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Foraged food dining and 900 years of industrial history: inside the new hipster capital of the North

There’s a hipster tattoo parlour, a restaurant that serves foraged food to diners seated inside a repurposed shipping container, a vinyl record shop, an independent brewery, and far too many cocktail bars to consider counting.

It’s all in Kelham Island in Sheffield, an area that once had a rich industrial history, before becoming a wasteland. It has seen a dramatic and creative regeneration in the past few years, with developers racing to build homes and offices, and is now ranked as one of the hippest places to live in the country.

“It’s changed massively,” says Peter Lee, from the Sheffield-based estate agent RedBrik. “Anyone who hasn’t been there in a few years is wowed by the transformation. There are apartments overlooking the river, lots of trendy places to go out, and it’s attracting lots of young professionals.”

New millennial-run businesses are nestled among former industrial buildings and relics that are reminders of the island’s rich 900-year history.

A giant Bessemer converter – the first machine used for making reel in industrial quantities and invented in 1856 – sits on the river bank, near one of two sourdough pizza restaurants, which serves cocktails in jam jars.

A design and communications company’s offices sit in The Chimney House, a historic landmark on the island that also functions as a wedding venue, opposite new-build flats with balconies that overlook the reedy waterways.

The area was recently rated by the TravelSupermarket website as one of the top 10 “hippest hang-outs” in the UK. Buyers and renters are attracted to the island not only for the creative culture, but also the below-average prices. Developer Aspen Woolf is building two blocks of flats there, Kelham Works and Cornwall Works, where homes start from £89,995.