Sheffield Area Guide

Sheffield is the third largest city in England by population, and has everything to offer you would expect from a city of this size.  What makes Sheffield special however, is the fact that despite its size, it has a warm and welcoming feel, making it a popular choice for people looking to relocate.

Home to 2 prestigious Universities: Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University, it may be this fact that contributes to Sheffield’s vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. With 6 NHS Hospitals: Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Northern General Hospital, Jessop Wing, Weston Park Hospital, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital alongside the 2 private hospitals: Claremont Hospital and BMI Thornbury, it’s no surprise the housing market here is particularly buoyant for both homeowners, tenants and landlord’s alike.

Known as the ‘Steel City’ due its international reputation for steel production in the 19th Century, Sheffield has undergone an aesthetic and economic rejuvenation since the dark days of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  It was during this period that many of the steel factories closed. Most people are familiar with this part of Sheffield’s history due to the BAFTA award winning film of 1997 ‘The Full Monty’, which was filmed on location in Sheffield.

Since then, especially in the last decade, Sheffield has developed beyond all recognition with the following companies recently making significant investments into Sheffield: McLaren, Boeing, Sky Betting and Gaming, Jaywing and Fragomen Worldwide.  The Innovation District home to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and Sheffield Business Park has expanded and is also home to other world-class brands such as: Boeing, McLaren Automotive , Rolls-Royce, Arconic, Tata specialist steels, Toshiba and Forgemasters.

With all this investment and with the aforementioned companies now calling Sheffield home, it’s no wonder that the city centre has taken on a transformation and it is continuing to do so with HSBC’s multi-million pound investment in the Sheffield Retail Quarter.  The Moor is currently undergoing significant redevelopment.  In November 2013, The Moor Markets opened, offering a selection of food and retail outlets in a modern building reminiscent of the award winning Winter Garden. Now home to over 90 independent businesses, The Moor Market holds the accolade of being described by the Independent newspaper as the ‘Borough Market’ of the north.

Meadowhall shopping centre which is just 3 miles north-east of Sheffield city centre is the largest shopping centre in Yorkshire and the eight largest in the U.K.  However, it is soon to become the fourth largest once a large extension is opened in 2021.

If independent shopping is more your thing, then Sheffield well and truly ticks all the boxes there too.  Division Street in the city centre is home to many independent boutiques, retro clothing stores, record shops and vintage thrift stores.  The Antiques Quarter towards the south of the city is home to 8 antiques centres and over 60 independent shops, from furniture to jewellery, clothing and bric-a-brac, it truly is a bargain hunters dream.

Due to all the recent investment, redevelopment and the prior industrial nature of Sheffield, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sheffield is mainly attractive to the urbanites among us.  This however, would be a misconception.  With over 2 million trees Sheffield has more trees per person than any other European City.  The city also has around 250 parks, woodland areas and gardens, including: Crookes Park, Norfolk Heritage Park, Millhouses Park, Endcliffe Park and the Botanical Gardens.  The city centre also houses the Winter Garden which is the largest temperate glasshouse to be built in the U.K in the last 100 years.  Over 60% of the city is green space and around a third of the city is actually inside the Peak District National Park – no other city in the UK has part of a National Park inside its boundaries; it’s likely due to this fact that Sheffield folk spend more per head on outdoor equipment and take part in more outdoor pursuits than anywhere else in the UK.

If being active is important to you, then if you’re living in Sheffield you really are spoilt for choice.  As already mentioned, outdoor pursuits are incredibly popular amongst the people of Sheffield: climbing, bouldering, cycling, running, fell running, kayaking, walking, golf.  You name it, you will be able to practice it somewhere in the Sheffield boundary.  If you prefer to partake in your sporting endeavours under the sanctity of a roof, then Sheffield does not disappoint on this front either.  There are numerous sporting venues accessible in every part of the city including Ponds Forge which boasts an Olympic size pool and one of the largest diving facilities in the U.K.  Home to City of Sheffield Swim Squad who have developed world class swimmers and Sheffield Diving who have produced divers who have represented Great Britain at every Olympic Games since 1992.  City of Sheffield Water polo Club also call Ponds Forge home and their teams compete at National levels.

