Cadman Lane: a city centre street buried underneath modern Sheffield

Cadman Lane ran from Eyre Street (this part of Eyre Street is now Arundel Gate) up to Norfolk Street, opposite where the Town Hall is. Only a small portion of the street remains in the centre of the picture. Photograph: Google Earth

Yesterday, we featured a sketch of Cadman Lane, drawn by Sheffield artist Kenneth Steel (1906-1970). The drawing brought several queries as to the whereabouts of this characteristic old street. Presumably lost? Well, you might be surprised to know that Cadman Lane still exists.

Granted, it is not a street that many wander down anymore. It is a far cry from its heyday when it was a busy thoroughfare lined with factories, workshops, and offices. It survives in truncated form and can be found behind the Graduate public house, running parallel with the Millennium Gallery, and cut short by the presence of the Winter Garden.

How did Cadman Lane get its name?

In the 1780s, there is a story of Thomas Leader walking with the father of T Wilkinson in the field through which Surrey Street was later built. He remarked that the land below had been measured for building. “Yes,” said his companion, “It’s for young Roberts and for a plated manufactory, too.” This was Samuel Roberts, coupled with the mechanical cleverness of his colleague, George Cadman, and “aided by the capital of Mr Naylor, Unitarian Minister, as sleeping partner, and enabled the firm of Roberts and Cadman to outstrip local competitors.”

Cadman Lane looking towards Norfolk Street and Town Hall. This part of the road is now underneath the Winter Garden and the Mercure Hotel. Photograph: Picture Sheffield
Cadman Lane. Then and now. Photograph: Aidan Stones

The most likely candidate for the naming of the street is Peter Cadman, a merchant, who, in 1781 had  houses up the south-east side of Norfolk Street. He died in 1812 in the house which he built next “to the gateway in Norfolk Street.” The gateway in question may well have been the arched entrance to Cadman Lane.

In 1929, Sheffield Corporation bought the block of property with the intention of reserving the land to build new administrative offices or public buildings. However, demolition did not start until the 1960s and the new Town Hall extension (the ‘egg box’) opened in 1977. It was demolished in 2002 and replaced with the Millennium Gallery, Winter Garden and McDonalds (now Mercure) Hotel.

Cadman Lane with the Town Hall in the background, 1967. Photograph: Picture Sheffield
Demolition on Cadman Lane in 1966 with the Town Hall in the background. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

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