As we discover the historic buildings of Sheffield, and the intricate sculptors that adorn many, the name of Frank Tory frequently appears.
Frank Tory and Sons were a firm of sculptors that worked on many of the city’s buildings from the early 1880s until the 1950s. Apart from stone, the family also worked in wood, marble, bronze and fibrous plaster.
Frank Tory (1848-1938) was a Londoner who trained at the Lambeth School of Art. He came to Sheffield in 1880 after accepting a commission from the 15th Duke of Norfolk to work on the new Corn Exchange.
The contract brought him into contact with architect Matthew Ellison Hadfield and his son, Charles, who encouraged him to stay in Sheffield and offered him several commissions.
Tory set up a studio amongst terraced houses, and was joined in 1901 by his twin sons Alfred Herbert Tory (1881-1971) and William Frank Tory (1881-1968).
The Corn Exchange was destroyed by fire in 1947 and demolished in 1964. However, some of his finest work can still be found at Parade Chambers (High Street), St. John’s Church (Ranmoor), Cairns Chambers (Church Street), Carmel House (Fargate) and the Cathedral of St. Marie.
Perhaps Frank Tory’s greatest work is on Parade Chambers, with decorative sculptures of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Caxton, created in 1883 for Pawson and Brailsford, printers and stationers (pictured).
Alfred and William were born on Winter Street and attended the Broomhill County School and the Weston Academy for Sons of Gentlemen. They learned their trade from their father, who also taught at the Sheffield School of Art.
While Frank Tory worked on some of the city’s finest Victorian structures, his sons were responsible for sculptures on twentieth century buildings, including Sheffield City Hall, the Central Library, the White Building (Fitzalan Square), Victoria Hall (Norfolk Street) as well as Leeds Civic Hall and Chesterfield Town Hall.
After their father’s death, the firm moved to Ecclesall Road, at a site that is now the Porter Brook pub, eventually retiring in the 1950s after which the firm was wound up.