Friday, 26 August 2011


Let the minutes show: yesterday was possibly the best day in the history of the Sheffield Publicity Department.

We took some intrepid workshop participants up to the Park Hill, to fill in their tree-rubbing posters, and make a one-off poster about our urban forest. Here's what happened. Click on these photos people. They're worth it.

The weather was incredible. The sun shone down through the canopies. The views were spectacular. It was wonderful.

Thanks to everyone who came down: we'll get the pictures of you with your posters up soon.

Mega thanks to Gemma Thorpe for the lovely photos.

And ultra, super thanks to Jane and Natalie at the Site Gallery for asking us to get involved. Site Gallery has suddenly got amazing. Well done all.

PS if you couldn't make it down, the packs are now on sale at the Site gallery for £3.50. We're talking perfect Birthday/Christmas gift.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Look. At. These.

The posters are back. The header cards are folded. The crayons have been paired off like rare, beautiful animals in a zoo.

To get your hands on one of these, come down to our Tree Rubbings workshop at the Site Gallery tomorrow, Thursday 25th August. It's going to be bloody lovely.

If you can't make it tomorrow, the packs will be on sale in the Site Gallery from this day forth.

(Thanks to PDF in Sheffield for the printing, and Gemma Thorpe for the photo.)

Friday, 19 August 2011


Exciting times in the SPD office. The crayons have arrived.

Two of these beauties will be in each of our DIY tree-rubbing packs. You'll have to choose your favourite colours from the selection. No mixing.

Plus, if you're into late capitalist bling, we even have a couple of gold and silver crayons doing the rounds. Note would-be looters/scrap thieves: they're made of wax.

You know what we really love about these crayons? It's the smell. Straight back to childhood. We literally cannot wait for the workshops.



Sunday, 14 August 2011


Sheffield has over two gazillion trees, making it the greenest city on planet Earth. As part of Site Gallery's DIY Summer, we'll be holding a tree rubbing workshop on Thursday 25th August, to celebrate our urban forest.

We'll be leading people on a short walking tour up to the trees of Park Hill, where we'll help you create your own unique, DIY publicity poster through the medium of wax crayon rubbings.

We'll be running a number of workshops throughout the day. The workshops are open to all, and cost a mere £3. To find out more click here. Or to book a place, click thusly.

Stay tuned for more info. Check out the incredible new logo. That is all.



Wednesday, 3 August 2011


First published in the Tramlines Times, Sunday 24th July 2011.


Number 3: Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Now, as the city's tourist board, we're used to making bold claims. But here's one that's undisputed: Sheffield has the most glorious sunsets on planet Earth.

We don't know really know what causes them. Maybe it's the shape of the city, the hills around us, that means you can always see the point where the sky meets the ground. Who knows? And of course it doesn't happen every evening. There's no way of telling when. But suddenly, out of nowhere, you'll notice the colour pink from the corner of your eye. And from that moment on, all you can do is stand and watch.

Sometimes the sky looks like Super Mario, cartoon blue with perfect pink, popcorn clouds. Sometimes it becomes a vaulted ceiling above the city, like pink bunting. Sometimes it's darker, with heavy bruised clouds like black eyes. And sometimes it seems to magnify the clouds on the other side of the sky, so that they look like mountains hanging over the city. Like Sheffield has been moved to the Alps.

And then the colour balance is turned up, and everything starts to get brighter and brighter, until it looks like a chemical fire, or a new cosmos being born, just out of sight in the Rivelin valley. And then the sun disappears from view, pulling the evening behind it like a blanket, and the sky turns turquoise, then dark blue, then purple like a chocolate wrapper. And then it's over.

All this happens slowly, over a half hour period, like a movement in classical music. Some people will notice, and get out their iphones to take a picture for the kids. Others will carry on regardless, oblivious to the heavens above them.

Of course, it's difficult to market a sunset. We can't really arrange tours. And photos don't do it justice: they have to be seen to be believed. And the Sheffield Publicity Department can't guarantee that you'll see one. It's outside of our remit, alas.

But maybe you'll be lucky. And suddenly, the puddles on the floor will turn pink, and the drab office buildings will light up in gold; and you'll see that this poor, hollowed-out, hollow cheeked city, is rich beyond anybody's wildest dreams.

The sun goes down tonight at 21.14, precisely. Keep your eyes peeled.

