2003 promotional video for Sheffield

(Univer)sity on the move

Considering it is only around ten years old, this promotional video from the University of Sheffield is quite something.

On Twitter, we dated it to around 2003. What do you reckon?

A Typographic Tour of Sheffield

I finally got round to sending off an SAE for a free copy of this. It’s a guide to the points of typographic interest around the city, starting from London Road and finishing on Devonshire Green. The tour takes in both iconic examples that you’ll recognise and some that need a bit more detective work to spot.

A Typographic Tour of Sheffield

A Typographic Tour of Sheffield

The guide is by the people behind the beautiful Our Favourite Places book. And for the price of a couple of stamps, it’s definitely worth getting your hands on: send Eleven an SAE and they’ll pop one in the post.

Oh, and if you’re into Sheffield typography then Sheftype is also worth following.

Aerial photos of 1920s Sheffield

Our city nearly a century ago

The Britain from Above photo archive has some great photos of Sheffield take in the 1920s.

Under the terms of the license I can’t publishing them here, so instead I’ve linked to some of the highlights:

Not in Sheffield, but the archive also contains pictures of Sheffield Wednesday United v Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium.

There are also several shots of suburbs, where some of the housing hasn’t yet been built. Areas featured include Millhouses, Beachief, Meadowhead, the Manor, Whirlow, Totley, Coal Aston, Middlewood, Handsworth, Oughtibridge, Attercliffe, Neepsend, Highfield, Sharrow and Firth Park.

Britain from above Sheffield photos

Sheffield Cablevision: the original local TV

Sheffield’s 1970s community cable TV station

There’s been a lot of talk in the last few months about the government’s idea for a network of local TV stations, with plans for 10-20 services in operation by 2015. Sheffield isn’t on this initial list but we’ve been earmarked for the second phase of licensing – assuming the first stations are a success and culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is still in a job to see it through.

What I didn’t realise was that the idea of citywide TV services is not a new one. In fact, Sheffield had its own cable TV station for three-and-a-half years in the 1970s. I found this out via Sheffield sport journalist Alan Biggs’ book, which incidentally is well worth a read if you’re interested in local football or media and is available now from the publishers and Amazon.

Our cable TV station was known as Sheffield Cablevision. It was one of five authorised by the UK’s Minister for Posts and Telecommunications and ran from August 1973 to January 1977. For a couple of hours each evening (plus daytime repeats) Sheffield Cablevision broadcast shows made by the public with help from a professional staff of six from its Matilda Street studios.

Sheffield Cablevision ident

TV Ark has posted a video of the station’s ident, which shows the Sheffield Cablevision logo – presumably the inspiration for the Sheffield Publicity Department visual identity:

Sheffield Cablevision ident

Sheffield Cablevision: watch the ident

Recollections of Sheffield Cablevision

I’m not old enough to personally remember the station, but if you search the internet there is some good stuff to be found. A thread on Sheffield Forum throws up memories of the station, with gerryuk and A.B.Yaffle commenting:

During the daytime you would get a Sheffield city council logo on the screen with Radio Hallam playing in the background. Every hour or so you would get a local news programme aired from some studio centre near Sheffield’s railway station. Can’t remember if they did a 30 minute news programme in the evening. On Saturday morning I can remember them doing some live programmes from the now defunct ABC cinema on Angel Street. It was for kids. I think you had to live in a council house to be able to receive this channel.

The flats on the Hanover estate still have the old sockets on the wall with about 10 holes in which someone told me was for the old cable tv system.

In his book, Alan Biggs recalls the few months he worked for the channel:

I would race off to Sheffield early on a Friday evening to present a weekend sports preview for the 30,000 households subscribing to an experimental piped TV channel. The pioneers who ran it…believed in what was a community project and, on reflection, it wasn’t a world away from today’s so-called reality stuff in that volunteers could come in off the street to help us make programmes.

It does sound like it was run on a shoestring and as a result, relied heavily on the volunteers. Another Sheffield Forumer, Jabberwocky, recalls:

I remember watching it to see if they showed any film of the city and I sat there for an hour one day while a bloke showed how to change a plug.

Videos and photos

I’ve found a couple of videos of possible Sheffield Cablevision output, although I don’t think they were produced by the Sheffield production team and aren’t really proper Sheffield content. This public information film about playing safe when camping and fishing was shown on the channel:

There’s talk on Sheffield Forum of a VHS compilation tape of the best of Sheffield Cablevision. It’d be great to see this online.

