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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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