Looking Up Sheffield: Sculptor, Skater, Speakeasy creator..

Bally Johal outside his Castlegate Speakeasy. You heard/read it right, the Punjabi translates as All Fur Coat and No Knickers

Meet Bally, the Speakeasy creator. He’s one of a trio of people doing great things in the previously less than thriving Castlegate area that we feature on this episode. Last time around we focused on the buildings that are making the area swing again, from the Old Town Hall to the Terminal warehouse and the Grey to Green scheme, but this podcast is nothing without the people that are making the change happen.

He takes us on a journey in sound, recorded naturally enough in his Speakeasy (currently a bar due to Covid-19 restrictions – most previous customers ARRIVED at 10pm in the old normal) that takes in Punjabi Princes, Louis Vuitton toilet seats, 18th century Sheffield poetry, Yorkshire Charcuterie, Billy Joel and much-missed club night Head Kandy.

Neil Ellis from Skateboard GB with Bally Johal at Marioland

But the thrills don’t stop there. Meet Neil Ellis from Skateboard GB. He’s one of the founders of Marioland, operating just outside the Bal Fashions Speakeasy on the edge of the site of Sheffield Castle. Just yards from where Mary QO Scots was holed up, someone’s busting an Ollie right now because that’s Sheffield, right? Reinventing itself. But there’s more.

Daniel Bustamente in his studio

This is Daniel Bustamente. Originally from Chile, he creates giant sculptures in the River Don from objects found in its waters. It’s all about finding peace out of the discarded pieces.

We think Looking Up Sheffield would be alreyt if we only spoke to one of these cats putting Castlegate into the major league of urban hangs. But we speak to all three and throw in a top 10 of public art for good measure.

That, folks, is Looking Up Sheffield Episode 8. You can listen here.


Listen to the I Love You Bridge on Radio 4

Skateboard England

Bal Fashions

Looking Up Sheffield: Kayaks, canals and courts of Castlegate

We are on Facebook at Looking Up Sheffield – The Podcast; Twitter at @up_sheffield and Instagram at Lookingupsheffield

Podcast guest Simon Ogden didn’t let the Covid restrictions stop his plans to put Castlegate, the ancient heart and beating digital future of Sheffield, into the spotlight.

Normally he’s planning a week long jam of events and parties which celebrate the area and its ongoing regen. 

Forced to think differently, he’s taken to his hard hat and kayak to take you into the hidden spaces we walk past everyday and never acknowledge. 

In this podcast we give an exclusive look at the three films Castlegate programme director Simon has made for this year’s festival as he

– kayaks under 15th century Lady’s Bridge for a look at the medieval Bridge Sandwich of Sheffield past (beloved of Richard Hawley) 

Watch the Lady’s Bridge virtual tour here

– meets the social media entrepreneur with a barge as a boardroom

– ventures into the abandoned courts and jails of the Old Town hall, home of Sheffield justice for three centuries ahead of its transformation. 

We also learn why Simon keeps being drawn back to Castlegate and its layers of history. 

All this with hardly a mention of a castle or a certain Queen of Scots. 

This is Looking Up, Sheffield.


Castlegate Festival Programme 2020

Lady’s Bridge video

Ovo Spaces website

Looking Up Sheffield: Episode 6 – Greencast

Listen to our latest podcast. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter at @up_sheffield or Insta at @lookingupsheffield

Everybody’s been getting out in the great outdoors, but it’s not just for our own benefit. 

Looking Up Sheffield brings you three for the price of one by podcasting under a waterfall in Rivelin Valley, in the heart of a former underpass turned epic green space in the city centre, and in a part of the city once dubbed the worst council estate in Britain that is now awash with pictorial meadows. 

We go for a wild swim in an unspecified location, list 10 places to celebrate the great outdoors in Sheffield and discuss sustainable urban drainage, which is much more rock n’ roll than it sounds.

