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Streets

The people lined the street to catch a glimpse of Queen Victoria

Hereford Street, Sheffield. The road was one much wider, lined with shops, houses, and factories. Photograph: DJP/2021

Hereford Street’s greatest moment was when Queen Victoria officially opened Sheffield Town Hall in May 1897 and travelled down here on her way to Norfolk Park. It might be hard to believe now, but let your imagination do the rest.

“To stand on The Moor, at the top of Hereford Street, and look down the latter thoroughfare affords the spectator a great amount of pleasure. A scene is presented of bright flags of dainty and artistic colours, fancy streamers of every description, while other kinds of bunting and bannerettes float out gaily in every direction.

“Venetian masts are erected on either side of the street, 15 yards apart, and are surmounted by large gilt spearheads, while banners, shields, and trophies of flags are fixed to each mast. Every alternate mast has a pedestal covered with crimson cloth and gilt ornamentation, and at the summit of each pedestal is a group of real plants.

“Across the street at intervals are fixed canopies of handsome floral work, and streamer flags of harmonious colours and flower baskets are suspended from the centre of each floral canopy, with lines of streamer flags along the street at either side connecting the masts with the whole design.

“The buildings, too, in Hereford Street have been dealt with in the most artistic manner. Flags float out bravely from the tops of the principal works and houses, and on the fronts are displayed handsome shields, backed up with designs of small flags and other similar trophies.

“As the time arrived for the stopping of traffic, the corner where Hereford Street joins the Moor became so blocked with cars, cabs, and buses that the Derbyshire police, who extended from the top of Hereford Street along part of St Mary’s Road were hard put to it to prevent serious accidents.

“People would still insist on leaving the shelter of the barriers and coming across the road, and then, as likely as not, they were stranded amongst the horses and vehicles, who, being unused to the terrible commotion, were almost frantic and the drivers, but for the efforts of the police, could not possibly have helped running down some of these belated wayfarers.

“However, this was soon cleared, the arrival of the 1st Battalion of the Hallamshire Rifles having a great deal to do with the transformation.

“The men were placed eight paces apart and covered the entire length of Hereford Street and part of St Mary’s Road.

The visit of Queen Victoria. Pictured here on The Moor. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

“The crowd was very orderly, only a few attempting to elude the vigilant eye of the constables, and those that attempted this being in most cases drunk.

“As the time wore on, however, getting tired, perhaps, and some of them thirsty, occasional rows occurred. People attempted to change their positions and their neighbours’ mild remonstrations gradually developed into what may be styled ‘words,’ and again, in some cases, where the sum was particularly irritating, into blows.

“The few fights, however, that did take place soon raised cries of ‘Police!’ and the guardians of the peace immediately quelled the disorder and left the combatants to sing and shout once more with the rest.

“Several cases of fainting occurred, and it was rather unfortunate that at this point of the route there was no ambulance corps, but the gallantry to the ladies of the rough and ready grinders was quite touching, and these were immediately made room for even in the thickest crushes.

“Of course, skits and jokes passed amongst the members of the crowd, but, as a rule, the language was ‘fit for the Queen.’

“Stands, windows, and roofs were all crowded, and the number of people in the street was, as far as can be judged, above the average.

“The procession passed, the military lined up, and the crowd in one huge migration, made tracks, some for the park, and others in order to get another view, if possible, along South Street, Park.”

Looking towards The Moor from Hereford Street. Today, this part of the road is pedestrianised and is occupied by Dempseys, bar and Club and QJ (the former Yorkshire Bank). Photograph: Picture Sheffield

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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Streets

Hereford Street: two photographs seventy years apart

Aerial photograph of Hereford Street (top to bottom) in 1951
Aerial photograph of Hereford Street (top to bottom) in 2021

Two photographs that show how a Sheffield street lost its identity.

Hereford Street is shown as a wide thoroughfare in 1951, a continuation of Charlotte Road, and intersected by narrow St Mary’s Road, and Porter Street (that became the lower end of Eyre Street). It joined The Moor that continued south towards London Road. Note that Bramall Lane roundabout did not exist.

Seventy years later, the outline of Hereford Street can still be seen but is split by two dual carriageways – St Mary’s Road and Eyre Street. Gone are the factories, houses, and small shops, and the Moor-end is pedestrianised, and this section of The Moor lost beneath the Moorfoot Building.

Sadly, this area has become an unloved part of the city centre with Hereford Street falling on hard times.

