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Then and Now, Hillsborough

Posted by: Maria Iliffe
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The Yorkshire suburb that is rich in history and restoration

Originally named after the Earl of Royal Hillsborough, confusingly in Northern Ireland, this Yorkshire suburb is rich in history and stories of restoration. Giving credit to the steel and engineering boom in Sheffield, there was a suburban housing demand which initiated restoration from the flood of 1864. When Dale Dyke Dam burst the towns of Loxley, Don Valleys and Hillsborough were ruined by a wall of water; houses and business were flooded and people were wading through the streets. However, after the re-builds the village set track on a gradual incline of development, leading it to be the thriving spot we know today.

 

Now standing as Rawson Spring public house: a popular Weatherspoon’s in the centre of Hillsborough, this gorgeous stone building was once known as Hillsborough Baths. Built by architect F.E.P. Edwards, the building remained a swimming bath until 1991 when it was replaced by the Hillsborough Leisure Centre. Like the village itself, the building was repeatedly transformed to reach its current state and prior to being a Wetherspoons, the bath was converted into The Deep End, one of the most popular music venues in Sheffield.

 

The current-day Hillsborough Library sits proudly within parkland in the north-Sheffield suburb. But the Grade II listed mansion-like building seems a little grandiose for a humble library. The mansion had remained a residential dwelling for 124 years until it was eventually opened to the public as a library in 1906. The surrounding land purchased by the council became Hillsborough Park. Spanning across 20 hectares, the park is one of the village’s most popular attractions, so much so that Tramlines Festival moved here from the city centre in 2018. The move allowed the festival to expand to a capacity of around 30,000, subsequently attracting bigger acts to the stages and more publicity to the area. Likewise, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club bought a second parcel of land at auction. The plot across the river Don from the Hillsborough Park became Hillsborough Stadium, which remains the club’s home today.

 

Originally opening in 1877 the trams were initially moved by horse and cart, but the electric tram was introduced in 1903, proving a big a big boost to the development of the suburb. Hillsborough interchange is now nothing alike to the old tramlines, with numerous routes and rails taking residents and commuters around at speeds unimaginable when they were first created. However, they are still considered a primary cause for the development and improvements of Hillsborough, making it the thriving suburb we know and love.

 

The roots of Hillsborough will always be drenched in history and those affected by the tragedies will never be forgotten, however the city is not what it used to be… it’s much better! Residents are excited by the prospects of more independent shops and unique businesses. The village was lacking modern attractions but now a host of new cafes and restaurants have opened up, visitors and villagers alike are enjoying Orange Bird and Polish eatery, Molly’s Café and Deli and Pangolin.

In addition to the new businesses, Age UK Sheffield will open their new café in 2022, though the restoration of the derelict Old Coach House building. Costing £1 in renovations, the building located next to Hillsborough Library, will become a dementia friendly café for the elderly.

 

The village retail centre has also changed a lot, with the building of the Hillsborough Exchange and the revitalisation of the 19th-century barracks as a shopping area. However, it’s still proud to provide residents and commuters with everything they need, standing as the main shopping centre in the suburbs and adding to the growing list of what Hillsborough has to offer.

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