Categories
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.

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Buildings

Events Central – a different path for 20-26 Fargate

The proposed material palette has been developed to reflect the historical and cultural values of Fargate and the City Centre Conservation Area. The existing stonework will be retained where possible, with new stonework added at ground floor level adjacent to the new stage door entrance. A new stone surround is proposed to wrap around the new entrance and has been developed to respond to the Pre-Application feedback received. At fourth floor level it is proposed to re-clad the existing curtain walling in an anthracite coloured aluminium cladding system with vertical articulation to reflect the architectural language found in the existing building. Image: HLM Architects

Sheffield City Council has submitted a planning application for proposed alterations to 20-26 Fargate. The council bought the building in 2021with the intention of turning it into a cultural hub which supports and offers additional opportunities to use external events space.

The intention is to provide a part community, part commercial offering, which will function as a blueprint and catalyst for further regeneration of Fargate.

The council intends to repair, refurbish, and re-clad the existing building, retaining the existing structure where possible, and ensuring that alterations are kept to a minimum.

20-26 Fargate is located on Fargate in Sheffield’s city centre and forms part of the City Centre Conservation Area. Image: Sheffield Star

It was constructed in the late 1800s as Robert Proctor & Sons, a large drapery and furniture store running from 16-30 Fargate, adjacent to Coles Corner. It survived the 1940 Blitz, although suffered fire damage, and as a result was altered by the 1950s.

After Proctors left, the shop was used by various retailers including Chelsea Girl in the 1970s, and more recently Clinton Cards and KIKO (later Elite Vapes & Phones).

However, by the time the COVID pandemic hit in 2020 the building was standing empty.

Fargate in 1905 looking towards premises including No. 34 Richard Field and Son Ltd., tea merchants and Fields Continental Cafe, Nos. 16-30 Robert Proctor and Son, drapers. Image: Picture Sheffield
Fargate including No 34, Richard Field and Son Ltd., Tea Merchants and Fields Continental Cafe and No 16-30, Robert Proctor and Son, Drapers. Image: Picture Sheffield
Fargate in 1953, Nos 16-30, Robert Proctor and Son, Drapers and Cole Brothers Department Store. Image: Picture Sheffield

20-26 Fargate is a five storey building (6 including the basement level) with a deep footprint that extends back towards Cutlers Hall. It sits mid-way along Fargate and stands taller than its immediate neighbours and benefits from glazing to the rear (north) facade, providing additional daylighting to the floor plates on levels 3 and 4, as well as views across to the cathedral.

A flat roof area presents the potential to bring daylight to the rear of the second floor also using roof lights. The architecture is of a mid-19th century construction with a stone tiled facade above. The fourth storey is set back from the main facade and was constructed later. The building is currently in need of significant refurbishment, to meet current building regulation requirements.

The main architectural intervention has been to introduce a double height glass entrance to provide active frontage along Fargate and to increase visibility into the building.

A new stone feature surround is proposed at ground and first floor level to retain the impression of a single feature entrance and to acknowledge the original historic façade that was later damaged and subsequently remodelled.

Proposed entrance space. Thin lines of LED lights offer a sustainable way to breathe new life into the existing building with minimal environmental impact. Image: HLM Architects
The proposal will include the renovation of the existing building with a glazed double height entrance space at the heart of the building that is formed of the reception area, temporary exhibition, bookshop and juice bar at ground floor level. The upper floor levels will house a makers space, flexible multi-use space and co-working space, while a new high-quality music venue is proposed at basement level. Image: HLM Architects

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Streets

A new beginning – container complex set for Fargate

It’s a long time since the Goodwin Fountain was a permanent fixture at the top of Fargate. It disappeared in 1998 and since then the site has hosted everything from big wheels to pop-up bars. Now its’s going to be a hub of cafes, shops, and toilets.

Planning permission has been granted for the 462 square metre installation made up of repurposed shipping containers, to be painted in a dark colour. Construction is underway in Leeds before it arrives in Sheffield and should be open in the next few months.

As well as independent shops, cafes, and free-to-use public toilets, the site will have a big screen, living walls and outdoor seating, and will be open daily between 8am and 11pm.

Sheffield City Council has secured £300K funding for the temporary container installation from the ‘Get Britain Building Fund’ through the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority. It has been designed by SteelYard, a locally owned company which operates a container complex over 2 floors and open event space at Kelham Island.

The appearance of the container installation will be softened using a combination of planting and artwork. This will allow it to fit within the existing context of nearby buildings.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Buildings Streets

20-26 Fargate

The units are occupied by a mobile phone and vape shop and a discount fashion retailer – which already has a ‘closing down’ sign in the window. (Sheffield Star)

The subject of city development is emotive. People have different opinions. As someone who looks at historical detail, we’re no different to our ancestors.

