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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Online Sheffield history tours


Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, photo by Gemma Thorpe

Sheffield heritage sites are closed for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still take a tour through the city’s history. Here's a roundup of well-researched online apps that use maps, oral histories and archive images to tell stories of people and places that have helped shape the city. Download them and uncover Sheffield’s past from your armchair or wherever you may be.

Abbeydale Explorer
Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is a unique 18th-century scythe-making works and a piece of Sheffield’s history preserved. Part of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, the site celebrates fifty years as a museum this year. While it’s currently closed to visitors, the hamlet is open to virtual exploration with the Abbeydale Explorer app.

Discover stories of the people who worked in the hamlet’s network of workshops and lived in its cottages, and get to know how they put its waterwheels and machinery to use. The app maps out the site, plotting narratives like the production journey of a scythe and a timeline of its development. Many of its features are designed for interaction when you’re actually there – like location-based alerts – but much of it can be enjoyed virtually. Take the ‘create your own virtual postcard’. Until you visit in person, you can always draw a picture based on what you’ve learned from the app, take a photo of the picture, upload it to the postcard, and email it to your family and friends.

Note: depending on your device, you may or may not be able to access the video content on the app. If not, each video is transcribed.

Download: Google Play / Apple App Store

The Sheffield Blitz

The Sheffield Blitz
Through evocative storytelling, a thorough timeline of events, and archival before-and-after imagery, this app takes you on a tour of Sheffield on Thursday 12th December 1940. Within hours that night, Luftwaffe bombers left hundreds of people dead and changed the face of Sheffield’s city centre forever.

The Sheffield Blitz app leads you on a self-guided tour from the bottom of The Moor to the National Emergency Services Museum, calling at thirteen key locations along the way. People who were there, like firefighter Doug Lightning, share their memories from the night in audio commentaries. Points on the route take you to accounts of places including Weston Park Museum – where, despite storing many artefacts underground, the impact of a bomb destroyed part of the gallery and left a mummy creepily dislodged from its case. Automatic location triggering helps tell the story when you’re out and about, but you can still access all content without doing the walk. A recreation of the map of where bombs were dropped in Sheffield also features (which many may remember seeing in print on the wall of Rare and Racy before the book/music shop was forced to shut down in 2017).

The app is produced by the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust and inHeritage, with writing by Bill Bevan, oral history interviews conducted by Neil Anderson and a team of volunteers, and build by Llama Digital.

Download: Google Play / Apple App Store

Sheffield: the Home of Football

Sheffield: the Home of Football
Created by Sheffield Libraries and Archives and built by Llama Digital, this app makes the case for Sheffield to be more widely recognised as the home of the beautiful game. It’s a location-triggered walking route, covering 4.7 miles and visiting ten places that played a part in shaping football both in Sheffield and around the world.

You can also follow the route from home, as audio clips, written accounts and archival snaps tell stories of historic moments from football’s early days. The creation of the world’s oldest football club (Sheffield FC). And its second oldest (Hallam FC) – because a club needs someone to play against. The city’s establishment of a rulebook in 1858, and how it had a major influence on how the modern game developed. The now long-gone grounds where association football matches were held. The first ever game played under floodlights.

Download: Google Play / Apple App Store

If you know of any other Sheffield online history tours/apps to add to this list, get in touch!

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