COMMUNITY FOCUS: Abbeydale Road – A magical, vibrant and diverse place to live and work

Abbeydale Road, Sheffield
Abbeydale Road, Sheffield

It's one of the most vibrant and diverse places in Sheffield, with a friendly community offering something to suit everyone.

Travel just a short distance from the city centre and you'll reach Abbeydale Road, a bustling and vibrant street offering a plethora of unique places to eat and drink and a community full of diverse cultures.

Abbeydale is full of residential side streets which are peaceful and serene compare to the bustling main road

Abbeydale is full of residential side streets which are peaceful and serene compare to the bustling main road

The road itself stretches from the south-west suburb of Highfield, all the way to the railway bridge over Dore and Chinley station and is neighboured by Nether Edge and Meersbrook.

The bustle of the main road is contrasted by the peaceful and serene side streets, which are becoming increasingly popular places to live, as reflected in growing house prices in the area.

And It's no surprise when you seen the abundance of independent outlets which line Abbeydale Road, from real ales shops, to an assortment of great cafes, shops and restaurants offering something to suit everyone.

Duncan Strafford, 38, lives on Plymouth Road with his fiance Sarah, who owns and runs Seraphins of Abbeydale, a coffee shop based on Abbeydale Road.

Duncan Strafford with his fiance Sarah and son William outside of Seraphins of Abbeydale

Duncan Strafford with his fiance Sarah and son William outside of Seraphins of Abbeydale

Duncan, who is a stay at home Dad to three-year old William, brands the area ‘independent Sheffield’ saying it's a ‘magical’ place to live.

He said: “It's a fantastic place to put down roots. It's so diverse in race, diverse in economic income, diverse in sexuality, diverse in age. Socio-demographically it's just so diverse it’s great.

“It’s a magical place to bring my son up. It’s just a great place to bring up children, I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else. It feels safe, everybody is friendly. 

“You can walk down the street with a smile on your face and people smile back, then you start conversations and interact with people.

Seraphins of Abbeydale, 704 Abbeydale Road

Seraphins of Abbeydale, 704 Abbeydale Road

“I also want to express what a beautiful green area it is, you’ve got the Peak District on your doorstep but then 30 seconds the other way and you’re in the city centre.”

He explained that there is always something to do, and plenty of activities and events on offer, from Millhouses Park, to the Climbing Works.

“The coffee shop also attracts a diverse network of people,” he added.

“You learn about people you wouldn’t normally come across. It’s such a culturally understanding area, there’s lots of different religions.

Nearby Meersbrook park offers a a great place for a stroll

Nearby Meersbrook park offers a a great place for a stroll

“Abbeydale is resolutely and categorically independent of chains, its untouched by food outlet chains. You’ve got the little Tesco, but the majority are independent from chains. Everyone is individual.”

Speaking to people in the area, Duncan says many are moving to Abbeydale from London.

“I think it encapsulates the feel of London,” Duncan added.

“It’s such an amazing and beautiful place to live, it’s the best place in Sheffield and it is reflected in the house prices, it has soared in popularity.”

Over the years, the area has changed and evolved but one building remains, Abbeydale Picture House, a grade two listed building which opened in December 1920 and was the largest and most luxurious cinema in the city.

The venue is still a hub for entertainment despite it’s closure as a cinema in 1975, thanks to the CADS trust, a Sheffield based arts charity, who are continuing with restoration of the building.

Kiran Antcliffe from CADS

Kiran Antcliffe from CADS

Next door is Picture House social, which is also a staple meet-up spot for locals, and others wandering out of the city centre.

Kiran Antcliffe, 32, lives in nearby Meersbrook and works for CADS, but despite not living in the area he says it is a great place to work and visit.

He said: “We hope to add to the busy area, the Broadfield Pub re-opened a few years ago, there’s been a new gin bar that has opened recently.

“We want to bring Picture House back to its former glory. It was built as a cutting edge place, we want to bring back that element.

“We want it to be open a lot more and are in the process of getting it licensed.

“Abbeydale is such a popular and cool place to live. Three or four years ago many places around here were no open past 11, but now it’s becoming a destination you can stay for breakfast, lunch, dinner you don’t have to leave.

“It is an important community hub and want it to be nationally recognised venue which also belongs to the community.”

Dan Butlin, 32, lives close to Abbeydale Picture House. He said: “I’ve lived here since May last year, it’s become a lot more vibrant. I used to live in Hunters Bar, but here there is more of a sense of community.

“In contrast to Hunters Bar I think people are a lot friendlier, you’ve got so many varied and diverse cultures.

“There’s a lot of variation in places to go for food and drinks, and the ingredients you can get.”

Kiran added: “As weird as it sounds, you can get exotic drinks and fruits. I can imagine growing up round here it might teach you about different cultures and give you a diverse experience.”

Dan Butlin works for CADS and lives near to Abbeydale Picture House

Dan Butlin works for CADS and lives near to Abbeydale Picture House

Abbeydale Road is bustling, vibrant and diverse

Abbeydale Road is bustling, vibrant and diverse