Buildings Other Places Streets

Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework

Photograph by Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework.

I don’t think anybody saw this coming. Sheffield’s biggest ever development project – a £1.5bn plan to develop the area around Sheffield Railway Station, dwarfing the £480m Heart of the City II scheme.

The plan is to maximise the economic potential of the area and make the most of HS2, and will now go out for public consultation.

The idea stems from plans for HS2 trains to stop at Sheffield Station on a loop off the mainline which were recently given the green light by the government.

Sheffield City Council would co-ordinate the project, with funding coming from several organisations including the city council, HS2, SYPTE, Transport for the North, Network Rail, Sheffield City Region and the Department for Transport. The bulk of the costs – up to £1bn – would be from the private sector, which would build offices, restaurants, bars and potentially a hotel.

Photograph by Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework.

The project would see the closure of Park Square roundabout and Sheaf Street – the dual carriageway that runs in front of the station – would swap places with the tram route that runs behind.

A huge, landscaped pedestrian bridge would link Park Hill with Howard Street and the multi-storey car park on Turner Street would be demolished and moved further away.

It would be replaced by an office block – one of up to 12 planned in the ‘Sheffield Valley’ zone, including four outside the station, employing up to 3,000 people.

Up to 1,000 homes – flats and houses – could also be built.

Photograph by Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework.

The new tram route would run from Fitzalan Square, along Pond Street, stop outside the station and continue along Suffolk Road to Granville Square.

The bus station on Pond Street would be reduced in size to make room for the tram tracks and offices on stilts potentially built on top.

Photograph by Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework.

Park Square roundabout and Sheaf Street would become a park and link into the Grey to Green scheme at Victoria Quays, Castlegate and West Bar.

Under the plans the ‘Q park’ would move to the Wren-DFS site on nearby St Mary’s Road.

There would be a new, sheltered, taxi rank next to the station, but the taxi ‘stacking’ area would be moved ‘slightly further out’ improving access for drop-offs and people with mobility needs.

The area between St Mary’s Road, Queens Road and Sheaf Gardens, currently home to businesses including a Pure Gym, would be a new residential centre for up to 700 homes, with a further 300 spread throughout the area.

The Masterplan

Photograph by Sheffield Midland Station and Sheaf Valley Development Framework.

The Moor

Photograph by Exposed

Goodness me, here’s a story that seems to have passed by unnoticed. It seems that The Moor has been sold from under our feet, with Aberdeen Standard Investments offloading the biggest asset in its property fund to New River real estate investment trust.

The deal was completed in December after being put on the market with an £89.4million price tag.

The Moor, once again installed as Sheffield’s foremost shopping street, accounted for seven per cent of the £1.3billion Aberdeen UK Property Fund.

Back in December, outflows from Aberdeen Standard’s fund spiked after investors were spooked following the suspension of rival manager M&G’s Property Portfolio. M&G was forced to suspend trading in its £2.5billion property fund after investors rushed to withdraw money.

The Moor has thrived under the ownership of Aberdeen Standard Investments, with the addition of Moor Markets, the Light Cinema, Lane7 Bowling Alley, and new retailers including Primark, Next, River Island and H&M.

However, with retail in steady decline, it might appear that Aberdeen Standards Investments has divested of The Moor while the going is good.

It remains to be seen whether the next phases of development will go ahead, including the renovation of the block occupied by Boots, Melody, Lloyds Bank, Bodycare and Halifax Bank.

The deal was the latest in a string of acquisitions for New River, including a retail park in Northern Ireland for £40million, and sites in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee and the Isle of Wight.


The Moor

I don’t know about you, but I never look in shop windows anymore. Frankly, there’s not much to look at, with only a handful of department stores making the effort, if at all.

We must thank Harry Gordon Selfridge for being one of the first to create window dressing displays to attract customers.

The American millionaire’s aim was to “make an art of window display” and resulted in copycat spectacles across Britain.

Nowadays, the skill of window dressing has been replaced with visual digital technology, and this hasn’t exactly helped our struggling shops.

The Moor at night can be a particularly gloomy place when shops have closed, and despite the best efforts of ‘arty’ street lighting, its attempts to attract a night-time audience are pretty much nil.

It makes this newspaper article from March 1931 about “the attractive thoroughfare” even more interesting.

“On leaving cinemas and theatres in the centre of the city last night, hundreds of people were attracted to the Moor, by the special lighting display arranged in connection with the ‘Display Week’.

“They discovered undreamed beauty at Moorhead. The Crimea monument has not been regarded with admiration by many modern citizens, but under the floodlighting this week it takes on special graces.

