Categories
Buildings

Clifford House

Photograph by St Luke’s Clifford House

Clifford House is a former mansion on Ecclesall Road South, once the home of Sir Charles Clifford, proprietor of the Sheffield Telegraph and Star, and these days owned by St Luke’s Hospice.

However, it is only in modern times that it has been called Clifford House.

When the house was built for Denys Hague in 1896 it was called Whirlow, named after the well-appointed district in which it stands.

The house was well-equipped with a large hall, drawing-room, dining and morning rooms, kitchen, butler’s pantry, nine bedrooms, bathroom, WC, and four cellars, all illuminated with electric light. Outside was a four-stall stable, harness room and four acres of grounds.

Photograph by Welcome to Yorkshire

Denys Hague was a leading figure in the South Yorkshire coalfields and member of a well-known family. He was the second son of Charles Hague, of The Broom and Ferham House, in Rotherham, and a prominent coal-owner.

Celebrated in industrial circles, Denys was a director of the Hickleton Main Colliery Company and Manvers Main Colliery Ltd at the time of his death in 1929, and for a long time had been a director of the Midland Iron Company in Rotherham.

His brother, Ernest Hague, another coal-owner, had lived at Castle Dyke at Ringinglow, and died a few years before.

Denys was a keen fisherman, a member of the River Noe Fishing Club, and was a lover of art, with a fine collection hanging at Whirlow.

The value of the collection was only realised when 52 oil paintings – including works by Daubigny, Corot, Boudin, Le Sidaner, Lépine, Harpignies, Maris, Constable, Jacques, Ter Meulen, Collier, Monticelli, Landseer, Van Marcke and Cossaar – went on display at the Mappin Art Gallery in 1907, and at Liverpool’s Walker Gallery in 1913. Most of these works were auctioned at Christies in 1923.

Denys married Frances Davy, third daughter of David Davy, founder of Davy Bros, a famous Sheffield engineering company.

In 1907, the Hague’s decided to leave Sheffield and move to London. Frances Hague died in 1923 and Denys died at the Hotel Russell in Russell Square in 1929. (It is now known as the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel).

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

Whirlow was put up for sale, probably rented for a while, and eventually sold to Charles Clifford in 1915.

The vast grounds were regularly used for entertaining, his newspaper staff invited to summer garden parties, as were members of Clifford’s Conservative Association. He also built a full-size cricket pitch where matches were held between local clubs. As well as the house, Charles Clifford also owned a farm on Little Common Lane.

Charles Clifford died in 1936, his widow, Lady Alice Clifford staying on until her own death in 1941, at which time Whirlow was requisitioned by the Government for the remainder of the Second World War.

Afterwards, it was acquired by a private steel company which became part of British Steel Corporation (BSC) on nationalisation.

In 1968, BSC donated some of the land behind Clifford House (as it was now known) to St Luke’s Hospice which built a new facility on Little Common Lane and opened in October 1971.

In 2000, BSC sold the house and land to Hugh Facey, founder of Gripple, for £1.05million, who later built a new home next door, selling the mansion to St Luke’s in 2016, and reuniting the house and land for the first time in 48 years.

The house was altered and refurbished by D&P Construction of Wath-upon-Dearne to plans by the Hooley Tratt Partnership.

Clifford House is now used for patient drop-ins, activities, practical support and advice, relaxation and well-being, as well as available to hire for events and conferences.

Photograph by St Luke’s Clifford House
Categories
Sculpture

Pan: Spirit of the Wood

Photograph by Sheffielder

Within the Rose garden at the Botanical Gardens, in Sheffield, is a sculpture called Pan: Spirit of the Wood. This was a gift to the city by Sir Charles Clifford, proprietor of the Sheffield Telegraph and Star, on his death in 1936.

However, the city’s inhabitants had to wait a long time to see the sculpture, only made available after the death of his widow, Lady Alice Clifford, in 1941.

He had expressed a wish that the sculpture would be placed in Endcliffe Wood or Whiteley Wood, but it wasn’t until 1952 that Spirit of the Wood was finally placed in the newly designed and restored Rose Garden at the Botanical Gardens.

Although his will referred to Peter Pan, it was almost certainly a statue of Pan: Greek god of pastures, flocks and woods, seated on a tree stump. Around the statue are brass birds, rabbits, mice, frogs and squirrels, while elves are imaginary woodland spirits. Cast in bronze, about 2 metres high, the sculptor has remained unknown.

