Ron: “It’s not the steel city, it’s the student city.”

By Charlotte Wilson

Ron Clayton, 63, a Sheffield historian, is fulfilling his lost childhood by taking students on historical tours of the steel city.

Ron was born with bronchitis, and as a result his parents had to move from Hillsborough to Wadsley to get to higher ground, away from the pollution that was so heavily thick in the 50s and 60s.

Ron Clayton profile

Ron struggled with his bronchitis and as a result he couldn’t always keep up with the other kids, particularly during PE classes.

“I just didn’t have the lungs for it. It definitely held me back, I missed out on much of my primary education and I missed out socially as well.”

Ron Clayton younh
Ron’s school photo aged 10, before he was home schooled. Credit – Ron Clayton.

“I didn’t get to go to Christmas parties at primary school and I had to get home tutored. So I definitely missed out on a lot as a child. In a way, I still feel like a big kid.”

Ron says that he missed out socially while growing up and that it took him a long time to find his passion for history.

“My mum wanted to wrap me up in cotton wool so I was quite naïve about life. I went on to work in the civil service but I’m still trying to find my passion, and that’s why I took more of an interest in history.”

Ron takes students on tours around Sheffield and teaches them about the history of the steel city.

“It’s not the steel city anymore, it’s the student city, and that’s not a bad thing. I don’t have any kids so if I can pass on something to the students of the city, then I’ll feel quite accomplished.”


Wadsley is often referred to as Wisewood. Ron wants to bring the Wadsley identity back to Sheffield and he is bringing to light the Wadsley Arts Festival being held in June at Wadsley Church, as well as the PictureSheffield  website where Ron has an archive of Wadsley.

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