Sheffield (for David Smith)

M&G thoughtleader columnist David Smith was quick to nip in with a quip when UK comedian Alexander Armstrong tweeted a picture from the top of the “Sheffield Eye”, having told us:

It’s only ANOTHER beautiful day In Sheffield. Going to ride the massive wheel outside our hotel and will twitpic from the top. LOVE it here!

Smith was quick to come back with:

Is that comedy or do you really like Sheffield?

Armstrong assured us that there was no joking here – he loved the place. Whether he was being honest or not, I don’t know. I do know that he was playing a gig there a few hours later and that saying anything else would probably have been suicidal, but he seems a nice bloke, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Well, now Armstong’s (and my) view of Sheffield has been backed up by Max Davidson in the Telegraph, who – in his Nature’s best places to live – lists Sheffield as one of his “six most desirable locations to live” in the UK. My home city is listed along  alongside quaint villages and small towns, because, as Davidson points out:

People who only know Sheffield through The Full Monty will probably be surprised to learn that it has the highest number of trees per head of population of any city in Europe. With the Peak District on its doorstep, greenery is also spread unevenly across the city, but gives areas such as Broomhill, near the university, a rus in urbe charm that few British cities can match. Air quality is high for a conurbation of this size, with anti-pollution measures in place.

I had to just check my Latin to establish that rus in urbe essentially means “countryside in the city”. Which sounds just about right.
And as we all know – trees are good, right? And there are loads of them in Sheffield.

Because of its industrial heritage and geographic location – amongst the coal mines of north Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire – together with the… erm…  “exposure” given to it by The Full Monty (a film which accurately portrayed the urban decay that hit the city during the 1980s, if not the route that most unemployed male residents took to improve their lives), Sheffield often gets a bad press. But that’s quite unfair, as Armstrong and Davidson have both noticed.

It’s something that I notice too – not having lived there for almost 20 years now, but having remained in constant contact with the place, it’s amazing to see the regeneration and the optimism that always seems to increase each time I go back “home”.
Of course, the industry is still there – it has to be – and there are problem areas like in any city. But there’s so much more to Sheffield than most people – including David Smith – realise.

And there are trees.

This post was in no way sponsored by Sheffield Tourism, although if they want to slip a few quid my way, I probably won’t say no.

4 thoughts on “Sheffield (for David Smith)

  1. I’m a Londoner, but visited a friend in Sheffield a while back. I agree, good place.

    Two other good things about it:

    It’s very hilly. This always livens up a city. Lots of strange views you weren’t expecting. London is a bit hilly, but Sheffield much more so.

    And, there is fabulous nearby countryside, minutes away by car, or so it felt. Big contrast to London.

  2. Brian > Hills – yes – plenty of them. And I agree with you about that. Probably the best view (for me) in flat Oxford was from the top of South Parks. And also in London (despite your best efforts to convince me otherwise) from the top of that hill somewhere near Regent’s Park Zoo.
    Maybe it is because I was brought dragged up amongst the hills of Sheffield that I find the need to view things everywhere else from hills as well.

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