The condition of the sculpture deteriorated over the years and it wasn’t until 2003 that restoration was undertaken at a cost of £40,000.

Spirit of the Wood was sent away to Chris Boulton, a restorer, who found that it had been made in sections and bolted together. Grit was blasted away, the patina removed, and rough cement detached from the stone base.

It was discovered that the cast was of poor quality, with the likelihood that the sculpture had been made of scrap-metal.

Once completed, Pan: Spirit of the Wood was reinstalled in the centre of the Rose Garden and nowadays forms part of the Riddle Trail.

The only clue to its creator can be found on an inscription – “H.W. Cashmore – Westminster” – a company of metal workers that had a foundry in Balham.

It had been set up by George Henry William Cashmore and Malcolm Hankey and became part of the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, established in 1894 by Walter Gilbert as a company of modern artists associated with the Arts and Crafts movement.

The guild worked in all sorts of materials including metal, wood, plaster, bronze, tapestry and glass. As a result of their most famous commission, the iron and bronze gates at Buckingham Palace, they were issued with a Royal Warrant appointing them metal workers to King Edward VII, an honour repeated two years later under George V.

By 1908, the guild was using H.W. Cashmore at 96 Victoria Street, Westminster, as a showroom and studio.

The partnership between Henry William Cashmore (he’d now dropped the initial G from his name), and Malcolm Hankey was dissolved in 1911 and became known as H.W. Cashmore and Company.

The showrooms flourished and attracted the attention of Country Life magazine in March 1914, which did a feature on the company.  Later the same year, The Gardeners’ Chronicle provided perhaps the best insight into the workings of H.W. Cashmore.

“Mr Cashmore has been careful to surround himself with workers who are not only skilled in their several branches, but are also imbued with the true craftsman’s instinct, and are therefore capable of applying themselves zealously to the realisation of high ideals. The effect is seen in the many examples of beautifully wrought and finely-finished metal work and carried out by the firm’s staff in a manner worthy of the invariably artistic designs to which they work.

“These productions take the form of garden statuary and elegantly modelled figures, ornamental bronze work, wrought iron gates, grilles and railings. The appreciation of their work now reaches to the most distant parts of the world. Examples of their skill and taste have gone as far afield as India, China, Japan and South America, as well as to the United States and Canada.

“Much of their work is used in the new commercial buildings of the world, on the other hand, a great deal of their skill seems to be utilised by clients who inhabit some of the most beautiful of the old English country homes – as found at Eltham Hall and Rushton Hall.”

Photograph by Sheffielder

Although records suggest that Spirit of the Wood was created in the 1930s, the likelihood is that it originates to about 1915 when Sir Charles Clifford bought Whirlow from Denys Hague, a coal-owner. Britain was at war, with metal commanding premium prices, and the inclusion of scrap-metal in its creation was understandable.

The sculpture probably stood in his garden at Whirlow, as did a pair of wrought iron gates, most likely by H.W. Cashmore as well, also bequeathed to the city, with Sir Clifford hoping that they would stand at the entrance to the bird sanctuary in Ecclesall Wood. As it happens, the gates are still hanging outside Clifford House on Ecclesall Road South (as Whirlow became known).

It seems we shall never know the designer of Spirit of the Wood, the obvious answer being that it was probably designed by one of Cashmore’s employees. Sir Charles doubtless ordered the statue from a catalogue, or even after visiting the Westminster showroom.  

Categories
Buildings

Charles Clifford Dental Hospital

In another post, we looked at Sir Charles Clifford (1860-1936), proprietor of the Sheffield Telegraph and Yorkshire Telegraph and Star, and on the Council at the University of Sheffield.

Little is known about him nowadays, but his name is familiar with generations across the city.

The Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, on Wellesley Road, was opened in 1953 to provide dental care for people in Sheffield.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

Its origins were in the Dental department of the Royal Hospital on West Street, but the facilities became too cramped, and so, in 1935, Sir Charles Clifford bought Broom Bank, an empty house on Glossop Road, for the purpose.

Sir Charles Clifford died in 1936, also leaving more than £77,000 for the “general purpose of the university.” It later emerged that there was a problem with Broom Bank because the site had been earmarked for a new general hospital to replace the Royal Hospital and Royal Infirmary (it subsequently became the Royal Hallamshire Hospital).

