Alex Woodall: UGN5-007


The Hole in the Road, Part 3

When I first adopted my slides, I did a mini Facebook survey to see what my Sheffield friends remembered about this amazing landmark of Sheffield gone by.

I think some of them will probably remember this exact shop and its amazing displays and lurid colours. The colour of goldfish?

I didn’t realise that there was a painting of the Hole in the Road by Anthony Lowe in the collection of Museums Sheffield (thank you Liz W) which you can see here:

‘You must mention the fish tank!
‘ said Amy. And this is something Rachael remembers too: ‘ I remember visiting from abroad when I was younger, the fish tanks and the fact that you see outside in the middle. I used to visit the sweet shops as we loved UK chocolate and didn’t have much of it in Africa.’

Kerry reminisces about these things too – amongst other less salubrious delights: ‘It smelt of a mixture of diesel, urine and greasy food. Tramps used to sit in the middle, passing around bottles of cider. It had shops down there; my parents went there to buy cut price cigarettes, while I pestered them to buy me sweets. It had loads of entrances and was a secret route into all the shops around, such as C&A and House of Fraser. They had window displays for the surrounding shops and a fish tank.’

Anna remembers walking past mannequins in the underground windows of House of Fraser, and one day stopping in her tracks as she realized that the mannequins for the women’s clothes were all actually male ones!

And my favourite from Chris, bringing the holes right up to date: ‘Everyone was so upset about the loss of the hole in the road that the council has replaced it with 10,000 holes in the roads.’

I remember once following a van driving through the city which had a sign painted on the back: ‘Welcome to Sheffield – Britain’s holiest city!’

And so it is. The Oyl Int Ruwad has been replaced by the era of the pothole.

Alexandra Woodall
PhD Researcher
School of Museum Studies
University of Leicester


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