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.


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.

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

Places Buildings

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
Buildings Streets

Queen’s Hotel

Photograph by Stephen Richards

The Queen’s Hotel, on Scotland Street, is one of those public houses that has seen a lot of changes over the years.

Scotland Street itself dates from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, built along a former boundary of an open field system. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, small factories, workshops and housing were built in the area, encouraged by an influx of Irish immigrants during the 1840s.

A public house stood here before. Built in 1791, known as the Queen’s Inn, later the Queen’s Hotel, and under the ownership of William Bradley & Co, and subsequently S.H. Wards, which bought it in 1876.

By the 1920s, the Scotland Street area contained some of the city’s worst slum housing, described as “hovels of the aristocracy” and “mansions of the poor.” It prompted Sheffield Corporation to demolish large swathes of terraced houses.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

Sheffield Corporation set about widening Scotland Street, and in the process purchased land from S.H. Ward & Co, including the site of the nearby Old Hussar public house, and part of the site of the Queen’s Hotel, on condition that they paid the brewery £2,875 towards the cost of rebuilding the Queen’s Hotel.

The new pub, built with stark, simple, exterior lines, opened in December 1928 with guest rooms on the upper floors, a large function room on the first floor and two ground floor bars.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

It could be said that the new Queen’s Head opened at the wrong time and experienced highs and lows ever since.

In 1934, over 50 shopkeepers from the Scotland Street, Meadow Street and surrounding area congregated inside the Queen’s Hotel, demanding that Sheffield Corporation reduce their rent and rates.

They argued that while a great many of their customers had been removed to new housing estates, their rent and rates had remained the same.

The shopkeepers had suffered bad trade for years because at least eighty per cent of the inhabitants had been either unemployed or on short time, and now they were losing their custom altogether. Now they had been left on the edge of a “desert.”

A long-term lack of investment, and a general state of decline, resulted in the area becoming down-at-heel by the middle of the twentieth century.

Many local factories closed, and the decline accelerated in the 1970s, as did the fortunes of the Queen’s Hotel, not helped by S.H. Wards being taken over by Sunderland-based Vaux Breweries in 1972. The brewery closed in 1999, two years after the Queen’s Hotel had closed its doors for good in April 1997.

Photograph by Sheffielder

As reported a few months ago, plans have been floating around to demolish the Queen’s Head and construct a new residential development comprising more than 220 apartments.

That day has now come, with Rise Homes, supported by DLP Planning and Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson, submitting an application to Sheffield City Council for the new development.

The derelict public house would be demolished as would the former Robert Neil & Co (Sheffield) Ltd building next door.

Photograph by Yorbex/Derelict Places

The new residential development would comprise three blocks of up to ten storeys, with a total of 229 apartments, with 145 one-bedroom and 84 two-bedroom units.

Visitors to the area will agree that this part of Scotland Street is now down-at-heel, within an area of transition, which is becoming characterised by more city centre living.

Planning applications were previously approved in 2005 and 2007 for residential developments that would have retained the pub. However, it has now been determined it is not viable to retain any element of the building.

With the demolition of the Queen’s Head likely to be granted it will be a sad end for the public house, especially when people are now heading back to live here once again.

Photograph by Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson

Buildings Streets

Stepney Street

Photograph by Cadenza VM

Stepney Street is a small road leading off Broad Street in the Park area of Sheffield.

Originally land owned by the Duke of Norfolk, it succumbed to cobbled-street slum housing, was shortened in length after redevelopment in the 1930s, and modern-day access restricted to a private car park and a garage business. Significantly, the railway line runs directly beneath it.

Housing on the street, along with those at Old Street, Bard Street, School Lane, Duke Street, Crown Alley, Crown Alley Lane, Bernard Street, Weigh Lane and Broad Street, were compulsorily purchased in 1934, demolished and redeveloped.

Photograph of Stepney Street, looking towards Broad Street, by Picture Sheffield

The surviving part of Stepney Street, with its cobbles, might become a residential area again, with a proposed new development of 100 apartments, a planning application submitted to Sheffield City Council by Six Developments, supported by architects’ practice Cadenza.

The gated building would be eight-storeys high featuring 100 private rental sector (PRS) apartments. A total of 95 one-bed flats would be provided, together with four studios and a single two-bedroom unit.

Watkin Jones previously secured planning permission for a development of 62-bed apartment building in December 2017, but this scheme was not brought forward. The developer had originally acquired the site to provide car parking for its Pinnacles Development.

Photograph by Google

Buildings Places

Beauchief Abbey

The painting of Beauchief Abbey was by Reuben Bower (1828-1912) and is the property of Museums Sheffield.

In another post, we looked at the history of Beauchief Abbey and now we look at some of its romantic legends and secret tunnels.

It is said that an underground passage runs between Beauchief Abbey and Norton Church. About halfway between the two buildings is an iron box full of treasure which can be removed only by a white horse with his feet shod the wrong way; furthermore, he must approach the box with its tail foremost.