“The whole result is a credit to those who have contributed to the scheme, to the Electric Supply Department of the Sheffield Corporation, the Edison Swan Electric Company, and the proprietors of the various businesses on the Moor.

“Standing at Moorhead one has an uninterrupted view of the straight thoroughfare down a slight gradient, and the effect of the special lighting is most striking.

“After ordinary business hours the shops are keeping their well-dressed windows lighted. During the whole of last evening the Moor was thronged with citizens attracted by the more than usually bright appearance of the various establishments.

“Although the shops were closed and the interior premises were in darkness, the brilliant windows in which the best efforts of a peculiarly modern art were displayed, attracted many appreciative visitors.

“Until 10 o’clock the whole of the Moor was a blaze of light, and provided ample proof of the efficiency of the arrangements, as well as the business acumen of tenants and proprietors of premises along the thoroughfare which is regarded by many as the most attractive business centre in the city.”

Today, the Moor Management team can only dream at such high visitor numbers after-dark, but we should remember that this was the major road linking Pinstone Street with Ecclesall Road, and with a plentiful supply of cars, buses and trams going up and down.

And while we’re at it, the Crimea monument, seemingly lost for years by Sheffield City Council, before being found again, once earmarked for the Botanical Gardens, is still languishing in some dark corner.


Exchange Gateway

This is not the kind of street you might wander up after dark. Exchange Gateway, at the top of Fargate, is one of those forgotten parts of the city centre. Thousands pass its arched entrance every day, many of whom have never braved it up here. These days it acts as a service lane and fire escapes for properties backing onto Orchard Square and Fargate. Apart from its covered entrance there is little for the pedestrian to see. It is a dead end, and seemingly always has been, but its function has changed over the centuries.

At one time, this was a narrow street of multi-occupancy shops, houses, workshops and offices. A glance at an old directory shows that Exchange Gateway was home to small-scale tool manufacturers, cutlery producers, picture-framers and cabinet makers. This was also where the Sheffield Free Press newspaper was located, founded in 1850 – “a new impartial unsectarian journal” – but ending publication seven years later.

An 1867 newspaper tells us that “the buildings are old, four-storeys high of long range, and a considerable quantity of wood in their completion.” A fire had consumed the premises of Hobson and Wilson, brass-casters, and threatened to destroy the whole block. This was just one of many serious fires that occurred here, and no doubt contributed to its altered appearance.

For years, the street was unadopted by the council, its road surface out of character with the nearby thoroughfares. Its secluded location meant it was a haven for thieves, robbing people as they walked at night, and regularly breaking into properties. Its usefulness increased in the 1860s when the Cutler’s Hall, on Church Street, built a large extension at the rear, its approach being from Exchange Gateway.

The footprint of the street is virtually unaltered, but the greatest makeover was in the 1980s when Orchard Square shopping precinct was built, clearing old properties and replacing them with shops whose service doors lead out into Exchange Gateway. Nowadays the street is still out of sorts with its surroundings, a favourite for the homeless, drug-users and a sleeping place for the odd drunk.

Buildings Streets

Church Street

Look carefully at this photograph. Two Sheffield landmarks we are familiar with today. To the left, the Cutlers Hall, built in 1832 by Samuel Worth and Benjamin Broomhead Taylor, and on the right of the gateway, the former Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank, most recently known as the Church Street branch of HSBC (now closed). Together they provide an imposing façade facing Sheffield Cathedral.

However, if we go back to 1878, things didn’t look quite as straightforward.

In October 1878, the Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank had just opened a new extension, built on the site of an old rope works and wire shop. Designed by Henry Dent Lomas, the four Ionic columns and the Renaissance gateway seen here, mirrored the building’s original design (not seen in the picture), created by Samuel Worth in 1838.

Most people think the iron gate as being part of the Cutler’s Hall, but it was built as access to bank buildings behind.

Back in 1878, the Cutler’s Hall was also much smaller.

The frontage we see today was created in 1888 by J.B Mitchel-Withers, once again the result of an extension. The two Ionic columns to the right of the doorway mirrored the 1832 construction on the other side, cleverly placing the Cutler’s Hall entrance (once to the right) at the centre of the masterpiece.

Together, these buildings provide an insight into Victorian ingenuity, where two buildings were cleverly transformed by adding identical extensions.

But, the period between 1878, when the Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank extension was built, and 1888, when the Cutler’s Hall was extended, meant there was an unsightly presence between the two buildings. A blot on the landscape.

Said the Sheffield Independent in 1878: –

“Few persons can have passed down Church Street since the extensions of the Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank took definite shape, without wondering how the paltry brick shop wedged in between that and the Cutler’s Hall, has managed to hold its own, to the disfigurement of the handsome buildings on either side.