Ice Sheffield boasts two Olympic ice pads and offers recreational skating to visitors of all ages and abilities and local schools including, learn to skate and ice hockey lessons, leisure skate sessions and curling. Sheffield’s prestigious Ice Academy supports elite skaters and is a National Centre of Excellence for figure skating, ice dance and ice hockey.

The English Institute of Sport (EIS) Sheffield is the country’s largest multi-sports training centre and the training base of multiple Olympians, Olympic and World Champions and up-and-coming stars of the future. The world class facilities are home to numerous local and national sporting clubs and governing bodies and enable participation in a number of sports activities at all levels. Specialist facilities include 2 multi-purpose sports halls, table tennis hall, netball hall, basketball hall and a 200m Indoor Athletics Arena. Gym facilities are available at the Fitness Unlimited gym.

Alongside these international sporting venues there are numerous other leisure facilities dotted around Sheffield including The Climbing Works, The Foundry, Skate Central, Graves Leisure Centre, Springs Leisure Centre and Hillsborough Leisure Centre.

Sheffield is home to the oldest football club in the world that plays association football, Sheffield FC. You’d be forgiven for not having heard of this team however, especially as Sheffield has two other much more famous football teams: Sheffield Wednesday based at Hillsborough and Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

If you are interested in the arts and culture then Sheffield will most definitely be able to satisfy you.  Sheffield Theatres is the largest theatre complex outside London, comprising the Crucible Theatre, Lyceum Theatre and Crucible Studio. Across three auditoria they offer a huge variety of home-grown and touring productions, with everything from West End musicals to cutting edge drama.  There are also smaller more intimate theatres interspersed throughout Sheffield: Merlin, Studio Theatre, The Montgomery, Lantern Theatre and Library Theatre which all have events and classes on throughout the year.

Sheffield’s most prominent galleries are the Graves and Millennium Galleries run by Museums Sheffield, and the city’s flagship contemporary art gallery, Site Gallery (currently closed for refurbishment). Home to big touring exhibitions, a metalwork display, and the Ruskin Collection The Millennium Gallery is the most visited free attraction in the North of England, while the beguiling Graves Gallery (on the top floor of the Central Library) is a gem filled with work by the likes of Bridget Riley and Damien Hirst.  Beyond the big players, creativity continues to run deep in Sheffield, with over 20 smaller galleries including APG Works and 99 Mary Street.

If you prefer to appreciate art in situ, then Sheffield is gaining a prolific reputation as a street art destination. While you can find wall work scattered throughout the city, there some areas where there are particularly high concentrations of eye catching pieces.  Walk down almost any street in the city centre and you’ll stumble across a riot of colour interrupting the urban skyline, with many hidden gems waiting to be found round every corner and new pieces emerging all the time.  There’s a Sheffield based artist called Phlegm who does graffiti style art pieces all over the world. Several of his pieces in Sheffield city centre are located near The Leadmill, The Moor and Charter Row. He paints mural pieces (usually in run-down or drab looking locations) using surreal illustrations to tell stories and create visual narratives.

Sheffield also has a fine collection of museums: Kelham Island Museum, Weston Park Museum, Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, National Emergency Services Museum, Bishop’s House, Shepherd Wheel and Alfred Denny Museum.  Most of these are free to enter.  The Weston Park Museum, Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet and the National Emergency Services Museum are particularly good for children. 

Sheffield has always enjoyed a thriving music scene, with it being the birthplace of the Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Def Leppard, Bring Me The Horizon and The Human League (to name a few).  According to a report carried out by Sensoria and the University of Sheffield, the city boasts 465 active bands, 65 recording studios and 69 venues- making it one of the UK's leading 'Music Cities'.  It’s no surprise therefore that there are always live music events taking place around the city.  The biggest and longest running Sheffield music festival is Tramlines. Past events have included performances from Public Enemy, Basement Jaxx, The Charlatans, The Libertines, Metronomy, Sister Sledge, The Cribs, Parliament-Funkadelic, Katy B, alt-J, the xx, AlunaGeorge, Roots Manuva, Ms Dynamite, Slaves, Sugarhill Gang, Echo and the Bunnymen, Toddla T, Annie Mac, The Mystery Jets, Lianne La Havas, The Selecter, Rolo Tomassi, Darwin Deez, Heaven 17, The Futureheads, Ash and many more.

