Reasons to be cheerful, one, two, three
Plus, which Sheffield neighbourhood is the country’s most trusting?
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Today is, as they tell us every year, “Blue Monday”. According to some, the third Monday in January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, when the post Christmas and New Year glow has faded and we’ve still got months to wait until lighter nights and warmer temperatures. Others think Blue Monday is a load of rubbish. But just in case you’re in need of cheering up, we thought we’d look at some reasons we’ve got to feel positive about Sheffield in the coming year. Feel free to suggest any I’ve missed in the comments.
As well as that, we have a great photo of the University of Sheffield’s Arts Tower by local snapper Rob Nicholson, and a new show featuring the timeless music of Bob Dylan opens at the Lyceum.
Catch up and coming up
We had a huge response to our weekend piece about the stark inequalities in Sheffield which have been illustrated by early data from Census 2021. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,061 paying members. The first included a piece about Sheffield-born author L. du Garde Peach and how his popular Ladybird history books became a publishing sensation. And the second included an interview with University of Sheffield academic and “Corbynomics” guru Richard Murphy about what the UK should do to get through its current economic travails. An extract from that second piece is below.
We’re speaking on the same day as Keir Starmer’s big New Year speech, and the day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s. He tells me that while he might have preferred Starmer’s to Sunak’s, he was unimpressed by both, and has said as much on Twitter. “Having heard both Sunak and Starmer speak,” he writes in one. “The blunt reality is that at the next election the choice will be between those who have decided people should die on trolleys waiting for beds in hospital and those who are really sad that's happening but will do nothing about it.”
This week we’ll send out two more. In the first we’ll be asking top Sheffield photographer Berris Conolly to talk about some of the shots he took for the Regeneration exhibition 30 years ago. And in the second, David Bocking will be speaking to a local meteorologist who says 11 separate records were broken in Sheffield in 2022. To help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield focused on readers rather than shareholders, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs £1.34 a week if you pay for 12 months up front.
Editor’s note: When we got 1,000 members last month, a local newspaper industry website called Hold the Front Page got in touch with me for a story. After 18 months, people outside Sheffield are now realising that we, along with our sister titles in Manchester and Liverpool, are changing local journalism for the better. It feels great to be part of a local news success story. But that success is down to our paying members: the early patrons of a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield. And the way The Tribune’s model works, the more of them we get, the better it will be. Please join them today.
The big picture: A modernist marvel
Thanks to Sheffield photographer Rob Nicholson for letting us use this superb drone-taken shot of the University of Sheffield’s iconic Arts Tower. The building, which was opened in 1966, currently houses the university’s architecture and landscape programmes, and famously has one of the last remaining Paternoster lifts in the UK. For the building’s full fascinating history, see this excellent piece in Architects’ Journal from a few months ago.
This week’s weather ☔
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say low pressure to the east provides a cold and unstable west-northwest flow with sunshine and wintry showers.
Monday 🌤️❄️ An icy start with the risk of snow from a weakening occlusion. Otherwise it's a brightening trend. Cold throughout with highs of 2°C.
Tuesday 🌤️❄️ Another frosty start, then often dry with good spells of sunshine. The odd wintry shower from the northwest can't be ruled out. Highs of 2°C.
Wednesday 🌥️ ❄️ More cloud at times and the potential for a wintry flurry. Bright spells coming through as well with a chilly wind exacerbating the cold. Highs of 3°C.
Thursday 🌤️ Staying cold with good spells of sunshine and only isolated wintry showers expected. Frost early and late with highs of 3°C.
Friday ☁️ Likely to be less cold as the Atlantic starts to re-influence from the west with increased cloud later. Chance of snow turning to rain. Highs of 5°C.
Outlook: Milder into the weekend with cloudier and less settled weather favoured as temperatures return back to average.
The big story: Reasons to be cheerful, one, two, three
Top line: With the cost of living crisis, a new era of austerity, a broken NHS and a war in Ukraine, it can sometimes feel that the news cycle is unremittingly grim. But there is hope among the gloom. Here are three things Sheffield has got to be cheerful about in the year ahead.
Reason one: The city centre has a bright future
On BBC Radio Sheffield on Saturday morning, Sheffield entrepreneur James O’Hara (Tramlines co-founder and owner of Public, The Great Gatsby and others) gave presenter Kat Cowan an update about Leah’s Yard, the former “little mesters” workshop on Cambridge Street he’s currently renovating with Tom Wolfenden from Sheffield Technology Parks.
The reason for the interview was a delay to the project, which didn’t initially sound too promising. But during the 10-minute-long segment, O’Hara talked at length about what’s going on in the city centre and how it will benefit Sheffield in the long term. He said that the city had “dodged a bullet” in not creating a new retail quarter as other cities have, allowing it to build something in Heart of the City which can capitalise on the way city centres are changing to be more about leisure and experiences rather than just shopping. He said:
I’m really confident about the city centre. It looks like a mass of cranes at the moment but those cranes are progress. In a year to 18 months it’ll start to feel like all the work has been worthwhile. Within two or three years you’ll have something we can all be really proud of.
Let’s hope so. The full interview is really interesting and full of positivity and we’d really recommend that you give it a listen. Fast forward to 2 hours 13 minutes for the section.
