Saturday, 8 November 2008

Double Somersault

I've always liked this. It is a large sculpture that stands outside Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Double Somersault II

It's called Double Somersault and is by the artist William Pye. This type of tubular stainless steel structure is fairly typical of his work at that time (nowadays he is better known for his water sculptures).

Double Somersault was erected in 1976 by the Centenary Committee of the Children's Hospital (with some help from the Arts Council), but it has moved around a little since then. It originally stood on Western Bank, outside the main entrance to the hospital, but had to move along slightly when the entrance was altered. It moved again, as a result of more major changes to the hospital's entrances, around the corner to Clarkson Street, where it still stands today.

Double Somersault I

I remember stopping to look at Double Somersault during my very first week in Sheffield. I loved its simplicity, the slight asymmetry and the beautiful visual balance. Like many simple and elegant sculptures, it looks as if it was easy to design, but I bet it wasn't.

William Pye's website (I really like the favicon, but then, I would.)
A blogpost about William Pye by Stacy Alexander
A very brief biography of William Pye appears on this gallery's site

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Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Spirals Spirals 2

I was driving along Queens Road in Sheffield today when these caught my eye, so I decided it was worth stopping for a closer look.

This set of rather nice sculptures stand outside Screwfix. I've no idea who made them, or if other branches have something similar, I'll have to do some detective work there.

Spirals 4 Spirals 3 Spirals 5

I think they're rather nice - not to mention very appropriate. A small visual oasis in a part of Sheffield that is rather less than picturesque.

Spirals 6

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Monday, 29 September 2008

Transports Exceptionnels

Transports Exceptionnels VI

The new season of Danceworks started in style this weekend. We joined the crowd on the fairly recently revamped Devonshire Green to watch a highly unusual piece of dance.

Transports Exceptionnels, by French choreographer Dominique Boivin, was described by the Danceworks brochure as "a tender love duet for dancer and mechanical digger". Strangely enough, that's exactly what it was.

We expected the dancer, Phillipe Priasso, to be expressive, and he was - at times tender, at others playful, in a perfomance that included some highly acrobatic moves. However the most surprising aspect was the fact that the digger was not just a foil to the human dancer, it danced quite well itself. Hidden behind the mirrored windows of the cabin, the unseen, but highly skilled driver made his charge interact with its human partner in a rather amazing manner.

"Accompagnied by the dramatic voice of Maria Callas, this meeting between iron and flesh is a witty interpretation of the classic pas de deux. Playful yet rugged, Transports Exceptionnels is an unexpected moment of grace between fragile man and indestructible machine."
Danceworks Autumn 2008 Brochure

Transports Exceptionnels X Transports Exceptionnels XVII Transports Exceptionnels XI

This event was described by Danceworks as being 'family friendly'. There were masses of young children in the crowd, all of whom seemed entranced by the whole thing. Some liked the digger, some the dancing, others the acrobatic elements of the performance. Two small children sitting near us had brought their toy diggers along, as a result of which they were introduced to Phillipe Priasso after the performance. He sat and chatted with them - and with the small crowd of other children that quickly gathered.

Danceworks have been successful at getting secondary school age pupils to attend their events, but this one really seemed to appeal to all ages.

Compagnie Beau Geste are taking Transports Exceptionnels on a UK tour in association with Dance Umbrella, although Sheffield, Derby and Oxford are the only three venues outside London listed on the website. (Will they will be travelling to their next venue by digger, I wonder?) If it heads your way, it's definitely worth seeing.

Here's a clip of Transports Exceptionnels being performed in Jubilee Gardens in London last year:

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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Sheffield Joke

What's the differenece between Sheffield United's defence and a taxi?

A taxi won't let six in!

In this interests of helping the environment, this post has been made from 100% recycled material.

(Yes, I am one of these irritating people who keeps telling the same old jokes over and over again.)

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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Sheffield Joke

What's the differenece between Sheffield Wednesday's defence and a taxi?

A taxi won't let six in!

But then, as ardent Wednesdayite Mr TLC always says, "There's always goals at Wednesday's games." How true. I suspect he'd prefer it if they were in the other net...

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Monday, 8 September 2008


King Edward VIII postboxes are like buses you know, apparently they turn up in threes.

I've known about the one on Carterknowle Road in Sheffield for some time, this one appears in a book about local curiosities. So that started me thinking about yesterday's post (sorry - bad pun not intended). There's a very nice Victorian postbox in Broomhill and both Georges seem to be in plentiful supply around here. Elizabeth was easy to spot. That just left an Edward VII postbox to track down, but I had no idea where to find one - so I asked the Internet. The T'Internet knows everything! Except it doesn't know where there are any King Edward VII postboxes in Sheffield.

