Call for more transport links to unlock potential of up and coming Sheffield suburb 

Residents who have lived in Handsworth a long time will tell you how the place felt like a village when they were growing up.

Some describe how the place felt somehow separated and distinct from the rest of Sheffield.

Our Gym Jakobol, Unit 3, 3 Finchwell Close, Handsworth, Sheffield. Pictured are Jake and Sarah Bonsall. Picture: Chris Etchells

Our Gym Jakobol, Unit 3, 3 Finchwell Close, Handsworth, Sheffield. Pictured are Jake and Sarah Bonsall. Picture: Chris Etchells

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Today, with its parish church and the historic Old Rectory, the place still feels rather quaint in places.  

But make no mistake this eastern suburb of the city is growing.

Handsworth is handily nestled between the city centre and the booming Advanced Manufacturing Park in Waverley – both of which can be reached within minutes on the nearly Parkway.

Handsworth Road.

Handsworth Road.

The suburb sits within the Woodhouse ward, which according to the most recent census in 2011, is now home to almost 18, 000 residents.

With a growing population comes the need for better infrastructure.

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There are calls for the recently launched Sheffield to Rotherham Parkgate tram-train route to be extended to include Handsworth.

The Old Rectory house and gardens.

The Old Rectory house and gardens.

MP Clive Betts said: “There is an existing rail line that goes past which they should be looking at using.

“This would give the people of Handsworth fantastic links into the city centre and beyond, which would help to boost the economy.”

He believes this would also alleviate traffic build-up in the area, which has been another concern in recent months and further evidence that the place is in demand. 

The traffic headache for motorists has centered on Handsworth Road as people get to and from what is the city's biggest ASDA store.

The tram-train.

The tram-train.

But people complained locally and persuaded the powers that be to take action to re-position a bus stop, which has helped traffic to flow more easily. 

That sense of get up and go is personified by firefighter Jake Bonsall. 

The 35-year-old, along with business partner Ryan Denton, launched their 'community gym' in 2016.

They spent about £60, 000 transforming a former fish tank shop in Finchwell Close into their venture, called Our Gym Jakobol.

Jake is a busy man as he splits his time between working as a firefighter at Parkway Station and as a personal trainer helping people to get fitter and healthier at the gym.

He told how they have a 'pay as you go' policy, in which anyone can pay to use the facilities for the day without being tied down to a contract.

Our Gym Jakobol, Unit 3, 3 Finchwell Close, Handsworth, Sheffield. Pictured is owner Jake Bonsall.

Our Gym Jakobol, Unit 3, 3 Finchwell Close, Handsworth, Sheffield. Pictured is owner Jake Bonsall.

Since opening, about 1400 people have been through the doors and around 80 people use it regularly each week.

Jake said: “When we took it over there was graffiti all over the walls, it was fire damaged, and there was no electricity or plumbing.

“But we fixed all of that and made nice changing rooms, added in the gym equipment and a reception area.

“We get people aged in their 70s coming and we also get mums coming with their kids, there is a wide age range.

“There is a perception that gyms are always just full of bodybuilders but then when they come they are surprised at how friendly they are.

“Everyone here really gets along.”

He told how it is a source of pride for him to see people from all walks of life benefiting both physically, and mentally, from using the facilities.

He added: “With social media these days there is a lot of emphasis on image but joining a gym can do more than that.

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“I have suffered from anxiety and depression and keeping fit and healthy has really helped me and improved my confidence. Other gym members say they have seen the same benefits too.

“We really want this to be for the community and to use it as a way of promoting health and fitness and to help get youngsters off the streets and into doing some good.”

Clive Betts MP.

Clive Betts MP.