In Victorian times, people agreed or disagreed about Sheffield’s redevelopment. Sheffield Corporation was always in the firing line. The difference now is that we’re able to make our views known on a much wider and accessible platform.

This piece of news will provoke the same split opinion.

The Sheffield Star has revealed that Sheffield City Council is about to complete the purchase of 20-26 Fargate, the former Clintons card shop opposite Marks and Spencer, to become ‘Event Central,’ a six-storey flagship for the city’s ‘burgeoning creative sector.’

The acquisition and revamp of the building will consume a ‘sizeable’ chunk of £15.8m the authority won from the Future High Streets Fund, a partnership with Sheffield University, to improve Fargate and High Street.

How it could look by March 2024. (Sheffield City Council)

Prof Vanessa Toulmin, of Sheffield University, who led the bid said she would like to see the top floor used for music gigs and practice sessions. Event Central could also host festival events, such as for DocFest, and acts displaced by the closure of venues. There will also be co-working space, exhibitions and a café. The operating model had not been finalised but was likely to be a commercial and public sector partnership.

As part of the masterplan, the top of Fargate will be reconfigured to provide outdoor space for major events. The scheme is expected to attract 110,680 visitors annually. Meanwhile it is hoped that ‘Front Door Access’ to old offices above shops will spark investment in new flats.

The top of Fargate will be reconfigured to provide outdoor space for major events. (Sheffield City Council)

Categories
Streets

Orchard Street

Sheffield’s forgotten street. It is hard to imagine that Orchard Street was once one of the city’s most important thoroughfares. (DJP/2021)

Never did a street fall out of favour as Orchard Street did. This narrow thoroughfare was once the main route between Church Street and Fargate, bustling with commerce, with horse-drawn carriages and carts squeezing past each other.

Neither did the creation of Leopold Street diminish its popularity, although only a small portion of the street retained its name.

It wasn’t until the 1980s, and the creation of Orchard Square, that it was relegated to become the back door to shops, and a place for lads to have a quick wee on a Saturday night.

It is an incredibly old thoroughfare, though the name Orchard Street wasn’t given to it until comparatively late.

Formerly all the land in the triangle between Church Street and Fargate consisted of orchards and gardens, but warehouses, shops, and cutlery works gradually covered the space.

In the early 1700s, it is referred to as Brinceworth’s Orchard, while in Fairbanks’ Plan of 1777 it was known as Brelsforth’s Orchards, and in the 1787 Directory it is described as Brinsworth’s Orchards. A document of 1763 gives the address of a trader as Brinsford Orchard. Both Brinsworth and Brelsford, or Brelsforth, are old Sheffield names, and possibly the various names indicate changes of ownership of the orchards through which the street passed.

Eventually the personal names were dropped, and the thoroughfare simply became Orchard Street.

In 1980, the surviving portion of Orchard Street was still popular with shoppers. Most of these properties were demolished to make way for Orchard Square. (Picture Sheffield)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings Streets

Leopold Street

Work in progress. The pedestrianisation of Leopold Street (above), Pinstone Street, and Surrey Street, will create a traffic-free Town Hall Square. (DJP/2021)

Our city centre is at a crossroads. The city is in flux and a street that highlights it most is Leopold Street. Buses no longer run along here, and all traffic is halted mid-way. Sheffield is going car-free, and with it our streets become soulless. Nothing is sadder than a street about to undergo pedestrianisation. It is blocked with traffic cones and concrete barriers and unsure what it wants to be.

As far as Sheffield streets go, Leopold Street is relatively new, a pet-project for town planners in 1873.  Back then, access to Fargate and Pinstone Street was via Church Street, along awkwardly narrow Orchard Street, to its junction with Orchard Lane, and dog-legged towards what is now the top of Fargate.

Its making was the result of Sheffield Corporation’s three-street development scheme – the creation of Surrey Street, Fargate improvements, and the construction of ‘modern-day’ Pinstone Street. A new road was needed to link these streets with Bow Street (the road that became the bottom of West Street) and a link between old Sheffield Moor and Shalesmoor.

A long-standing road, South Street, was swept away, the land around it cleared, and the large sloping site bounded by the proposed new road, Orchard Lane, Holly Street and Bow Street (West Street) earmarked for educational purposes. It became the site of Firth College (1879), School Board offices and the Central School (both 1880). Of course, we now know these buildings as the Leopold Hotel and Leopold Square

By May 1880, half its length had been completed, 60-feet wide from Bow Street to Fargate, paved in wooden blocks, and converted to macadam in 1883.