I’s not only music events that Sheffield excels in hosting.  Sheffield has a long, proud comedy heritage with The Last Laugh Comedy Club being one of the longest running comedy clubs in the country. In 2005 Grin Up North – The Sheffield Comedy Festival was formed and has been a continued success.  Acts who have appeared at The Sheffield Comedy Festival include Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Michael McIntyre, Eddie Izzard, Al Murray, Julian Clary, Jeremy Hardy, Marcus Brigstocke, Simon Amstell, Ross Noble, Mitch Benn, Rhod Gilbert, Alan Carr, Jason Manford, Rich Hall, Dylan Moran, Jo Brand, Jo Caulfield, Lee Evans, Mark Steel, Andy Parsons, Alistair McGowan, Comedy Store Players, Tim Minchin & Sean Lock.

Usually held annually each June, Sheffield Doc/Fest is a world leading and the UK’s premier documentary festival.  This event celebrates the art and business of documentary and all non-fiction storytelling. Doc/Fest gives guests the opportunity to explore documentary within one unique, six-day festival experience.

Arguably the most famous of Sheffield events is the World Snooker Championships which since 1977 have been played at the Crucible Theatre. The tournament is currently played over 17 days and ends on the first Monday in May. Whilst the tournament is on there are many events in the city centre close to the Crucible celebrating the sport, including snookers tables dotted around and the chance to learn or practise the game.

Sheffield truly displays its diversity when it comes to its culinary offerings.  There are so many different types of restaurants, cafes and bistros across the city that I’m sure that if you could think of a cuisine you fancy, then somewhere in the city there would be an establishment that could cater for you.  VeroGusto, Marco @ Milanos and Kias Pastaria are all exceptional Italian restaurants with rave reviews.  Thyme Café, Rhubarb Shed and The Hidden Gem and That Place offer unpretentious delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere.  Other popular restaurants are: The Clubhouse, Edo Sushi Takeaway, Trippetts, Rafters, Baan Thai, Greedy Greek Deli, Joni and Forge Bakehouse. 

If you fancy staying out late, then Sheffield can offer numerous clubs and bars, and not just suited to the youthful student population.  Whilst the Leadmill, Corporation, Plug and Soyo are indeed popular amongst Sheffield’s students, there are also many late bars which cater for all tastes in drinks, music and atmosphere.  Ecclesall Road, West Street, Leopald Square and the Antiques Quarter all have their own share of pubs and bars.  The West Street strip tends to be the busiest, where larger chains intermingle with independents. On Carver Street you’ll find a cluster of bars/small clubs which open to the early hours playing a diverse range of music on different nights and host VIPS in exclusive areas, while Divison Street has a more relaxed bohemian vibe, but is no less lively.  Here you’ll find quirky bars and pubs which double as music venues with live bands playing on some nights. Away from the main circuit, Leopold Square offers a sophisticated cluster of vibrant restaurants and bars, particularly for those in search of a good cocktail.  Ecclesall Road has many restaurants which become exclusively bars into the evening, and the Antiques Quarter like Division Street, has a much more alternative bohemian feel.

With Sheffield having all this to offer, it may be hard to find a reason to leave, but should you wish to travel further afield then the transport links to this city are great and are only getting better.  Manchester is only an hour’s drive away as is Leeds, and both of these cities have frequent rail services from Sheffield.  London is just over two hours by train, with three trains an hour leaving during the day. This is all set to change once HS2 is up and running. HS2 will run from London to Birmingham, then on to Manchester and Leeds, calling at Sheffield. This will reduce Sheffield’s journey times to London by 40 minutes.