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New research uncovers the impact of the 1966 World Cup on Sheffield


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The role of the 1966 World Cup in the promotion of Sheffield as an attractive, modern city in the north of England has been uncovered by a Leeds Beckett University researcher.

New research uncovers the impact of the 1966 World Cup on Sheffield

The new study, by Dr Tosh Warwick, a Lecturer in the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities at Leeds Beckett, explores the ways in which Sheffield, which played host to a number of FIFA World Cup matches in 1966, was promoted during the tournament, both in terms of traditional industrial heritage of the ‘Steel City’ and new developments afforded by post-war urban renewal in the city.

Dr Warwick said: “The final qualifying matches have just taken place for the forthcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia and there are currently ongoing events and efforts to bring similar large-scale cultural and international events to some of Yorkshire's major cities, including Hull City of Culture 2017 and Leeds’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2023.

"The research article highlights some of the benefits of bringing major cultural and sporting events to cities and the implications this can have for sharing and shaping internal and external perceptions of local identity and ‘northernness’. Hosting World Cup matches in the ‘Steel City’ involved a complex network of authorities, businesses, individuals and institutions that played a vital role in the development and delivery of small and large-scale events that sought to enhance and promote the northern city. Moreover, in highlighting the limited economic gain for Sheffield, I also focus on some of the challenges posed in converting positive impact on local people and internal and external perceptions of the city into financial benefit."

1966 World Cup Hillsborough Scoreboard Credit Sheffield Newspapers

Dr Warwick’s research, which will be published in the upcoming edition of the International Journal of Regional and Local History, shows how this major sporting event served as a platform for experiencing the provincial north of England by promoting post-war Sheffield as a modern, forward-thinking city.

Following an event held in Leeds last year on northern identity and history, and his appearance on BBC Radio Sheffield's 'Toby Foster at Breakfast' show discussing the 1966 World Cup in Sheffield, Dr Warwick embarked on the research study to delve further into the relationship between Sheffield’s role in the World Cup and the positive development of its identity and heritage.

1966 World Cup flags Credit Sheffield Newspapers

Drawing on extensive material found in the Sheffield Local Studies Library, including newspaper cuttings, local government records and business journals, his study details the city’s efforts to promote its industries through organised visits, and local attempts to provide ‘a Yorkshire welcome’ and change negative perceptions of a smoke-blighted, ‘very, very dull’ Sheffield.

In his article, Dr Warwick examines a variety of post-war developments, including responses to the newly-constructed Park Hill development, dubbed ‘the greatest single development of its kind in Western Europe’, boasting an ‘international reputation among architects and planners’, as well as the ways in which visitors responded to cultural attractions and the city's mixture of old and new buildings.

All images copyright Sheffield Newspapers

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