Aerial view of Leopold Street. The Leopold Hotel and Leopold Square are centre. Before 1880, the main route between Church Street and Fargate was along narrow Orchard Street, to the left, which curved at its junction with Orchard Lane (where the mini-roundabout is today). The top-end of Orchard Street (near to Fargate) was absorbed into Leopold Street. (Google)

The Watch Committee recommended that the new street be named after Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884), eighth and youngest son of Queen Victoria, who had opened Firth College in October 1879.

The addition of the Sheffield Medical Institution on the other side of the road in 1888 prompted one expert to say that Leopold Street would become a “street of institutions.”

It never became a street of learning. Firth College and the Medical Institution were the foundation stones for the University of Sheffield and moved away. By the late 1970s, the old education buildings were in decline, mostly unoccupied, but spared the fate that befell the nearby Assay Office and Grand Hotel, both demolished, and replaced with office blocks.

A street sign on the wall of what was once Firth College, at its junction with West Street, and now part of the Leopold Hotel. (DJP/2021)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

No.2 High Street

No.2 High Street. One of Sheffield’s few city centre listed buildings. (Image: David Poole)

The pandemic has claimed another victim. Caffé Nero, a familiar sight at No.2 High Street, won’t be reopening when lockdown restrictions are eased, the retail unit now up to let.

 Our thirst for coffee and cakes might not have diminished, but poor trading conditions have forced the London-based chain to rethink its future.

While it maintains a presence in Sheffield, the outlook for one of the city’s Grade II-listed buildings is less certain.

No.2 High Street was the result of High Street widening during the 1890s, one of several Victorian buildings built by esteemed architects Flockton, Gibbs & Flockton.

Described in Pevsner as “one of their more exuberant ‘fin de siècle’ essays,” it is characteristic for its high mansard roof.

Many people think it was built as a bank, and Barclays did occupy it from the early 20th century until recent times, but its history is more elaborate.

The building featured in an 1896 edition of British Architect with a double-plate spread.

“A massive and imposing appearance, with an elaborate scheme of stone carvings and mouldings. There is a suggestion of the easy and graceful style of French architecture.”

It was built for Nicholson, Greaves, Barber and Hastings, established in 1775, auctioneers, which had conducted property sales at older premises on High Street, as well as holding horse sales at the Horse Repository on Castle Hill.

In August 1896, No.2 High Street was in the process of construction, farther back from the original street line, the auctioneers temporarily transferring business to the Cutlers’ Hall and premises on Fargate.

The firm was Sheffield’s premier auction house, responsible for the sale of important buildings and used by the Duke of Norfolk to dispose of land and property.

It was completed in 1897, a date stone still evident at the side of the building on Black Swan Walk.

An artist drawing of No.2 High Street from the Sheffield Indpenedent in 1896. (Image: British Newspaper Archive)

There were two large auction rooms and offices on the ground floor, with a large basement for storage, a strong-room for jewellery and plate, and two separate store-rooms for furniture.

The façade was enriched with four stories of superimposed columns, the lower ones of red Labrador granite, standing upon a grey granite base.

The base supported a handsome cornice with a broad frieze of black granite, on which the name of the firm appeared in raised gilt letters.

The upper pillars were of stone with carved and decorated capitals, and a considerable amount of carving. The external effect was enhanced by a balcony of ornamental ironwork.

The upper portion of the block was let as offices, with special care given to effective ventilation and warming of the auction room with a Blackburn heater and fan, driven by an electric motor.

Available to let and empty again. No.2 High Street is awaiting a new tenant. (Image: David Poole)

Nicholson, Greaves, Barber and Hastings was made up of four partners, each with interests elsewhere. In 1917, J.J. Greaves and Sons left the partnership and the firm continued trading as Nicholson, Barber and Hastings until the 1950s.

However, Barclays Bank opened a branch here in 1920 and the Estate Mart became a secondary part of the building before closing altogether.

Not much has changed since construction, except for the removal of the balcony railings and the interior completely refurbished for bank use.

After a period as Caffé Nero it now joins a long list of vacant properties in and around High Street and Fargate.

A side view of the building on Black Swan Walk with a date stone. (Image: David Poole)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Streets

Fargate

Fargate once extended from High Street up to Balm Green at Barker’s Pool. It now finishes at the junction of Pinstone Street and Leopold Street. (Image: David Poole)

Although one of the oldest streets, Fargate hardly appears to have cut a conspicuous figure in Sheffield history. It boasts no long roll of distinguished residents, and no catalogue of inspiring buildings.

