TNB Indie Arcade, Sheffield

The Nichols building in Shalesmoor just got twice as good

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

Since opening in 2011 in a vast former wholesale grocers in Shalesmoor, the Nichols building has established itself as a destination vintage arts and crafts emporium.

A few weeks ago, TNB Indie Arcade opened on the ground floor. At the moment it’s all about independent retail but one day it could host gigs, cinema, theatre and club nights.

I spoke to Matt Abbott from TNB Indie Arcade about his plans for the space, the latest on his musical projects and moving to Sheffield.

1970s caravan in TNB Indie Arcade

1970s caravan in TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade has been up and running indoors on the ground floor of the Nichols building since July. Is it a separate thing to the Nichols building and owned or run by different people?

The ground floor did actually exist as TNB Indie Arcade before we took over on 1 July. It was run by the same person that still runs the first floor, although it was more of a secondary overspill than it’s own individual space.

So since we’ve taken over, we’ve really transformed it into a unique business and it’s already starting to gather quite a distinctive and intriguing style. I think the centre pieces so far are the fantastic 1970s pop-out caravan and the old church pulpit that we use as the sales desk!

Also we’re conscious that each unit has a really imposing style, so that it feels as though every corner offers something completely different whilst still fitting in with the style of the whole room. It’s a fantastic project and we’re really pleased with how much we’ve progressed in the first five weeks or so.

Yorkshire Tee at TNB Indie Arcade

Yorkshire Tee at TNB Indie Arcade

Tell us about the sorts of retailers you’ve got in TNB Indie Arcade and what they’re offering.

We have everything from mini retro £1.50 greetings cards to fantastic antique furniture and original artwork. The vast majority of our dealers treat their units as hobbies so whilst it does provide a little extra income, it’s also a labour of love. And I think this is really reflected in the standard and the quality of the products that they bring in.

A&D Creations have a workshop here and make some fantastic glass work and jewellery. Steel City Retro are constantly bringing in a diverse range of records into the vintage caravan. Reverse Gear Interiors has some amazing furniture, and other units such as Love Me, Heartily Homemade, Northern Sewn and Cute as a Button bring superb home made gifts and decorative pieces.

We also have original artwork by Tracy White, MJT Artwork and Simon Abbott, as well as original photography by Gordie Cavill.

Also, we’ve recently added Yorkshire Tee, who are currently the most popular t-shirt designers in the city.

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

How have the first few weeks been?

They’ve been truly fantastic. Seeing the space gradually evolve day by day is really satisfying, and working so closely with the dealers gives you an appreciation of the time and effort and also the care that goes into their products.

It’s great socialising with customers and meeting so many talented people. And let’s face it; turning up to work somewhere like TNB Indie Arcade doesn’t really feel like a proper job! We’re very lucky to be involved.

As well as the retail arcade, it sounds like you have plenty of other interesting spaces in the building. What are your plans for making the most of them?

We do have a shared courtyard which is currently used for fairs and events. However we’re running a few small events in the retail arcade, and our long term plans include extending into the cellar. It’s a superb space, reminiscent of The Cavern or a much larger version of Club 60, and there’s fantastic potential down there for film screenings and alternative club nights.

The evening events will be an extension of the cultures that we celebrate in the daytime retail space; vintage and alternative lifestyles, and particularly 1960s Britain. I’m a huge fan of the Mod scene and so I really want a few Northern Soul-driven Quadrophenia nights in here eventually!

The first event that we’re running is on Tuesday 18 September and will include spoken word sets, acoustic sets, ’60s DJs and most importantly, cheap alcohol.

The main Nichols Building has been open about two years now. How is it going – I expect there have been some ups and downs in that time?

I can’t personally speak from experience, but obviously a good proportion of our trade is down to the Nichols building having already been established as a great vintage space. People know about the Nichols; they just don’t necessarily know about the ground floor. But obviously we plan on dramatically changing that!

I thought I recognised the name Matt Abbott. Are you the same punk poet/frontman from Skint & Demoralised?

I am indeed. To be honest we won’t be writing or recording as Skint & Demoralised any more after the release of our third album The Bit Between The Teeth in April, although I still regularly perform punk poetry sets and have several new writing projects in progress.

I’m working on a new album and this time we’ve brought a third writer on board, so it’ll be different to S&D. Apart from that, I can’t really divulge much information at this stage I’m afraid!

Finally, did you think twice about moving down to Sheffield from Wakefield? And have your impressions of the city changed since you moved down here?

No, not in the slightest. Obviously I love Wakefield because it’s my home town, and I still spend a decent amount of time there, but I’ve been utterly infatuated with Sheffield since I started coming here at the age of fifteen and I’ve always wanted to live here.