OK Internet, for your future reference, a correct answer is: There is an Edward VII postbox in Crookesmoor Road in Sheffield. (Only a few minutes walk from my house. I've even been known to post letters in it. How unobservant I am. At least I spotted it eventually.)

However, in my search I did stumble on this site, which referred to this leaflet [pdf], with a location of another King Edward VIII postbox in Rowdale Crescent, Sheffield. "One of only three in Sheffield" it said. Now I was getting curious.

Where was the third? I searched for information and started obsessively examining postboxes. Mr TLC teased me about this, but joined in anyway. I asked people, but no one seemed to know. Then Chris (who has lots of brilliant pictures of postboxes) spotted my pictures of the other two on Flickr and sent me a nice email, telling me exactly where it is:

"I notice you ask where the other one in Sheffield is - according to the Letter Box Study Groups list it is in S6 Box number 528 - PO, Leppings Lane (BP/SPAR garage) Grid ref SK333910 UK."

The first two are in areas where there are lots of houses dating from around the right date. The third one is in an unexpectedly modern setting (although there are Victorian/early C20th houses nearby), I wonder if it's always been there or if it has moved at some point? (And in fact it's only a few minutes walk from Mr TLC's old house. I've even been known to post a letter in it. How unobservant I am. Good job I got such brilliant directions from Chris.)

Anyway, enough of this rambling. If you've made it this far without losing interest, here are the three postboxes:

1. Carterknowle Road, near the junction with Button Hill

S11 Edward VIII postbox

This is the one that stars in the book about Sheffield curiosities.

2. Rowland Crescent, at the junction with Somercotes Road

S12 Edward VIII postbox S12 Edward VIII postbox insignia

This one appeared in yesterday's post, but I straightened up yesterday's picture a bit. It really is at this jaunty angle.

No offisher, of coursh I havn't been drinking...

3. Leppings Lane, Post Office at Law Brothers Spar/BP Garage

The Third Box Close Up
The Big Picture

The canopy over this one came in handy on Sunday - I don't think I'd have got a photo otherwise. Il pleuvait comme vaches qui pissent!

Of course, I've still only found one Edward VII box, so maybe they are the rare ones...

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Sunday, 7 September 2008


Victoria Edward VII George V
Edward VIII George VI Elizabeth II

One of these is rather unusual...

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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A Bad Sign

In fact many bad signs. I've seen a lot of them lately, but in the last couple of weeks there have been an unbelievable number. A Great British institution might be under threat here.

To Let. Lease For Sale. Could YOU run this pub?

These aren't the sort of pub signs I'm used to seeing.

The number of licensed premises in Sheffield that are up for grabs is amazing. Then there's the large number that have simply closed. I suspect that the Sheffield of the near future will have a lot fewer local pubs. These aren't all tiny backstreet boozers; some big, previously very busy and popular places have been on the market for so long that the "Lease For Sale" signs have weathered and taken on an air of permanence.

It's not surprising, we've noticed the dwindling number of customers for quite a while now - a trend that started long before the ban on smoking came into force.

Is it just here, or is the same thing happening everywhere?

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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

It's started...

It's June 10th, the bunting has appeared - it's the Broomhill Festival!

The festival may be a local affair, with most events taking place within the suburb of Broomhill, but it is gets bigger year on year, both in terms of the number and quality of events and the amazing amount of money raised for the festival charities - well over £17 000 last year.

We've bought tickets for several events, which means that you will be subjected to my attempts at reviewing them over the next couple of weeks. So, basically Mr TLC and I get to go out and have fun, you get to share it with us. Sounds good to me!

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Thursday, 5 June 2008


I've always liked bandstands - that's a childhood spent watching Trumpton for you - so it has been particularly satisfying watching this one come back to life. This is Sheffield's only surviving Victorian bandstand. It has been restored as part of the major works undertaken in Weston Park. It's not quite finished, but it's back in business.

I do have a 'before' photo somewhere, but I'm pretty sure that was taken with actual film (remember that?) and I can't find it. Suffice to say it was a mess, boarded up and rather run down, it was a sad little bandstand. Not any more.

Bandstand - March 30th
March 30th 2008
Most of the bandstand is elsewhere being refurbished, rebuilt and (in parts) replaced.

Bandstand - April 21st
April 21st 2008
The framework for the roof has been put in place. This is so exciting that it gets reported in the local paper. But then again, the local paper does have a lot of space to fill.

Bandstand - May 25th
May 25th 2008
The new zinc roof is gleaming. I don't remember that beautiful metalwork, but it looks reet smart (as we say round here). The new panels are piled up waiting to be installed. These will hold sash windows, that can be lowered to ground level.

Bandstand - June 1st
June 1st 2008
A very important detail has been added - there's a band! Everyone sits around on folding metal chairs, in the traditional manner for enjoying a concert in the park. The bandstand isn't quite finished yet - there are a few gaps above the panelling into which stained glass panels will be fitted in the next few weeks.

