The JR James Archive at the University of Sheffield

An amazing archive, recently digitised and made freely available online by the University of Sheffield.

This website hosts the photos, maps, plans and images of the JR James archive, digitised in the summer of 2013 by Philip Brown and Joseph Carr – MPlan graduates of the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield. The project was funded by the University of Sheffield Alumni Fund and directed by Alasdair Rae, an academic in the Department of Town and Regional Planning.

JR ‘Jimmy’ James was Professor of Town and Regional Planning at Sheffield for several years before his untimely death in 1980. Prior to that he was the Chief Planner at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. He left to the Department his large collection of fascinating planning-related photos, maps and plans spanning many decades.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/people/jrjamesarchive

Consult the archive here:
http://www.flickr.com/people/jrjamesarchive

Dear Sheffield

We’ve been asked to let you know about this great project – Dear Sheffield. Please note the imminent deadline!

Dear Sheffield

To celebrate the Society recently reaching 125 years we have launched a project to celebrate and promote architecture in Sheffield. “Dear Sheffield” invites people in Sheffield to send or email an anecdote, photo, poem or drawing of their most beloved space in Sheffield, on a postcard. The plan is to exhibit every entry and produce the best as a set of postcards .
 
We want everyone to join in, we have written to 125 well known people in the city, distributed our postcards far and wide and the entries are being exhibited on our tumblr website : http://dearsheffield.tumblr.com/. Entries range from allotments to car parks with a few of our brutalist landmarks making a comeback. We have even had a submission from the Deputy Prime Minister. 
 
To help make this project a success we would really appreciate it if you could promote the project far and wide and also make an entry yourselves. We are sure you have a favourite place or building that is special. It may be loved, neglected or even demolished, send in your best one, in any format as long as it is postcard shaped (we can crop and scale, but the more you can do the easier for us). Our deadline is 23rd October so we can exhibit entries during Urban Design Week.
 
or send a postcard to Dear Sheffield, c/o 17 Broomgrove Road, Sheffield. S10 2LZ
 
You can see our coverage in the Star:

Abandoned places // Gareth Parry

Litter scattered amidst the weeds, hopes strewn beneath broken concrete, flowers break through to feel the sun beauty hiding amongst debris.  walking through a city of discarded places lost to the excess blind to the hopes that lie tangled in the forgotten places we build empires on the fallen past behind security gates and cameras we lose our identity amongst the concrete no room to breathe just consume the forgotten places hidden discarded where dreams can be revealed

Gareth Parry, 2013

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Sheffield, 2012

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Sheffield, 2012

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Sheffield, Globe Works, 2012

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Gareth Parry, 2012

All photos by Amanda Crawley Jackson

 

Quiet flows the Don (Тихий Дон)

Pauline, who’s 71, came up to Shalesmoor for the day from Maidenhead to try and find the places where her parents and grandparents lived. Her grandparents were Ukrainian Jews who came to Britain in the late nineteenth century. Fleeing persecution, they left their hometown of Novograd-Volynsk and sailed to Liverpool from Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea. Pauline doesn’t know how her family came to live in Sheffield, but told us about the large Jewish community that lived in the slum dwellings around Scotland Street at the turn of the century. Her father was born in 1902 and is buried in Sheffield. The family ran a grocers shop at 51 West Bar Green from 1910 until as late as 1951. She told us her memories of hearing Yiddish spoken at home, of chicken soup and matzah bread, and of the rich, enticing smells in the family shop. She told us that she remembered how, as a child, she would be given old Bisto posters and empty boxes, so she too could play shop. She used to love the Blue Riband biscuits she was given as a special treat and remembers the sound of the cellophane packet being torn to release its contents. We walked together to Allen Street, but the family home that once stood there has long since been demolished or destroyed. We couldn’t work out which school her father must have gone to, although we wondered about the Infants School on Blue Boy Street (so named because of the blue jackets that the schoolboys were made to wear). Pauline ran away to New York to marry her husband. When she told her mother she was going to start researching their family history, her mother warned against it, saying that there were ‘too many skeletons in the cupboard’.

It was a strange kind of serendipity that minutes before we met Pauline and asked if we could take her photograph for the (Sheffield) Don magazine, we had been discussing the fact that there’s also a River Don that flows through Russia and Ukraine.

The magazine, which we wrote, edited and produced in 24 hours, will be launched on Friday June 22nd. See here for more details and to reserve a place at the launch.