We speak to principal landscape architect Zac Tudor on how to create the perfect green space for the city centre and travel to the Manor, notorious as Mary Queen of Scots prison and latterly, a rather loveless estate, to talk to Sue France, who is all about the flowers at Green Estate, and Natalie Newman who has ensured that SYHA’s Slingsby Place is full of joyful encounters. 

Green Estate is a not for profit social enterprise based in Sheffield working for people, place and a fairer way of doing business. SYHA is a leading housing association determined to do right by its tenants and create spaces that they can love.

All this in under 30 minutes! We are Looking Up Sheffield.

Read more about SYHA and its floral ambitions

Green Estate Home page

Zac Tudor on Instagram

Looking Up Sheffield In Lockdown: Episode Five

Allen and Harvey: Al fresco

We never expected to be gone so long. We paused Looking Up Sheffield for three months to adjust and recalibrate during lockdown, social distancing and the new normal, before deciding that the news about Hillsborough Park’s coach house getting the funding to become the city’s first ever dementia cafe was too good not to share. As well as speaking to Age UK Sheffield main man Steve Chu about his million pound plans, we recorded in back gardens, behind vans and between spin cycles. We bring tales of Black Lives Matter, next door’s bhajis and what bollards can tell you about a city. In keeping with our outdoor city vibes, we even insisted the pod was stitched together one lonely night in his garden by unsung hero K-Flan.

We raise a virtual pint to Sheffield businesses, clubs and people. God we miss them. But in the firm belief that we should keep looking up, here’s Looking Up Sheffield Five.

Note: since recording, a package of support has been announced for our venues. Hope to see you in one soon.

Looking Up Sheffield Episode 4: I Heart Sheffield

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, podcast four focuses on Sheffield’s Heart Of The City 2, which is even better than the original. We talk to Nalin Seneviratne, director of city centre regen at the council, about progress, heritage and renewal from the mezzanine at Marmadukes, part of the new development. We also talk to Tim at Marmadukes over oatmilk lattes. Amid clanging plates and dubious sound levels, we discuss Sheffield’s amazing cafe scene, Leah’s Yard and what’s on our city radar for 2020.

Episode Three: What Is Don Is Don

A special Christmas edition celebrating the River Don. It’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons, so it’s time to remember why the Don is worth our attention. 

Looking Up Sheffield urges you to forget the politics and immerse yourself in the story of Wardsend Cemetery, an astonishing space being brought back into the light. 

We conjure a top ten of River Don highlights, forget which century we are in and realise that counting isn’t our strong suit. 

Co-host Nicola Allen gets all reflective as she masterfully uses the River as a metaphor and adds Take Me To The River to her set list. 

Hope you enjoy it. Tis a little bit of truth for your ears. 


Episode Two: A priest walks into a Starbucks…

It’s Halloween and much like Terminator 2, our second podcast is better than our first. We talk to Adam, who has a lifelong fascination with Carbrook Hall, one of Sheffield’s most haunted buildings. Handy then, that’s he is working in John Bright’s former gaff as a barista in the revamped Starbucks. We ask, has Adam always been there? Seeing as we recorded it in the plotting room in eyrie silence, why are there so many voices in the background?


Notes: John Bright was famously the man who laid siege to Sheffield Castle. He is known to have hosted roundheads in the plotting room.

Carbrook Hall is in Attercliffe Common Sheffield and is well worth a visit, regardless of the spook factor.

Episode one: Two Rivers

our first podcast was appropriately recorded where the city first began, on the confluence of the River Don and the River Sheaf. This was where the Sheaf Field emerged and gave Sheff its name. Many years later, in 1912, the Blonk Street toilets were appropriate placed right in the heart of the River Don. They survived world war bombs and a century of were before becoming derelict. But now the Blonk Street bogs have a glorious future in the hands of Chris, who has turned it into a fantastic cafe bar called Two Rivers. What better place to start a new part of Sheffield history?