I live with my best mate, who’s also the other half of S&D, which is obviously great fun. And to be fair I probably know as many people in Sheffield as I do in Wakefield because we were always considered a Sheffield band as much as we were a Wakefield band.

As you know; Sheffield is an absolutely wonderful city and I’m really enjoying my time here so far.

@TNBIndieArcade on Twitter

TNB Indie Arcade on Facebook

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade


Suspended Coffee Sheffield

Help people in need get a free hot drink

This week you may have read about the concept of Suspended Coffee. Richard Hennessy explains a bit more about it and why he is trying to get this up and running in Sheffield:

The idea is that independent coffee shops in Sheffield allow people to buy a suspended coffee which is either kept ready waiting for them in the shop or a voucher is given which you then pass to a homeless person.

This way the homeless person gets a drink when they want one, people can give something to a homeless person if they are in a rush and don’t want to give money, the local coffee shops sell the tea/coffee (Americano) at £1 so they make a little money (but not an extortionate amount) and more money is invested back into the local economy.

It is an idea that came out of Italy originally I believe but it is taking hold around the world and I am trying to give the idea a foot hold in Sheffield.

Giving a coffee (or tea!) to someone means so much more than just warming them up…it shows you give a monkeys which could make a big difference. Handing over a voucher for a brew or a sarnie is also a great opportunity to start a conversation with a homeless person. Ask a couple of questions and you might gain a deeper understanding of some of the issues affecting the homeless/poor.

Piccolo Sandwich bar on London Road has already pledged their support for the scheme. Could you approach your local coffee shop do the same?

You can get in touch with Richard or find out the latest on Suspended Coffee Sheffield via their Facebook page and @suspendedsheff on Twitter.

Pinstone Street, the home of Sheffield’s independent fast food

The one good thing to come out of the Sevenstone delay?

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

As we wait to find out what the latest talks between the council and Hammerson mean for Sheffield’s Sevenstone retail quarter, an independent food revolution is quietly happening in town.

Pinstone Street is one of the key roads on the edge of the proposed development. In anticipation of demolition and construction work beginning many of the old shops closed down or moved to alternative locations, leaving a depressing row of empty units.

Not for long though. The good news is that a growing number of tasty food outlets have moved in and are breathing life into the vacant shops on Pinstone Street.

The award-winning Street Food Chef arrived first, serving up Mexican street food from tacos, burritos to empanadas. Their breakfast burritos are delicious.

Flurt frozen yoghurt in Sheffield

Flurt frozen yoghurt on PInstone Street

Then Flurt opened a few doors up, offering fat-free frozen yoghurt. A perfect pudding if you’ve got room after your lunchtime burrito.

And this morning Claire from Feast and Glory revealed that Fanoush Falafel is opening next door to the Street Food Chef. Fanoush already have a shop on London Road so it is great to see them opening in town.

What all three of these outlets have in common is that they are independent businesses, offering an alternative to the food chains that you can find in any city. The food is fast, tasty and relatively healthy. They’re definitely worth supporting.

It’s ironic that without Sevenstone these great food outlets may not have opened at all on Pinstone Street. Perhaps the growth of these businesses points to the approach we should take for a city centre retail quarter: if you create favourable terms for people to take on shops in good locations then local, independent businesses can flourish, even alongside the big chains. The city centre needs both.

Make the most of these foodie gems while you can, as a green light for Sevenstone could mean the end of these independent food outlets in prime city centre locations.

The Nichols building

Arts, crafts and antiques all under one roof

This week I paid a visit to the Nichols building in Sheffield. It is a large former grocery wholesalers near the Shalesmoor roundabout, dating from around 1854, which has been converted into a boutique shopping emporium.

There are over 30 units inside, mainly based on the first floor open plan area. It is a lovely place to browse and there are all sorts of bespoke goodies for sale, including antiques, art, jewellery, clothes, books, pottery, interiors, glassware and furniture.

After you’ve had a look round, there is no excuse not to stop off for a cup of tea and a piece of cake at the cafe.

They also hold regular knitting afternoons, small exhibitions (currently there is a set of vintage little black dresses on display, one from each decade starting from the 1940s) and a Christmas fair is in the pipeline for December.

I took a few photos on my phone which you can see below.

The Nichols building (also on Twitter and Facebook)

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Hantu collective Japan t-shirt

Your next t-shirt

If you only buy one t-shirt this month, then why not make it this. Designed by Sheffield’s very own Hantu collective in partnership with the Japanese Red Cross Society, all proceeds from the sale of the Heal Japan tee will go to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

You can order one online or pick one up from the Hantu workshop in the Forum’s Arcade shop.