Most astonishing is that few buildings appear in both photographs. Most were swept away for road development, factories were surplus to requirement, and old houses and shops deemed unfit for purpose.

St Mary’s Church, on Bramall Lane, does appear in both photographs. In 1951, it was covered in soot and suffered from air pollution, but look how large the churchyard was, and how much was taken away to make St Mary’s Road a dual-carriageway.

Buildings to point out in the modern-day image are the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Headquarters and Moor Markets (left), Decathlon and Deacon House (centre) and, of course, the Moorfoot Building (bottom).

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Streets

A lost street underneath Sheffield Town Hall

New Church Street, looking towards Pinstone Street, now the site of Sheffield Town Hall, No 7, Cutlers’ Arms P.H., No 9, Old Green Man, No 11, Henry Bocking, Beer Retailer. Late 1800s. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

Do council officials, working late at Sheffield Town Hall, ever hear strange noises in the stilly night?

Do they listen with bated breath to the sound of prancing horses and the ghostly cries of coachmen?

Or, when all is quiet, does a rich melodious voice, declaiming in grand style, passages from Shakespeare, ever strike their astonished ears?

Or, do council officials ever work late? Or do they work from home now?

If there is any such things as ghosts, Sheffield Town Hall must be peopled with a vast multitude of them.

New Church Street (not to be confused with Church Street, near the cathedral) was demolished about 1890 to provide room for the Town Hall. It lay almost through the middle of the site of the Town Hall, from what is now the (padlocked) main front entrance, to a point in the west wall opposite the Mercure Hotel.

The Cutlers’ Arms can be seen almost in the centre of the picture, with three people near the doorway, and was the terminus for all the Derbyshire coaches.

“It was a great sight to see them coming in from Tideswell, Castleton, Baslow, Bakewell, and other places. Each coach had its name; the only ones I can remember are the ‘Lady Peel’ and the ‘Surprise,’ both of Castleton,” said Ambrose J. Wallis, who owned the photograph in 1931.

“Next to the Cutlers’ Arms were the Old Green Man and the Grapes – three public houses in a row.

“Almost opposite the Cutlers’ Arms was the house of a man who used to engrave memorial plates, one of which was in York Minster.

“His wife kept a theatrical boarding house, where a number of famous actors stayed. The most famous of all was the great Shakespearean actor, Henry Irving.”

At another house, higher up New Church Street, Mr Wallis said, there lived a man called Dunkerley, who was one of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

All this history now covered up by the Town Hall.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Streets

Cadman Lane: a city centre street buried underneath modern Sheffield

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

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

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

How did Cadman Lane get its name?

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

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

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

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

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

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Streets

Cumberland Street – two photos – 60 years apart

Cumberland Street. Photograph: Picture Sheffield
Cumberland Street. Photograph: DJP/2021

Two night-time shots of Cumberland Street, Sheffield, sixty years apart. The black and white photograph, looking towards Eyre Street, was taken in the early 1960s, and even though almost everything was demolished, it is still recognisable.

The row of shops down the left became Moor Market, including the tall and imposing General Electric Company building.

The old properties down the right were replaced in the early 1970s, including the addition of the Whetstone Public House, later Moorfoot Tavern, and now El Paso restaurant.

Only one building survives – the former Martin’s Bank at the far right corner of Cumberland Street with Eyre Street.

About halfway down are two roads with contrasting fortunes. To the right, South Lane, then a narrow thoroughfare, but significantly widened. To the left, Cumberland Way, lost during Moor Market construction, and now forming the entrance to the market service area.

In the far gloom was the factory belonging to W.A. Tyzack (built in 1958 and demolished in 1984), and now the site of Decathlon.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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Other Streets

Gritting Sheffield’s roads: Winter is a season of recovery and preparation

Gritter lorries on standby at the Streets Ahead Olive Grove depot. Photograph: Sheffield City Council

Temperatures are set to fall this week, with ice and possibly some snow forecast, and Sheffield’s gritters are ready to treat the roads. One thing is certain, we’ll all have a good moan if they get it wrong.

There are five weather stations across the city providing up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. This helps Streets Ahead contractor Amey to determine when there is a need to grit our roads.

Contrary to belief, over 60% of the city’s highway network is gritted in priority order. That is 610 miles of urban and rural roads and can take up to 8.5 hours to complete a full gritting run. Priority 1 routes include main arterial roads linking Sheffield to other towns and motorways. Priority 2 routes are bus routes, link roads, roads where public service facilities are located, and rural routes. Snow is also cleared from city centre pavements, but pavements across the city are not gritted anymore.

