Section 4: Possible variations
From the west end of Albion Street walk downhill on Addy Street. Try not to look at the Scarborough Arms on the left as you pass, try not to look at the upstairs windows. Fix your gaze on the Upperthorpe Library building and the adjoining old swimming and slipper baths.
Plunge into the warmth of the Library, past the friendly-looking receptionists and use the toilet. Sit by the sparse local interest shelves and look at old photographs.
Listen to a nearby Lunch Club joking to each other, start to relax in the warm gravy atmosphere, and lose the dark chill that has settled on you.
Open a book and read ‘…people are losing the skill to deal with differences as material inequality isolates them, short-term labour makes their social contacts more superficial and activates anxiety about the Other. We are losing the skill of cooperation needed to make a complex society work’.
Go outside into the visible air of the street called Upperthorpe. It holds its breath and you’re watched. Go up the hill, where special constables are ranging like neon spaniels, twist left into the cul de sac of Blake Grove Road. Here, in a standoff with the maisonettes planted in its back garden, is the villa where poet and statue Ebenezer Elliott lived for a while. A 19th-century radical with complicated views, he wrote poems obsessed with the Corn Laws, and his publicity helped in their repeal. He also wrote the haunting:
‘For all must go where no wind blows,
And none can go for him who goes;
None, none return whence no one knows.’
A vertical driving route
Be newly arrived in Sheffield to take up an academic post. Be house hunting in a car with your partner. Drive down Upperthorpe from the Howard Hill end. Try to keep on the left side of the road.
Ignore vague Amityville thoughts and pulsing soundtracks in your mind as you descend this shady inclination. Pass Alpine Road on your right.
‘Wow, will you take a look at the size of these houses! And so cheap’.
Keep your eyes on the cannibalistic student lets. Notice the signs of de-gentrification – illiterate graffiti, car window smithereens on the verges, overturned trashcans on the sidewalk, extensive ironwork defences, inside furniture out.
See the road getting steeper, beyond a maximum gradient, like a closing drawbridge. The neighbourhood is tilting as the drifting continents of Walkley and Netherthorpe subduct under its boundaries. Steel lines of flight take off from its molten edges. Go so fast that your tyres leave the road. Freefall over Philadelphia. Reach escape velocity over the Don. Rise airborne through the Upperthorpe skies like a Heinkel or a Junkers. Go into orbit as a Google Earth satellite.
Upperthorpe googling tour
Most of any research for this piece has been online, start just by googling ‘Upperthorpe Sheffield’, and taking it from there.
The websites I used were:
http://www.lasos.org.uk/ViewPage1.aspx?C=Resource&ResourceID=102 for the boundary of Upperthorpe neighbourhood.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/06/child-neglect-adrian-levy-cathy-scott-clark describes in very upsetting detail the death of Tiffany Wright.
http://www.thewookie.co.uk/skyscrapers/index9.html describes the Upperthorpe flats.
http://www.tilthammer.com/bio/osb.html describes Samuel Osborn
google ‘Stones Brewery Sheffield’, then ‘images’ for photographs
http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/ is invaluable for local history, and I used it extensively for the Parkwood Springs Estate, and many other places
http://www.sheffieldhistory.co.uk/forums/ also invaluable- for Neepsend fairy castle, Club Mill, Kelvin Flats etc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neepsend wikipedia of course essential on this and many other locations and topics, especially ‘circumambulation’.
http://www.chrishobbs.com/orwellsheffield1936.htm gives information about George Orwell in Sheffield
http://zestcommunity.co.uk/ for information about the library and fitness centre
http://www.judandk.force9.co.uk/ellyPoe.htm for Ebenezer Elliott
References (on paper)
AZ Map of Sheffield, Geographers A-Z Map Company Ltd.
Joshua 6, verses 3 to 21. Bible, King James Version. (No I’m not religious)
Q&A interview with Richard Sennett. The Observer, 12.02.12
Price, David (2008) ‘Sheffield Troublemakers- Rebels and Radicals in Sheffield History’ Phillimore
Orwell, George (1937) ‘The Road to Wigan Pier) Penguin.
Sennett, Richard (2012) ‘Together: the Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation’ Allen Lane.
Eddy Dreadnought 2012