John Dodsley Webster

Here’s a name that keeps appearing on Sheffielder.

John Dodsley Webster (1840-1913), might not have been our best-known architect, neither was he responsible for Sheffield’s finest buildings, but his legacy was probably the most important.

J.D. Webster was born in Sheffield, received private tuition from Rev. H.D. Jones, Vicar of Heeley, and was later educated at Mansfield Grammar School.

Afterwards, taking up a career in architecture, he was articled to M.R. Mallinson, the Burnley ecclesiastical architect, later managing the Halifax office of Mallinson & Healey, after which he returned to Sheffield and spent time with Worth & Campbell.

Webster set up on his own soon after 1865 and along with his son, John Douglas Webster, who became his partner, practiced in Sheffield for nearly 50 years.

He became Diocesan Surveyor for the Diocese of Sheffield, and before that for the Archdeaconry of Sheffield when in the Diocese of York.

Unsurprisingly, with clerical interests, he was a prominent churchman, and for several years was warden at St. Mark’s Church at Broomhill.

Webster was the architect of St. Matthias’, Emmanuel Church (Attercliffe), St. Bartholomew’s (Burgoyne Road), Carbrook Church, St. Cuthbert’s (Fir Vale), St. Paul’s (Norton Lees), St Anne’s (Netherthorpe) and prepared the designs of extensions to Heeley Church.

Other works included Grenoside Church, the “Fox” Memorial Church (Stocksbridge) and the Trinity Church at Highfields (the last regarded as one of the best examples of its class).

With his son, he also designed St. Augustine’s Church (Brocco Bank), St. Oswald’s (Millhouses), St. Timothy’s (Crookes) and St. Clement’s (Newhall).

In addition, his name can be ascribed to Gleadless School, now vacant on Hollinsend Road, Woodhouse East, on Station Road, and Woodhouse West, at Sheffield Road.

A fellow of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), his best-known works were the former Jessop’s Hospital, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and extensions to the Royal Infirmary and Ecclesall Union.

In Clarkson Street, at the corner with Western Bank, is the oldest surviving part of the Children’s Hospital which moved here in 1878. J.D. Webster was one of the hospital founders and chairman of its management committee.

The Jessop’s Hospital for Women, on the north side of Leavygreave Road, opened in 1878, a rather forbidding building in late Gothic style, that lost the top stage of its central tower during the Second World War, but survives as the University of Sheffield’s Department of Music.

Unfortunately, Webster’s Edwardian wing of 1902 was demolished, despite Grade II-listing, in 2013. The site is now occupied by The Diamond, the university’s futuristic home to the Faculty of Engineering.

There are few examples of Webster’s work in the city centre, but those that survive are passed on a regular basis by locals.

The Davy’s Shop in Fargate (1882) is now home to W.H. Smith, the Bainbridge Building on Surrey Street (1894) was most recently occupied by Halifax Bank, and the attractive St. Paul’s Parade building at the side of the Peace Gardens was completed in 1901.

Around the corner, in Norfolk Street, is the original frontage to the Central Hall for Sheffield Workmen’s Mission (1899), later becoming New Central Hall, the city’s first cinema, and now occupied by Brown’s Bar and Brasserie.

J.D. Webster practised at 19 St. James’s Street and lived at Sunbury, on Westbourne Road, at Broomhill.

He died in October 1913, aged 74, and was succeeded by his son, John Douglas Webster