Then there is a supposed passage between the mill house at Millhouses and the Abbey, where gold plate belonging to the Abbey is reputed to have been hidden at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537.

Finally, there is another legend attached to Lees Hall, a mansion that once adjoined Lees Hall Golf Course and dated to 1626. Before that the site was thought to have been occupied by the White Canons from Beauchief Abbey, and that an underground passage went from one of the cellars in the house to the Abbey.

Local legend said that Lees Hall was used as a place of refuge for Mary Queen of Scots in her flight from Elizabeth I, and that there was also another secret passage leading to Manor Castle.

The mansion was demolished in 1957, described as “one of the tragedies of urban development in Sheffield,” and all traces of it reclaimed by nature.

Unfortunately, excavations at Beauchief Abbey during the 1920s didn’t reveal any evidence of the tunnels, but stories persist that the secret passages are still waiting to be discovered.

Buildings Places

Beauchief Abbey

Photograph by Rachel Marsden

Until Beauchief Abbey, together with the surrounding estate, was purchased by Frank Crawshaw in 1922, little beyond the name and a private chapel with a western tower, remained to remind anyone of the former magnificence of this house of Premonstratensian Canons.

At this time, Beauchief Abbey (comically mispronounced outside Sheffield, it should be spoken as Beechiff), was set in a beautiful rich valley, through which the Abbey Brook meandered, bounded by well-wooded hills and by the distant Derbyshire Moors.

Sheffield has swallowed it up now, but Beauchief Abbey remains in a tranquil location and its history remains a mystery to many.

The suburb of Beauchief takes its name from the small abbey, founded on the southern border of Hallamshire over eight hundred years ago.

Beauchief is a Norman French name for the ‘beautiful headland’ above the River Sheaf.

The abbey was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Thomas the Martyr, otherwise known as Thomas Becket and now more commonly known as St. Thomas of Canterbury.

It was founded somewhere between 1173 and 1176 by Robert FitzRanulph, former Sheriff of both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Lord of Alfreton and Norton in Derbyshire, Edwalton in Nottinghamshire and Wymeswold in Leicestershire.

The Beauchief estate was created in a remote part of FitzRanulph’s manor of Norton, right on the border with Yorkshire.

Photograph by

The White Canons (or Premonstratensian Canons) came from Welbeck Abbey which had been founded in 1153. The White Canons lived under a rule less strict than that of the monks, and attended regular services at the abbey church, ate a vegetarian diet in the refectory, and slept in the common dormitory.

The abbey land amounted to about 800 acres with the abbey set in a park of about 200 acres with several fishponds fed by the small stream.

The White Canons also owned a corn mill at Bradway, a fulfilling mill on what is now the site of Dore Station, a corn mill to which Millhouses was named after, and a smithy – Smithy Wood.

Beauchief was surrendered ‘without any trouble or giving opposition’, as part of the dissolution of monasteries, and in April 1537 was granted by Henry VIII to Sir Nicholas Strelley , Lord of Ecclesall, on the opposite bank of the River Sheaf. The description of the property granted was of ` the house and site of the abbey or monastery De Bello Capite’ and included gardens, orchards, ponds and parks plus a further 259 acres.

In 1648, it passed through the marriage of Gertrude Strelley to Edward Pegge of Ashbourne, who used much of the stone from the abbey to build a suitable country house called Beauchief Hall.

Seven bays wide and three storeys high, it was built on a site to the south-west of the abbey described as `a gentle descent on the brow of the hanging wood, the bellum caput or Beau Chef’. The house is thought to have been the site of the Grange where the monks formerly made their butter and cheese.

Photograph of Beauchief Hall by Neal Theasby.

Pegge adapted the ruins of the abbey church into a private chapel and by the 1660s this was the only part of the old abbey remaining.

The present appearance of the abbey grounds owes itself to excavations carried out between 1923 and 1926 by William Henry Elgar, an Art Master at King Edward VII Grammar School.

Frank Crawshaw, a businessman and local councillor, as owner of the estate, encouraged the excavations and on the very first afternoon a wall to the west of the cloister was discovered, and during the next two months they succeeded in tracing this southward to the refectory doorway.

Search was then made for the opposite wall, and when it was found attention was drawn to the eastern end of the abbey and defining the site for excavation. When the sanctuary was laid bare the base of the high alter and two broad steps were uncovered in which several fourteenth century tiles bearing arms were found.

A recess was also found in the north wall which had held a coffin of a full grown man, believed to have been the founder, Robert FitzRanulph. Several bones and portions of the lead coffin were found.

“The buildings included an aisleless cruciform church about 150ft long, each transept having two almost square chapels, and a great western tower. Abutting against the tower was the western range of the cloister, and against the south transept came the eastern range: the south side of the cloister was formed by a long refectory with a kitchen adjoining it.”

Sketch by William Henry Elgar, 1926. The British Newspaper Archive.

