Pinstone Street, the home of Sheffield’s independent fast food

The one good thing to come out of the Sevenstone delay?

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

As we wait to find out what the latest talks between the council and Hammerson mean for Sheffield’s Sevenstone retail quarter, an independent food revolution is quietly happening in town.

Pinstone Street is one of the key roads on the edge of the proposed development. In anticipation of demolition and construction work beginning many of the old shops closed down or moved to alternative locations, leaving a depressing row of empty units.

Not for long though. The good news is that a growing number of tasty food outlets have moved in and are breathing life into the vacant shops on Pinstone Street.

The award-winning Street Food Chef arrived first, serving up Mexican street food from tacos, burritos to empanadas. Their breakfast burritos are delicious.

Flurt frozen yoghurt in Sheffield

Flurt frozen yoghurt on PInstone Street

Then Flurt opened a few doors up, offering fat-free frozen yoghurt. A perfect pudding if you’ve got room after your lunchtime burrito.

And this morning Claire from Feast and Glory revealed that Fanoush Falafel is opening next door to the Street Food Chef. Fanoush already have a shop on London Road so it is great to see them opening in town.

What all three of these outlets have in common is that they are independent businesses, offering an alternative to the food chains that you can find in any city. The food is fast, tasty and relatively healthy. They’re definitely worth supporting.

It’s ironic that without Sevenstone these great food outlets may not have opened at all on Pinstone Street. Perhaps the growth of these businesses points to the approach we should take for a city centre retail quarter: if you create favourable terms for people to take on shops in good locations then local, independent businesses can flourish, even alongside the big chains. The city centre needs both.

Make the most of these foodie gems while you can, as a green light for Sevenstone could mean the end of these independent food outlets in prime city centre locations.

Sheffield Cablevision: the original local TV

Sheffield’s 1970s community cable TV station

There’s been a lot of talk in the last few months about the government’s idea for a network of local TV stations, with plans for 10-20 services in operation by 2015. Sheffield isn’t on this initial list but we’ve been earmarked for the second phase of licensing – assuming the first stations are a success and culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is still in a job to see it through.

What I didn’t realise was that the idea of citywide TV services is not a new one. In fact, Sheffield had its own cable TV station for three-and-a-half years in the 1970s. I found this out via Sheffield sport journalist Alan Biggs’ book, which incidentally is well worth a read if you’re interested in local football or media and is available now from the publishers and Amazon.

Our cable TV station was known as Sheffield Cablevision. It was one of five authorised by the UK’s Minister for Posts and Telecommunications and ran from August 1973 to January 1977. For a couple of hours each evening (plus daytime repeats) Sheffield Cablevision broadcast shows made by the public with help from a professional staff of six from its Matilda Street studios.

Sheffield Cablevision ident

TV Ark has posted a video of the station’s ident, which shows the Sheffield Cablevision logo – presumably the inspiration for the Sheffield Publicity Department visual identity:

Sheffield Cablevision ident

Sheffield Cablevision: watch the ident

Recollections of Sheffield Cablevision

I’m not old enough to personally remember the station, but if you search the internet there is some good stuff to be found. A thread on Sheffield Forum throws up memories of the station, with gerryuk and A.B.Yaffle commenting:

During the daytime you would get a Sheffield city council logo on the screen with Radio Hallam playing in the background. Every hour or so you would get a local news programme aired from some studio centre near Sheffield’s railway station. Can’t remember if they did a 30 minute news programme in the evening. On Saturday morning I can remember them doing some live programmes from the now defunct ABC cinema on Angel Street. It was for kids. I think you had to live in a council house to be able to receive this channel.

The flats on the Hanover estate still have the old sockets on the wall with about 10 holes in which someone told me was for the old cable tv system.

In his book, Alan Biggs recalls the few months he worked for the channel:

I would race off to Sheffield early on a Friday evening to present a weekend sports preview for the 30,000 households subscribing to an experimental piped TV channel. The pioneers who ran it…believed in what was a community project and, on reflection, it wasn’t a world away from today’s so-called reality stuff in that volunteers could come in off the street to help us make programmes.

It does sound like it was run on a shoestring and as a result, relied heavily on the volunteers. Another Sheffield Forumer, Jabberwocky, recalls:

I remember watching it to see if they showed any film of the city and I sat there for an hour one day while a bloke showed how to change a plug.

Videos and photos

I’ve found a couple of videos of possible Sheffield Cablevision output, although I don’t think they were produced by the Sheffield production team and aren’t really proper Sheffield content. This public information film about playing safe when camping and fishing was shown on the channel:

There’s talk on Sheffield Forum of a VHS compilation tape of the best of Sheffield Cablevision. It’d be great to see this online.

Photo wise, there’s a picture of one of the original Sheffield Cablevision cameras on the Museum of Broadcast TV Camera website. But the best place for photos is on the new Sheffield Cablevision Facebook page, where you’ll find a treasure trove of nearly 300 images, including these:

TV Ark says that despite good local viewing figures, politics and the costs were to blame for the closure of Sheffield Cablevision in 1977.

The future of local TV in Sheffield

We’ll have to see what comes of the government’s new plans for community television stations and whether the change in broadcast regulations really does increase their chance of success. Cities in the US which are much smaller than Sheffield run successful local TV stations, so there may be a way of making them work. Certainly there are interested parties intending to bid on the initial new licenses.

But at the same time other community TV experiments in the UK continue to bite the dust, with a Manchester station closing earlier this month, the owners criticising the government’s new plans for not providing the framework they need to deliver a quality service.

Given that more people are buying smart TVs with fully-integrated internet, I can’t help think that using an online platform to distribute local TV content might be a lower cost approach to local TV, with less risk. There was talk of something along these lines being set up in Sheffield a couple of years ago – TV Sheffield – but with the website now offline there doesn’t seem to be much happening with this.

What are your memories of Sheffield Cablevision? Does a city the size of Sheffield need its own TV station? If so, what would you want from it?

Sheffield Christmas market: your opinions wanted

Where is there room for improvement?

Were you one of the 250,000 people that visited the Peace gardens over the festive season for Sheffield Christmas market?

I’ve been asked to gather some opinions of the Christmas market on behalf of the people behind it. What did you think? I’ve put a few thoughts here – feel free to add your own by commenting below.

Last year’s Christmas market felt a bit underwhelming but this year’s was a definite improvement. There were better quality stalls and the ice rink made it feel more like a destination as opposed to just another market.

When passing, the ice rink never looked that busy and felt a bit expensive for Sheffield at £8 for an adult. The price was slashed to £6 for the final few days so perhaps this is a more realistic price to aim for.

It would be great if there were more Christmassy stalls. This would help further differentiate it from some of the other markets we have in Sheffield through the year.

It would also benefit from more local suppliers selling more local products. Sheffield people love buying Sheffield stuff, so to get some of our local food, arts, crafts on sale would be great. It would also make it more uniquely Sheffield instead of a generic Christmas market that you could find a bigger and currently better version of elsewhere, for example in Manchester and Leeds.

One problem with these events in Sheffield is that we don’t seem to have a perfect location for them. The Peace gardens is very prominent, but it does seem a bit cramped in there. The same goes for Fargate – probably our busiest shopping street, but gets horrible bottlenecks when the continental market is on.

One thought would be to host it in the big area they have just flattened where the fire station was. This may a better use of space than another car park until Sevenstone arrives.

There’s no doubt that the current market can be improved. A great Christmas market for Sheffield will take time to establish; we obviously aren’t going to go from nothing to one rivalling others in a couple of years.

What do you think? Has it been a success? Is it the sort of place you would take visitors? And what is it missing? Comment below and your thoughts will be fed back to the organisers.

Castle market and Sheffield castle

The regeneration and preservation of Sheffield’s past

A debate is rumbling about whether or not Castle market should be listed.

Giving it listed status would mean that it would be much harder to press ahead with some elements of the Sheffield city centre master plan, notably the idea to open up the ruins of the old castle, which are located under the current 1960s market building.

The arguments are discussed in this post on the Bleeding heart show blog:

There’s no doubt that if the decision is made purely on aesthetic or historical grounds, the council would have their demolition day. But when you consider the decision on social grounds, things get somewhat murkier.

The full post is well worth a read.

A tale of two castles post on Bleeding heart show blog

Castle market by daskine on Flickr

Castle market by daskine on Flickr, used under the Creative commons licence

City lofts St Paul’s tower cladding design row

Standing your ground

You’ll have no doubt read about the current disagreement over the panels used on the outside of the City lofts St Paul’s tower development in town. In a nutshell, the council agreed a certain specification of cladding, which the developer then changed.

The council has stood firm and now crisis talks are taking place between both parties with the hope of resolving the issue. You can read the detail of the saga unfolding in the 196-page thread in the Sheffield Development Forum.

I was passing the development this week with my camera so took some photos which are below.

Despite it being a brilliant sunny day, the brown panels still looked a bit dingy. And as someone also pointed out in the discussion thread, if this is them at their best, how many clear sunny days will we get in Sheffield to see them like this?

Even with the sun directly reflecting off the side of the building, as shown in the bottom photo, it still has a dated look to me and reminds me a bit of a 70s London building that I used to work in and is about to be ripped down.

What do people think, should the council continue to stand its ground and demand an improved design, risking that the tower is left to stand empty or even be demolished?

cladding1

cladding2

City lofts St Paul's tower cladding

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