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The Castlegate Regeneration Project


Although Sheffield is famed for steel production, the invention of stainless steel and an industrial and cultural heritage, the city has deep roots to the middle ages.
South Yorkshire has several motte-and-bailey castles. The majority have been constructed by earth and wood, however at least four were fortified in stone: Conisbrough, Peel Hill in Thorne, Tickhill and Sheffield.
As South Yorkshire was Earl Waltheof ’s power base, the majority of the above-mentioned castles are assumed to have their origins either during or after the Harrying of the North. It is believed that their main purpose was to impose Norman authority on a potentially turbulent area. If the first of Sheffield’s castles dates from this time then, presumably, this would have been its primary purpose.
Little is known about Sheffield Castle as there are few documentary sources to examine. It may well be the case that documents were removed or destroyed, either during the civil war or during the castle’s demolition. However Sheffield Castle was in no doubt a very significant site. It was large enough to accommodate Mary Queen of Scots and her entourage, which would also indicate that the castle was more than defensively adequate with the location being too far from the coast for the Spanish or French to spring a surprise attack, which would have been far more of a possibility for defences located closer to the coast or towards the Scottish border.
Sheffield Castle was demolished by Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian forces after the English Civil War. The Castle became largely forgotten over time to the extent that a century later, there was no trace of what had been the largest castle in South Yorkshire and one of the largest in England. The castle’s remains were covered during the 1960’s by the Castle Market
development with the only visible evidence being found in the market’s basements.
The Castlegate Regeneration Project has earmarked a significant step forward in Sheffield City Council’s plans to regenerate the Castlegate area. The ambitious plans to rediscover the lost castle have stimulated public interest in the site, especially in relation to archaeological digs to unearth the hidden remains. The project has also provided the opportunity to create a visitor attraction of historical interest as well as creating new green spaces for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.
The Castle Market closed in November 2013 as the new Moor Market opened its doors and market traders relocated to the new site. The Sheffield City Council are to invest almost £800,000 from its Capital Growth Fund to transform the area, as a digital hub, whilst derelict and vacant buildings are now being brought back into use along with the old town hall. This section of the city will also provide a new ‘green gateway’ to the central business, shopping and leisure areas of Sheffield. The second phase of the £5.8 million pound Grey to Green project has now commenced with a scheme to link Castlegate to the underused Victoria Quays area and transform the former inner ring road with sustainable drainage, floral meadows, segregated cycle lanes and public art. Contractor, North Midland Construction, began work after £5.8m funding was confirmed from the European Regional Development Fund, £2.8m of which is Sheffield’s City Region Local Growth Funding, as well as contributions from Sheffield City Council and the Canal and Rivers Trust.
The scheme will provide better links to the many hotels in Castlegate and improve bus, pedestrian and cycling access from the north east to the city centre and also towards Kelham Island.