Categories
Buildings

John Lewis becomes a listed building

The former Cole Brothers/John Lewis store. Image: DJP/2022

Interest in the former Cole Brothers/John Lewis store in Barker’s Pool exceeded expectations, wrote David Walsh at the Sheffield Star.

There had been ‘fifteen or sixteen credible and exciting bids; according to Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Co-chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee at Sheffield City Council.

Such was the interest that any decision on the building would be delayed until November while applications were vetted.

The news almost certainly saved the building, and Councillor Iqbal said he favoured retaining or part-retaining the building, although demolition had not been ruled out. He added that the carpark would come down because it was ‘not safe and posed a safety risk.’

But I wonder how many of those applicants will still be interested today.

This morning, Historic England announced that the former Cole Brothers/John Lewis store had been granted a Grade II listing, meaning that it is of ‘special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it.’

“Historic England was asked to assess the former Cole Brothers’ (John Lewis) department store for Listing,” said a spokesperson. “After careful consideration, our recommendation to The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) was that it should be listed at Grade II.

“It is a rare example of a post-war department store – designed by a leading mid-C20 firm of architects – with clean, crisp Modernist lines and a sophisticated layout for shoppers. It stood out from the crowd and contributed to the city of Sheffield’s vision for a vibrant new environment for its residents. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport agreed with our advice and has today granted the former Cole Brothers’ (John Lewis) Department Store listed status.”

Hallamshire Historic Buildings and the Twentieth Century Society had applied for the designation that also included the carpark.

As far as the C20 Society is concerned, it marks the culmination of a 20 year battle to get it listed.

The building was accepted by Historic England as ‘a good example of early Sixties architecture by an important firm of architects’ but initially turned down for listing in December 2001.

Although further acknowledging the store as an ‘important post-war building’, a Certificate of Immunity from listing (COI) was issued in September 2002, but this lapsed in 2007.

Upon consultation for its renewal in May 2022, C20 Society strongly objected and called for the building to be listed at Grade II. 

The change heralds a long-called for thematic investigation by Historic England into the department store as a unique building type, testament to C20’s ongoing Department Stores Campaign and the efforts of other heritage organisations in helping raise awareness of so many underappreciated examples. With the nature of retail and the character of our high streets changing so profoundly in the past two decades, the plight of former department stores has recently become a topic of national conversation.

Designed by prominent post-war modernists, Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall (YRM) – also behind other big commissions like St Thomas’s Hospital in London, Gatwick Airport and Manchester Magistrates Court – the store was built in 1963.

As for the building’s future, it means that any decision must now be taken between Sheffield City Council, Historic England, and all other stakeholders, including the C20 Society, in helping to define potential use.

This might prove a stumbling block for some of the ’15 or 16’ applicants but will not deter serious bidders (look at Park Hill as an example).

Demolition isn’t ruled out, but it would be a long process, the final decision resting with the DCMS. But it has happened before. In 2013, after a long campaign to save it, the Grade II listed Jessops Edwardian building was flattened to make way for the University of Sheffield’s futuristic Diamond block.

Cole Brothers new store building in 1963. Image: RIBA Pix
Categories
Buildings

It’s time to wrap-up John Lewis

Proposed vinyl wrap for the front of the former John Lewis store. Image: Sheffield City Council

What do you do if a building is looking tired? As in the case of the former John Lewis store in Barker’s Pool. One solution is to cover it in vinyl wrap. And that is the proposal by Sheffield City Council which has submitted a planning application to shroud the 1960s building with a massive advertisement until its fate is decided.  

Side elevation on Cambridge Street. Image: Sheffield City Council
John Lewis closed permanently last year and is awaiting redevelopment. Image: DJP/2022
Categories
Buildings

Coles Corner – Plans for apartments and indie business

2-18 Fargate. “Given the huge housing shortage, plus the frequently reported difficulties faced by first-time buyers, the most obvious answer is to turn this unused office space into much-needed, quality apartments or student accommodation.” Arran Bailey. Image: GCW

It dates to 1965-1966, and stands at Coles Corner, the iconic site of the Cole Brothers department store.

2-18 Fargate, at the corner with Church Street, has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Nottingham property company ALB Group.

It already has Starbucks, Greggs and Hotel Chocolat on the ground floor, and plans are underway to convert the four upper floors of vacant office space into apartments.

The move follows a similar refurbishment model employed by ALB Group in other UK centres, including Stoke-on-Trent, Ipswich, Birkenhead, and Derby, which are already experiencing a turnaround in fortunes.

Group managing director Arran Bailey has long been committed to finding ways to reverse the trend of decay in UK town centres, particularly by encouraging local, independent entrepreneurs to launch new high street businesses, by offering lower rents with more flexible terms.

ALB is seeking to do the same with its vacant retail units in the Fargate building.

Cole Brothers, Fargate/Church Street. 1900-1919. Image: Picture Sheffield
The demolition of the old Cole Brothers store in 1964. Photo: JPIMedia
Construction on the old Cole Brothers site (Coles Corner), junction of Church Street and Fargate in 1965. Image: SCC Engineers and Surveyors/Picture Sheffield

Categories
Late Night Tales

Late Night Tales #2

Torquay, April 1896. “I regret to inform the family that Mr Skelton Cole has passed away at Braddon Court. The sea breezes did not cure him of illness after all. The wonderful success of the business is in no small measure to this gentleman. Only yesterday, he spoke affectionately about Thomas and John, and sincerely hoped that Sheffield would always have a Cole Brothers.” (Gone, but not forgotten, and this sign recently reappeared in defiance).

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Buildings

The signs come down and John Lewis disappears

Workcrews abseiled off of the roof of the store in Barkers Pool to remove the last letters of the John Lewis sign from Sheffield’s skyline. Photograph: Sheffield Star

The last call for John Lewis in Sheffield. The signs are down and its association with the city since the 1940s has been obliterated. It was one of eight stores axed nationally and brought to an end the history of Cole Brothers, the beginning of which went back to 1847, when John Cole, silk mercer and hosier, opened a shop at No.4 Fargate. He was later joined by his brothers, Thomas and Skelton Cole. Their Fargate store was taken over by Selfridge Provincial Stores in 1919, before being sold to the John Lewis Partnership. Cole Brothers moved to its purpose-built department store in 1963, and was renamed John Lewis in 2002. It never reopened after the lockdown and confirmation of its closure came in June.

The signs were lowered to ground level before carried away by work crews. Photograph: Sheffield Star
The John Lewis store by Barkers Pool closed down permanently in August after the decision was reportedly taken at the start of the third national lockdown. Photograph: Sheffield Star