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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Alex Woodall

Our Favourite Places would be nothing without our contributors — a massive thanks to all of them!

Tell us about you…
I am so excited to be back in Sheffield. As of September 2019, I’ve just moved back to the city to start working as a Lecturer in Arts Management at the University of Sheffield after three years (in exile?!) in Norwich. Prior to being an academic, I’ve worked in various art galleries and museums, mostly managing interpretation, learning and exhibition programmes, although I was also a secondary school teacher for a while. I’m a keen singer with the wonderful Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, and I enjoy exploring all sorts of culture – from the Crucible to the Folk Forest, Music in the Round to the Foundry, the Showroom to Site... And I love all the little things that just pop up and happen throughout the year – not least the explosion of new food places. I love travel – particularly to India, and am lucky that my research lets me combine a love of exploring places and quirky collections, with writing about them.

What does Sheffield mean to you?
I grew up in Dorset but Sheffield is home now. It took moving away to East Anglia for three years for me to realise that I had to come back to Sheffield, because it really is home. Such is the mysterious pull of the city. There is nowhere friendlier, more welcoming, a place happy to be completely unassuming, and it is all the better for it. My Mum was born on Clarkehouse Road and her family originally came from Thurgoland, just north of the city: a builder of Yorkshire stone walls, workers at Fox’s steel, a teacher of infants - and somehow I like to think that they have brought me back here.

What’s your favourite Sheffield place?
The Bole Hills. That view. It feels like the edge of the world, standing on a cliff (alas with no sea), looking out to the Peaks, being buffeted by the wind. I lived just at the top of the hill for 11 years, loving being in Crookes and seeing all the changes over the last few years. There’s a wonderful sense of community. Crookes is a village, but the whole of Sheffield is too. I can’t believe that even after three years away, I’m bumping into people I know all the time. That just doesn’t happen in other places. The proximity to the wild is amazing: I can walk from my house and be in the countryside in 10 minutes.

What would you do to improve the city?
I would sort out the recycling situation: that is one thing that other cities seem to do better. In Norwich, we could recycle all our different plastic tubs and pots for example, and all recycling just went in one bin. Also, the arts and culture here need constant investment and support: without culture our lives are emptier, less creative, less social, less well. I’d love to see more resources for the Graves Gallery – not least for its infrastructure and central heating issues, let alone for collections development and programming. We lack a decent mid-sized concert venue with really good acoustics for classical singing and concerts. So maybe some kind of better concert hall.

Latest contributions

Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things

Thu. 20 May 2021 — Sun. 4 July 2021

Millennium Gallery

An exhibition of glittering portraits by Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), portraying the elite class at play in the decadent 1920s and 30s. Read our review.

Hagglers Corner

Indian-inspired cafe by day, lively music venue by night. Hagglers' bunting-strewn courtyard is also lined with an array of indie businesses, from a yoga studio to a florist to a music school.