Order your Heal Japan tee from Hantu

Hantu collective Japan tshirt

Hantu collective Japan tshirt

Bradfield farmers’ market and the Our cow Molly farm

Bees, beers and bovines in Bradfield

North west of Sheffield lies a community which is making a bit of a name for itself with the production of local food and drink. Bradfield and neighbouring village Dungworth are home to some of the city’s best known local producers and on Saturday I popped up to Bradfield farmers’ market to catch them all as they gathered under one roof.

Bradfield farmers’ market

Bradfield village hall and green

Bradfield village hall and green

I’ve not been to Low Bradfield before, which is where the monthly market is located. The last couple of markets have coincided with snowy weather but today it is fine, which makes the drive up through the countryside on the edge of Sheffield even more pleasant. In the spring sunshine the village looks very picturesque, nestled in among the hills with a pub, village store and central green area.

The market is held in a modern village hall building. There are around fifteen exhibitors selling products such as beef, pork, milk, pies, chicken, ice cream, fruit, vegetables, beer, cheese, bread, honey, wax products, cheesecake, jams and cakes. Other items on sale include soap, bird feeders and fire wood. Refreshments are also available from a cafe.



At places like this, half the fun is going around each stall and enjoying the free tasters. Although that isn’t to say that all the food is overpriced.

For example, the cheese (three for a fiver) is comparable to what you might pay in a supermarket plus you can pick up a dozen eggs for £1.70. And of course you know you are getting good products as well as supporting independent producers.

The major Bradfield and Dungworth names in attendance include the Sheffield honey company, Our cow Molly ice cream, Bradfield brewery and Bradfield meats.

Sheffield honey company candles

Sheffield honey company candles

The Sheffield honey company has been around a couple of years now and as well as producing various types of honey (my favourite being the one with a vanilla pod in it) they now sell other beeswax products such as candles. You can now even buy a block of straight honeycomb which is supposed to be delicious melted on toast.

Production of the tasty Our cow Molly ice cream grew out of a dairy farm set up in 1947. In 2007, with the value of milk plummeting, they decided to diversify and the Our cow Molly brand was born. You are more likely to see it on sale in north or west Sheffield, although the Crucible and Lyceum stock it so make sure you try some as your interval snack next time you go.

Bradfield brewery beers

Bradfield brewery beers

Bradfield brewery beers are already all over Sheffield and can also be found further afield. I think their most popular beer is probably Farmer’s blonde, which I would recommend. They all have Farmers in the title though so are pretty easy to spot and are available in bottles and kegs as well as on draught.

Lambing season at Our cow Molly

Laden with local produce, we decide to head back to Sheffield. We’d been given stickers at the market which entitled us to a freebie from the Our cow Molly ice cream shop, so can’t resist calling in on the way home.

It is a great time of year to visit Cliff House Farm in Dungworth, the home of Our cow Molly. The weather is finally warming up and lambing season is here, which means there is plenty on view.

Our cow Molly lamb

Our cow Molly lamb

I last came to the farm for their big bonfire in November, which was great fun. On pulling up in the car park we are greeted this time by a lamb and its mother. There are also new born calves and goats to see, as well as cockerels, rabbits and of course cows.

Eddie the farmer is currently giving short tours of the lambs and their barn, and although we had just missed one, he is more than happy to take us round and talk to us about his livestock and the meat, milk and ice cream they produce.

Children are enjoying the animals and of course the prospect of finishing off our visit with an ice cream in the parlour is a treat for everyone.

Our cow Molly lambing tours: weekends in March and April, 11am and 3pm

Bradfield farmer’s market: upcoming dates

Sheffield: land of milk and honey on the culture vulture by Lucy Harper

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Shop fronts of Sheffield blog

Shop fronts of Sheffield photo blog

Shop fronts of Sheffield photo blog

Contributions welcome for this new photo blog

Having taken inspiration from London shop fronts photo blog – and a polite suggestion that someone should nick the idea and do a version for Sheffield – I’m pleased to confirm that Shop fronts of Sheffield is now up and running.

Anyone can contribute to the photo blog, you just have to your email your picture in, making sure it meets the criteria.

The suggestion for a Sheffield version was put out on Twitter and it didn’t take long for some enthusiastic and creative people to get the project off the ground.

Surely with the power of the internet we can include a good selection of photos of Sheffield shop fronts from across the whole city?

And if anyone has got any other ideas like this that need a push to get going then get in touch!

Shop fronts of Sheffield photo blog

@shopfrontsheff on Twitter

Sheffield Christmas market: your opinions wanted

Where is there room for improvement?

Were you one of the 250,000 people that visited the Peace gardens over the festive season for Sheffield Christmas market?

I’ve been asked to gather some opinions of the Christmas market on behalf of the people behind it. What did you think? I’ve put a few thoughts here – feel free to add your own by commenting below.

Last year’s Christmas market felt a bit underwhelming but this year’s was a definite improvement. There were better quality stalls and the ice rink made it feel more like a destination as opposed to just another market.