Photo wise, there’s a picture of one of the original Sheffield Cablevision cameras on the Museum of Broadcast TV Camera website. But the best place for photos is on the new Sheffield Cablevision Facebook page, where you’ll find a treasure trove of nearly 300 images, including these:

TV Ark says that despite good local viewing figures, politics and the costs were to blame for the closure of Sheffield Cablevision in 1977.

The future of local TV in Sheffield

We’ll have to see what comes of the government’s new plans for community television stations and whether the change in broadcast regulations really does increase their chance of success. Cities in the US which are much smaller than Sheffield run successful local TV stations, so there may be a way of making them work. Certainly there are interested parties intending to bid on the initial new licenses.

But at the same time other community TV experiments in the UK continue to bite the dust, with a Manchester station closing earlier this month, the owners criticising the government’s new plans for not providing the framework they need to deliver a quality service.

Given that more people are buying smart TVs with fully-integrated internet, I can’t help think that using an online platform to distribute local TV content might be a lower cost approach to local TV, with less risk. There was talk of something along these lines being set up in Sheffield a couple of years ago – TV Sheffield – but with the website now offline there doesn’t seem to be much happening with this.

What are your memories of Sheffield Cablevision? Does a city the size of Sheffield need its own TV station? If so, what would you want from it?

Seth Bennett interview

The Radio Sheffield sport reporter on bleeding blue, red…and Brian the Blade

Seth interviews Joe Cole

Seth interviews Joe Cole

Ever since the days of the Bob Jackson‘s Praise or Grumble I’ve been a big fan of the football phone-in on Radio Sheffield.

Bob is now retired but the station’s football coverage continues with Football Heaven five nights a week and Praise or Grumble on Saturday teatimes.

For the last 13 years, Seth Bennett has been working for Radio Sheffield and for as long as I can remember, he’s been regularly presenting their football phone-in.

You may not have realised, but Seth left continuing employment at Radio Sheffield over the summer, only to come back as a freelancer via his company FourFive Media. He can still be heard at least three nights a week hosting Football Heaven, as well as on the Football League Show, BBC Leeds and Sky Sports.

For me, Seth is one of the big talents on Radio Sheffield so I decided to put to him a few questions and find out more about his times covering our local football teams. He explains below about his affiliation with Sheffield, its football clubs – and the current threat to Radio Sheffield that could see its sports coverage affected by cuts resulting in Wednesday and United’s away game commentaries covered by the home club’s BBC radio station.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Sheffield, Granville Road to be more specific. I went to St Marie’s Junior School at Fulwood and then on to All Saints secondary. We did move out to Todwick when I was 10 and I have lived out in that area ever since.

I am very much a Sheffield lad and I am extremely proud of the city and the way it looks these days. It is amazing to think of town now compared to town when I was 10, where going through the hole in the road to see the fish was the highlight, however the stench of urine was the trade-off.

Did you support a football team as a child?

As for football teams I can say with hand on heart that as a kid I went to both United and Wednesday. This is not me copping out of the answer but the truth. I actually owned both shirts – the yellow Wednesday Brazil away shirt and the red, white and black thin stripe United shirt.

As to who I support these days I would say for the last five years if there was a team I was going to pay to watch, I would have chosen Doncaster Rovers. I have a big soft spot for them and they played some great football under Sean O’Driscoll.

My utopia would be to see the steel city two in the premier league and first and second, but which way round would I want them to finish?

How did you get into sports broadcasting? What is the best and worst thing about it?

From being a kid it is always what I wanted to do and I had a spell as a 17 year-old working at the Children’s Hospital Radio, but I was awful. It didn’t stop me trying though and when I was 18 I had no clue how to get into it and so I elected to take a year out to be an au pair, I ended up in New Jersey. I didn’t come back for two years because I had so much fun, it was a real life experience.

Whilst I was over there I was dared to phone in the ‘Iceline’ which I did, I was bored and anything was more entertaining than doing the ironing! Anyway they seemed to keep me on the line for a while and then we talked about the NHL and I did them a round-up of what had been going on. Turns out now I realise that they were just very short of callers so I was better than nothing, but only just.

I really enjoyed the whole experience and so I called again a few times and one day I called the office and had a chat with Jamie Campbell, a thoroughly nice guy and asked him how to get into radio he gave me plenty of advice. I am not sure exactly how it came about, but I was invited in by Colin Hazelden who had a brief spell at Radio Sheffield and when I went to the studios I was offered the chance to cover the Steelers.

