In the days before YouTube a short promotional video was produced by Sheffield Council. As you would expect, it’s upbeat, it provides a few flashbacks into how we saw ourselves back then, AND it has Carry On music!
Even in 1969 it seemed obvious that steel was important but a diminishing part of what the city was all about, and we learn leisure and tourism aren’t new ideas to try to make a city more vibrant. No modern video would seriously reference bubonic plague, but Peter Wigley, Sheffield Council’s first PR and marketing man did just that to sell the city. How successful it was is a matter of opinion, but when it was produced in 1969 the corporation seemed keen to jam in as many messages as possible, even if some of them were a little bit odd and misplaced.
Childhood memories of the Sheffield Christmas illuminations always seemed better, but checking the video seems to confirm that there were more of them. The Sheffield Show in Hillsborough Park is now just a distant memory as is the Star Walk, and it’s almost laughable to see the M1 motorway and Sheffield Parkway devoid of traffic.
Sheffield University’s target of having 10,000 students in Sheffield by the 1980’s is in stark contrast to the current Sheffield student population of over 60,000. Slum clearances were a big deal in the 60’s and the now maligned architecture of Park Hill, Hyde Park and Norfolk Park take centre stage with references to how they provided modern homes for ordinary people.
It’s interesting to see familiar messages being references with the the Park Hill redux now being undertaken By Urban Splash. It reminds us that regeneration isn’t just a thing that happens once – it’s an ongoing activity that never really starts, and can never really end.
Time stops for no-one, and even though the PR style has changed over the years, the pride in what’s being done, and the level of ambition for the future remain undiminished in this amazing and versatile city.