Sunday, 6 January 2008

I want to live with common people...Sheffield 05/01/08

I hadn't been to Sheffield for years, I saw it from a distance a while back and the one thing that stuck in my head were the sheer amount of tower blocks the city contained. Travelling over to the other side of the Pennines is never an unpleasant experience, so the chance to have a guided tour of one of the most iconic blocks of flats in the country wasn't to be sniffed at.

A number of us met just north of the massive Park Hill council estate around 11am on a bright and breezy winter's morning. Currently most of the estate is undergoing a huge facelift by the UrbanSplash development group, so all the skagheads have been tipped out to find somewhere else to spend their unfortunate lives. Result!

The following three paragraphs are taken from this website.

Completed in 1961, Park Hill was intended to provide local authority housing for thousands of people. A largely working-class industrial city, whose best days were behind it, the city fathers of Sheffield hoped that Park Hill would signal the rejuvenation of the town and provide quality homes in a deprived area.

Park Hill is one of the most spectacular examples of new approaches to communal living in post-war Britain. Consisting of 995 dwellings, and housing over two thousand people, it occupies an entire hill overlooking Sheffield city centre, and is built on a slope, so increases in height as the hill slopes away. The estate consists of huge snake-like blocks which contain the duplex apartments and the estate's famous 'streets in the sky'.

Park Hill was awarded a Grade 2* listing in 1998. Although an important milestone in the development of Modernist housing theory in post-war Britain, the public incredulity which greeted the award spoke volumes about the success of Park Hill and its 'streets in the sky'.

Whatever the public thought of them, whether resident or onlooker, I thought flats were stunning, they are huge, brutal, in your face concrete and here to stay. And the views from all levels, over Sheffield, including the roof, are second to none. Maybe it was because the sun was shining, maybe it wasn't, but there is no arguing that the city landscape is something to behold.

From the flats of Park Hill we then headed convoy style to the relative misery of Loxley College, a pikied mess of a school, the place was trashed. Still, I enjoyed clambering about in the rafters to get roof access, which proved our downfall. I might add at this point it wasn't me on the roof that was spotted by security making their rounds. Still nevermind, I was quite amused at the look on the cops faces as eleven of us (versus their four) traipsed upstairs (convoy style) and were told to line up.

Being face to face with four baton wielding coppers is never good, but given the fact we had an age range from teens to over fifty, once we'd explained what we were up to they seemed OK. In the end it was all smiles, and they even tried to help gain acces to Volvo's van 'cos he'd locked his keys in it. A big hats off to the Sheffield police, they could have been real t***s, but were a sound bunch of guys.

From the college we headed over to Doncaster to check out a couple of leads before heading for the cooling towers at the old Thorpe Marsh power station. To say I was impressed by the hugeness of them is an understatement, they are ACE! Sadly, by this point in the day the Relentless was wearing off and the cold was kicking in, so I only took a couple of pics, one to return too another time I reckon.

All in we had a great day, aside from some navigational errors courtesy of the Bungle phone sexyvoicesatnav, and certainly an area that we will be returning to before long.

Big thanks to Private Piles and the rest of the Sheffield guys for showing us round, it was a rare day, with even rarer geese!!

Visited with Bungle666, Havoc, Dodge, Jaff Fox, Tarboat, dcg, Private Piles, Tominator, Volvo, Nincocytus and others...

TnM :->

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