One of Stocksbridge’s greatest claims to fame is that Arctic Monkeys singer/songwriter Alex Turner went to its high school. He could be a poster boy for the school motto: “Believe, Achieve, Succeed”.
Turner left in 2002 when Stocksbridge was still a very poor relation to Sheffield’s property hotspots such as Dore and Totley so he might be surprised to learn that the town and its surrounding villages are now officially “up-and-coming”.
In the noughties, buyers and sellers were mostly locals who traded up and down the property ladder. Now, everyone from first-time buyers and young families to downsizers are turning their attention to the area, which is 10 miles north of Sheffield city centre and sits on the edge of the glorious Peak District National Park and the Pennines.
According to estate agent Martin Tune of Simon Blyth’s Stocksbridge branch, people are waking up to the fact that it has good road links and amenities, along with stunning countryside.
The title of the Arctic Monkeys chart-topping first album “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” now seems most appropriate for this town.
“I worked down in Hillsborough six years ago and getting buyers to look at properties for sale up here was very difficult.
“They thought it was too far from the city centre but you can be on the M1 and in central Sheffield in half an hour and in Manchester city centre in an hour,” says Martin, who estimates that house prices in Stocksbridge have risen by over 10 per cent over the last two years.
He believes that the Tour de Yorkshire cycle route, which comes through the area, has helped raise awareness of its charms.
The hunt for better value has also played a big part in attracting buyers to the town, which is rimmed by the A616 bypass linking to both the M1 and to the Woodhead Pass, which leads to Manchester.
There has been talk of extending the tram system to Stocksbridge but until then there is a bus service to the tram at Middlewood, which travels into central Sheffield.
Many commuters feel it’s worth the effort as, although house prices have risen, they are still at least half that of the city’s most sought-after areas.
Three bedroom terraced houses start from about £100,000 and you can find post-war semis from £130,000 and detached homes from £175,000.
Much of the housing stock is mid-century but it has its fair share of terraced housing and cottages and a recent raft of new-builds in the Fox Valley regeneration area.
“I’m just amazed that it has taken people so long to appreciate what Stocksbridge and its villages have. They offer good value for money and a lot more besides. When buyers come up for the first time they are blown away by the views and the countryside,” says Martin Ware.
The biggest employer is Liberty Speciality Steels, formerly Tata, which is a leading aerospace metals manufacturer.
Many of its employees are part of the town’s strong and vibrant community. Its strength was apparent when the city council closed the leisure centre. Locals fought to reopen it and it is now run by and for the community.
Shopping is good. There is a popular high street and a Co-op store, which in 2016 were joined by the Fox Valley retail park. Along with pubs and restaurants, the town also has The Venue, a community and performing arts hub.
“Stocksbridge has pretty much everything you could want and more people are realising that,” says Martin Tune.