The plans had to be abandoned, and war prevented development of the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital (on another site on Wellesley Road) until revived in 1950. In the meantime, Broom Bank was demolished in 1947, a decision criticised by the local press as the loss of a short-term chance to adapt it for the purposes of the hospital.

The foundation stone was laid by Hilary A. Marquand, Minister of Health, in September 1951, and was finally opened by the Duchess of Gloucester in 1953.

When it opened it was “one of the finest dental schools in the country,” with laboratories, teaching rooms, a library and common rooms as well as one floor devoted to general treatment, and a second, with forty dental chairs, for “conservative restoration of teeth and periodontal work.”

Photographs by Picture Sheffield

The NHS provided most of the funding, but £7,800 of Sir Charles Clifford’s legacy was used to buy equipment.   In 1966, the facility was extended, and in 1995 the hospital was absorbed into the Central Sheffield University Hospitals NHS Trust, which merged with the Northern General NHS Trust in 2001 to become Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. A major refurbishment programme that cost £5.3million was completed in 2009 and now includes The School of Dentistry at the University of Sheffield.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield
Photograph by Terry Robinson
Categories
People

Sir Charles Clifford

Colonel Charles Clifford by George Frederick Bird. Photograph by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I need to write about Sir Charles Clifford, KBE, CMG, LLD, JP (1860-1936), because it appears very little has been written about him, and yet, apart from a dental hospital taking his name, he did a lot for Sheffield.

The name and life of Sir Charles Clifford were closely identified with the Sheffield Telegraph. He combined his powers of leadership and administration with an acute journalistic instinct. The journalists knew him as ‘The Colonel,’ one of the biggest figures in North country newspaper life, and one who did much to maintain the highest traditions of the press.

Charles was the fourth son of Frederick Clifford, Q.C., one of the original partners in the firm of Sir W.C. Leng and Company, publishers of the Sheffield Telegraph, and for many years a writer for The Times.

Born in London in 1860, Charles was educated privately and came to Sheffield in 1878, beginning an association with the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, originally destined for the commercial side, but in later years playing an important part in moulding its editorial policy.

In 1888, he established the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, and later negotiated the purchase of the rival Evening Star, later incorporated into the Evening Telegraph, and what we now know as the Sheffield Star.

Charles had taken a leading part in the management of the newspaper some years before the death of its original partners, becoming a partner himself in 1900, and in 1903, when the firm became a private limited company, becoming a director, and subsequently its chairman.

He became president of the Newspaper Society of Great Britain in 1905 and chairman of the Press Association in 1908, a position his father had held thirty years before.

But there were other strands to Charles’ busy life.

In the political sphere he was founder of the Conservative and Unionist organisation in Sheffield. The Brightside Divisional Conservative Association had given him early opportunities to demonstrate his fighting spirit and he became chairman in 1906, the association later presenting him with the chairman’s chair on which was inscribed his motto ‘Nec sine labore Fructus – ‘No fruit without labour.’

Presentation of the Chairman’s Chair in 1912. The British Newspaper Archive

In 1928, Charles played an important part, along with Captain A.E. Irwin, of the London Central Office of the Conservative Party, in reorganising the party in Sheffield. Afterwards he was elected chairman of the new Central Committee, and continued until his retirement in 1933, becoming vice-president of the federation.

Despite his political allegiance, Charles never held municipal or Parliamentary honours, though as a young man, he made two unsuccessful attempts to enter the City Council, and in 1913 was invited to become Lord Mayor, an honour which he refused.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

His third great public service was in connection with national defence. At the age of 21, Charles had obtained a commission in the 4th West Riding Artillery Volunteers. His promotion was rapid, becoming a lieutenant in 1882, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel in 1902, and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1909, a year after the Territorial Scheme had been introduced and the volunteers had become the 3rd West Riding Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

He received the Volunteer Officers’ Decoration in 1902, and in 1911 the Coronation medal was awarded to him.

As officer in charge of the Brigade, he was not only responsible for the many improvements at the Edmund Road Drill Hall, but he, along with Lieut-Col H.K. Stephenson, acquired the old Redmires Racecourse as a training ground.

