The Attractions In And Of Sheffield, A Steel City

Sheffield, England isn't loaded with tourist attractions. But it has it's own charm, and plenty of things to do. If you know where to look.

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Full Show Script

  • [pull my finger]

  • EVO: Our last show might have left you with the impression that there's nothing to do in Sheffield other than drink beer. True, they do have a brewery inside their train station. And it's also true that we sought shelter from the elements in more than one pub. But the weather got better, and we were able to leave the relative safety of the pubs to see more of the city.

  • SHE: Sheffield isn't exactly a hotbed of tourist activities, but it's not without its own attractions.

  • EVO: We took our new friend Kath -- she's the astrophysicist who bought us lunch last week -- and her husband Jeremy up on their offer to for an evening out. The destination was Owlerton Stadium, the local dog racing track. Sheila's recently departed grandmother was a huge fan of watching the greyhounds run, so our visit with Kath and Jeremy felt a little like we were paying our respects to her at the same time. This one's for you, Jeri.  

  • [Race] 

  • EVO: By our voices, you might think we had lots of money riding on the race. You would be wrong. We only bet once, £2 on a 75:1 longshot. And that dog didn't win, in case you were curious. But we still had a great time, and are now even more confident in our decision to not become professional gamblers. I guess we'll have to find another way to fund our traveling lifestyle.

  • SHE: Sheffield is known as a steel town. But even before the industrial revolution, Sheffield had a history of metalworking.

  • EVO: Cutlery, to be exact. Situated just a few miles from the city center is The Shepherd Wheel, a free museum. I know, I know... I'm not all that great with museums. But you won't find paintings hanging on the wall here. Instead, you find a nearly fully-functional water-powered industrial complex, where the power from the turning water wheel is converted to energy for a myriad of belts and pulleys. You're hearing them under this right now. For over 500 years, these belts and pulleys turned dozens of polishing and grinding stones for craftsmen with a singular purpose: Sharpening and polishing blades. 

  • [Wheel]

  • EVO: Sheila posted one of her One Minute Memories so you can see the belts and pulley system. Volunteers keep it running almost exactly as it operated hundreds of years ago. I know it's a little crazy for me to keep blathering on about something you can do with a gadget in your kitchen drawer, but it's really, really cool. Check it out if you get to Sheffield.

  • SHE: It can get a bit dreary in England, where the trees are without leaves for half the year. 

  • EVO: And that brings us to our final Sheffield "attraction", of sorts, the Winter Garden. As you'll hear our friend Bruce tell you in the next clip, it's smack-dab in the middle of the city center, and isn't a bad way to spend a few hours to get out of the rain, sleet, snow, gale-force winds or whatever form of weather England throws your way.

  • [Winter gardens]

  • SHE: Chances are, Sheffield's not on your list of vacation spots. 

  • EVO: But if you do find yourself in town, either for work or just passing through, we urge you to look beyond the gritty exterior. Yes, if Pittsburgh and Detroit had a baby, it would look a lot like Sheffield. But it's accent would be a lot cooler.  Cheers from Sheffield! 

  • SHE: We travel the world as The Opportunistic Travelers largely because of our generous listeners.

  • EVO: People all over the world pledge as little as five bucks a month, and in return, they get a hand-written postcard from us sent from wherever opportunity has taken us, every single month. Sign up today at TheOpportunisticTravelers.com/postcards.

  • SHE: We also stay for free most of our journey. No, we’re not super-stars or anything. We eliminate hotel costs and stay in some great cities by housesitting all over the world. Get our complete list of the actual housesitting sites we use every day at TheOpportunisticTravelers.com/stayforfree, and stop spending money on hotels when you travel, too. Thanks for listening to this episode. I’m Sheila Dee.

  • EVO: And I am Evo Terra. Our theme music is "On the Ground" by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. All other sounds, voices, and odd bits you hear were created by us. And this podcast is just the start of the audio, video, images, and written content we’re producing as we travel the world. Got an idea on how we could work together or a place you like for us to visit? Visit TheOpportunisticTravelers.com to get in touch. Now would be good.


New episodes of the The Opportunistic Travelers Podcast are available every Tuesday. Of course, "Tuesday" can be a very different thing depending on where we are in the world. Cheers!