As the temperature drops to near freezing point the gritters will be out, but it isn’t grit they are spreading. It is rock salt. And the salt used comes from mines of ancient underground deposits in Cleveland, County Antrim, and below the Cheshire town of Winsford, and lowers the freezing point of moisture. Pure salt is the most effective pre-treatment, but grit is often added once snow has started to lay and compact.

The pre-treating of the highway network mitigates the formation of ice and snow, although traffic is needed to make it effective. Very often, when an area has slush or rainfall, it washes the salt away and makes the road vulnerable again, necessitating them to be re-gritted a second time before the weather freezes.

Gritter lorries and road rollers at Sheffield Works Department’s Manor Lane site in 1982. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

In 2003, the Highways Act 1980 was amended to place Sheffield City Council (and others) under a legal obligation to keep the roads clear. According to the amendment: “A highway authority are under a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice.”

It is a far cry from Victorian times when sand was shovelled off the backs of horses and carts, and although the switch to motor vehicles greatly improved operations, it wasn’t until the development of the first spinning salt distribution gritter in 1970 by Ripon-based Econ Engineering that the process was speeded up.

Today, Econ supply 85% of the UK’s rock salt spreaders and even have a dedicated gritting museum with fully restored vintage road maintenance vehicles, gritters, spreaders and snowploughs.

October is the start of the Streets Ahead winter maintenance period and is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Photograph: Sheffield City Council

Whilst rock salt has been the choice for generations it can have a negative effect on soil and plants, interfering with the nitrogen cycle, and causing roots to absorb salt instead of important minerals. Salt water can also drain into soil affecting insects and can disturb the eco-system in watercourses. In addition, sodium chloride can be harmful to animals. And let’s not forget that it can cause damage to road surfaces.

As you might expect, alternative methods are being sought including urea (used in the production of fertilizer), potassium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium acetate (all incredibly expensive), beet juice, cat litter (yes, you read right), sand, ashes, and stone grits. Other eco-friendly alternatives being explored are cheese brine, garlic salt, potato juice, pickle brine and coffee grounds.

But for now, it seems rock salt will be here for a while because it remains cheap and readily available.

Finally, the truth surrounding gritter lorries in the summer. In very hot weather when tar is at risk of melting the gritters spread salt. This absorbs moisture from the air and cools the tar and creates a non-stick road surface.

Gritter and snowplough seen here in a wintery 1977. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Streets

“And hence, True-Love’s Gutter, it’s old name was given.”

Castle Street, Sheffield. The original Truelove’s Gutter. Photograph: Google

In 2009, singer-songwriter Richard Hawley released a dark album called Truelove’s Gutter, said to refer to an ancient Sheffield street which was allegedly named after 18th century innkeeper Thomas Truelove, who used to charge people to dump rubbish in the gutter in the street that then flowed down into the River Don.

Thomas Truelove may have existed, I can’t find any evidence, but the Truelove family did own houses and land nearby.

The album reawakened interest in a long forgotten street.

In the 15th century no proper drainage existed, so as an aid to cleaning the streets a pool was constructed to make a reservoir for the storage of water supplied by springs on the hills above West Bar. This came to be known as Barker’s Pool and had a pair of sluice gates that could be opened to allow water to escape when required.

All the streets had an open drain or gutter which ran down the middle of the narrow road and into this, all the refuse and filth of the town were thrown.

To cleanse the town, bells would be rung about once a month to warn people and the water would be allowed to escape from the pool to rush down the sloping streets until it joined the River Don at Lady’s Bridge.

The drains also carried rainwater and after very heavy storms they became rushing torrents. Rails or fences were erected at the side of parts of the drain and in places bridges were put across the gap.

It was upon one of these small bridges that a courting couple were seated when they were washed away in 1690.

This inspired James Wills, a local writer, to pen a poem in 1827 called ‘The Contrast: or the Improvements of Sheffield’ and referred to a town about sixty years previous.

“You remember the sinks in the midst of the streets –
And when rain pours down each passenger greets
His fellow with ‘What a wide channel is here!
We all shall be drowned I greatly do fear’;
For lately two lovers sat here on a rail,
On the side of the ditch, fondly telling their tale,
When the flood washed them down in each other’s embrace,
For no longer could they keep their seat in the place;
And hence, True-Love’s Gutter, it’s old name was given,
Because by the flood these two lovers were driven!”

The historian Robert Eadon Leader destroyed this sad and romantic tale, and said the name really derived from the family of Truelove who lived for many generations in the vicinity.

The gutter exists in old deeds and in 1677 True Love’s Gutter Bridge is said to have been repaired by the Burgess. Also, in a Directory of Sheffield (1787), many tradesmen are living in this street – a grocer, baker, victualler, butcher, inkpot maker, linen draper, shoemaker, saddler, and hairdresser – as well as William Staniforth, surgeon, and man midwife.

Truelove’s Gutter, a narrow street, was renamed Castle Street in the early 1800s and widened a century later. It extended into what became Exchange Street and there have been recent suggestions that the name should be revived.

Richard Hawley. Truelove’s Gutter (2009)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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Streets

“We have indeed seen Sheffield burn.”

“We have indeed seen Sheffield burn. Many parts of our city have been destroyed; our peacetime occupations have been replaced by a complete conversion to wartime conditions. We must rebuild, reorganise, and reabsorb the men who are now away fighting. What a task! It will not be done by talking. It can only be achieved by enterprise, organisation, and very hard work. Also, we shall need good fortune and that which happens elsewhere will determine in large measure our own opportunities. If this war has taught us one thing, it is that our city is simply a cog in the wheel which is our country, and that our country is a part, and no mean part, of the mechanism of the civilised world.” – Dr W.H. Hatfield, Sheffield, 1943.

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Streets

Aldine Court: named after a Venetian printer

Aldine Court looking from High Street. Photograph: DJP 2021.

The glitziness of Sheffield’s High Street has long disappeared, now it’s a modern-day Miss Havisham, whose dilapidated appearance attracts only those of similar behaviour.

As such, we’re not likely to risk cutting along Aldine Court to Hartshead if we can help it. However, it is one of our oldest streets, and although concealed by surrounding buildings, it can tell a few stories.

Up until 1913 Aldine Court meandered from High Street towards Hartshead in so erratic a fashion that historian Robert Eadon Leader suggested its origin could have been from a primeval footpath across the waste.

Aerial view of Aldine Court. Its entrance is to the immediate right of the Telegraph Building on High Street and passes between later newspaper extensions behind. Photograph: Google.

It was Leader who disclosed a deed from Mary Trippett’s time, she was descended from  John Trippitte, yeoman, and Master Cutler in 1794, which revealed the haphazard buildings that had wantonly appeared; a malthouse (once William Patrick, then Thomas Wreaks), a maltkiln, a stable, workshops, and a bakehouse, as well as the old Sheffield Iris newspaper office at the Hartshead end.

“No two buildings were the same shape, the same height, scarcely of the same alignment; yet, decayed and ramshackle, they proved good enough for a typographer.”

Aldine Court had been called Trippett’s Yard, Wreaks Yard, and in 1845, when Joseph Pearce set up a printing works here, was referred to as Wilson’s Yard (probably after George Wilson, of the Sharrow Mills family, who had set up a snuff shop on High Street in the 1830s).

Pearce, the son of a bookseller in Gibraltar Street, was a stationer, printer and part-proprietor of the Sheffield Times before launching the Sheffield Telegraph, Britain’s first daily provincial newspaper, in 1855.

Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) (1449/52-1515)

The narrow thoroughfare would become forever linked with newspapers, and it was Pearce who renamed it Aldine Court, honouring one of history’s publishing greats.

Aldo Manuzio arrived in Venice in 1490 and produced small books in Latin and Italian, publishing the works of Dante, Petrarch, and Erasmus. Over two decades, his Aldine Press published 130 editions, famous for its imitation of the handwriting of Petrarch, using a typeface called ‘venetian’ or ‘aldine’, but later known by the name we are familiar with today – ‘italic’.

Between 1913-1916, Aldine Court was somewhat straightened to accommodate the Sheffield Telegraph building, and partly covered with later newspaper extensions.

Aldine Court looking towards the back of the Telegraph Building. Photograph: DJP2021.
Aldine Court looking towards Hartshead. Photograph: DJP2021.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Streets

Chapel Walk: “With hedges of honeysuckle and hawthorn; the air fragrant with the scent of new-mown hay.”

The current state of Chapel Walk is in stark contrast to when it was Tucker Alley, leading from Fargate into the rural idyll of Alsop Fields. Photograph: Sheffield Star.

Let us dismiss a legend before we go any further. I cannot find any evidence that bodies are buried beneath Chapel Walk, but there again, nor can I prove that they aren’t. The only connection with the ‘dead’ these days is the number of empty shops and lack of pedestrians.

