We are coming up to the time when some of Sheffield’s modernist buildings are commemorating fiftieth birthdays. One such is Redvers House, recently renamed Redvers Tower, built in 1971 on Union Street, by Newman Doncaster Associates.
The 11-storey tower, built on a 3-storey podium, is almost invisible to locals, yet has seemingly dominated the skyline forever.
It is doubtless unloved, notwithstanding its long association as offices for Sheffield City Council’s Social Services departments, perhaps harbouring unpleasant memories within its walls.
Redvers House was opened in 1972 by Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Social Services, a man who served under four Conservative Prime Ministers – Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Edward Heath, and Margaret Thatcher.
At ground level, we are more familiar with its retail space fronting Furnival Gate, one-time showroom for Allied Carpets, later as a Curry’s electrical store, and now for Nisbets, Europe’s largest catering equipment supplier.
The older of us might remember its copper-tinted glass, set within bright white tiles that blinded under the light of a summer sun. The windows were lost during a £7 million major refurbishment in 2005.
According to reliable sources, Redvers House was owned by the council which put it up for sale for nearly £7 million in October 2014, when staff relocated offices to the Moorfoot Building.
It was bought by private rental specialist Make Space, part of the Minton Group, in June 2015, and reconfigured at a cost of £6.2 million to become high-end student accommodation with studio apartments and communal areas.
In 2019, the newly-relaunched Redvers Tower attracted widespread publicity when it was named in the Top Ten Most Instagrammable Student Accommodation properties in the UK, the plush interiors perfecting fine city views.
Alas, the budget did not stretch to cleaning those problematic white tiles, echoing a similar quandary facing John Lewis in Barker’s Pool.
Just one question remains. Does anybody know how it came to be called Redvers House?
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