On the popular Bus Ride Round Attercliffe trips that I run in conjunction with South Yorkshire Transport Museum, we regularly make a stop at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, to show that the Lower Don Valley has begun an astonishing transformation since the demise of the heavy steel industry in the early 1980s.
Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, the Institute opened in December 2003, funded by Sport England and managed by Sheffield City Trust (successor to SIV Ltd), a Health and Well Being Charity. It’s newer than the Arena and the demolished Don Valley Stadium which were built for the 1991 World Student Games. It’s even newer than the nearby IceSheffield, designed by the Building Design Partnership and opened in May 2003.
It has and continues to provide training facilities for an impressive array of champions, including Sheffield-born heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, boxers Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams and the Paralympian table-tennis player Will Bailey, as well as sixty local sports clubs and seventy thousand local school children a year.
The initial cost of the facility was £28 million, and the Institute aims to balance usage at 90% local community to 10% elite athletes.
A quick guided tour shows Bus Ride passengers, many of whom grew up in Attercliffe after the Second World War, the facilities for boxing, wheelchair basketball and – most impressive of all – the huge 200-metre indoor running track.
Though we’ve had to pause individually-booked Bus Rides because of increasing bus-hire costs I’m looking forward to offering heritage bus-ride experiences to groups from outside Sheffield in future, and in the ‘Sheffield’s Industrial Heritage’ tour I plan to take people first of all to Magna, to see the hot, dark, dangerous spaces where workers spent their days in the steel industry and then, for contrast, to EISS to experience the light, clean, air-conditioned spaces in which people exercise and perfect their sport skills in the twenty-first century.
The Valley has come a long way within a lifetime, and I want to present this in as dramatic a way as possible.
The ‘Sheffield’s Industrial Heritage’ bus tours for groups are arranged as bespoke itineraries, and Magna and EISS may not always be available because of major events taking place. On occasions the Bus Ride may visit other equivalent buildings in the city centre or the Lower Don Valley. For further details please click here.