I don't remember stained glass panels, or a weathervane, but the bandstand was already in a pretty bad state when I arrived in Sheffield, so they probably weren't there. It's looking good now though.

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Monday, 2 June 2008

Open Day

Musee LuxembourgOne of my favourite places is the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris. It isn't the gardens that appeal to me so much, although they are of course very nice, it's the atmosphere: it's wonderful.

I think the appeal lies in that sense of a bygone age, a gentler time. The last time we visited it was a bright spring day and we wandered past children playing with toy boats, spinning tops and all manner of traditional toys. We strolled past tables where old men played chess in a relaxed and laid-back manner, despite the fact that every move had to be completed before their stopclocks reached zero. We sat on a park bench and ate ice cream as we watched the world go by. Finally we made it to the Musée de Luxembourg, where we enjoyed an exhibition of Matisse's work and were astounded by the enthusiasm shown by the many, very young French children who were there, most of whom were making wildly inaccurate copies of some of the artwork in their sketchbooks. It was a fantastic day, a day that left me feeling contented and nostalgic.

Yesterday afternoon that feeling came flooding back, but this time I didn't have to go all the way to Paris; Mr TLC and I just strolled to Weston Park in Sheffield where the grand Open Day was in full swing. The park has been undergoing major restoration work, in fact it still is - it wasn't finished in time for the Open Day, but enough was done that it looks pretty good.

We expected to see the carousel and helter-skelter, and whilst we knew that the almost-complete bandstand would be back in use, it was still good to see it come back to life. There were a few surprises: we hadn't expected to meet Queen Victoria, or watch a game of croquet - in which good-natured cheating seemed to be a major factor in the game!

A very small version of Ivor the Engine was chugging up and down, to the delight of small children and childish grown-ups. There were drama groups and bands performing, and (of course) the once-controversial ice-cream van was in attendance.

Circus SkillsFor me the best part of the day was watching one very talented teacher who was managing to encourage literally dozens of children and adults to walk on stilts, spin plates and catch diabolos. He was unbelievable: relaxed and chatting, whilst doing just enough for his students that they saw success within their grasp and continued to practise and persevere when he moved onto another group.

We rounded off our visit with a final hit of nostalgia: we called in at Weston Park Museum to say hello to Snowy the polar bear. That's where the spell got broken: it's a modern museum, complete with the obligatory bells and whistles. This being both the last day of the half-term holiday and Weston Park Open Day, it was incredibly busy. There were a gazillion children charging about, good-naturedly but noisily, pushing every button and trying everything on offer. "Shall we come back when it's quieter?" asked Mr TLC. I think that's exactly what we'll do.

Croquet on the Lawn We Are Not Amused War Memorial
Carousel Band Concert '
Thank You Ice Cream Van

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Thursday, 15 May 2008

Sheffield In Bloom

My journey to work is brightened every morning by the fantastic landscaping around parts of the new section of Inner Relief Road. I don't know who is responsible for the planting, but they have done a great job, as soon as one thing starts to fade, something new appears. I quite enjoy stopping at the traffic lights now, because it gives me a chance to look at the view!

I thought I'd stop off on the way home and take a few pictures to share with you:

Urban Meadow Roadside Meadow I Roadside Meadow II

Roadside Planting II Roadside Planting I

Roadside Planting III

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Monday, 12 May 2008

Timelord's Arcane Relic Discovered In Sheffield

The Sheffield TARDIS IIGenerations of Sheffielder's have fallen in love with the police box next to the town hall. It's not blue, it's not the 'right' shape and it lost its blue light years ago, but Who cares? We can still fantasize about travelling across time and space in it.

Personally, I'd go back to the 1930s, just to find out whether people really did walk as quickly as they do in old news reels. Where would you go?

"This Police Box, which is still used operationally, is the sole survivor of 120 boxes which served the Sheffield City Police and the community for nearly 40 years.

Introduced by the Chief Constable, Percy J Sillitoe, in October 1928, in the days when there were few police vehicles and no personal radios, the boxes were sited on police beats all over the City and provided a contact point for police officers and members of the public. Each box had a direct telephone link with the local police station which was freely available to members of the public seeking police assistance.

The boxes were visited by patrolling officers at hourly intervals when information was passed by 'phone between patrolling officers and supervisory staff at police stations.

A 'blue' electric lamp, controlled from the local police station, was located on the top of each box and used to indicate that there was an important message to be passed out.

Although small in size (about 5 feet square) the boxes were used by one, and often two, patrolling officers for meal-breaks - usually sandwiches and a flask of tea - and for report writing and recording messages for other patrolling and supervisory officers.

Occasionally the boxes served as a temporary lock-up for anyone who had been arrested and was awaiting transport to a police station.

