Thursday 29 September 2016

The Desire Paths in Sheffield

This weekend we will be out in Tudor Square, in front of the Crucible Theatre, drawing a giant map of the city centre renaming the streets of Sheffield.

As research for this, we’ve been reading The Sheffield Street Names Study Guide* by Mary Walton. It’s a really engaging tour of the city and the origins of its street names.
“Between the two roads ran several lanes, jennels, alleys and yards. A lane will admit some traffic; an alley has front doors in it; a jennel runs between the side walls of buildings; but a yard is a weird and wonderful thing.”
It’s full of great detail, from the brilliant fact that Bridge Street used to be called simply Under-The-Water because it used to flood a lot, to stuff you didn’t realise you were aware of until it’s pointed out to you: “Gate means street and Bar means gate.” (You can download it here).

It also confirms something we do all know. City centre streets were often named after a direction of travel (London Road), after the builder’s or landowner families, to commemorate military victories, or to indicate the activity or industry that they led to, what was made there. A street was known for one activity.

Street names were instructions as to what is made there, where they’ll take you, or they commemorate events from the past. But who gets to choose what events, which people, are honoured in the street names of a city?

Of course now the streets are busier, cities throng with pedestrians, and all of those people in the streets carry different hopes and dreams for their lives. Whilst there might not be as much manufacturing apparent in the streets of the city these days, there are plenty of new industries out there. And in the hearts and minds that travel along those streets, we are making the future.

So on Saturday that’s what we’re doing: commemorating the future. Renaming the streets of Sheffield after the hopes, dreams and ambitions of the people who live in them.

We hope you can come and join us.** And if you’re not in Sheffield follow our progress on Twitter and Instagram at #DesirePaths.

Third Angel presents
The Desire Paths
10am – 6pm on Saturday 1 October
(map left out until 4pm Sunday 2nd)
Tudor Square, Sheffield
Commissioned by Sheffield Year of Making

Created/produced/performed by
Hannah Butterfield
Lucy Ellinson
Hilary Foster
Nicki Hobday
Liz Johnson
Gillian Lees
Alexander Kelly
Stacey Sampson
Rachael Walton
Bethany Wells
Ellie Whittaker

With documentation by
Joseph Priestly.

With thanks to everyone at Sheffield Theatres and Theatre Delicatessen.

*published by and © Sheffield Libraries Archives and Information.
First Published in 1977. Reformatted and additional images added 2011.
Download it here:

**we’re providing rain cover, so come take shelter with us.