Steel Life Portrait: The changing face of the city is still reassuringly the same

The Howard Pub in Sheffield
The Howard Pub in Sheffield
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The last time I spent any considerable length of time in Sheffield was in the late autumn and winter of 1993 and the early spring and summer of 1994.

Yes, I have been here plenty of times since for the odd day out here and there, football matches, concerts and the like and am now based here for work.

The Howard seems further from the station than I remember it

But the aforementioned period was the last time the bulk of my week was spent on the streets of Sheffield.

I say streets, I was actually studying. Each day, I’d catch the train from Doncaster, cross the road to the Interchange and leap on board a Woodhouse bus which would whisk me through the Manor to the draughty and exposed heights of Stradbroke College, now I learn, no longer with us after being abandoned, torched and then eventually demolished.

So why am I waxing lyrical back to a period of my life nearly quarter of a century ago I hear you cry?

Because being back in Sheffield and strolling the streets once more has awoken scores of happy memories, places, pubs and stories that I had thought were lost to the confines of the memory forever.

In this rapidly changing world, it was reassuringly encouraging to see The Howard, a favoured watering hole for our crowd, was still standing (although it does seem further from the railway station than I remember it).

But that was just the start of a trip down memory lane. Frosty mornings being late for shorthand classes and instead trying to keep warm inside the bus station, the twisting, turning bus route through the city, having one too many in the Frog and Parrot, spending what seemed like days queuing to get into the Leadmill, taxi rides across to places like Hunter’s Bar to crash down on a mate’s sofa once again and loitering around outside the Crucible during snooker season in the hope of spotting someone like Terry Griffiths.

While much of the city centre has changed enormously in the past 25 years or so, it is heartwarming to see many streets, shops and pubs just as I recall them.

Now all I need is to spend a day skiving at Meadowhall and I’ll be right back in 1994.