Photograph of Edmund Road Drill Hall by Picture Sheffield

In 1913, Charles’ time as Commanding Officer expired, but it was extended for another year, and when he was at the point of definite retirement, war broke out.

His request to be allowed to remain was granted, and almost as soon as the Territorials were mobilised, he crossed to France in command of the Brigade.

On four occasions he was mentioned in dispatches, but in 1916 the Brigade was broken up and he returned to England to train another company which he took out to France and commanded during the Passchendaele operations. During 1917 he frequently acted as Brigadier-General in the field.

For the service he rendered in France and Flanders, he became a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in the New Year’s Honours List of 1918, and in 1920 he received the Territorial Decoration.

 Four years later, the officers of the 71st West Riding Field Brigade Royal Artillery, as the Territorial artillery had become, decided to honour him.

In December 1924, Charles was entertained to dinner at the Norfolk Barracks and was presented with a portrait, dressed in the uniform he wore when he took the Brigade to France. The portrait was later hung in the barracks and a replica presented to Charles for his own collection. From 1920, until the time of his death, he was Honorary Colonel.

Away from day-to-day life all forms of sport appealed to him, and he was particularly fond of shooting and was to be regularly seen on the moors on ‘The Twelfth.’ Cricket also excited him, as did bowls, and he was elected president of the Sheffield and District Amateur Bowling Association in 1908.

Shooting on the moors in 1929. The British Newspaper Archive

For several years, he was president of the Sheffield Philharmonic Society and an enthusiastic stamp collector.

Charles was also a keen supporter of movements to foster friendships between Britain, America and Italy.

In 1922, he was elected a member of the Sheffield Town Trust, was involved with the Sheffield Club, the Junior Carlton and the Junior Constitutional, but his greatest honour was confirmed on him in 1925 when he received a knighthood.

Charles’ interest in Sheffield University extended over many years during which time he was a member of the University Council, and in 1934 an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on him.

Charles Clifford Dental Hospital

Shortly afterwards, he presented the University with the house known as Broom Bank, on Glossop Road, as a dental hospital, and provided £77,000 for ‘general purposes of the University.’ However, he died in 1936, before plans had been finalised. The story of the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital wasn’t as straightforward as he might have hoped and is subject to a separate post.

Charles married Alice Emma Davy, and lived at Clifford House, on Ecclesall Road South. He was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

Categories
People

Heart of the City II

Block H site plan. Photograph by Sheffield City Council/Queensbury.

More on Heart of the City II, creating a new city centre using existing street patterns and a mix of old and new buildings. Because the scheme relies on funding, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to delay things, but there is still the commitment to complete the project.

The latest plans unveiled covers Block H site – located between Wellington Street, Carver Street and Cambridge Street.

The site features some of the most interesting buildings within the masterplan area, including two listed buildings – Leah’s Yard (H1) and the Bethel Sunday School.

The intention is for Block H to truly become a cultural and social meeting place, and is split into three distinct elements (H1, H2 and H3).

H2 is a new 70,000 sq ft, Grade A office building, raising the bar with its low carbon specification. H3 is the Cambridge Street Collective – a cultural hub where the city’s best sights, sounds and flavours all come together. Proposals include a 20,000 sq ft communal hall offer, where people can meet, eat, drink, work and socialise.

Block H2 – View from Charter Square. Photograph by Sheffield City Council/Queensbury.
Block H2 – Top floor with terrace. Photograph by Sheffield City Council/Queensbury.

Proposals for H3, the Cambridge Street Collective include a large, stripped-back, industrial-style space, which would be ideally suited for a food hall or a similar sociable, communal offer. This space would incorporate the historic character of the Bethel Sunday School, the former Brewhouse and Henry’s venues and the building currently occupied by DINA. It would also include a more modern structure sitting behind this to enclose a gathering space, using sympathetic materials to the existing buildings.

Block H3 from Five Ways. Photograph by Sheffield City Council/Queensbury.
Block H3 – Section looking north. Photograph by Sheffield City Council/Queensbury.

Wrapping this large space would be complementary shops, a bar and restaurant, and an upper level leisure space. Next to the communal hall offer would be the renovated Bethel Chapel, with plans for this to become a live music venue.

The primary public entrance to this block would be via a pedestrianised spill out/arrival square to the north of the development, plus the modern ‘Arrival Building’ on Backfields. Access to the additional retail and leisure elements of H3 would be from Cambridge Street, Wellington Street and Backfields.