“It has not even the respectable appearance of a ham sandwich; it reminds us of nothing so much as a parched bit of unappetising Chicago beef spoiling two pieces of good bread.

“When things looked as if the Cutler’s Company meant neither themselves to swallow this up in some credible fashion, nor let the Hallamshire Bank have the chance of engulfing it, the public were inclined to be a little indignant at seeing a good street spoiled.

“For this relic of the middle-period Church Street, is not old enough to be picturesque and not substantial enough to be handsome.

“It is a specimen of domestic architecture at its worst period – if an erection of bricks, with holes left to do duty as windows, be worthy to be called architecture at all – and it breaks with unsightly violence, the most imposing row of buildings of which this not very beautiful town can boast.”

The Cutler’s Company did eventually purchase the shop and premises next door, demolishing it, and replacing it with the extension of 1888.


Cheney Row

My favourite walkway in Sheffield. Cheney Row, running alongside the Town Hall and Peace Gardens. It is a name transferred from Cheney Square, a group of nice houses destroyed when Surrey Street and the Town Hall were in the making during the 1890s. One of them was the residence for many years of Hugh Cheney, a doctor. The site of Cheney Square, being on the fringe of a small town, developed after the breaking up of Alsop Fields (a long-lost name), and with the building of St. Paul’s Church and the laying out of its large burial ground. The church stood on the site of the Peace Gardens and was demolished in 1938.


Cheney Row

A relic of the past. Cheney Row runs alongside the Town Hall adjacent to the Peace Gardens. It is an old thoroughfare, a survivor from the days of Cheney Square, demolished during the construction of the Town Hall in the 1890s.

Cheney is a very old Sheffield name, being found in the accounts of the Burgery as far back as 1645.

There is a record that says one Edward Cheney, in 1725, bought surplus land left over from the building of St. Paul’s Church, which stood on the site of the Peace Gardens and was demolished in 1938.

The land was known as Oxley Croft before the church was built, but that name disappeared and, in its place, we had New Church Street (also gone) and Cheney Row and Square.

In some old directories the name appeared as China Square, probably the result of a ‘politically-correct’ compiler believing that Cheney was a derivation of China.

And again, the name Cheney has been traced to Dr Hugh Cheney, originally from Bakewell, one of the first surgeons at the Royal Infirmary, who lived in a house at the corner of Cheney Square about 1803. But it was Cheney Square before his time.

There is little doubt that the Edward Cheney, who bought the surplus land of Oxley Croft, built the houses and called two of the thoroughfares after himself.

In January 1886 the Town Council decided that a site bounded by Pinstone Street, (New) Surrey Street, Norfolk Street, and Cheney Row should be utilised for a new Town Hall, and that New Church Street, Cheney Square and an unnamed lane should disappear.


Cabbage Alley

Somewhere underneath Sheffield Town Hall there are likely to be the remains of a dark, narrow, cobbled lane with the sweet-sounding name of Cabbage Alley.

Its existence is almost airbrushed from history, partly because those that used it back in the day didn’t even know that it had a name.

This photograph remains the only image of Cabbage Alley, reproduced in a newspaper in 1931, taken from an old painting by William Topham in 1877, of which its current existence is unknown.

The picture is a view down Cabbage Alley, looking towards the south. In the background can be seen St. Paul’s Church, built in the 1720s and demolished in 1938. In its place we now have the Peace Gardens.

Cabbage Alley ran from New Church Street, both demolished when the Town Hall was built in the 1890s, and Cheney Row, a walkway that survives.

The painting that emerged in 1931 belonged to Mr Ambrose James Wallis, head of Ambrose Wallis and Son, whitesmiths, of Norfolk Lane. His father, who commissioned the artwork, had set up business in Cabbage Alley in 1867 and remained there until about 1889.

“Cabbage Alley was an old-fashioned street even in those days,” he told the Sheffield Daily Independent. “The gutter ran down the centre instead of at the sides.

“A strange thing was that nobody seemed to know its name, and it was not until the notices for us to quit were received, that we learned that we had been living in Cabbage Alley.”


Barker’s Pool

A prominent street with a name that has been familiar for centuries. In Barker Pool, or Barker’s Pool as we now know it, we have the first attempt to give the inhabitants of Sheffield a constant supply of pure water.

The tradition is that one Mr Barker, of Balm Green, in 1434, took steps to make some sort of reservoir for the storage of water supplied by springs.

All we know for certain, is that in this year, there had been a “Barker of Balm”, and that there had been a William Barkar in 1379.

“Barker Powle” is mentioned in a deed of 1567, and in 1570 the Burgery was ‘amerced’ in the sum of 3s. 3d., paid as a fine, or rent, to the Lord of the Manor, for the pool.

