Sheffield has more trees per person than any city in Europe, outnumbering people 4 to 1. It has over 170 woodlands covering 28.27 km² (6985 acres), 78 public parks covering 18.30 km² (4522 acres) and 10 public gardens. Added to the 134.66 km² (33,275 acres) of national park and 10.87 km² (2686 acres) of water this means that 61% of the 362.38 km² that the city encompasses is greenspace.
Sheffield also has more types of habitat than any city in the UK. As well as urban, parkland and woodland it has agricultural and arable land, moors, meadows and freshwater based habitats. Large parts of the city are designated as sites of special scientific interest including several urban areas.
Sheffield is located at . Historically, Sheffield was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire and, before this, the Saxon shire of Hallamshire. This area is now part of the county of South Yorkshire, and borders on Nottinghamshire's forests and the Derbyshire Dales.
The city lies directly next to Rotherham with the M1 designating much of the border between them. Although Barnsley Metropoliton Borough also borders sheffield to the north, the town itself is a few miles further. Directly to the west of the city is the Peak District National Park and the Pennine hill range. The southern border is shared with Derbyshire. Over the past hundred years this has been moved south as the Sheffield urban area has grown to encompass formerly rural Derbyshire villages.
The Sheffield metropolitan area includes the City of Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley which makes up the county of South Yorkshire as well as the small towns and villages of neighbouring North East Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire that make up the Sheffield city region which has a population of 1,811,701 in 2003. These include Eckington, Worksop, Killamarsh, Dronfield, Chesterfield and Bolsover. These areas all form an economic base for Sheffield.
Carboniferous rocks in Europe generally consist of a repeated sequence of limestone and/or sandstone, shale and coal beds. The Carboniferous coal beds provided much of the fuel for power generation during the Industrial Revolution. (Another natural source of fuel in the area was peat, the neighbouring peat moors having started forming around 10,000 years ago).
The coal-field in the West Riding of Yorkshire (of which Sheffield was traditionally part) was one of the chief sources of mineral wealth in the region. Several types of coal were present in the county, from bituminous (ideal for domestic heating) to "Thick Coal", of a semi-anthracitic quality, appropriate for use in iron-smelting and in engine furnaces. Associated with the Upper Coal Measures were valuable iron ore deposits, occurring in the form of nodules. Large quantities of locally occuring fireclay were also exploited, as well as gannister (a clay used to make refractory furnace linings).
The city of Sheffield derives its name from the River Sheaf which Until the 17th century was written as Scheth or Sheath. Sidney Oldall Addy equates the origins of this word with the Old English shed (as in water-shed) or sheth, which mean to divide, or separate. Historically, the Sheaf, along with Meers Brook and a minor tributary, Limb Brook, formed part of the border separating the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.
Limb Brook rises at the village of Ringinglow, flowing east to merge with the Sheaf and it was close to this point that part of the stream was diverted to provide the goit for the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet millpond.
The source of the River Sheaf itself is the union of Totley Brook and Old Hay Brook and its main tributaries are Porter Brook and Meers Brook. (Totley Brook passes south of Totley and meets Old Hay Brook at Needham's Dyke). The Sheaf flows northwards to join the River Don near Blonk Street Bridge in the city centre. This lower section of the River Sheaf together with the River Don, between the present Blonk Street and Lady's Bridge, formed part of the perimeter of Sheffield Castle.
Porter Brook´s source is just inside the Peak District National Park, to the west of the city, at Clough Hollow, also near Ringinglow. From here it flows eastward to meet the Sheaf, at a point now located underneath Sheffield Midland Station.
The River Don rises in the Pennines and flows for 112 km (70 miles) eastwards, through the Don Valley, via Penistone, Sheffield, Rotherham, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Doncaster and Stainforth. The river's major tributaries are the Loxley, the Rivelin, the Sheaf, the Rother and the Dearne.
The sources of the Rivers Loxley and Rivelin lie to the north west of Sheffield, on the Hallam moors above Low Bradfield. The Loxley flows eastwards through Damflask Reservoir and joins the Rivelin at Malin Bridge, before flowing into the River Don at Owlerton, in Hillsborough. The rivers are relatively fast flowing, especially the Rivelin, being fed by a constant release of water from the nearby moorland peat. The Rivelin´s flow was exploited for centuries as a power source, driving the water wheels of up to twenty industries (forges, metal-working and flour mills) the earliest of which dates back to 1600.
The River Rother rises at Pilsley near Clay Cross in Derbyshire, and from there flows northwards through the eastern suburbs of Sheffield to its confluence with the River Don at Rotherham. Its main tributaries are the River Drone, the River Hipper and the River Doe Lea.