Finding paintings in Upperthorpe

Finding Paintings in Upperthorpe
   On 11th April 2012, I had a wander through Upperthorpe in order to find some source material for a forthcoming exhibition. I was looking for some found paintings. That is, accidents in paint that turn my head. I’ve been collecting them for years, along with stuff that looks like sculpture. (See http://foundpaintingsandsculptures.blogspot.co.uk/ for more examples).
   As I started it became apparent the Upperthorpe doesn’t have much in the way of this stuff. There are bins with hand-painted house numbers on them, but little else. I did notice that some brick walls looked like they’d been cleaned recently. They sometimes have a tell-tale scrubbed section in their centre, indicative of a graffiti clean-up team. I walked all the way up Upperthorpe to wear it touches on Walkey (and enjoyed a bagel and coffee at the New York Deli on Commonside), before heading back downhill on Springvale Road.
   It was a beautiful morning (though hail would pummel the place later on), but aside from some blossom, nothing much to photograph. I walked all the way down to the Tesco’s on Infirmary Road and then cut up through the nearby housing estate and woods (with seemingly abandoned skate bowl and five-a-side pen). It was here that I did find some stuff. On one of the green picnic tables someone had scribbled a circle in white paint and some trees nearby have pink spots sprayed onto their trunks. I’m assuming this is a death sentence of sorts. One tree had some thick pink paste on its trunk. On the housing estate I had seen the rendered wall equivalent of the scrubbed brick. Graffiti on these walls is painted over with neat, modernist, rectangles and two of these were painted on an end wall, either side of a rust stained outlet for an extractor. Perhaps accidental marks are more acceptable than deliberate ones.
   I turned uphill on Fox Road and ended up back at the small parade of shops. Just before that some has amended a reflective chevron sign, probably in order to make it more dramatic in the dark. Perhaps the black was fading and no new sign as forthcoming. The image has the touch of Jasper Johns or Jim Dine, which I like.
   Time was passing and I need to get back to the city centre, so I started back towards the blocks of flats. On Martin Street (or it could have been Oxford Street), I saw that someone had sprayed a radial design on the top of a bin. Erosion or something more deliberate had knocked it back, but it was still recognizable as a sympathetic piece of work. Just as I was leaving the district with only a few pictures, I noticed that – yes – someone had dropped a tin of white paint at the foot of one of the blocks. There’s always an accidental Jackson Pollock.

Prue Chiles, Re-imagining the City of Sheffield

As part of a project entitled ‘Materializing Sheffield’, architect and academic Prue Chiles wrote this thoughtful article on how we might re-imagine the city of Sheffield:

http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/matshef/chiles/MSchiles.htm

(Prue also designed one of my favourite Sheffield buildings, the Hillsborough Park Pavillion. Well worth a visit if you haven’t seen it already. See www.pruechilesarchitects.co.uk/projects/pavillion.html ).

Sunday walks #2

Sunday 19th February

 

Many things to write of in the aftermath of a lovely Sunday, but I think that the feeling of surprise comes at the top of my agenda.  Surprise at what’s there, what we’re missing and what could be. Had a very strange feeling when I went to look back on the route that we took, tried to drop the little man in on Google maps in order to see if I’m finding the right location, and to discover that there is ‘no data available’.  Instead, all that there is, is unlabelled, uncoloured mass.  No roads, no paths, no pictures.  And yet the sights we saw!

Sights that were characterised by confusion.  What is this place? An industrial wasteland that is history-rich, foreboding pylons towering over ivy tombstones, motorcyclists tearing through.  As far from the Information Commons as imaginable.  And descending into real-world really-known Sheffield, Hillsborough College star-trek piercing spikes and casino plants with a car-park too big.  Graffiti: ‘YOU BET WE DIE’.  Animal rights over the dogs at Owlerton?  A morbid reminder reflecting graveyard poetry?  The drain on community of gambling, and these money-making cold-houses?  KFC drive through.  Drive-thru.

So to start at the beginning, we rambled in through Kelham Island’s beautiful derelict waterway woven flat-lands.  Something to savour in a city of hills!  Bricked in doorways and broken windows, eerie sunlight and old oil-lamps, beautifully simple lettering and works of all kinds, bridges and bricks, one wall with the other three missing, three walls with the one missing, cobbled streets, chimneys, large-scale machinery.  So easy to romanticise!  ‘GLOBE WORKS’ reminds me of Sheffield’s influence worldwide.  This was the centre, where it all began.  And now the abandoned steelworks are adjacent to abandoned apartments.  Luxury apartments that appeared too late for the housing boom and so exist almost as empty as their neighbours.  Yet they were never full.  Round the back of such shiny, new, urban renovation schematisation we walk over weeds and rubbish dumps, weave between heaps of rubble.  As if it’s a bomb site, vast areas are reduced to these heaps, among which tin cans are oxidised, vodka bottles are emptied.  Tyres, bin bags, strange greenery, wire fencing, and occasional warning signs are found.

I don’t know how many times it is acceptable to use the word ‘abandoned’ in one piece of writing, but I’m pretty sure that I could push the boundaries here.  Buildings at all stages of delapidisation, in the depths of the process of decay.   We walk along this sludge mud-track and see but one truck driven by but one man, clearly a little confused.  A Sunday football friendly takes place somewhere unseeable, and again I hear – “what is this place?”  We find ourselves in the most uneven terrains of ups and downs and diagonals, irreducible to straight lines.  There are no straight lines in nature.  A cemetery crowded and fertile, mystified in filtered light, recent burials with only thirty years to their name are found, yet no sign of even a trace of a fresh bouquet.  Further up the hill, across an (abandoned?) railway track, a field of sorts, and a view.  Beyond the crooked fluid entanglement of gravestones and ivy lies grey stone and clarity.   Electricity in the making, the hearable static crackles.  Iron, concrete, brick.  Sturdy, imposing, fixed.

And so we come to the question – what to do?  With what we’ve seen, with what has sparked, with what there is to see or spark.

Tanya Hart, 2012