Block H3 – View from Backfields. Photograph by Sheffield City Council/Queensbury.



Categories
Companies

Izal: “The invisible guardian against risks to health.”

Here’s a topical post because it involves disinfectant and toilet paper… and a brand that was once a brand leader. I’m talking about Izal, made here in Sheffield, famous for that waxy disinfectant toilet paper that many of us grew up with.

The origins go back to 1793 when George Newton and Thomas Chambers became partners in the Phoenix Foundry and, along with financier Henry Longden, they signed a 21-year-lease with Earl Fitzwilliam, the landowner, to extract coal and ironstone from the Thorncliffe Valley near Chapeltown.

A hundred years after coal production began it turned to Jason Hall Worrall, a chemist, to analyse the oil produced by coke and subsequently develop a germicide oil which, when mixed with an emulsifying agent, dispersed through any liquid.

The resulting product was trialled in hospitals and became known as Thorncliffe Patent Disinfectant before being called Izal – reputed to be an anagram of Liza, Worrall’s sister.

“Izal – the new non-poisonous disinfectant and prevention of infection. Izal prevents infection in Cholera, Smallpox, Diphtheria, Influenza, Scarlet Fever, Swine Fever, Malaria, Worms, Typhus, and Typhoid Fever, and practically covers the whole field of infectious diseases.”

The claims seem unbelievably wild today, but Izal attracted favourable reports from bacteriologists.

One of its products was a ‘scratchy’ toilet paper, impregnated with Izal disinfectant, and given away free to local authorities which bought bulk supplies of hygiene products.

Izal Toilet paper appeared in hospitals, schools and public buildings (‘Government Property’) around the country and wasn’t sold to the public until 1922.

In 1924, William Heath Robinson, a cartoonist and illustrator, was employed by Newton Chambers to provide amusing illustrations on the toilet rolls, and in the 1930s there were rhymes printed on each sheet. During World War 2, the sheets were printed with a cartoon of Adolph Hitler, very popular with the public but less so with officials.

Shiny on one side, rough on the other, experience showed that the paper was better at smearing rather than cleaning, and children of a certain age remember it better as being a useful musical instrument (comb and paper), as well as an excellent tracing paper.

Alongside the toilet Rolls, the Izal brand extended to San Izal Disinfectant, San Pine Disinfectant, soaps, shampoos, shaving foams, Polly kitchen rolls and even Izal lozenges and mints, in all about 137 products.

In 1968, Newton Chambers unsuccessfully tried to buy rival manufacturer Jeyes (makers of Jeyes Fluid and Parazone), and in 1973 the whole Newton Chambers business was acquired by Sterling-Winthrop (Sterling Industrial) which continued Izal production at Thorncliffe until 1981.

Restrictions of the use of poisons, and increased competition, lessened Izal’s market dominance, although it was still going strong in the 1970s. With a certain irony, the Izal brand was sold to Jeyes in 1986 and production stopped completely in 2010.

Ten years’ later, Izal Medicated Toilet Tissue is back on the shelves (or not as recent experience shows) but is still tainted by bad memories.

“The Clint Eastwood of loo paper – it’s rough, it’s tough and takes no shit.”

Categories
Buildings

Fitzwilliam Street

Photograph by Axis Architecture

Plans for the construction of an 11-storey block featuring almost 100 apartments on a site in Sheffield have been given the green light.

Axis Architecture, on behalf of Swifts Performance, submitted an application to Sheffield City Council towards the end of 2019 for a site at the junction of Fitzwilliam Street and Milton Street, currently occupied by a car maintenance garage.

Under the plans, the garage will be demolished and a new building of between eight and 11 storeys constructed featuring a total of 93 apartments.

The scheme is made up of 27 studios, 53 one-bed and 13 two-bed units. A small lounge, cafe and bar unit for residents is also included.

Sheffield City Council has now approved the plans, subject to conditions, under delegated powers.

The site is adjacent to a 17-storey, 860-bed development of student and co-living flats currently under construction.

Photograph by Axis Architecture.

Categories
Buildings

Yorkshire Bank

Photograph by Yorkshire Live

Every dark cloud has a silver lining and all that.

Virgin Money has halted plans to merge with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank due to coronavirus.