With love
Sheffield Publicity Department.


First published in the Tramlines Times, Saturday 23rd July, 2011.



Here at SPD HQ, we've got a book about the city, published by our forerunners, the City Council's Civic Information Service, in 1964. The book is called SHEFFIELD, England, with a foil-blocked title. It's completely beautiful. Inside the front cover, there's a quote from Confucius, ancient Chinese scholar. It reads thusly:

"How may I recognise a good craftsmen? First, by the reputation of his ancestors for honesty and sincerity; then by his ability to create something new with an experience that is old."

Pretty deep shit, we think you'll agree. Why are we telling you this? Well, Sheffield, as you probably know, has always had a reputation for making amazing stuff. For a long time, that stuff was mainly made out of steel. For 100 years or so, Sheffield pretty much made cutlery for the whole of planet Earth.

Today, a lot of people think those times are gone. That we don't make anything here anymore. But that's not really true. Yes, Sheffield steel no longer fills your Nannan's cutlery drawer. Yes, some of the factories have closed down. But the spirit that fueled them is still in the air.

And one of the best places to see that spirit is in the pub, with a pint in your hand. Some of the best beer in the world is made here, in Sheffield, in micro-breweries attached to amazing pubs. There are too many to mention here, and far too many individual beers to name. So here are the greatest hits, with tasting notes, like some sort of BBC Food and Wine programme. Look out for:

- Pale Rider, Kid Acne's beer of choice, made by Kelham Island, tastes like power.
- Easy Rider, it's softer younger brother.
- Farmers Blonde, by Bradfield, like summer and cows and meadows in a glass.
- The Tramlines special beer, by the Sheffield Brewery Company, which, like that wine you had on holiday, will remind you of the good times.

But, here at the SPD, there can only ever be one favourite. Moonshine, made by Abbeydale Brewery. Weapon of choice. Ticket to ride. Moonshine is a whole pint of Ron Burgundy shouting: HOA! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

So this weekend, put down the Corona, and do us all a favour. This city makes its own beer, for the people who live here, and it tastes bloody brilliant. Just another Sheffield product. In the service of mankind.


The Sheffield Publicity Department.


First published in the Tramlines Times, Friday 22nd July 2011.


Wilkommen! Bienvenue! 欢迎!

We're the Sheffield Publicity Department, and we're here to introduce you to our lovely city. We'll be suggesting Things To See and Do throughout the Tramlines weekend, to help you understand what makes Sheffield so special.


If this is your first visit, let us say this: don't panic. Yes, it may appear that the city is just a random collection of scruffy modern buildings, competing bus companies and one-way streets, with no attempt made to join them together. And yes, the uninitiated may be shocked by the sheer amount of wasteland, as if Sheffield has only recently lost a war.

But rest assured, this is not the full picture. There's a way to see our city in a different light. It's just about knowing where to see it from.

Let us take you to a viewpoint. It's only five minutes away. We'll start at the train station. Go inside, up over the bridge towards the trains, and out the door at the end. Keep going, up those rusty steel steps in front of you, all the way to the top. And then turn around.

Here, below you, is our city. From here, the city centre is a pop-up history book, where 60s office blocks rub up against mock-tudor Victorian pubs, and 1980s science parks. And from here, the empty spaces are like breathing space for the city, where the weeds blossom every spring like a post-industrial flower show. And somewhere in this mess are the musicians and artists and designers, working now, even now, to put the name of this city on the lips of the world.

And above the city you can see our hills, covered with terraced houses, like the crowds at a football match. And from here you can see our trees, bursting out of the roads, covering the suburbs with green. And further away, at the edge of the frame, you can see the bare brown lines of the Peak District, the space where the city spends its weekends.

And as you sit and look out, teenagers flirt in the grass at your feet, and insects land on your jeans, and a fat man pants up the steps, and a mother herds her children down and says 'look at the view!'.

This, then, is our happy, ugly, beautiful city. We hope you like it.


Sheffield Publicity Department

Here's the original, in case you want to look at it:

Sunday, 24 July 2011


The Sheffield Publicity Department media machine lurched into top gear last weekend, putting together three (3) columns for the official Tramlines paper, The Tramlines Times. It was like being real journalists, with proper deadlines and everything. We even worked on Saturday! (Don't worry, we'll be claiming it back on our council flexi).

