Thursday, 20 June 2019

Rails of Sheffield

... But Not The Model Shop!
Sheffield trams last trundled between Beauchief and Tinsley in October 1960, almost 60 years ago. But much of that historic tram infrastructure is still there, just a few inches below the road service. When excavations are necessary, the rails appear and often get in the way. Sheffield correspondent Roy has been out and about with his camera on Blonk Street.
The "green" road labelled A61 is relatively new and the other lower bit of carriageway greenery is the end of the Sheffield Parkway, the city's direct link with the M1. The Royal Victoria hotel it top right, next door to the site of Victoria station.

The river Sheaf is flowing south to north under Sheaf Street (clever name, eh?) and Exchange Place and exits its man-made underground caverns at the junction with Blonk Street and Exchange Street.

This map (date unclear) shows Blonk Street as planned ...
... and the river Sheaf unburied! Until about 1920, Castlegate was a narrow road with slaughterhouses (The Shambles).
Castlegate eventually provided the "tradesman's entrance" to the Castle Market ...
... now demolished and awaiting redevelopment. (River DSheaf is off-shot to the right)
There was a tram route along Blonk Street and Sheaf Street and a via Exchange Street (below City on the red-lined sketchmap above). This was used by the Rotherham tram route (joint service) because the Rotherham trams were one ended and thus needed a turning loop.
Sheffield trams could simply reverse their trolley pole and flip the seats and set off in the opposite direction. Here is one on Blonk Street ...
... looking east(ish) towards the Railway goods yard which sat atop an embankment and is now the Victoria Quays area. But will we now turn through 180 degrees and look west(ish). This is Blonk Street today seen at the Castlegate junction.
.This is a similar view from  the late sixties ...
... from roughly the same spot. And here is the first of Roy's excavated tram tracks also looking in the same direction.
In the foreground is part of the junction between the tracks from Exchange Street and those from Sheaf Street.

And looking from roughly where the Stagecoach bus is turning into Castlegate (above) ...
... with a similar pre-excavation view.
And, yes, it is the same lamppost sticking up amongst the formerly buried rails.

And, a day or two later, the same place with the rails cut up for removal.
It is reasonable to ask what all this is for. It is for the City's "Grey to Green" project. Here is what the outline plan tells us.

Hotels, businesses and residents in Sheffield’s historic Castlegate ...

Ahem? Spot the hotels, businesses and residents in Castlegate!!
The buildings on the right are on Blonk Street, the river is just beyond the railings on the right.

... will soon enjoy a transformed outlook and setting – as Phase 2 of the acclaimed ‘Grey To Green’ scheme gets under way.

The scheme will also link Castlegate to the under-used Victoria Quays area and transform the almost redundant former inner ring road with sustainable drainage, floral meadows, segregated cycle lanes and public art. It will also significantly improve the approach to the Castle House Kollider/Kommune on Snig Hill.

There is a plan ...
... which shows the former Castle Market area ...
... as an "urban park" and also called "Castlegate" but still with no businesses, residents and hotels. The idea appears to be to make the roads narrower, restrict through traffic a bit more and plant trees.

This is all very noble, but it will mean permanent disruption for several cross city bus services and, at the moment, detailed information is both sparse and inadequate.
fbb will investigate the diversions once the facts are clear.

But it will all be lovely when it is finished.

While you are possibly reading this, the fbbs are off to Mottisfont Abbey (near Romsey) to meet an old colleague and chum. The trip should have been by train, but the lads at South western Railway are having five days of inaction and Mottisfont station (on the line from Salisbury to Southempton) ...
... has no trains! Tomorrow's blog will be, in part, a taster to prepare to the old folks visit next week to stay with No 3 son in his new (but old) house in Eastbourne.

 Next Best Timetable blog : Friday 21st June 


  1. There are 3 large hotels within spitting distance from the picture of Castlegate.

    There are many businesses within the immediate vicinity as well as two large apartment blocks. You've even got a residential building in the right of the shot of Castlegate.

    Are you needlessly splitting hairs or do you simply not know that part of Sheffield very well?

  2. As anon above doesn't seem to read fbb's blog, and with excellent knowledge of Sheffield, I can confirm that there are no businesses, residents or hotels ON Castlegate. All three are "near" Castegate but in locations not directly affecteds by the "improvements". fbb is right to query the wording and he does also admit that perhaps the planners have created a DISTRICT of Castlegate as yet incomplete and undefined.