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Local News

The Sheffield 83A bus takes you from richest to poorest areas in the city – so we rode it to see the changes


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Having grown up in the outer suburbs of Bristol, I – like most people who don’t live within walking distance of a city centre – am very used to relying on buses to get about.

For years, I spent my mornings and afternoons busing it to and from college in Bristol city centre.

I used to enjoy this 45 minutes of time spent to myself, headphones in to dissuade anyone from talking to me, in true southern fashion (or maybe just typical of being a moody teenager!)

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The bus journey, which passed from the affluent suburban areas through the urban inner-city spots, was also a way to remain familiarised with the city in which I lived.

I didn’t have this experience when I moved to Sheffield.

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My bus journey to and from university, and then to and from work, and then to and from the train station when I got my second job in Derby, passed through the same route every time.

As a result, I spent the first few years of my time in this city only seeing one small part of it.

So, when my editors asked me to hop on the number 83/83A bus and write about the way the city changes along that route, I was quite looking forward to seeing where it would take me.

Now, full disclaimer, I am no fan of buses – yes, I enjoy sitting down for a while and watching the world go by, but I would still much prefer to jump in my car and not have to faff about waiting for my ride to turn up, usually in the rain.

But I got lucky this time, it was a sunny Friday morning when I arrived at the bus stop in Fulwood to catch the 83A to Ecclesfield – just as well, because I had to wait nearly 30 minutes for the bus to show.

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I had been told that this bus route went from one of Sheffield’s most affluent neighbourhoods to some of its least, with spots such as Burngreave and Firshill along the way.

So I kept my eyes peeled for the part of the journey where the city changed; where the lush, leafy greenery of Fulwood and Ecclesall fell away to reveal grey, urban decay.

Pictured is the bus stop in Fulwood Road
My journey started on Fullwod Road

I was almost surprised when that didn’t really happen.

One thing that struck me, as we passed alongside the Wicker riverside, is that Sheffield remains green and leafy – even in the heavily built up, urbanised areas.

I can only say that there was one area along the route that felt less ‘green’ than the others and this was the Moor Market, with dreary grey buildings all around which is really quite typical of a city centre anyway.

The bus then drove along Arundel Gate and town was busy and bustling, as one would expect on a Friday afternoon.

Strangers on the bus were chatting away happily about the weather and their plans for the rest of the day, it is easy to forget the fleeting sense of community that can be fostered on a short bus journey – at least here in the north, anyway.

The bus driver stopped to tell everyone that he would be diverting around Firshill as there had been an accident, I was later told that this meant I had missed the “roughest” part of the journey.

Pictured is litter next to a bus stop in Herries Road
There was an increase in litter along the way

As the bus headed down towards the law courts, I was confronted by the first real bit of urban decay of the journey – as vacant buildings, covered in grafitti, stood looking rather bleak on litter-strewn streets.

By the time we arrived in Burngreave, the street litter had become much more pronounced but, still, the city remained green and leafy, still looking rather pleasant in the sunshine.

I recognised the street that we were on, as I had spoken to some residents here a few weeks back about what life in Burngreave was like and one lady had told me that she loved the area.

“We’ve lived here going on 50 years, there is a sense of community spirit around here and everyone’s friendly”, said Brenda Anderson.

She told me that everyone in the area would smile, wave and say hello as you passed them and, sitting on a bus going through this same area, I could see how that might be – people were sat outside their houses, drinks in hand, children playing happily in their front gardens.

Though many of the houses were untidy, with sofas or other bits and bobs in the gardens, the sense of community was quite clear to see – neighbours chatted over their garden fences and we passed two women doing a spot of gardening together.

The bus then headed towards the Northern General and through Norwood, past rows of pebble dashed semis, betting shops and chippies.

The shopping area in Norwood
The shopping area in Norwood

By the time we got to Southey Rise, many of the houses had taken on a more ramshackle appearance in places, though these were interspersed with tidy newbuilds and homes adorned with well manicured front gardens.

So far, this bus journey had only reassured me that you really cannot judge an area based on its reputation alone.

At the end of the journey, as the bus trundled through Cross Hill, I was admiring the houses – stone built and with green, cottage gardens in the front.

And when the driver got off ready to swap shifts, he told me that I had “missed the roughest estate on the route”, referring to Firshill.

I will have to withhold judgement there and take his word for it.

A dedicated project on the route – Fairness on the 83 – was launched in 2013.

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Written by: Rother Radio News

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