The Anonymous Widower

The End Of The Don Valley Stadium

Sheffield’s Don Valley stadium was built for the World Student Games in 1991. It was never a real success and is now being demolished.

If there is a lesson from this story, it is to get the planning of what you do after the Games right. Manchester after the 2002 Commonweath Games rebuilt the stadium for Manchester City and the London 2012 Olympic stadium is going to be used by West Ham. Glasgow’s excellent 2014 Commonealth Games imaginatively built an Athletics Track inside Hampden Park. The Don Valley stadium didn’t seem to interest either or both of the city’s football clubs as a venue after the Games, so became a white elephant.

I do think a factor was that the stadium was designed in-house by Sheffield Council’s own architects. This policy was used extensively by British Rail and created some real monstrosities in the 1960s and 1970s.

By contrast the award-winning John Smith’s stadium in Huddersfield, which I visited in the afternoon and was built a few years later, was designed by specialist architects, as have most sports stadia around the world in recent years.

I do think too, that Sheffield missed a chance here of creating a prefabicated set of stands, in steel naturally, that would have fitted the standard athletics track. After the Games most could have been taken down leaving just enough for less-grand events. As the stadium is in a bowl, surely this could have been used to create an uncovered natural amphitheatre, where most people just sat on the grass. This has been used successfully at many horse racing venues in the UK and further afield, like Ascot, Goodwood and Epsom, where these areas have a totally different atmosphere.

In some ways it’s all rather sad and it has been probably a big waste of money, that could have been better spent. Athletics hasn’t drawn large crowds in the UK outside of the big set piece games and championships. The Alexander Stadium in Birmingham seems to be more than sufficient with a capacity of 12,700 for most other events, so the Don Valley stadium was probably a stadium too many for athletics. The nearest stadia at Gateshead, Manchester and the smaller track in Leeds, seem to have successfully negotiated multi-sport partnerships and appear to be on a much sounder footing, than the Don Valley Stadium ever was.

If they’d got the planning, re-use and design right, it might have been a very different story!

April 6, 2015 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Flows The Don

The tram-trains between Sheffield and Rotherham will join up to the Sheffield Supertram in the area of the Meadowhall South/Tinsley tram stop.

This Google Earth image shows the area.

Tinsley Area

Tinsley Area

Note the tram line marked by the blue symbol which shows the Meadowhall South/Tinsley stop, running down the map, with the single-track Tinsley/Masborough South Junction-Rotherham freight railway, splitting off to the right. Note the footbridge that rises from the tram stop and crosses the freight line, which you can see in the pictures. You can also see Meadowhall at the left and the M1 at the right and the various roads leading to and from Sheffield.

I took these pictures of the area.

Believe it or not, in the midst of all this chaos is a quiet area by the River Don.

For the eagerly awaited tram-train, a connection will need to be made between the tram line and the single-track freight line. There is little detail at present about how the connection will be made, but the freight line will have to be provided with some form of overhead electrification at either 750 V DC or 25kV AC. However, the Class 399 tram-trains will be able to use any handy voltage.

I’ve just found this page on the Network Rail web site, which is their home page for the creation of the Tinsley Chord which will connect the tram line to the freight line. I was able to create this map of the chord from one of their published documents, from the impressive and comprehensive site.

The Tinsley Chord

The Tinsley Chord

The new chord is shown in red and curves between the tram line at the left and the freight line, which goes off to the right.

Note that the Meadowhall South/Tinsley tram stop is the Sheffield side of the chord, so passengers going between Rotherham and Meadowhall could enter the Meadowhall Centre via Debenhams, as I did after my walk by the River Don.

Incidentally, Network Rail and their contractors will like working on this one, as sixty percent of the work is virtually indoors, as it is underneath the massive Tinsley Viaduct that carries the M1 over the area.

If you want to know how this chord underneath the M1 will effect the local bats, hedgehogs and newts it’s all laid out in this document.

Perhaps the best news of the project is contained in this recent report from the Sheffield Star, which is entitled Construction work planned for long-awaited £60m Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme.

The article hopes that tram-trains will be running in 2017.


April 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Liverpool Street To De Beauvoir Town

I regularly do this journey both ways to get to and from the main line station, which I regularly use to get a train to and from Ipswich.

Getting to the station has now got a lot better as the 21 and 141 buses that are the simple way now stop in Eldon Street by the station.

But coming back is getting to be an increasingly variable and difficult journey.

Take last night!

As I was watching Murray’s progress on my phone and the train from Walthamstow Central to Hackney Downs didn’t have any working announcements, I missed by stop in the dark and ended up in Liverpool Street at about nine o’clock. My normal route from the station these days is the reliable one taking the Metropolitan Line to Whitechapel and then getting the Overground to Dalston Junction, from where I get any of a number of buses to my house.

But last night the Overground wasn’t working due to Crossrail works and the last time on a Sunday night, I had walked to Moorgate to get a bus, I’d ended up walking all the way to Old Street to get one and then I’d waited for perhaps twenty minutes.

So I took the Central Line to Bank and luckily a 21 arrived in a few minutes to get me home.

Crossrail and the lengthening of platforms on the Overground, has made the last two or three years difficult, as you never know what you’ll find when you make the journey. Hence my going via Whitechapel, as on most days that is the most reliable.

It would help if Transport for London provided one stop that was never closed, especially as the only one that seems to be there all the time is the one by Bank, which requires a long walk or a one-stop Tube trip.

After Crossrail opens it will get better, as not only will Whitechapel-Liverpool Street be a fast one stop, but surely the 21 and 141 buses will be an easy and perhaps underground and covered walk from Liverpool Street.

Look at this Google Earth map between Liverpool Street and Shoreditch High Street stations.

Liverpool Street And Shoreditch Stations

Liverpool Street And Shoreditch Stations

Liverpool Street station is in the bottom left, where all the indicated Underground lines join and Shoreditch High Street is in the top right on the orange Overground line.

Surely something could be done to create a better walking route between the two stations.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment