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33-35 Fargate – this 1937 building is being converted into offices

No. 33-35 Fargate. Now a branch of Superdrug, with the remaining four floors now being converted into premium office space called Ratoon. Image: DJP/2022

Yesterday’s post about the demolition of the former Next building on Fargate caused a bit of a hubbub. Redevelopment is also taking place nearby, at 33-35 Fargate, better known to us as the former Topshop/Topman building.

Part of the ground floor is now occupied by Superdrug, but you may have noticed building work going on in the rest of the property. This is going to be new office space called Ratoon – its name meaning a new shoot or sprout springing from the base of a plant, especially sugar cane, after being cut.

The main entrance, and former escalator access to Topman on the first floor, is being turned into a new opening for office space above, much of which has been empty for years.

The £6.5m project is being financed by fund manager Nuveen on behalf of Medical Research Council Pension Fund. Sheffield City Council has also provided a £900K grant as it seeks to reinvent Fargate and High Street.

Offices will be rented as a whole, or floor-by-floor basis, with a rooftop terrace garden with views over St Marie’s Cathedral and Fargate. A lightwell will be installed over the stairs and an orangery-style roof lantern will shed light directly onto the upper floors.

Newspaper advertisement from June 1937. Image: British Newspaper Archive

But more about the history of the site.

If we go back to the beginning of the twentieth century the site was occupied by J.B. Eaton, well-known drapers at No. 33, and a public house called Old Red House, at No. 35. The pub closed in 1903 and the whole site developed as a purpose-built shop for J.B. Eaton.

The draper closed in the early 1930s and the site was bought by the British and Colonial Furniture Company. It demolished the former shop and built a new property for James Woodhouse and Son, known for selling furniture of modern and attractive design, and opened in May 1937.

The new Woodhouse building had five floors of spacious and well-lit showrooms providing nearly 40,000 square feet of floor space.

The shop fronts with large arcades, specially designed for the display of furniture, were of modern character, equivalent in size to a window nearly 200 feet long.  A bronze and illuminated canopy protected shoppers and added to the dignity of the building.

The elevation, on classical lines, was constructed of Portland stone, with ornamental windows, and was floodlit at night.

Inside, staircases of polished oak were features of each floor, which were also served by express lifts.

The architect is unknown, but likely to have been the same one used to design many of James Woodhouse’ similar-looking stores.

Construction was by Sheffield-based George Longden and Son, who had also cleared the site, using materials of ‘British and Empire origin,’ and incorporating nearly 200 tons of British steelwork for the frame. Ornate plastering inside was completed by Hudson and Dore of Crookes.

James Woodhouse and Son, house furnishers, Nos. 33-35 Fargate. 1950-1955. Image: Picture Sheffield

British and Colonial was created after it bought James Woodhouse of Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as furniture retailers in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, and Sunderland. James Woodhouse is recorded in the records of Gillows of Lancaster, and it is thought he carried out his apprenticeship here.

The company traded as James Woodhouse and Son and expanded throughout Great Britain, Toronto, Quebec, and in 1936 had opened a New York  store on West 34th-Street, Fifth Avenue. Its success was due to selling modern furniture at the lowest price, and by providing convenient and economical means of payment.

In 1945, British and Colonial was bought by Great Universal Stores and Woodhouse lasted on Fargate until the late1970s/early 1980s. Its eventual closure, and that of its sister company Cavendish, was the result of GUS divesting much of its physical retail subsidiaries to concentrate on mail order, property, and finance. In 2006, it was split into two separate companies. Experian which continues to exist, and Home Retail Group which was bought by Sainsbury’s in 2016.

33-35 Fargate eventually became Topshop/Topman, and for a while had a branch of Dorothy Perkins. It closed in 2020, a few months before the collapse of Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.

And so, the next time you walk past, look at this old building, and remember its overlooked history.

Fargate looking towards Town Hall Square from outside Nos 33/35, James Woodhouse and Son, House Furnishers, 1950-1955. Image: Picture Sheffield, and a similar view today. Image: DJP/2022

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

45-47 Fargate – the building’s secret is revealed after demolition

Site of 45-47 Fargate. The building has been completely demolished. Image: DJP/2022

It’s all gone wrong at 45-47 Fargate, better known as the former Next store.

When the chain store relocated from the corner of Fargate and Norfok Row, the building was earmarked for a £1.5m makeover. It was to become a café/restaurant with external alterations including replacement facades, second floor extension and the formation of a roof terrace, with provision for a rooftop plant enclosure.

The application was made by Woodhead Investments and work started last year.

Architect design of proposed building. Image: Woodhead Investments

But in April, David Walsh, in The Star, showed photographs of the site, and the building had been demolished.

Owner David Woodhead of Woodhead Investments explained they had encountered structural problems. Original cast iron columns they hoped to reuse had proved too weak, forcing them to start from scratch.

However, the photographs revealed something interesting.

Demolition revealed old brickwork that didn’t fit in with what most of us thought to be a nineteen sixties construction. And the inclusion of cast iron columns certainly raised questions.

The site was once occupied by the “Lord’s House” which incorporated a Catholic Chapel. This was demolished in 1815 to make way for commercial buildings.

And digging deeper, we find that historical maps show an amalgamation of properties from the middle of the 19th Century onwards… and these formed the structure of the building recently demolished.

Demolition revealed brickwork that suggested the building was much older than appeared. Images: Top – DJP/2022, Bottom – Sheffield Star

According to the planning application, remnants of the original shops fronting Fargate were visible in the basement, where substantial stone walls were incorporated into the existing framed structure.

And we find that underneath the early 1960s façade was the framed structure of the original three-storey shop, although the pitched roofs had been replaced with a flat roof.

We must be grateful to Picture Sheffield because we can see what the building looked like. In a photograph, taken between 1915-1925, it was occupied by Robert Hanbridge and Sons, hosiers, hatters, and glovers.

In 1953, it was purchased by Joseph Hepworth and Son, tailors, of Leeds, for £100,000, and after reconstruction and modernisation opened as a branch of Hepworths. The company rebranded to Next in the 1980s and stayed here until its closure in 2019.

The building was not deemed worthy of architectural interest and the sixties development destroyed much of its original character. However, we have lost another piece of Sheffield history, even if we didn’t know it still existed.

The building at the corner of Fargate and Norfolk Row was occupied by Robert Hanbidge and Sons Ltd., Hosiers and Glovers, in the early twentieth century. Image: Picture Sheffield
Opening advertisement for Hepworths in 1952 showing the original look of the building. Image: British Newspaper Archive
Hepworths was rebranded as Next in the 1980s and remained until 2019. Image: Realty

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

Kelham Island – new planning application for apartments

Architects plan for 180 Shalesmoor, Sheffield. Image: CODA Architecture

The appeal of Kelham Island shows no signs of abating. Next up is a planning application for 122 apartments and a commercial unit in a six storey block at the corner of Corporation Street and Alma Street.

The planning application, called 180 Shalesmoor, has been submitted by CODA Architecture on behalf of R.S. Sabkha Construction and Developments Ltd.

The site is currently occupied by a few car repair workshops, a collection of one and two storey buildings in various states of disrepair.

Back in the 1700s this was an area of orchards and fields related to Coulston Croft, but the area was divided up along the Don into parcels of land which would later be filled by industrial development.

The area known as Kelham Island was one of the largest and most significant industrial zones in Sheffield. Its position along the River Don was very advantageous in the early days of industry for transportation and power. The surrounding areas such as St. Vincent’s and Bridgehouses were densely packed residential areas, many traditional back-to-back style houses were home to the many industrial workers for Kelham.

Existing site. Image: CODA Architecture

The site itself has housed some form of industrial property since it was first built on. It was originally called Mill Works, and maps dating back to 1850 show a steel and iron wire factory on site called Pilot Works which occupied much of the site, part of which became Corporation Street when it was introduced in the 1860-70s. Sections were added and removed from the works over the early 20th century.

Most recently it was occupied by City Centre Clutch, Yello Car & Van Hire, and VMC Bodyshop fronting along Corporation Street. It was on the market for £1.4m and was bought in December.

180 Shalesmoor, Sheffield. Images: CODA Architecture
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Buildings

The Mount – Flockton’s Folly is about to go full circle

The Mount. View from landscaped gardens towards portico on southern elevation. Axis Architecture

History has the gift of repeating itself, and this applies to one of Sheffield’s forgotten masterpieces. I am referring to The Mount, on the north side of Glossop Road, at the top of the hill, in which a listed planning application has been submitted by Broomgrove Properties and Axis Architecture to convert the Grade II* listed property  into fifty-five residential apartments.

Its beauty is lost amidst the urban sprawl of Broomhill, but once upon a time this was an ambitious attempt to recreate the grand terraces of Bath’s Royal Crescent and London’s Regent’s Park. It was built between 1830-1832 by William Flockton, aged 26, a builder, and forever famous as one of Sheffield’s leading architects.

Pevsner describes it as “a palace-fronted terrace of eight houses, seventeen bays long, with an Ionic giant portico of six columns carrying a pediment and end pavilions with giant columns in antis.

Main portico of the Flockton range, southern elevation. Image: Axis Architecture
Newspaper advertisement from 1831. Interesting to note that in this proposal there are only six mansions. There were eight when it was built. Image: British Newspaper Archive

The Mount, located in rural surroundings, looked like a country house but contained several individual mansions. It was first advertised in 1832 and allowed prospective occupants to view a shell before adjusting the interior to individual needs.

It was referred to as ‘Flockton’s Folly’ because for the first eight years after construction it was only occupied by one person. But its popularity increased and became a place of literary fame when James Montgomery lived and died here, while John Holland, another noted Sheffield poet, lived in one of the houses – occupied by William Parkin for 33 years – until his own death.

The Mount, 1849. Built of stone with an Ioninic giant portico of six columns carrying a pediment in 1834 by architect William Flockton. It was the first home of the Wilsons of Snuff Mill fame. Once the home of James Montgomery. Image: Picture Sheffield

The fame of The Mount says that a ballot was once taken as to who should become the tenant of one of the houses.

Other well-known people who lived at The Mount included, Walton J. Hadfield, the City Surveyor who lived at number 2 from 1926 to 1934, James Wilkinson, the iron and steel merchant who lived at number 6 from 1837 to 1862 and George Wostenholm, the cutlery manufacturer, who lived at number 8 between 1837 and 1841. Numbers 14 and 16 were lived in by George Wilson, the snuff manufacturer, between 1857 and 1867, one house not being big enough for his family. While another George Wilson, who was managing director of Charles Cammell and Co for many years, also lived at The Mount.

In time, it was occupied by “headmasters, ministers, station masters, and all sorts of people.”

The Mount was used as the basis for the nearby Wesleyan Proprietary Grammar School, later Wesley College, and now King Edward VII School, in 1838.

The Mount, Glossop Road, Sheffield. 1900-1919. This image was originally part of the Tim Hale Photographic Collection. It was purchased at auction in September 2019 through donations from members of the public and a grant from the Graves Trust. Image: Picture Sheffield

In 1914, John Walsh, the department store owner, bought The Mount and served notice on its tenants. The need to expand his city centre store meant that his live-in shop assistants needed new accommodation. Numbers 10-16 were used for the purpose, and when the Blitz of 1940 destroyed the store, the building was used as temporary retail space for a year.

It was bought by United Steel Companies in 1958 and converted into offices, with extensive additions to the rear, by Sheffield architects Mansell Jenkinson Partnership, who also installed lifts. In 1967 it became the regional headquarters of British Steel Corporation and in 1978 was purchased by the insurance company General Accident, later becoming Norwich Union.

Existing galleried office entrance inserted into Flockton range as part of 1960’s office conversion. Image: Axis Architecture
View of typical room in Flockton range with dividing wall removed. Image: Axis Architecture

For a long time, The Mount was owned by Aviva (formed from the merger of Norwich Union and Commercial General Union) but was rented to A+ English, a language school, which carried out significant improvements to the offices.

The latest planning application calls for fifty-five residential apartments (with a mix of 1, 2, and 3, bedroom and studio units), including single-storey infill extensions at ground floor level, a single-storey rooftop extension to the existing annex, formation of four basement lightwells to the listed range, and provision of internal/external residents’ parking and associated landscaping. In addition, the proposals allow the removal of the through vehicular route, with access from Newbould Lane closed, and with an infill extension at ground floor level to provide in effect a new main entrance for the development and space for a concierge.

Ornate fireplace. Image: Axis Architecture
The Mount. Internal view looking towards north elevation of Flockton range. Image: Axis Architecture

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

Boots on West Street is an architectural treat

Boots, West Street, Sheffield. Designed by Albert Nelson Bromley. Image: DJP/2022

The Victorians knew how to build shops. And this is a perfect example of elaborate architecture. It is Boots, on West Street, at its corner with Regent Street. There has been a Boots here since 1890, which makes it one of Sheffield’s oldest shops.

“It was built in Free Renaissance house style, executed in light brown faience, with big Flemish gables, an open parapet, and a cupola on the corner with a dome,” says Pevsner.

Forget the shop, it is what happens at roof level that intrigues me most. How often do people go up there? What secrets lie within that cupola? What will the view from it look like?

Boots was established in 1849 by John Boot, but it was his son, Jesse, who built the company into a household name with stores all over the world. I’ve mentioned before that its first chemist branch outside Nottingham was at Spital Hill, and Sheffield played an important part in its growth.

The building we see is not the original shop. The old store was three storeys high, comprising a commodious shop, with seven large plate-glass windows, on the first floor six stock rooms, and on the second floor, six similar rooms. The site itself was held on an 800 year lease from 1 October 1825.

Boots Cash Chemists, No 252-254, West Street (Store 41). This original store was demolished and rebuilt in 1905-06. Image: Picture Sheffield

In 1905, the old store was rebuilt, and Boots took temporary premises opposite for its chemist, while fancy goods were sold from a shop higher up at the corner with Victoria Street.

The new shop opened in 1906 and was designed by Albert Nelson Bromley (1820-1934), whose work in Sheffield had already included a Boots branch in 1904 at Attercliffe. (It also survives, home to Samara Lounge, but for years as the Zeenat Restaurant).

West Street and Regent Street. From the Boots Scribbling Diary of 1906. Image: Walgreens Boots Alliance Heritage

The West Street branch followed the company tradition of purpose-built branches, faced in caramel-coloured glazed terracotta, often with shaped gables or corner turrets. The detailing followed French Renaissance and English Jacobean architecture, often including hybrid sea creatures in its decoration.

A good example of this can be found at Pelham Street, once Boots’ flagship Nottingham store, now occupied by Zara. West Street, although built on a much smaller scale, is a replica, still in original form, except for the disappearance of the corner clock. The terracotta may be Doulton’s Carraraware, which was specified for Boots’ branch in Southend in 1915.

Boots, West Street, Sheffield. Look closely at the elaborate decoration featuring sea creatures. A clock has long disappeared. Image: DJP/2022

Albert Nelson Bromley, the architect, was born in Stafford, and moved to Nottingham to live with his uncle, architect Frederick Bakewell. He joined his office and became a fellow member of RIBA in 1872. He was on the point of taking up a post in Manchester when he was encouraged to spend time sketching buildings on the continent.

Between 1872-73 he visited 90 towns and cities, including Bruges, Chartres, Heidelberg, Prague, Venice, Siena, Athens, and Constantinople. In ‘Work and Sport: Memories of an Architect’ (1934), he stated that the object of the book was “mainly to reduce to readable proportions his ‘Continental Diary of my Architectural Travels.’

Gifted in the use of the pencil, pen, and brush, he executed watercolours of high artistic merit.

On returning to England, Bromley re-joined his uncle’s practice although their partnership was dissolved in 1876. He became principal architect for Nottingham School Board and did work for Nottingham Tramway Company. But it was his work for Boots that he is best remembered for, a relationship that lasted into the 1920s.

Over a hundred years later, this modern-day Boots is a far cry from its origins, described back in the day as a ‘Chemist, Fine Art Dealer, and Bookseller.’

Special thanks to Kathryn A Morrison for providing historical date about Boots and Albert Nelson Bromley.

Boots, West Street, Sheffield. It is likely that ground-floor plate glass windows originally extended up Regent Street. The floors above are now used as offices. Image: DJP/2022

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings Streets

Cambridge Street – while you were sleeping last night

Image: David Poole

Cambridge Street at 3am. The changing face of our city centre.

Grosvenor House, home to HSBC, with the reflection of the almost-complete Isaacs Building opposite. Both buildings form part of Sheffield’s Heart of the City development.

Once upon a time, this was the site of Barrasford’s Hippodrome presenting music hall acts and films projected from the Barrascope. It was soon renamed the Hippodrome Theatre of Varieties and was Sheffield’s largest theatre. 

It eventually became the Hippodrome Cinema, demolished in 1963, and the Grosvenor House Hotel and retail outlets built in its place. History likes reinventing itself, and the hotel was itself demolished in 2016-2017.

Hippodrome Theatre opened 23 December 1907 as a Music Hall. Became a permanent cinema on 20 July 1931. In 1948, came under the management of The Tivoli (Sheffield) Ltd. Closed 2 March 1963 and demolished. Image: Maurice Parkin/Picture Sheffield 

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings Streets

Thomas Street – the people are returning

Thomas Street, looking towards Moore Street, with a covered walkway between Cosmos, recently constructed student accommodation.

This was formerly the site of Stokes Tiles, but back in 1892 we would have been looking at a much narrower Thomas Street, with the Noah’s Ark public house evident. The council paid £750 for 113 square yards of freehold land from Tennant Bros for the purpose of widening these streets.

Former back-to-back housing in the area was cleared and made way for industry, but times change, and the people are returning.

In the background is the Moorfoot Building, and Wickes, this land now under ownership of NewRiver, owners of The Moor, and I’m informed will be assigned for further residential development.