From this date until 1786, the cleansing and keeping of the pool was acknowledged as one of the specific charges upon the town property.

Indeed, we can bring it to a later date than this, for after the pool, superseded by a more efficient water supply, had been removed as a nuisance in 1793, the Town Trustees put up a pump nearby which remained, although unused in later years, until 1876.

The pool was an oblong, walled space, about 36 yards by 20, not quite right-angled, for it was slightly wider at its upper than at its lower end, and ran across what eventually became the entrance to Division Street.

It appears that Barker Pool was, on occasion, used for ducking undesirable characters, for in the constables’ accounts for 1654, there is a charge for bringing the cucking stool (from Lady’s Bridge) up to Barker Pool. (Cucking stools or ducking stools, were chairs used for punishment of disorderly women, scolds (troublesome and angry people who habitually chastised, argued and quarrelled with their neighbours) and dishonest tradesmen.

We get our best description of the part the pool played in the local economy from the autobiography of Samuel Roberts in 1849.

In it, he gives a vivid account of the excitement caused amongst residents in the streets down which the channels passed, when periodical flushings afforded a general clean-up of the town: –

“All the channels were then in the middle of the streets which were generally in a very disorderly state, manure heaps often lying in them for a week together. About once every quarter the water was let out of Barker Pool, to run into all these streets into which it could be turned, for the purpose of cleansing them. The bellman gave notice of the exact time, and the favoured streets were all bustle, with a row of men, women and children on each side of the channel, anxiously and joyfully awaiting, with mops, brooms, and pails, the arrival of the cleansing flood, whose first appearance was announced by a long, continuous shout. Some people were throwing the water up against their houses and windows; some raking the garbage into the kennel; some washing their pigs; some sweeping the pavement; youngsters throwing water on their companions or pushing them into the widespread torrent. Meanwhile a constant, Babel-like uproar, mixed with the barking of dogs, and the grunting of pigs, was heard both above and below, till the waters, after about half an hour, had become exhausted.”

Barker Pool was also used when fires broke out in the town, water being let out of the reservoir, and leather buckets hung in the Church and Town Hall for residents to use. By 1703, the Town Trustees had improved on this by providing a fire engine.

And that, as they say, is the history of why we call it Barker’s Pool all these years later.


Paradise Square

On a cold rainy night, it’s hard to believe that Paradise Square was once a cornfield called Hick Stile Field.

About 1736, Nicholas Broadbent, a successful merchant of Old Bank House, Hartshead, built a row of five houses on the Shrewsbury Hospital estate, along the east side of the field and called it, for some reason only known to himself, Paradise Row.

In 1771, his grandson, Thomas, a banker, obtained a lease of the cornfield, which he offered for subleases in building lots, designed by William Fairbank.

The square was to be called after the row of houses already built, and between 1771 and 1790 he laid out the other three sides of the square with a variety of houses.

It was this same Thomas who was responsible for building Page Hall, constructed for his own use, but unable to be completed due to the collapse of his bank in 1782.

The square and its occupants have played an important part in Sheffield history.

The painter and sculptor Francis Chantry had rooms at No.24 in 1802, and Dr David Daniel Davis, the physician who attended the birth of Queen Victoria, lived at No.12 from 1803 to 1812.

No.18 was the Freemasons Lodge in the early 19th century, and the House of Help for Women and Girls was set up at No.1 in 1885 to rescue those “in moral danger and miserable surroundings.”

Paradise Square was used for a time as a market-place and its size and slope made it an ideal meeting venue. In 1779, John Wesley preached to a vast crowd from the balcony of No.18, and to the alarm of authorities thousands gathered here to support the Chartists’ cause in the 1830s and 1840s.

The square was also home to Mr Edward Hebblethwaite’s academy, one of the leading schools in the town, and from which ladies and gentlemen went on to command high positions in society, both at home and abroad.

He started as a schoolmaster, aged 21, at the Lancastrian School, later having his employment terminated. “He was passing through the streets of Sheffield very much depressed, with his eyes cast down and wondering what he should do, when he walked into the well-known square and saw premises to let, which he took to carry on a mixed school.”

The school opened in 1829 and lasted until about 1865.

It was notable through its connection with political history. The broad flight of stone steps leading to its entrance were often used by political candidates to address electors, and it was from here that the likes of J.A. Stuart Wortley, Lord Brougham, Earl Fitzwilliam, Ebenezer Elliott and James Montgomery tried to improve the townsfolk.

When middle-class residents started to move out the square slipped into dereliction and decay, resulting in a comprehensive restoration scheme of 1963-1966 directed by Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson and Partners.