Categories
Buildings

Reuben Thompson’s City Mews

Work is in progress to demolish the interiors of 30-42 Pinstone Street (as well as the adjacent Palatine Chambers) to create a new hotel. (DJP/2021)

The hoardings are up, contractors are in, and Nos. 30-42 Pinstone Street (as well as Palatine Chambers), are about to be resurrected as part of a Victorian frontage to a brand-new Radisson Blu Hotel. The old facades will remain, but everything behind it, including Barker’s Pool House, on Burgess Street, will be demolished and rebuilt.

Until the 18th century, Pinstone Lane (as it was called) crossed fields and rough grazing land. As Sheffield grew, it became a twisting, close, and sinister-looking passage. In 1875, Sheffield started a street widening programme, and Pinstone Lane was transformed into a 60ft wide thoroughfare to match the magnificence of the proposed new Town Hall.

In 1892, Reuben Thompson, of Glossop Road, an established operator of horse-drawn omnibuses, cabs, and funeral director, gave up his lease on premises at Union Street, and purchased a plot of vacant land opposite St. Paul’s Church (now Peace Gardens) from the Improvement Committee, along with adjoining property at the back towards Burgess Street.

The Salvation Army had already started building its Citadel on Cross Burgess Street as well as three large business premises at its corner with Pinstone Street. Thompson bought the land alongside this, and employed Flockton, Gibbs, and Flockton to design a red brick building, with handsome stone dressings, comprising ground floor shops, and offices and flats above.

An old sketch that shows Reuben Thompson’s City Mews to the left. The sign is visible on top of the building. (PIcture Sheffield)

In 1895, he purchased an additional plot of land to build three additional shops. This extended the length of the original building and incorporated an entrance tunnel from Pinstone Street through to stabling and carriage sheds behind, the carriages lifted from floor to floor by a hoist.

It extended the range to fifteen bays, and across the top of the building ran an enormous sign – ‘Reuben Thompson’s City Mews – and was completed in time for the opening of the new Town Hall.

This is the building we still see, although the advent of the motor car, and high petrol prices during the 1930s, saw Reuben Thompson Ltd vacate a property that had become far too big. It consolidated on Glossop Road and Queen’s Road and focused on its funeral business.

Looking up Pinstone Street. Reuben Thompson’s City Mews are on the right of this old photograph. Once again, the large sign is visible across the top of the building. (Picture Sheffield)

Those of a certain age will be familiar with the shops that have occupied this prime location on one of Sheffield’s most prestigious streets.

The Pinstone Street entrance to City Mews, where horses and carriages once passed, was filled-in, and later lost in the frontage of Mac Market (later to become International, Gateway, Somerfield, Co-op, Budgens, and finally, as a temporary home for WH Smiths).

The construction of Barker’s Pool House on Burgess Street in 1969-1970 (on the site of the former stabling and carriage-houses) linked both properties and altered much of the original Pinstone Street interiors. These too will be lost in the latest stage of the Heart of the City II redevelopment.

An old building plan shows Reuben Thompson’s City Mews, with stabling and carriage sheds located at the back of the Pinstone Street premises and stretching through to Burgess Street. This would later become the site of Barker’s Pool House, soon to be demolished. (Goad Insurance Plan 1896/British Library))
In the 1970s, Mac Market occupied three of the old shop units on Pinstone Street. The original carriage entrance passed underneath the offices above and was located where the central window is here. It remained a supermarket until fairly recently. (Picture Sheffield)
A recent image of 30-42 Pinstone Street. All the shops frequently changed hands. The former Mac Market was most recently used as a temporary shop for WH Smith. In 1970, Barker’s Pool House was built behind, and shoppers were able to use an alternative entrance on Burgess Street. Useful for Cole Brothers staff before and after work. (Google)
Proposed principal east elevation (Pinstone Street) for the Radisson Blu Hotel. Fifteen bays once formed Reuben Thompson’s City Mews. Palatine Chambers occupies twelve bays to the right. (Montagu-Evans)

© 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.