Cosmos. New student accommodation situated at the corner of Fitzwilliam Street and Moore Street. The people are returning to Sheffield city centre. Image: DJP/2021

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

Cornish Works – the last substantial development opportunity at Kelham Island

Image: DJP/2022

If I had a favourite building in Sheffield, this would be it. Cornish Works, abandoned, derelict, still charming, is one of the last substantial development opportunities at Kelham Island. This was once home to George Barnsley and Sons, specialists in files and cutting tools for leather workers and the shoe-making industry.

Unlike many famous Sheffield firms, its name lives on in premises at Mowbray Street. But for many years the business was located here, at Cornish Street, a narrow road, that is slowly readying itself for regeneration.

If I had made this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, then I might have considered paying the £1.65m being asked for it, and substantially more for it to be made good. Until somebody else does, the building falls into ruin.

“It is an amazing labyrinth,” said a friend of mine. “Obsolete machinery has become museum pieces, old offices have finely crafted woodwork, and everywhere you look there’s evidence of Victorian and Edwardian history. But nature is taking over, with greenery covering old courtyards, the sides of buildings, and encroaching inside. Roofs have collapsed and birds have made home. It is an urban explorer’s paradise, most of whom show the respect it deserves, but the big worry is that one day somebody will set it on fire.”  

Image: Leeds Explorer
Image: Leeds Explorer

Cornish Works is a collection of listed buildings, including crucible furnaces and a dwelling house, constructed about 1850, and extended in the later nineteenth century.

Image: The Time Chamber

George Barnsley was a manufacturer of files and other tools. He was born into humble surroundings in 1810 and educated at the Boys’ Charity School,

However, aged 26, he was clever enough to start a file making firm on Wheeldon Street and moved into the new Cornish Works in 1850, improving his product range to include shoes and butchers’ knives. He was a member of the Town Council for the St Philip’s Ward, and a member of the Cutlers’ Company.

Image: Colloco
Image: Colloco

His son, George Jnr, joined the company as a travelling salesman at 14 and was made a partner when he reached twenty-one. He took over the company on the death of his father in 1874.

Like George Snr, he became a Town Councillor, as well as becoming an alderman, J.P., and Master Cutler.

George Jnr died at Oakvale, Collegiate Crescent, in 1895, and the business passed to his son, Henry, who steered the business through the difficult times of the twentieth century. 

But when he died in 1958, the number of employees had dwindled to around one hundred, and by the time the works closed in 2004 only a handful remained in this cavernous and dilapidated workspace.

The name eventually passed to the Mowbray Manufacturing Company of which it is now a wholly owned subsidiary.

Image: Colloco

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

Charles Street Station

Charles Street Station. Image: Picture Sheffield/P. David Turton

A photograph that will confuse younger generations. Doing an excellent job at imitating the London Underground, this was Charles Street Station, pictured in 1983. This was a theme bar, but such was the authenticity, that Omnia, the online cultural site, includes the image on its London Underground pages. It was incorporated within the Isaacs Building, built by David Isaacs, a wallpaper merchant, in 1905.

Isaacs Building was an example of Edwardian entrepreneurship, the ground floor containing seven shop units with an assembly hall above, its entrance being from Charles Street. The top floor of the building contained offices and several workshops, mostly rented by enterprising tailoring businesses.

The assembly hall was once the Sheffield Trades Club and in the 1970s was converted into a nightclub, its various incarnations being Faces, Raffles, Charlie Parker’s and Freedom. For a time, the old basement was used as Charles Street Station.

Stephen Shephard busking outside Charles Street Station in 1983. Image: Picture Sheffield/Sheffield Newspapers Ltd

The bar was short-lived, and the entire building was demolished in 2020 as part of the Heart of the City redevelopment. Its replacement, modern office-space, with ground-floor retail units, is nearing completion, and is also called Isaacs Building.

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved. Supporting Picture Sheffield

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Buildings

The things you don’t get to see at 20-26 Fargate

I’ve always said that what interests me most about old buildings is not what you get to see, but what you don’t. It’s about those hidden rooms, above and below, that get forgotten over time.

The next time you walk down Fargate, look up, and wonder what happened in those rooms above shops. What secrets do they hold?

And so, I’m delighted that 20-26 Fargate, subject of an earlier post, has thrown up interesting photographs, including a disused lift shaft, going back to the Victorian times of Robert Foster and Sons, milliners and furniture sellers, and a quite unexpected staircase.

20-26 Fargate. Unused lift shaft. Image: HLP Architects
20-26 Fargate. Stone feature staircase to front of building. Image: HLP Architects
20-26 Fargate. Windows to front elevation. Image: HLP Architects
20-26 Fargate. Flat roof at third floor with views of the Cathedral. Image: HLP Architects
20-26 Fargate. Glazing to north (rear) elevations. Image: HLP Architects

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.