Some 52 branches were due to close – including the landmark Yorkshire Bank on Fargate in Sheffield city centre – under plans to rebrand the business to Virgin Money by October. Some 500 full time equivalent jobs were due to be axed.

Yorkshire Bank on Fargate stands opposite a Virgin Money Lounge. The bank was due to close in August under plans to ‘consolidate’ branches within half-a-mile of another by closing one.

Under the plans, Yorkshire Bank branches in Chapeltown and Wombwell, Barnsley, were due to close.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank paid £1.7billion for Virgin Money in 2018. The deal completed in October last year and plans were announced to rename all branches nationally Virgin Money, which was deemed the stronger brand.

Yorkshire Bank, which traces its roots back to 1859, was set to disappear.
The Yorkshire Penny Bank (later Yorkshire Bank) has stood on the site since the corner stones were laid in 1888 by builders Armitage and Hodgson and completed in the summer of 1889. It was designed by Leeds-based architects Henry Perkin and George Bertram Bulmer.

The Albany Hotel once occupied floors above the bank.

Categories
Buildings Places

The Ghosts of Vickers Corridor

Photograph by Budby/Flickr

The Vickers Corridor, in a Victorian part of the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield is named after Edward Vickers (1804-1897), a successful miller who invested his money in the railway industry.

In 1828 he gained control of his father-in-law’s steel foundry business, formerly Naylor & Sanderson, and renamed it Naylor Vickers & Co. He went on to be Alderman and the Mayor of Sheffield and was the first President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce before he died in 1897. The company went on to become Vickers Ltd.

These days, the Vickers Corridor has a reputation of being haunted, with stories being passed down amongst doctors and nurses.

“The cardiac arrest call had been called over the bleeper system. A young doctor was rushing down the corridor and met an old woman who wanted his help. He said that he couldn’t as he was going to an emergency. When he arrived on the ward, he found the patient was the old woman he had just met in the corridor.”

Stories like this are common, with many reports of ghostly patients walking up to doctors and nurses asking them for something to help them sleep. When the staff reach out to them, they disappear.

But they don’t always ask for help.

“I was once walking down the corridor with a few other workers when an old woman came towards us. We moved aside to let her pass and noticed that she was wearing a lovely perfume. When we turned around, she had completely vanished.”

There are also stories of nurses catching up on sleep and reporting the same dream. When they wake, they see the apparition of an angry matron-like figure trying to strangle a ghostly patient. No sooner does the vision appear, than it quickly vanishes.

And there are tales of cutlery and trays being thrown by a poltergeist while staff are working the night shift.

If these stories are designed to unnerve our dedicated night-time medical staff then I’ll end with the story of the smartly-dressed elderly gentleman, resplendent with a long white beard, “looking incredibly proud” as he wanders the corridor seemingly inspecting the hospital… and then he disappears through a wall.

Of course, if you walk down Vickers Corridor during the daytime everything seems perfectly normal.

Photograph by Terry Robinson

Categories
Buildings Places

Northern General Hospital

Photograph by David Lally

It’s appropriate that during these dark times we look at the Northern General Hospital, the city’s largest hospital and one of the country’s leading facilities.

The sprawl that is the Northern General has its origins in the hospital of Sheffield Poor Law Union workhouse, erected in 1878-1880.

Before the creation of the Sheffield Poor Law Union in 1837, the workhouse for the township of Sheffield was in Kelham Street. That building, originally erected in 1811 as a cotton mill, had been converted in 1829 for use as a workhouse to accommodate some 1,200 inmates.

It had no special provision for the sick except for an isolation unit provided during the cholera epidemic of 1832.

Due to opposition from ratepayers, plans drawn up in 1856 for a new workhouse for Sheffield Union were not completed until 1881, when new premises at Fir Vale were opened.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

The completed buildings, comprised six separate departments: the main building to accommodate 1,662 paupers, plus officials; asylums to accommodate 200 patients classed as lunatic; a school for 300 pauper children; vagrants wards to take up to 60 men and 20 women; the hospital block to cater for 366 patients; and the fever hospitals.

Management was in the hands of the Board of Guardians and its various committees, which in the 1880s had established a training school for nurses and a midwifery school. Overcrowding caused by the numbers of children was addressed by setting up a boarding out system in 1888, and by opening a children’s hospital, for up to 60, in 1894.