Since the 1990s, the decline of Chapel Walk is the most remarkable example of degeneration in Sheffield city centre. From being a busy thoroughfare, where people struggled to avoid bumping into each other, it has become a ‘ghost’ street, but one that has the most potential to be impressive again.

Chapel Walk is one of our oldest streets, with origins in medieval times, but its importance surfaces in the 1700s.

At that time, every house on Prior Gate (High Street) had long gardens behind them, backing onto Alsop Fields, a rural and agricultural area sloping down to the River Sheaf.

In 1660, followers of Rev. James Fisher, vicar of Sheffield, broke away from Sheffield Parish Church to form the beginnings of Congregationalism. They met in rooms around the town but in 1700 rented a site that faced ‘Farrgate’ and called it the New Chapel, the back of it looking across Alsop Fields.

On the death of the Rev. Timothy Jollie in 1714, the Trustees of the New Chapel appointed the Arian John Wadsworth, causing some dissenters to breakaway and build a new chapel.

They looked to John Tooker, an early Master Cutler, who lived on ‘Farrgate’ and agreed to sell a piece of garden behind his house for £60 to Elia Wordsworth, a prominent member of the seceding independents, to build a new meeting house.

The chapel, across gardens from New Chapel, was built in 1714 within Tooker’s Yard, access being from Tooker Alley (later Tucker Alley), a narrow thoroughfare, with the conveyance ensuring permanent right of way to the chapel from Fargate and Alsop Fields, and that the passage should never be narrower than two yards. Thereafter, Tucker Alley became known as Chapel Walk.

Only Fargate is familiar in this illustration. Tucker Alley became Chapel Walk. Norfolk Street was built at the edge of Alsop Fields. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive.

Because of their proximity to each other, New Chapel became the Upper Chapel with the one on Chapel Walk called Nether Chapel.

“One regrets that there is no picture available of the Nether Chapel of those far-off days. We can imagine the little congregation during a long sermon on a hot summer’s day being beguiled by the song of birds coming through the open windows. We can see them, through fancy’s eye, coming out after worship into the strong sunlight and indulging in a friendly chat under the shade of neighbouring trees, and then dispersing to their homes in the vicinity along narrow lanes with hedges of honeysuckle and hawthorn; the air fragrant with the scent  of new-mown hay – the silence broken now and again by the bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle grazing contentedly in the adjacent fields.”

The chapel was partly destroyed by fire in 1827, and foundations for a New Nether Chapel were laid in May. It cost £4,200 and looked towards Norfolk Street (built at the edge of Alsop Fields) instead of Chapel Walk which had done its duty for 113 years. Dr William Younge sold land fronting Norfolk Street allowing the creation of a new chapel yard.

This illustration shows land purchased for the New Nether Chapel. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive.
In 1826, Dr William Younge sold land fronting Norfolk Street for £700 allowing Nether Chapel to be rebuilt and giving them a new frontage. Photograph: Picture Sheffield.

Over the next hundred years, Sheffield changed considerably. Gone were those rural delights and solitudes. Nether Chapel now stood in the heart of a city of bricks and mortar. The countryside had been obliterated by factories, workshops, and offices, and Chapel Walk became a popular shopping street.

Chapel Walk was an incredibly busy shopping street during the 1970s. Photograph: Sheffield Star.
In 1931, Sheffield Corporation purchased a portion of the Nether Chapel yard in Norfolk Street for street improvement purposes. An ‘awkward bulge’ was removed bringing the frontage of Victoria Hall (1908), Nether Chapel, and St Marie’s Presbytery, into line. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive.

In 1963, congregations at Burngreave, Wicker, Queen Street and Nether Chapel resolved to unite and form one church and to build a new chapel in the city centre. Nether Chapel was demolished, and a new Central Congregational Church opened in 1971.

When the United Reformed Church was formed in 1972 from Congregational and Presbyterian denominations the Church became Central United Reformed Church. It was significantly altered in 2000 and stands at the Norfolk Street end of Chapel Walk.

Meanwhile, Chapel Walk has fallen on tough times. Not helped by the Fargate end being shrouded in ‘abandoned’ scaffolding for several years, attempts to regenerate the street have so far failed. However, with the right investment, this slender pedestrian walkway could rise again. Small independent shops?

NOTE:- Upper Chapel was remodelled in the 1840s, turned around to face across fields. It survives in solitude on Norfolk Street.

Norfolk Street end of Chapel Walk in the 1960s. Nether Chapel is on the left, the Victoria Hall is to the right. Photograph: Picture Sheffield.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.