This building stands in one of Sheffield’s most historic parts and survives in an area that has changed considerably in the past eighty years. Thanks to the Blitz, the Hole-in-the-Road and Supertram, the environs show no resemblance to the day it was constructed.
These days we know it as The Banker’s Draft, a Grade II listed building, in Market Place, one of the first J.D. Wetherspoon pubs to open in Sheffield, but its origins goes back to the turn of the twentieth century.
In the old days, the three landmarks of Sheffield were the Castle, the Market Place and the Parish Church. When tradesmen recognised the Castle as less than a means of protection, they started clustering around the Market Place (or The Shambles), a place where they could face anyone proceeding towards the church, by means of High Street.
Markets had been held here since 1296, and its original buildings were replaced with picturesque timbered latticed gabled properties about 1752, and again around 1812.
Once, amidst the atmosphere of drapery, leather, grocery and hats, the place had a banking tradition, one that repeated itself later. Hannah Haslehurst and Son, departing from ancestral grocery, founded The Sheffield Old Bank on this spot, but it collapsed in 1785.
In 1901, the Market Place area was described as ‘an aching void,’ sharing the fate of similar early 19th century buildings, the homes of humble traders, that were demolished to make way for the York City and County Bank.
The bank was designed by Walter Brierley (1862-1926), a York architect, described as being the ‘Yorkshire Lutyens’ or ‘Lutyens of the North.’ He created 300 buildings across the north between 1885 and his death, mainly family mansions, churches, schools and banks. Brierley was also architect for North Riding County Council and the Diocese of York.
Construction started in 1901, the contractor being Sheffield-based George Longden and Son, and was finished in 1904.
Described as being Edwardian Baroque, built in Aberdeen granite and Italian marble, its interiors were lavish. A parquet floor was laid by the Acme Wood Flooring Company of London, with furnishings supplied by Goodall, Lamb & Heighway, manufacturers of high quality furniture, upholsterers and carpet warehousemen from Manchester.
Quite forgotten, is that the York City and County Bank had bought more land than it really needed. It rented out offices on the first, second and third floors, as well as the spacious basement (where remains of old stables can still be seen).
However, it was also proposed to build a first-class hotel next door, also designed by Brierley, that was never erected, probably the result of a long dispute with the council over its alcohol licence.
The York City and County Bank (established 1830) amalgamated with the London Joint Stock Bank in 1909, which itself merged with the London City and Midland Bank in 1919.
Despite the area being mostly destroyed during the Sheffield Blitz, the Midland Bank (as it became) survived unscathed, and remained open until 1989, before relocating to the end of Fargate.
Standing empty for a while, it was bought by J.D. Wetherspoon, operating as The Banker’s Draft ever since.
Walter Brierley was the architect who designed several buildings in the village of Goathland, North Yorkshire, that were seen during the opening credits of ITV’s Heartbeat (1992-2010).
Market Place is now commonly known as Castle Square. However, Market Place is officially the paved area running in front of The Banker’s Draft, between High Street to Angel Street.