A Lock ward or Lock hospital for treating women with venereal diseases also existed in the 1890s.

A new 3-storey hospital block was completed in 1906 and on 21 March 1906 the Local Government Board issued an order to formally separate the newly named Sheffield Union Hospital (which by then could accommodate 643 patients) from the workhouse, thereafter, known as Fir Vale Institution.

Over the next few years Sheffield Union Hospital became known as Fir Vale Hospital. The workhouse became Fir Vale Institution, though Fir Vale House was the name generally used for the institution premises accommodating geriatric patients and those classed as mental defectives.

Photograph by Sheffield Star

Belgian refugees were temporarily housed at Fir Vale during World War I, and over 15,000 soldiers, including men from the Sheffield Battalion who had been wounded on the Somme, were treated in a new children’s hospital which had opened in 1916. Military patients remained until 1920 and it was not until 1921 that the children’s hospital received its first children.

In 1930 the name was changed to the City General Hospital.

About 1929, Fir Vale House was renamed Fir Vale Infirmary (for the care of the aged and chronic infirm), though the name ‘institution’ lingered for some years.

Photograph by Sheffield Glass Company

During World War II numbers of its inmates were temporarily transferred to the Grenoside Institution when the hospital premises were designated as an Emergency Medical Service Hospital. No casualties from the war front were admitted until 1944 when 992 service cases and 405 prisoners of war were treated.

During the 1950s, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery commenced and in 1955 the City Hospital performed the first heart valve replacement operation in the world; in 1957 one of the first open heart operations in Europe was conducted here.

It provided medical and surgical wards, children’s hospital, maternity hospital, casualty and orthopaedic departments. The City General Hospital and the Fir Vale Infirmary were run as separate institutions until 1967 when the Hospital (then with 654 beds) and the Infirmary (then with 682 beds) were amalgamated under the title of the Northern General Hospital.

Fir Vale Infirmary was to be known as the Geriatric Wing and the City General Hospital as the General and Maternity Wing.

In 1968 a League of Friends was established to harness local support and raise additional funds.

Photograph by More Rehab

Teaching was long a key function of the hospital and this was recognised when it, together with Nether Edge Hospital, was awarded university teaching status in 1971, and was one of the first Trust Hospitals.

The Northern General Hospital is the largest hospital campus within the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with over 1,100 beds. In fact, it is one of the largest hospitals in the UK and a leading teaching unit with a growing international reputation. It is classed as a major trauma centre and recently opened a helipad close to the Accident and Emergency block.

Thank you to Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library for the historical detail.

Photograph by Anderson Green

Did you know that several buildings on the site are named after local families and individuals, particularly in the steel industry?: –

The Huntsman Building is named after Benjamin Huntsman, a manufacturer of cast or crucible steel, consisting of mostly orthopaedics but also contains the A&E, Surgical Assessment Centre (SAC), X-Ray departments, the theatres, one of four outpatients’ departments, a large dining room and the site’s main Medical Records department.

The Firth Wing, is named after Mark Firth, an industrialist, and contains CCU, Vascular surgery and other surgical wards.

The Chesterman Wing, named after James Chesterman, a manufacturer of steel products, contains the regional cardiology centre as well as extensive inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

The Vickers Corridor, reputed to be haunted, takes its name from Edward Vickers, an industrialist, and deals primarily with renal and endocrine diseases, but also contains departments of Sheffield Medical School and the Sheffield Kidney Institute.

The Sorby Wing is named after Henry Clifton Sorby, a microscopist and geologist, and contains the renal outpatients unit and the Metabolic Bone Centre.

Samuel Osborn, a steelmaker, is remembered in the Osborn Building and contains the spinal unit.

The Brearley Wing celebrates Harry Brearley, a metallurgist, containing the respiratory and rehabilitation wards and a dining area, as well as an outpatient department and a specialised Patient Discharge Lounge which allows patients to move into a comfortable waiting area before leaving the hospital.

The Bev Stokes Day-Surgery Unit recognises Harold Beverley Stokes, a former Chairman of the Northern General Hospital Trust.

Finally, the Hadfield Wing is named after Sir Robert Hadfield, another metallurgist, and holds departments displaced from older wings of the hospital.

Photograph by Sheffield Star