When passing, the ice rink never looked that busy and felt a bit expensive for Sheffield at £8 for an adult. The price was slashed to £6 for the final few days so perhaps this is a more realistic price to aim for.

It would be great if there were more Christmassy stalls. This would help further differentiate it from some of the other markets we have in Sheffield through the year.

It would also benefit from more local suppliers selling more local products. Sheffield people love buying Sheffield stuff, so to get some of our local food, arts, crafts on sale would be great. It would also make it more uniquely Sheffield instead of a generic Christmas market that you could find a bigger and currently better version of elsewhere, for example in Manchester and Leeds.

One problem with these events in Sheffield is that we don’t seem to have a perfect location for them. The Peace gardens is very prominent, but it does seem a bit cramped in there. The same goes for Fargate – probably our busiest shopping street, but gets horrible bottlenecks when the continental market is on.

One thought would be to host it in the big area they have just flattened where the fire station was. This may a better use of space than another car park until Sevenstone arrives.

There’s no doubt that the current market can be improved. A great Christmas market for Sheffield will take time to establish; we obviously aren’t going to go from nothing to one rivalling others in a couple of years.

What do you think? Has it been a success? Is it the sort of place you would take visitors? And what is it missing? Comment below and your thoughts will be fed back to the organisers.

Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition on the Moor, Sheffield

Spectacular wildlife photos – for free

Coming soon to the Moor shopping area is Wild planet, a selection of 80 pictures from the famous Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition.

I’ve been a big fan of the annual photography exhibition which usually runs at the Natural history museum in London and have made a point of visiting each year since 2005. It collects the year’s best wildlife photos as submitted to the competition and is basically easy culture – amazing photos that anyone can appreciate.

The free Wild planet exhibition in Sheffield looks to be a best-of selection of images from past years of the competition, which has been running since 1964. It is based on the Moor and runs from 6 October to 27 March 2011.

Sheffield-based wildlife photographer Paul Hobson was highly commended in the 2008 exhibition for his Osprey catch image, below. He has also just won a category in European wildlife photographer of the year competition.

Osprey catch by Sheffield photographer Paul Hobson, Highly commended in the 2010 Wildlife photographer of the year competition

Osprey catch by Sheffield photographer Paul Hobson, highly commended in the 2010 Wildlife photographer of the year competition and used with permission

Made in Sheffield shop

Another idea for empty retail spaces in town

Many people are rightly proud of what a creative city Sheffield is. It is certainly home to plenty of creative people: 7.2% of the workforce is employed in the creative and digital industries* and an uncited claim on Wikipedia says that outside of London, Sheffield has the largest population of amateur, working and professional visual artists in the UK.

Could we do more help promote our creative excellence? The bigger manufacturers pay to use the Made in Sheffield mark to help sell and authenticate their products, but this is less useful for smaller artists trying to sell their wares.

As the recession has hit, shops have gone bust and retail units in towns up and down the country have been left empty. Sheffield city centre hasn’t escaped this, with the delay of Sevenstone resulting in many of our retail spaces being caught in a black hole between compulsory purchase orders and postponed building work.

We’ve already seen some other ideas for ways to make use of these spaces in Sheffield and some bars and shops are even reopening in the empty units.

At least three other cities have now come up with another use for them which is helping local artists and creative people. In the last few months, ‘Made in…’ or ‘Created in…’ shops have opened in Newcastle and Birmingham. It looks like Nottingham is also home to a similar type of  shop.

The concept is simple, although it has varied from city to city. Broadly, they are pop-up shops occupying empty retail units that showcase and sell locally-made products. They can also incorporate meeting places, small workshop spaces and exhibition areas. A group of volunteers run the shops, sometimes with a committee or main organiser heading things up.

Could this work in Sheffield? We already have a pool of creative artists, plenty of empty units in town and and regular craft fairs run by the Sheffield craft mafia.

Running the shops is hard work, as the Created in Birmingham people discovered, so it isn’t something to take on lightly. And I think some thought would need to be given as to how such a project would work alongside existing rent-paying outlets like the Famous Sheffield Shop and Sheffield Scene, and also existing art-selling galleries.

On the whole, it sounds like these pop-up shops have been very well received. After a successful three-month trial, the Birmingham shop closed due to their prestigious unit in the Bullring shopping centre being let to paying tenants, but it is expected to return for Christmas.

Has this idea had been considered for Sheffield? If not, is anyone interested in seeing whether there is an appetite to get a Made in Sheffield shop up and running in time for the Christmas shopping season?

*I’ve no idea how an occupation is classed as creative or otherwise

New Made in Newcastle shop front by championmonkeyface

New Made in Newcastle shop front by championmonkeyface, used with permission