The deal was if I turned up to the games and did a post match interview then took it back to the station and edited a clip, then they would pay me £15. I was stunned they were going to pay me to cover sport. From there it developed into doing Saturday sports news and then covering football.

I suppose that brings me on to the best and worst things of the job. The best part is being out and meeting people, I love talking to people be that supporters or managers or players. You end up making relationships that last a life time. The football world is the biggest gossip shop going and so it is always very interesting to speak to people and find out the latest.

The worst bit is the number of hours that you work, people seem to think that we have a big production team, but for the longest time it was just Paul, Andy and me and 60-70 hour weeks were the norm. That in itself it was never a problem, but it is the bit when you get home and the phone continues to ring, you can’t ignore it because what if that is the BIG story.

The number of phone calls that end between Paul Walker and I with, “I better go I am getting the look!” Our partners are incredibly understanding, but it must drive them up the wall.

Interestingly since the advent of social media our jobs have changed massively, mostly for the better, but I think sometimes the very personal criticism is hard to take especially when it involves your family. That said overall it has been a job I have loved for 13 years and everyday much to my wife’s frustration I have been happy to be at work.

How long have you been on Radio Sheffield? What are your most memorable moments so far?

My first piece of Radio Sheffield work was in October 1998 I was 20 years old and it was an interview with Don McKee the former Sheffield Steelers coach. Since then I think I have presented every single show on station from the Breakfast Show to the new music show to the gardening phone in, it’s all part of the education.

As for memorable moments, I have been to Wembley twice, the Millennium Stadium four times and commentated on Doncaster Rovers lifting the third division and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Away from footy I have really enjoyed the Sheffield Steelers grand slam in 2001 and Clinton Woods becoming world champion.

I think my favourite moment was Doncaster Rovers beating Leeds at Wembley, but the Sheffield United cup run under Neil Warnock was special. I was the pitch side reporter and I was being driven on to do increasingly outrageous things and which included nearly getting thrown out of Old Trafford in the build up to kick-off because I wasn’t meant to be pitch-side. I somehow talked my way around it. The BIG highlight was Wednesday in Cardiff, I have a lot of friends from that SWFC team and to see them win in the way they did was amazing.

You left Radio Sheffield over the summer to set up your own company but haven’t really been off air. Why did you decide to leave and how is FourFive Media going?

After 13 years with one brief seven-month break I had to decide what my next move was, whether that would be to remain at BBC Radio Sheffield for the next 30 years or whether it was time to push myself and try to do something else. I love Radio Sheffield and Football Heaven, in fact I think the weeknight phone-in is me at my most comfortable on-air.

However I think my favourite time presenting it was when Paul Walker and Luke Wileman and I double headed and presented together. There were three very different dynamics, but three good mates who worked really well together. I thought it was a great show then and the chemistry was outstanding, but we have never quite been able to get back to that for a few reasons, one was that we all grew up and got responsibilities that meant coming into work on your day off to present the show was just not going to happen anymore. I miss those days because we used to laugh so much.

Luke is one of the most straight laced people you would ever meet, but would have a habit of saying the most outrageous thing usually with a swear word in it just as an interview was coming to an end and then point at you and start laughing. At which point I was meant to speak, but I would of course be laughing for no apparent reason.

I also knew that with the budget cuts coming, the chances of doing more than football were going to be few and far between and I really enjoy doing the ice hockey, basketball and boxing. But the feedback I was getting was that the station couldn’t afford my time to do that stuff, I was needed just to do football. I love football, but I am a sports journalist and the test you get as a broadcaster doing different sports is important.

For most people me leaving Radio Sheffield hasn’t happened yet, because I have continued to work on a freelance basis three nights a week, which has been great. I am very grateful that has been the case because I love the show. The bosses have been good to me and it is great to still be able to work for them, what the future holds I don’t know, but as long as they want me on the radio then I will continue to do the show.

The football phone-in was pioneered by Radio Sheffield as Praise or Grumble back in the 1980s and is as popular as ever now, running six nights a week. Why is there such an appetite for it in South Yorkshire, especially given the varying fortunes of the Sheffield clubs?

We are bunch of nosey parkers and we have six teams that we all seem to take a keen interest in the fortunes of. It’s strange because even on a quiet night, people always want to talk. It’s great.

Brian the Blade talks sense. Discuss.

Brian is very funny I have had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and it has been good fun. People think he is a plant and we pay him to come on to stir things up. I can assure you we don’t, he comes on all on his own.

He knows a lot about football and as he tells us he knows a lot about the local football scene. I think more importantly than that he likes to get people talking and if he can say something that can stir the pot then he will, sometimes at the expense of himself.

I enjoy him as a caller because he takes it usually in the right spirit, at least twice a season he makes a formal complaint about me and tries to get me sacked, but most of the time we do ok.

If the BBC’s Delivering Quality First proposals go through, we could see drastic changes to Radio Sheffield, in particular to the sports coverage. What concerns you most about the possible impact of this?

In my opinion the proposals are disappointing because I have fought for 13 years of my life to give the listeners in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire the best product we can, but now for that, in grand scheme of things to go by the wayside is upsetting.

Not being able to travel to watch your local side play leaves you with only half a story, how can you be a journalist and deliver stories if you can’t watch the team play away from home? It would also force Radio Sheffield’s hand as to what games we cover and potentially it could mean we have to put up four commentary teams to satisfy other station’s needs, doubling the cost of our current commentary costs.

I accept and understand there need to be cut backs and that will hurt somewhere along the line. But this idea seems flawed and I really hope the people of South Yorkshire speak up and tell those at the BBC Trust who will make the decisions that they should think again.

What can people do to comment on the proposals?

Got to the BBC Trust website and tell ’em what you think whichever side of the fence you are on. It is a consultation so please give them something to consider.


Thanks, Seth.

As well as away game commentaries being hosted by the home club’s BBC radio station, the proposed cuts to Radio Sheffield could also see networked afternoon shows coming from Leeds and a cut to Sheffield-based evening programming, including the show that champions new local music, BBC Introducing Sheffield.

The window for commenting on the proposals closes on 21 December, 2011.

Comment on the proposed cuts to BBC local radio

Iconic music locations in Sheffield

Rock Atlas

Rock Atlas

The Pack Horse pub and King Mojo club feature in new book

Sheffield is a world-famous music city, but where are the iconic music locations?

A new book called Rock Atlas features the stories behind 650 music locations. The publisher has let us post two of the Sheffield locations on here.

Arctic Monkeys’ champagne chart rundown at The Pack Horse

The Pack Horse pub in High Green is where the Arctic Monkeys, and as many of their fans who could squeeze in with them, first heard the news they had made their chart debut at No.1.

On a Sunday in October 2005, requesting the landlord to switch on the chart rundown on the pub radio, the band settled down to toast their success at whichever point I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor entered the Top 40.

The noisy gathering were not disappointed. As Monkey Alex Turner recalled when talking to Mojo magazine, “I think the Sugababes had a big tune out the same week and we just thought, “There’s no way this is gonna happen. It’s great if we even got Top 10.” And then they played the Sugababes tune at No.2 and everyone cheered. People were jumping on pool tables, and it were all champagne and nonsense.”

Soul and Hendrix at Stringfellow’s Mojo

Soul music’s Sixties popularity coincided with the opening of a new club catering for the very American style of music in a quiet road north of the city centre.

The Mojo club (or King Mojo) was situated in a Victorian bow-window-fronted house run by local youngster Peter Stringfellow, who later became the internationally famous celebrity night-club owner. Stringfellow and his two brothers would advertise a records-only night once a week and hype up the playlist in the local paper.

When hosting live acts, the place boasted Edwin Starr’s first UK appearance and attracted the cream of US soul and R&B to this innovative new venture, which made its debut in 1964. Soon attracting a dedicated and enthusiastic mod clientele, the Mojo hosted The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces at the out-of-town address in Pitsmoor Road.

Much like Liverpool’s Casbah Club, this residential road venue was decorated inside with pop art wall murals and posters, and when the psychedelic era arrived Stringfellow switched the musical emphasis, renaming the place The Beautiful King Mojo.

Shortly after booking Jimi Hendrix, who was the subject of a botched drugs raid by the local constabulary, the club closed in February 1967 when some neighbours campaigned against the noise and nuisance caused by a hugely exciting venture in a rather inappropriate suburban location.

Sheffield’s Brutalist legacy

How does our modernist architectural heritage make Sheffield different?