Reason two: Sheffield startup city
Sheffield has been named as the best city in the UK outside London in which to start a business by entrepreneurship website Startups.co.uk. The survey looked at 42 separate measures covering everything from digital infrastructure to high street funding. Of our main competitor cities nearby, Liverpool came third, while Leeds was fifth and Manchester was ninth.
Startups.co.uk said Sheffield scored particularly highly in business support and talent. The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District is world famous as are the city’s two universities, both of which attract thousands of young people every year. The city’s beautiful natural environment and low cost of living also make Sheffield more attractive to employees.
Quoted in the piece is Harry Briss from “wellbeing platform” Champion Health which last year was sold in a deal which could be worth up to £10m. He said without investment from local business incubator TwinklHive, and the city’s talent pool, his firm would not exist. He said:
There’s also a strong tech scene — no doubt helped by excellent local universities and courses. And with many professionals being priced out of cities like London, I think Sheffield is becoming a more attractive proposition for young talent.
Reason three: A social housing renaissance
From Park Hill to the Gleadless Valley estate, Sheffield has a long history of building high quality social housing. But as a result of Right to Buy, over the last 40 years the city has lost 32,000 council homes, decreasing rental income into the council and reducing availability.
There are signs that this is changing, however. In 2019, Sheffield City Council announced plans to more than double the number of council homes they were due to build over the next decade from 1,500 to 3,100. The latest project to get the green light is a new development of 36 one-bedroomed flats on the site of a former nursing home in Crookes.
Welcoming the decision on Twitter, Walkley councillor Tom Hunt said “there’s no route to tackling the housing crisis without new council housing”. He’s absolutely right — and it’s also great to see Sheffield at the forefront of moves to address one of the UK’s most pressing policy challenges.
Bottom line: This is by no means an exhaustive list. Just last week Phillimore Primary School in Darnall was given an active travel award for massively reducing the number of pupils who travelled to their school by car. And it promises to be a great year for music in Sheffield as well with the return of hometown heroes Pulp and Arctic Monkeys to look forward to as well. We journalists can sometimes be guilty of concentrating too much on what’s not going well at the expense of what is. There’s lots to be positive about in Sheffield.
Home of the week 🏡
This stunning four-bedroomed mid-terrace in Brincliffe is handily situated for a host of local amenities and has an enclosed private garden to the rear. It is on the market for £300,000.
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Our media picks 🎧
The Sheffield neighbourhood that is the nation’s most trusting 🏡 A new survey by the think tank Onward had found that Bents Green and Millhouses is the most trusting neighbourhood in England. So trusting are people there that paying on credit is commonplace and residents entrust their bank cards with neighbours. They say places with high trust levels have higher economic growth and productivity, better mental health, lower truancy levels and better public services.
90-year-old Sheffield lorry driver passes health MoT 🚛 The man thought to be Britain oldest lorry driver has been given the green light to carry on working for another year. Brian Wilson, who is from Sheffield, was given a “health MoT” by his GP before Christmas and passed with flying colours. Wilson, who started driving for a living in the 1950s and currently runs a 1993 L-reg vehicle, says he is thinking about finally retiring next December, when he will have turned 91.
What to look for in January 🐦 A lovely piece on our regular contributor David Bocking’s website about the natural phenomena you will be able to see in Sheffield this month. The regular lists are produced with the help of the Sorby Natural History Society and this month include the migration of geese and swans, waxwings in Crosspool and wood ant mounds in Grenoside and Longshaw. Flora to look out for include parasitic mistletoe and witch hazel.
Over the moon 🌕
Congratulations to the always-beautiful Division Street dried flower, plant and gift shop MoonKo, who this year celebrate their 10th birthday. MoonKo was set up by owner Debbie Moon as an online store back in 2010, opening their current bricks and mortar shop in October 2013. I remember going in just before the first Covid lockdown and it was clearly an anxious time. But Debbie has successfully weathered the storm and survived. Here’s to another 10 years!
Things to do 📆
Art 🖼️ On now at the Cupola Gallery is the Hillsborough art shop’s ever-popular Under the Bed sale. The annual show, which is now in its 26th year, gives art lovers the chance to buy work by amateur and professional artists at prices from £1-£350. This year’s exhibition contains thousands of paintings, sculptures, prints, jewellery, ceramics and photography and runs until 4 February. The gallery’s opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10am-6pm.
Talk 🗣️ As part of the Millennium Gallery exhibition From Sky to Sea: Artists and Water, art historian James Russell will host a special talk all about art inspired by the beach. The end of World War One heralded a new age of leisure when a sun tan became a sign of good health. And as the public headed to the beach, so did artists including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash and William Roberts. The one hour talk starts at 6.30pm and costs £5.
Theatre 🎭 Starting on Tuesday, 17 January at the Lyceum is Girl from the North Country, the Olivier and Tony award-winning West End and Broadway smash-hit musical featuring the timeless songs of Bob Dylan. Set in 1934 in the heartland of America, the show focuses on a group of wayward souls who cross paths in a time-weathered guesthouse where they realise nothing is quite as it seems. Tickets are priced £15-£55 and the show runs until Saturday, 21 January.