A cool reception

April 2, 2008 at 9:07 am | Posted in Sheffield | Leave a comment
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Tinsley Cooling Towers by Flickr user gavinic

As the Tinsley cooling towers outside Sheffield are soon to be demolished, The Guardian interviews two people who’ve been trying to save them:

From the window of the Sheffield Supertram, Tom James watches despondently as the city’s out-of-town shopping centre, Meadowhall, comes into view. Just beyond this mecca of consumerism, with its Disney-style dome and legions of parked cars, rises an altogether different landmark. The Tinsley cooling towers – bleak, elegant, real – are often the first and last thing people see as they enter and leave the city. But soon, like Sheffield’s industrial golden age, they will be consigned to history, demolished to make way for a new power station. James reflects: “Imagine, when the towers are gone, Meadowhall will be the only thing you’ll be able to see from the tram and the M1. How depressing.”

Sure, I’ve got a lot of love for these giant concrete cones. On the three hour drive from university, as soon as I saw those twin towers jutting out of the landscape, I relaxed in the knowledge that I was home. In a pretty drab and featureless part of Sheffield, they add character to the skyline and help divert attention from that god-awful corporate eyesore in the distance. They’ll be missed when they’re reduced to rubble.

That said, I can’t help feeling that romanticising what’s essentially a redundant instrument of Sheffield’s industrial past is borne of the same foggy-minded thinking that led to this grotesque-looking slum being made a grade 2 listed building (the biggest in Europe, for those keeping score). Also, these guys have it completely wrong when they question the council’s ability to support projects that transforms the city’s image. A walk around the city centre these days is a visual delight, and that’s all come from sustained investment and a coherent image of what they want it to look like. Whether the cooling towers are demolished, stay where they are or whether our own Angel of the North is erected in its place, none of it is a match for maintaining the regeneration programme that’s succeeding in making Sheffield a much better place to live.

Photo of cooling towers at Tinsley, Sheffield, taken by Flickr user gavinlc (Creative Commons)


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