel mills and factories during both world wars.

Of course, talk of churches, theatres and libraries is all very well – but students like pubs too! Sad to relate, many of the hostelries we remember have disappeared. The Stone House was a spectacular pub – the room at the front was an ordinary bar, but if you moved through the back you found yourself in an “outdoor” courtyard with painted stone walls and a night-sky ceiling. Now it appears to be housing.

I don’t remember Harrisons, but John does (it’s near the Engineering Department). It caught my eye though because I like the way it has incorporated the original function of the building into its name: W. E. Harrison – Steeplejack of Nelson Column fame.

The Beehive and the Green Room are both near Victoria House, the flats where we lived as postgraduates. In those days, the Green Room was a wine bar called Mr Kite’s. We had some of our earliest dates there, thinking ourselves impossibly sophisticated as we shared a bottle of Hirondelle (a cheap wine of uncertain origin). On my last visit to Sheffield 25 years ago, Mr Kite’s still existed and had the same wine list painted on the wall, though it was historical by that time, Hirondelle having deservedly vanished into oblivion. The Green Room menu looked good, so we went there for lunch one day in the hope of rekindling romantic memories. The food was good – when we got it: service was atrocious. Bring back Mr Kites!

One pub which remains as good as it was is the Fat Cat – but that will have to wait till my next post when we head for Kelham Island.


  1. I’m not familiar with Hirondelle, but we certainly drank Blue Nun and Black Tower wines. Also, a bubbly confection called Baby Duck. Somehow we survived it all and went on to better things.



  2. Very interesting Anabel – I was born in Sheffield but we moved away from the area when I was only a few months old and I certainly don’t remember it! Nor do I think I’ve ever been back there despite growing up in Yorkshire (we lived in Silsden near Keighley then Leeds). Love the graduation photos with your family – very special! 🙂


  3. That same brilliant blue showed up here at Paradise Square that was on the Fat Cat. Is that colour a ‘thing’? I love it and it’s just not something I have noticed here.


  4. Hi Anabel, I am delighted to discover your site through Liesbet’s Roaming About posts. Your photos are really interesting, especially the mix of current and 40plus years ago. Sheffield Cathedral is beautiful on the inside. I really like the Women of Steel memorial. I will likely not travel to Sheffield so I greatly appreciate you sharing your past and current experiences here. I look forward to reading more:) Erica

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  5. Sheffield seems to have a really nice vibe to it from the traditional to the modern. It seems like it was great fun to go to Uni there. Love your graduation photo!

    I laughed at your story of thinking yourselves impossibly sophisticated as you shared a bottle of Hirondelle at the now-defunct Mr. Kites. I had a friend who for YEARS thought that she hated wine because of the far from top-shelf Carlo Rossi that I used to serve proudly at undergrad parties.

    The gold post-box idea a lovely commemoration for the 2012 athletes.

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