    Moore St Sub Station by http://underclassrising.net/, used under the Creative Commons license

Moore St Sub Station by http://underclassrising.net/, used under the Creative Commons license

If you have any interest in the history of the buildings in Sheffield then this event in September is well worth checking out:

‘Brutalist Speculations and Flights of Fancy’ on Friday 9 September (11am-7.30pm) is an exploration of Sheffield’s six best Brutalist buildings (Park Hill, Castle Markets, the Electricity Substation on Moore Street, The Holy Cross Church on Spotswood Mount, Norton Water Tower and Psalter Lane Art School.

The event at the Site Gallery will open with guided walks to some of the buildings, followed by a series of presentations, a book launch and reception that will explore proposals and enquiries, speculations, and flights of fancy based around the position that these Brutalist buildings hold in Sheffield today.

Writer Owen Hatherley will be speaking. He’s the guy has written several pieces on Sheffield’s buildings, including one where he suggests that in terms of architecture, Sheffield doesn’t know how good it is.

Brutalist speculations and flights of fancy, 9 September 2011

Castle Market by the justified sinner, used under Creative Commons license

Castle Market by the justified sinner, used under Creative Commons license

All in a day BBC4 Sheffield documentary

More seventies Sheffield

This fly-on-the-wall-style documentary shows a day in the life of Sheffield in September 1973. There is no commentary, and the only real narrative is the progression of events, with the cameras returning to certain stories – such as a birth, a death and a marriage – throughout the day.

In terms of visual change, there is plenty to look out for. The cooling towers form part of the backdrop; Bramall Lane still has tall floodlights on the corners of the ground; the Peace gardens are the old layout; people are still using outdoor loos; the Black swan (aka the Mucky duck) was still open; and at one point I think you can spot the now-demolished Kelvin flats.

The local media also feature quite prominently. An audio clip announces that it is ‘Radio Sheffield breakfast magazine edition one’, although with the station going live six years previously, it presumably wasn’t the first incarnation of the breakfast show.

We also get to see behind the scenes at an editorial meeting at Sheffield Newspapers, where the front-page news is that the corporation is to halt council house building and a bread delivery lorry’s brakes have failed, causing it to crash into a Walkley house.

Some of the seventies background music makes scenes from All in a day reminiscent of City on the move. And I couldn’t help being reminded a little bit of the beginning part of Threads. Obviously, the turn of events in All in a day isn’t so tragic, but to a viewer who wasn’t born in 1973 and who was only young in 1984, they both have a similar old-Sheffield feel.

Oh and look out for the bizarre, symbolic juxtaposition of a priest leading communion, ‘This is my blood…shed for you and for many for the remission of sins’, which then cuts to a pig being slaughtered.

You can watch the All in a day documentary below.

Castle market in Sheffield will not be listed

Does this pave the way for excavated Sheffield castle ruins and park? Or just Leeds-style crap office blocks?

This morning it was announced that the Minister for tourism and heritage has decided not to list Castle market building.

This news means that in theory the major stumbling block to the Castlegate part of the 2008 city centre masterplan has been removed.

The masterplan outlined a vision for the excavation of Sheffield castle ruins, which are under the present market building, and the creation of a park in the vicinity. This would be an important part of of the regeneration of the Castlegate and Victoria quays area.

The debate about whether or not it should be listed has gone on for a few months now. Some people see the old markets as a eyesore in an already run down area and would be glad to see it gone.

Others see the 1960s building as an example of what makes Sheffield different to other northern cities. They argue that it is a unique place where working class people come to shop that has been neglected over the years, which should be kept in the heart of the city.

On the radio tonight a councillor said that archaeologists would be given time to investigate the ruins of the castle to see what can be made of them. But in a recession is it possible that the masterplan proposals would never be realised anyway?

The author of the blog posts linked to above, Owen Hatherley, has said in reaction to the announcement that the remains of the market are dull and that ‘there will be no park, just a wasteland that will eventually be filled, in the extremely unlikely event the economy picks up, with Leeds-style crap office blocks.’

What do you think? Should we demolish the market building now it will not be listed and hope that the masterplan comes to fruition? Or does it have a social value and architectural merit that we need to retain?

Sheffield – the forgotten blitz

Memories of the Sheffield blitz on TV

You have probably seen some of the coverage to commemmorate 70 years since Sheffield was bombed in the second world war.

There is a TV programme on BBC1 North this Friday 17 December that looks back at the devastating events that destroyed many buildings and left over 660 people dead, 1,500 injured and 40,000 homeless – but left the steel works untouched.

Sheffield – the forgotten blitz

Radio Times listing