Being at the confluence of several natural waterways, the development of a canal system marked an important evolution in the city's transport network, initially for commercial use and, more recently, for leisure activities. The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation (S&SY) is a system of navigable inland waterways (canals and canalised rivers) in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
The villages steadily grew around this industry. By the 18th century Sheffield had become a thriving market town and was already the country's leading cutlery producer.
However, in the 1930s Sheffield City Council and public benefactors such as J.G.Graves started buying rural land around Sheffield in order to protect it from developers. This was one of the earliest examples of greenbelt land.
Large parts of the city are industrial, mainly in north-east. These areas saw a large decline during the 1970s and 1980s. The Sheffield Development Corporation was created to arrest this slide. However most of the new developments, such as Meadowhall, are in the service industry. It was also the location for most of the venues for the World Student Games and now hosts the English Institute of Sport.
Although the vast majority of the green space is outside the main urban area, all the parkland and 14.00 km² (3459 acres) of woodland is within the urban area. The largest park is Graves Park at 0.83 km², closely followed by Endcliffe Park. The largest wood is Ecclesall Woods at 1.35 km² (340 acres).
Sheffield is made up of numerous districts that vary widely in size and history. Many of these districts developed from villages or hamlets that have become absorbed into Sheffield as the city has grown. For this reason, whilst the centre of most districts is easy to define, the boundaries of many of the districts are ambiguous. The districts are largely ignored by the administrative and political divisions of the city, instead it is divided into 28 electoral wards, with each ward generally covering 4–6 districts. The electoral wards are grouped into six parliamentary constituencies, although due to a different review cycle the ward and constituency boundaries are currently not all conterminous.
While the majority of the districts are within the main urban area of Sheffield some of the outlying areas remain separated by rural land. The largest such district is Stocksbridge and Deepcar, which contains around 13,500 people. The rural two thirds of the city contains under 3,000 people.
Due to the differences in altitude, the weather can be vastly different over various parts of the city. Deepcar and Stocksbridge tend to be among the first to receive snowfall and get heavier downpours.
|Avg high °C (°F)||5.5 (41.9)||6 (42.8)||8.5 (47.3)||12 (53.6)||15 (59)||18 (64.4)||19.5 (67.1)||19 (66.2)||17 (62.6)||13 (55.4)||8 (46.4)||7 (44.6)||12 (53.6)|
|Avg low temperature °C (°F)||1.5 (34.7)||2 (35.6)||3 (37.4)||4.5 (40.1)||6.5 (43.7)||10.5 (50.9)||12.5 (54.5)||12 (54.5)||10.5 (50.9)||7.5 (45.5)||4.5 (40.1)||2 (35.6)||6.5 (43.7)|
|Source: J. W. Baggaley, Director of Museums, Sheffield City Council|
It is, however, important to evaluate several aspects of air pollution, and especially to take into consideration overall average values, rather than localized peak values sometimes cited. The UK National Air Quality Information Archive offers almost real-time monitoring "current maximum" air pollution measurements for Sheffield (City Centre and Tinsley districts) as well as many other UK towns and cities. This source offers a wide range of constantly updated data, including those listed below.
Hourly Mean Ozone (µg/m³);
Hourly Mean Nitrogen dioxide (µg/m³);
max 15 min mean Sulphur dioxide (µg/m³);
8 Hourly Mean Carbon monoxide (mg/m³), and
24 Hour mean PM10 Particles (µg/m³ Grav Equiv)
The same website, developed on behalf of the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Devolved Administrations, presents an Air Pollution Banding and Index system, explaining, in simple terms, the Impact of the differing levels of the main pollutants on the health of people who are sensitive to air pollution (and also conversion factors between µg/m³ and ppb units).
The European Commission's COST Action C11 (European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) cites, in its conclusions on "Case studies in Greenstructure Planning" involving 15 European countries:-
" Sheffield is fortunate to have one of the strongest green structures of any city in the UK. This green structure, which at its core is linked by watercourses, underlies the City. The effectiveness of the river system as the core of the green structure is supplemented by: the agricultural area, the moorland, the woodlands and water features which lie outside the built-up area. The public open spaces within the built-up area and extensive private gardens, which cover much of the surface of the City outside its core area, are also linked to this system ",
" All the features of the green structure in effect work together to make the City more environmentally sustainable: for example, together they act as a sponge to reduce flash flooding; they support a relatively high level of biodiversity, particularly because of the extent of the gardens and the existence of the natural corridors along the rivers; the valleys drain cooler air down from the hilltops towards the city centre and the industrial areas beyond, improving air quality and also temperatures in the summer in the built-up core ".