The Antiques Quarter

A browser's paradise set a little back from Sheffield city centre, in both space and time.

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When my other half and I moved into our first house we made a vow that after years of rental-bland magnolia, cheap bedsteads and identikit self-assembly furniture we would never again buy anything from a Swedish Superstore. The odd meatball and the inimitable Billy bookcase aside, we’ve managed to keep this covenant due to the infinite variety of antique shops to be found in Sheffield.

The six antiques centres and a score of independent shops spread over the Queens Road/Broadfield Road/Abbeydale Road triangle have been branded the Sheffield Antiques Quarter, with a handy pamphlet and website mapping out a browser’s paradise, a world away from the city centre.

The Grade II listed Heeley Bank Antiques Centre is worth a visit for its beautiful interior as well as its varied stock. Covered from floor to ceiling in exquisite tiles, it harks back to the Victorian age, when banking decor was more carved wooden booths than grey carpet tiles. Nearby, the generous proportions of Langton’s Antiques and Collectables allow for everything from some serious militaria (generally surrounded by a group of armchair Field-Marshalls) to vintage jewellery. I particularly love their collection of blue and white striped Cornishware, but can take or leave the lurid Lorna Bailey collectables.

Chapel Antiques provides a showcase for French Affair, whose huge upholstered beds could make a chateau out of any Sheffield terrace, provided you can manoeuvre one up the stairs. It also provides a home for Take a Seat, an upholstery service which stocks plush fabrics in every shade, to reinvigorate chairs that are more shabby than chic. Next-door, the Sheffield Antiques Emporium is home to the '50s Funhouse, relocated from Langton’s along with its kitsch sideboards and colourful punch glasses. Close by, a rail of sleek fur coats, debutant frocks and elegant silk scarves speak of Hollywood glamour. Over the road, the labyrinthine Sheffield Antiques Centre specialises in Bakelite railway signage and stylish garden paraphernalia, among its many other delights.

A relatively new kid on the Abbeydale Road block is Vintedge, showcasing a considered collection of retro furniture, curios and second-hand vinyl, plus a vintage hair salon catering for all your kiss-curl and quiff needs. Vintedge is also home to craft beer shack the Hop Hideout. Further down the street, the intimate Honeysuckle at Home is a well-curated display of vintage homeware, from floral curtain fabrics to ornate glassware and '60s coffee tables. Across the road, Encore's covetable shelves of art history, music and philosophy books will keep you occupied far longer than you may expect from a shop so small. In marked contrast with these more selective outlets is Dronfield Antiques, so packed to the gunnels that only intrepid shoppers, patient enough to sort the wheat from the chaff and slim enough to weave between the stacks of furniture, need apply.

If all this bargain hunting has left you a little peckish then fear not: most of the centres come with a cafe pumping out homely soup and baking smells across the shop floor. That said, I can never resist a visit to Bragazzi's, conveniently situated at the end of the trail and replete with juicy Italian sandwiches and the best coffee in Sheffield. Jameson's, meanwhile, leans in a more traditional English tea room direction, and serves a generous slice of cake. Do yourself a favour and pick up a rye loaf and a confectioners-custard donut or two from nearby Forge Bakehouse while you’re at it. Man cannot live on retro knick-knacks alone.

Photos by Mark Howe for Our Favourite Places.

Written by Sarah Cockburn; June 10, 2014