Victoria Quays

Sheffield, England

Victoria Quays: its a busy life on Sheffield's waterfront.

Victoria Quays 8
- Tim Green

Exploring Sheffield's Victoria Quays

At the head of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and just a stone's throw away from the city's Castle Market, Victoria Quays is a historic canal basin turned waterfront hotspot filled with cafes, bars, offices, and more. Victoria Quays also has a number of Grade II listed buildings, including the original Terminal Warehouse dating back to 1819, the iconic Straddle Warehouse, a grain warehouse, and a terrace of coal merchant's offices.

Managed by the Canal and Rivers Trust, Victoria Quays, formerly known as Sheffield Canal Basin, is undeniably charming. Visitors can sip cocktails, stroll along the canal towpath, step onto a canal boat, explore the distinctive red-brick buildings, typical of Victorian industrial architecture, or enjoy the annual Waterfront Festival. And with the recent addition of the street art trail — colourful murals by local artists — there's always something new and exciting to discover along Sheffield’s Victoria Quays.

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- Marc Barrot

The History of Victoria Quays: Purpose and Decline

Victoria Quays was originally constructed between 1816 and 1819 to facilitate the transportation of goods from Sheffield to the rest of the country, via the extensive canal network. The types of goods transported included raw materials and finished goods such as steel, coal, and pottery. Its strategic location made it a vital link in the industrial chain, but as the industrial revolution progressed, the canal system gradually declined as more goods were moved along the rail network, and later by road.

By the 1970s, Victoria Quays had fallen into disuse and neglect began to take its toll on the once-thriving port. The warehouses were falling down and the whole site had become unwelcoming and dangerous.

Victoria Quays 3
- Tim Ellis

Transforming Victoria Quays in the 1990s

However, in the early 1990s, a revival was on the horizon as restoration efforts by British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust), breathed new life into the neglected site. Between 1992 and 1994, neglected warehouses and coal merchant's offices were lovingly restored and repurposed into vibrant cafes, bars, offices, and even a hotel. Among these stands the iconic Straddle building, a historic structure built between 1895 and 1898 by the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Company, which spans the entire canal basin and has been repurposed into office space and residential units.

As well as restoring the old buildings, new ones were added, and the Sheaf Works were transformed into a lively pub. Derelict railway arches found new purpose as shop units, and a marina was created along one side of the basin. The restoration project injected vitality into the area, turning it into a welcoming destination once again.

Victoria Quays 5
- Marc Barrot

Business at Victoria Quays

Today, Victoria Quays has a diverse business community. From international law firms like CMS to innovative technology groups like Servelec, the Quays buzzes with the energy of creativity and entrepreneurship. Local favourites like Victoria Junction Café and sandwich shop, Livingwell gym, and Hilton hotel provide essential services and amenities for both residents and visitors alike. And newcomers like Born & Raise Marketing Agency and Ovo Spaces, an award-winning interior design company, add fresh perspectives and creativity to the mix.

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- Industrial Wales

The Beating Heart of Sheffield

Beyond business, Victoria Quays is a place of culture perfect for socialising. The Dorothy Pax, a busy bar and live music venue, has quickly become a hotspot since opening its doors in 2017. Built from the timbers of a historic Sheffield keel, The Pax is as charming as it is historically significant, offering a unique space for live performances and events. Meanwhile, the Grade II-listed, Grain and Terminal Building has found new life as office space for Sheffield Creative Agency 'We Are’.

Victoria Quays 4
- Marc Barrot

The Waterfront Festival

After a hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Sheffield Waterfront Festival has returned to Victoria Quays. Organised in collaboration with Sheffield City Council, the festival is a day of family-friendly fun, live music, street performances, boat trips, and culinary delights. Split across two sites – Victoria Quays and Attercliffe – the festival hosts loads of activities, including guided walks, arts and crafts, theatrical tours, and much more.

Victoria Quays 7
- Steve Knight

Calder Valley Marine at Victoria Quays

Under the vision of Gordon Lambert, Managing Director of Calder Valley Marine, who recently purchased the site, Victoria Quays is poised to enter a new chapter of growth and development. Whilst the waterfront bustles with visitors sipping drinks in the sun, or wandering around taking in the historic buildings and serene views over the water, there are new plans to focus on Victoria Quays as a marina.

Calder Valley Marine, aims to provide everything a modern boater needs in the 21st century, from diesel gas and chandlery to new and pre-owned boat sales. And with a deal in place with Tyler/Wilson Boatbuilders, the Quays will soon be home to high-quality boat shells, showcasing the craftsmanship and expertise of some of the country's finest builders.

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- Industrial Wales

Visiting Victoria Quays

A visit to Victoria Quays has the potential for an unforgettable day out. There are a range of attractions and activities for all ages and interests. Here are some highlights:

  • Heritage Walks: Explore the quayside's historic buildings, from former warehouses to lock-keeper cottages, and learn about their fascinating stories through guided heritage walks.

  • Canal Cruises: Stepping onto a leisurely canal cruise allows you to experience Victoria Quays from a different perspective. Glide along, passing under charming bridges and past historic landmarks while soaking in the beauty of the surrounding area.

  • Dining and Shopping: There are so many cafes and restaurants to indulge your cravings along the quayside. And when you’re done, why not browse boutique shops and artisanal stores for unique gifts, souvenirs, and locally crafted goods.

  • Outdoor Recreation: The Quays is the perfect starting point for outdoor adventures. Get out on the water with SUP, kayaking, and canoeing experiences offered by DC Outdoors.

  • Events and Festivals: Victoria Quays isn't just about the marina and towpath – it's also a cultural hotspot that hosts events throughout the year. From the Sheffield Waterfront Festival to the monthly Quayside Market.
Victoria Quays
- Tim Green

Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Sheffield Treasure Hunts - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of England.


What you need to know

Victoria Quays
The Straddle Wharf Street, Sheffield S2 5SY
53.384624, -1.459744
Tips before you visit