The paper looks absolutely sweet, so congrats to all involved. And the tone is just right: the Friday and Saturday editions both ended with SEE YOU TOMORROW, LOVE in big capitals. This is exactly the way we should be talking about our city. With a sense of humour and a bit of pride. Well done everyone.

Anyway, for the benefit of those who didn't manage to get their hands on the paper, we'll be putting the columns up here, plus our super limited edition tramlines/SPD meta-logo each time.


Thursday, 21 July 2011


Sometimes Sheffield pulls something special out of the bag. You can go for months without seeing a single person in the city centre after 6pm, then all of a sudden, an event will come along which floods the city with people. Out of nowhere, Sheffield feels like a big city.

It happened with Docfest, when the city centre was jam-packed with Londoners, identifiable by the takeaway coffees they clutched at all times, and their general air of wealth. (It would never occur to a Sheffield resident to get a coffee 'to go': nobody here is really so busy that they haven't got time to sit down).

And this weekend it's happening again with Tramlines. Now in it's third year, Tramlines is one part urban music festival and one part total chaos. Everyone is playing everywhere, you have to queue to get in your own house, and literally everyone is smiling for the whole weekend. You know that point at a good festival where you suddenly realise that you don't care what happens anymore? When you give up trying to find your friends 'outside the dance stage' and then they tap you on the shoulder? That's what happens at Tramlines.

Anyway. We've got involved in the Tramlines Times, with an interview with Peter and Paul, who've done the branding for Tramlines this year, and also a column for the paper, welcoming people to Sheffield. And we've reworked our logo for the occasion (see above).

We're also 'launching' (ie registering) the official unofficial SPD twitter 'feed' this weekend. We haven't got smartphones, so we won't be keeping you bang up to date with anything.

Right. Enjoy yourselves. We're off to get in the queue for Toddla.


Sheffield Publicity Department

Friday, 18 March 2011


We have confirmation. Viewpoint Number 3 is go.

Pictures by Gemma Thorpe.

The maps are out, the route is up, and the flag is standing proud.

You can find your map in one of these places. Once you've got one in your hand, head to Corporation Street/The Riverside Pub to start the walk.

En route, you'll find plenty of markers to help guide the way.

Plus, there's some familiar looking graffiti.

At the top, we've installed our third flag. As usual, the pole is made from a branch we found cut down in a forest. The flag was kindly stitched by Kirsteen at Syd and Mallorys.

They don't tend to hang around for very long. We don't know where they go. Are they removed by overzealous Streetforce operatives? Bored youth? Rival art-led imaginary tourist boards? Who can say.

All we know is that, at 14.19 today, the SPD surveillance satellite (JARVIS1) took this grainy image. The flag was still standing.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Our third viewpoint map is out now.

We can't lie. This one is a little bleak.

Viewpoint No. 3 is Pye Bank, an ex-council estate, close to the city centre, on a hill above the river. The buildings have all been demolished, but for some reason all the infrastructure was left behind. Today, all that's up there are empty roads, steps, paths and bricks.

The start point of the route is a bridge over the River Don, at the bottom of Corporation Street. There's a secret old bridge here, blocked off at one end. It looks like this.

Once you get up to Pye Bank itself, you'll find a strong Mad Max vibe going on. Roadblocks, rubble, wasteland. It's easy to feel like you're the last person on Earth. We wouldn't recommend going up to Pye Bank alone. The isolation can feel pretty intimidating. But the view is incredible.

The map includes a cut-out-and-keep roadblock, as a memento of your day. If you don't want to cut your map up, why not photocopy it at your local Tesco?


This is what Pye Bank used to look like: massive. Concrete flats and wavy roofed houses. You can find stories on the internet of what it was like to live here. The stories are pretty much the same as the ones you read about Park Hill, or Hyde Park, or any of the other post-war estates, built with too much optimism and not enough money. They're hard stories to keep reading.

Funnily enough, these buildings still exist on some maps. You can even demolish them yourself. Click here for a top down view. And then click here to see the same space without buildings.

Yes Pye Bank is bleak. But it's also strangely calm. In the gaps where the houses and the car parks used to be, the weeds are taking over. Pye Bank is reverting into what it was before Sheffield came along. A scrubby hill, folding into other scrubby hills, above a river, on the edge of the peak district.

Enjoy the view.