It was never part of Sheffield’s business district, but reinvented itself to become one of the best shopping streets in Sheffield, the result of street widening in the 1880s.

By the 1920s, Fargate was entering its golden period, described as the ‘street of many windows,’ with pavements packed with shoppers.

“There is a charm about it at all times, early in the morning when trams are disgorging their hundreds of workers, and a few hours later when limousines, jaunty sports models, and cheery old-timers, stream through the centre of Sheffield one after another. It is the happy hunting ground of all shoppers, whether of the leisured class who saunter up and down between the hours of 11am and 1pm, or the busy housewife who finds that afternoons are more convenient and joins the crowd always to be found – especially on Saturday.”

Fargate became Sheffield’s first pedestrianised street in the 1970s and missed a trick. It was perfect for open-air café culture, but it never materialised. Fargate struggled to charm and was at its best when the pop-up Christmas market appeared.

Then, along came Meadowhall, the internet, pandemic, and lockdowns.

Fargate is suffering from the collapse in retail with an increasing number of empty shops. (Image: David Poole)

Sheffield’s ‘best’ street is in trouble, empty of workers and shoppers, and vacant shop units growing by the week. All this might change with plans drawn up by Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield to change Fargate and High Street into a ‘high-quality place to live, work, and socialise.’

Finally, the mystery of how it came to be called Fargate.

The road was obviously a ‘far gate’ with historians suggesting it was the farthest gate from Sheffield Castle. However, digging into the archives there might be a more plausible explanation.

Back in the 1600s, travellers heading towards the Parish Church (now the Cathedral) crossed a cornfield (Paradise Square) and entered a gate at the corner of what is now the corner of Campo Lane and Paradise Street. The other gate was called the ‘Far Gate,’ at what is now the High Street corner of the Cathedral forecourt, hence the name Fargate.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Streets

Black Swan Walk

Black Swan Walk. A tale from the 1980s that suggested ghostly secrets. Image: David Poole

I am reminded that back in the eighties, an old man told me that one night in the 1950s he watched a horse and carriage pass down this lonely dead-end street and stop outside the building to the right. Its passengers dismounted and disappeared through a doorway. The carriage moved off and vanished into thin air.  The man dared himself to wander down the lane. All the property was in darkness, locked-up for the night, and where the carriage disappeared stood only a high brick wall.

Today, I waited for someone at the opening to this lane, known as Black Swan Walk, when a mother and child walked past. The small boy looked down the desolate lane and said to his mother, “I want to see the horses.” She laughed and dragged him about his business.

In 1887, Sheffield Corporation paid William Davy, the licensee of the Black Swan public house, £11,600 for his land, and demolished the pub to allow for the widening of Fargate. The freehold was sold to Alwyn Henry Holland, provisions merchant, who built No. 9 Fargate, a narrow shop, still standing, and sadly empty, in between Black Swan Walk and Chapel Walk.

In later years, Holland bought adjoining land on Chapel Walk and built eight shops in English Renaissance style with the Howard Gallery above. Access to the art gallery was from Chapel Walk, with a carriage entrance around the back in Black Swan Yard. Alas, it was a dead end, and a turntable was assembled at the end of the lane that allowed carriages to be spun around and head back the way they came.

Wander down here today, and you will see that the outline of this turntable survives in concrete, with an old mechanism rusting away in a corner.

That story from the 1980s might have been the roguish imagination of an old man, long dead, but a lot of history remains in our forgotten streets.

Black Swan Walk, where carriages were turned around using a turntable that surprisingly survives. Image: David Poole
Victorian engineering. Hidden by an abandoned shopping trolley, and a handy place to dry a mop. Image: David Poole

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Streets

An exciting future for Fargate and High Street

Looking up Fargate. An artist impression of the future. 

Sheffield is one of 15 towns and cities to receive all the money they had bid for, in the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

Sheffield will receive £15.8m in recognition of the ‘forward-thinking and innovative’ proposals to help progress plans to boost its reputation as an ‘Outdoor City’ with high quality public spaces for the community.

The historic streets of Fargate and High Street will become a high quality place to live, work, and socialise, in plans drawn up by Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield.

A radical programme of improvements and modern digital infrastructure will complement well-designed residential and workspace conversions, making the most of unused floorspace. Particular blocks will be redeveloped to increase density by adding height while opening up new green spaces and views.

This transformation will play a major role in completing plans for a ‘Steel Route’ through the city centre, turning a declining shopping area into a mixed-use link between the two distinct regeneration projects already underway in Heart of the City at one end and Castlegate at the other.

The funding has been awarded as part of the Government’s flagship £831 million Future High Streets Fund and will help areas to recover from the pandemic while also driving long term growth.