“There used to be lines on the floor outside places like Park Hill and the Kelvin,” says Airship’s Dan Brookman. “You couldn’t throw a telly past the red lines and the green lines meant it was safe to walk underneath.”
Luckily that’s all changed and Dan’s hospitality business has taken flight in a ground floor space at Park Hill. Brutal no longer, the complex is now home to filmmakers, artists and digital innovators. We drank oatmilk lattes, but we could just as easily had a quinoa and beetroot salad from South Street Kitchen next door.
In this episode, Dan tells how Airship, far from being grounded during the pandemic, was able to soar to new heights, employing new Kickstarters and recruiting new hospitality businesses from Sheffield and beyond to its online platforms and track and trace app. We asked Dan about the future of hospitality in Sheffield and also what he thought about the future for the city centre and the closure of John Lewis.
And on a departmental store tip, our ambient architecture feature Building Of The Month focuses on a Fargate institution (its not WH Smiths!) , showing that big names leaving the High Street is nothing new. Enjoy!
We finally got our podcast chops in gear for season two of the popular peoples’ podcast (note the apostrophe placing) and what a cracker it is.
While we pretend to look after our respective children, Loz and Nic talk positively about other people’s rubbish and what might become of John Lewis. We introduce a new feature, Building Of The Month, with the fantastic Heritage Sheffield, where he talks about his love of the White Building in Fitzalan Square (like the Beatles’ White Album if that too was a building, all to a relaxing ambient backdrop).
Our little podcast has made it to episode 10, just in time for Christmas. A year where life has changed for everyone.
But none more so than Sheffield’s director of health Greg Fell. 2020 has seen him leading the city’s response to Covid-19. In our TV screens, on You Tube and across the city, Greg has issued practical and no-nonsense advice to Sheffielders.
It is for this, his many different Shaves, flock wallpaper and fleet FACT (Fell Always Cuts Through) that he is Looking Up Sheffield’s inaugural person of the year.
We speak to Greg at around 17mins in, via shakey phone, as he looks back on a year like no other and looks ahead to 2021.
We also shine a light on the other #Sheffheroes we’ve been profiling on Insta and Twitter. From community shops to volunteers, markets to halloumi wraps in Hillsborough, Naked Podcasts to Chakra Lounges, Jarvis to Otis and raves in caves to beers in parks, we cram a whole lot in.
Boxing is, of course, in Sheffield’s DNA. From the Bomber to Brook, it has produced its fair share of gloved-up heroes. But the real heroes are operating out of a former school which was in serious danger of falling into dereliction. Then again, so were some of the people who have all lined up to credit De Hood with turning their lives around.
Reagan Denton is a man with a colourful back story. A British boxing contender in Frank, now Jane, Maloney’s stable, he ended up swapping the ring for a spell in jail. When he got back to his old stomping ground older and wiser he saw kids from his estate up to no good. “Let’s go for a bacon butty run,” he said. And so De Hood was born.
The club uses fitness, sport, healthy living and boxing to engage young people, who’ve often made poor choices which have led to their offending behaviour.
It also supports people with issues ranging from low confidence, self-esteem, obesity and diabetes to mental or physical health conditions or disabilities. It now has hundreds of members from across the city. The club relies on an army of dedicated volunteers and receives no funding from any source in its mission to change lives and transform communities.
The club became a registered charity in 2019 with a board of professional trustees supporting Reagan Denton and is currently negotiating with Sheffield City Council and a private developer to lease the school and eventually own the building as a community asset to provide a long-term future for the club.
Team work makes the dream work and so we hear on Podcast Nine not only from Reagan but some of the people who have been inspired and are inspiring others at De Hood. We meet a 65-year-old national bodybuilding champion, a soldier and a teenager who has beaten the bin-chucking bullies.
Sadly, the gym is closed at the moment (November 2020) due to lockdown, but hopefully people can hear the passion coming through on this pod – and will inspire them in difficult times.
We also speak to Rise and Steel City Striders about how they are coping with the lockdown, running sessions online and virtual time trials.
Jen set up Rise Yoga Studio in a former shipping container in Kelham five years ago. Nic Allen says Namaste and Now Zen, after her workout of course. And yes, of course we can all do this move.
And Andy Davies talks us through the Autumn Eight time trial series. Giving athletes the motivation to not only get out, but challenge their fitness in some of Sheffield’s beautiful parks and on its rather lovely trails too.
All this, and the 1 O’ Clock Time Signal, bacon butties, unfathomable poses and beautiful voices. Looking Up Sheffield may be in lockdown, but there’s no community without unity. Keep the dream alive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.