In March 1931, Frank Crawshaw gifted Beauchief Abbey to Sheffield Corporation, which agreed to buy the nearby golf course, the adjoining Abbey Farm, land, and woods, comprising about 166 acres, and extending from near Woodseats to Twentywell Lane, for £30,000. Parts of the old estate have now been built on – Greenhill and Bradway – and the areas around Abbey Lane and Hutcliffe Wood.

Today, only the western tower of the Abbey remains, together with some ruins (including a wall) to the immediate south-east. The tower is attached to the chapel (now a church). The foundations of other buildings are visible, and the medieval fishponds still exist.

Much of the old estate is now occupied by two golf courses (Abbeydale Golf Club and Beauchief Golf Club), but several areas of ancient woodland remain: Parkbank Wood to the east of the Abbey, Old Park Wood and Little Wood Bank to the south, Gulleys Wood in the centre of the park and Ladies Spring Wood to the west.

W.H. Elgar explaining some of the arch stones of Beauchief Abbey to members of the Derbyshire and Hunter Archaeological Societies in 1925. Photograph by The British Newspaper Archive.


Sheffield Citadel

Photograph by Exposed Magazine

The Citadel, a prominent Sheffield building that has remained vacant since 1999, could finally be brought back into use after planning consent was granted for its redevelopment by Sheffield City Council.

WMA Architects, on behalf of Tandem Properties, submitted full planning and listed building applications in October 2019 for work on The Citadel on Cross Burgess Street.

The Grade II-listed building was constructed in 1894 as the Sheffield headquarters of the Salvation Army. It was designed by William Gillbee Scott (1857-1930), who had conceived the Gower Street Memorial Chapel in London.

The foundation stones were laid in September 1892 with construction completed by the end of 1893. Completed at a cost of £25,000, the building consisted of a large hall, various rooms and apartments, with three large business premises on Pinstone Street.

It has remained vacant following the charity’s relocation to new premises in 1999.

The interior of the four-storey building is set to be modernised to make it suitable for use as a food and drink establishment, while retaining its historic features.

Work will include increasing the amount of glazing on the Cross Burgess Street frontage with the existing auditorium expected to form part of the restaurant or bar area.

The applications have now been approved, subject to conditions, by Sheffield City Council under delegated powers.

Buildings People

Wentworth Woodhouse

Photograph by Sheffielder

“If you lay out your money in improving your seat, lands, gardens, etc., you beautify the country and do the work ordered by God himself.” These were the words of the 1st Marquess of Rockingham in the letter of advice he left for his son, the future Prime Minister, shortly before his death in 1750.

He had been good as his word, by his own reckoning he had spent £82,500 improving his house and grounds at Wentworth, providing it with one of the longest fronts of any English country house.

We are talking about Wentworth Woodhouse, situated within Rotherham borough, but within a stone throw of the Sheffield border, up the road from Chapeltown.

This remains one of South Yorkshire’s hidden secrets, only emerging from years of obscurity within the past few years.

Few people realise that behind the 600ft Palladian front is a second house with a grand baroque front. The difference between the two houses is blatant, but they formed a single building programme between 1724 to 1749.

Photograph by Sheffielder

The family made their fortune from coal mining, and the Fitzwilliams, descended from the Rockinghams, became well-known in Sheffield circles.

However, the 20th century wasn’t kind to the family and certainly not to Wentworth Woodhouse.

After World War Two, Manny Shimwell, Minister of Fuel and Power, told Peter Fitzwilliam, “I am going to mine right up to your bloody front door.” And he did.

Years of open-cast mining devastated the gardens and parkland and did lasting damage to the old house itself.

Unable to be maintained properly, Wentworth Woodhouse survived due to the efforts of Lady Mabel Fitzwilliam, sister of the 7th Earl, who negotiated a deal with West Riding County Council in 1949 to use it as a training college for physical education teachers. The family retained the Baroque wing.

Lady Mabel College later merged with Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) and remained at Wentworth Woodhouse until 1988.

The house was put up for sale and bought by Wensley Haydon-Baillie, a millionaire, who, after a bad business investment in 1998, admitted debts of £13million, and the property was repossessed by the bank.

Its saviour was Clifford Newbold, a London architect, who, far from being the recluse he was originally made out to be, did what he could to save Wentworth Woodhouse.

After his death in 2015, Wentworth Woodhouse was put on the market and eventually sold to Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust for £7million in 2017.

This is undoubtedly the renaissance for Wentworth Woodhouse, with £7.2million of repairs to the roof almost complete.

Photograph by Sheffielder

In normal circumstances, the state rooms are open to the public, with plans to use parts of the house as a hotel and business centre.

Subsidence and age have contributed to its unstable condition, underlined by the recent discovery that Georgian cornices, 18 metres above the ground, were crumbling away.

The good news is that Historic England has stepped in with a grant of £224,000 to replace more than 90metres of the ornate sandstone and limestone cornice, which runs around the roofline of the mansion’s Palladian East front.

Photograph by Sheffielder