No buyer for Sheffield’s Old Town Hall

Sheffield’s former Town Hall and Crown Court on Waingate and Castle Street. Its condition is a cause for concern. Photograph: Insider Media

The Old Town Hall remains in predicament after failing to sell at auction. It was to be sold by Allsop auctioneers but attracted no bids – despite a sale figure of £750K, a big drop on the original asking price of £1.35m.

The Grade II listed building was put up for sale by receivers appointed after the collapse of Aestrom OTH Ltd, the company set up to restore the building.

The Old Town Hall was commissioned to replace the original one next to the Parish Church and designed by Charles Watson in 1807-1808. As well as housing the Town Trustees it also accommodated Petty and Quarter Sessions.

The building was extended in 1833 and again in 1866 to designs by William Flockton and his partner George Abbott, linking the courtrooms to the neighbouring Sheffield police offices by underground tunnels. When the current Town Hall was built in 1891-1897 it was extended by Flockton, Gibbs & Flockton to become Sheffield Crown and High Courts. New court buildings were built during the 1990s and the Old Town Hall has stood empty ever since.

The Old Town Hall is significant to Sheffield’s history and its demise has been shocking. The fabric of the building has rapidly worsened and water damage has caused considerable damage to its interiors. Restoration costs are likely to cost millions of pounds.

Its location next to the Castlegate development, recently awarded Government funding, might have made it an attractive acquisition, but developers are at a loss as to what function it might be used for. Until the Castlegate project gets underway the Old Town Hall will stand shrouded in misery.

There are now calls from heritage groups for Sheffield City Council to step in and make good the building, as well as seeking out partners to develop a practical and feasible solution.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.