Memory, heritage, and the post steel city: Mediating the transformation of Sheffield since 1990

FENWICK, James and CORKER, Chris (2024). Memory, heritage, and the post steel city: Mediating the transformation of Sheffield since 1990. In: Mediating the Transformation and Decline of Industrial Cities. Routledge.

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This chapter examines the stakeholders involved in the mediation of Sheffield’s transition to a post Steel City from 1990 onward, considering three key case studies. The first focuses on the city’s Lower Don Valley, which was the site of the World Student Games in 1991. The urban planning company Sheffield Development Corporation (SDC), chaired by industrialist Hugh Sykes, had overseen the regeneration of Sheffield’s East End. Sykes was incredibly influential in crafting a vision of rebirth for Sheffield that centred on the introduction of retail and leisure. The SDC was a private company that had to collaborate with council leaders and departments, such as the Department for Education and Economic Development (DEED). The latter was crucial in selling the new vision of Sheffield being crafted by Sykes and the SDC in the early 1990s, using the World Student Games as an opportunity to show Sheffield’s new global confidence. The second case study focuses on the Sheffield One urban planning company in the early 2000s, a company in which Hugh Sykes was again influential, alongside public relations strategists. Sheffield One was focused on redeveloping the city centre, overseeing the completion of the Heart of the City regeneration programme and masterminding a new publicity campaign to convince both citizens and businesses of the potential for a New Retail Quarter. The final case study focuses on the new co-operative movements and independent businesses in the city in the 2010s that have taken on the role of urban regeneration. Specific attention is given to the project Leah’s Yard and the way in which it has embraced previous attempts to rebrand Sheffield, but doing so through the mythmaking process of memory, heritage, and independent craft making. The chapter makes use of sources held at the Sheffield City Archives, focusing on the records of the World Student Games, the Sheffield Development Corporation, and the Sheffield One partnership, alongside new promotional material for the Heart of the City II regeneration programme and the Leah’s Yard development. It primarily focuses on public relations material, as well as visual evidence (photographs and film footage), to consider the ways in which Sheffield’s transition to the post Steel City, and ultimately its deindustrialisation, was mediated to both the city’s citizens and to businesses and professionals outside of Sheffield in an attempt to convince them to relocate to the city. In doing so, the aim is to foreground the paradoxical nature of this process in which those ‘doing’ the mediating were simultaneously drawing upon Sheffield’s steel industry heritage, while also persistently searching for a new future and identity.

Item Type: Book Section
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2024 11:18
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2024 17:00

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