St. George’s Church

The tower of St. George’s Church, Portobello, now owned by the University of Sheffield and used as a lecture hall and three floors of student accommodation.

The church was built between 1821-1825 using money provided by the Church Building Commission, the result of the Church Building Act of 1815.

Designed by Woodhead and Hurst, the church was built by Thomas Flockton of Rockingham Street, Sheffield. The foundation stone was laid by Thomas Sutton, Vicar of Sheffield, and consecrated in 1825 by Edward Venables-Vernon-Harcourt, Archbishop of York.

During the construction of the 140ft high tower, St. George’s claimed the lives of two workmen.

In 1823, apparatus used to draw stones up to the tower was being dismantled, when part of the machinery gave way, precipitating three workmen onto rafters of the floor below. James Bower was dreadfully crushed and dead within minutes, his two colleagues being seriously injured.

Further tragedy occurred a year later, in 1824, when a plank on which Charles Lee, a labourer, gave way, causing him to fall to the bottom of the tower. He pitched onto beams and died a few minutes later, after being removed to a nearby public house, and before medical help could arrive.

St. George’s closed in 1981 and stood empty for thirteen years, its condition deteriorating, until bought by the University of Sheffield in 1994, and restored.