The boxes remained in regular use until the 1960's
[sic] when modern policing techniques and improved communications made them obsolete."
From the information board fixed to the box.

Except this one isn't obsolete, apart from being our local TARDIS that we all love, it is still in use. If you feel like shattering your childhood illusions, there are photos showing inside the box on this thread of the Sheffield History Forum - but there is a catch, you will have to register with the forum to see the pictures :-(

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Wednesday, 30 April 2008


According to the front page of our local paper, today is the day when it will finally happen. Other sources claim it was last week, next week or even (if a hastily formed pressure group get their way) never. What is the event that has provoked this mildly turbulent discussion? That would be the closure of Sheffield City Airport.

So far, everything I've read laments the loss of the airport, everyone seems to agree that losing it is a Very Bad Thing. Local millionaire Andrew Cook is following his principles of persistence by bankrolling a last ditch legal challenge to try to stop the runway from being dug up.

However the debate about the airport's demise is all a bit one-sided, so it's time to put the Three-Legged-Cat amongst the pigeons, because frankly, I'm absolutely delighted that the airport is closing.

Why? It's just a matter of perspective. I don't see the airport in terms of cheap holidays or benefits for local businesses. Having been unfortunate enough to live near a major airport I think of two things when I hear the word airport: noise and pollution. As a child I remember spending hours lying awake at night, trying desperately to block out the noise of the circling planes as they roared overhead - and we didn't even live under a regular flightpath. As for the pollution, the fact that I can't always see or smell the pollutants doesn't mean I forget about them.

Lets just consider what it would have been like if Sheffield's airport had been a success. It was never going to be a Heathrow or a Manchester, the runway was too short and there physically wasn't enough space for a large airport. However it could have developed into something akin to London City Airport, which may be small, but is certainly busy.

Sheffield City Airport could have handled much larger numbers of planes than it ever did, so it could have created plenty of disturbance for local residents. Pollution levels and the incidence of asthma in children in neighbouring areas were already concerns when the airport opened, I for one am pleased that we never got to see what happened if pollution from a busy airport had been added into the equation.

But Sheffield's Airport adventure never really got off the ground. There were some commercial flights for a while, but the number of destinations on offer was small. Some local businesses, including some that were somewhat less than legitimate, found that the airport was a convenient gateway to the city. Plans were made to expand the numbers of flights and for a while this happened, but it didn't last long.

Instead commercial airlines gradually pulled out, usually citing lack of profitability. The flying school that operated from Sheffield is moving to Doncaster's inexplicably named Doncaster Sheffield Robin Hood Airport. All that is left is a handful of private planes, which brings us to the real reason for Andrew Cook's campaign to save the airport. It appears that he wants somewhere convenient to land his private jet.

I don't know whether I'm being old-fashioned or far-sighted here, maybe I'm just being naive, but I don't believe that simply because someone has the money to pay for excessive air travel, then they have the right to blight other people's lives with their noise and pollution.

The bottom line is that we don't need an airport for short-haul flights, some people might want one, but that's not the same thing. To me, flying makes sense only as a means of covering long distances or to access particularly remote areas.

Personally I see Sheffield's lack of an airport as a positive asset. It was one of the reasons that I chose to move here. I'm glad it's gone.

/climbs off high horse
/ends rant

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Sunday, 27 April 2008

They're Back!

Weston Park Gates

As soon as I rashly commented on their long absence, they returned! On Thursday I passed Weston Park and realised that the gates are back. As you can see, they are looking pretty good.

The original gates were stolen in 1994, I'm pretty certain that these are replacements - I'll update this post when I find out for sure.

However I have to take issue with the information monolith/minilith just outside the park.

Weston Park Gates
Terracotta park gates, posts and railings are a tribute to the Sheffield artists who in 1859 worked on London's V&A Museum led by Godfrey Sykes, a teacher at the Sheffield School of Art. His work can still be seen, notably in the tea-rooms.

Terracotta park gates? I don't think so! The pillars are terracotta, but most definitely not the actual gates.

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Tuesday, 22 April 2008


Our new section of relief road is proving fairly popular with drivers, but it has created a real challenge for the RSPCA in Sheffield, who were forced to close their animal shelter when the road was built. Fund raising for a new centre is underway in the form of Monty's Appeal, but in the meantime facilities in Sheffield are restricted.

At present a small building close to the original site is being used for kennels. This was a spectacularly ugly building until last summer, when it received the Phlegm treatment.

I pass it twice a day but I can't really get more than a fleeting glimpse when I'm travelling past, so we decided to go and take a closer look at the weekend.

The artwork is great, but Mr TLC had to drag me away - the sound of all those dogs howling was heart rending, but that may have been partly because it was breakfast time.



Links- updated
Meet Phlegm - he introduces himself to the readers of fatcap, a graffiti blog
Phlegm's blog
Phlegm's official art site includes some great photos

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