Whenever you see an old facade with a new structure behind it, this tells you that a building of distinction once stood there that simply could not be demolished, and the compromise which arose was to keep the front wall. The rise of facadism shows how far the power balance has shifted away from conservation towards redevelopment. Retaining the facade is an unwelcome condition of planning permission when their preference would probably have been complete demolition.
This building, at the bottom of Cambridge Street, Sheffield, shows that the facade is retained while its interior will be replaced with modern concrete and steel. This will apply to almost all the Victorian buildings being redeveloped on Pinstone Street, and planning permission has been granted to do the same to Chubby’s and the Tap and Tankard further up Cambridge Street.
Sheffield city centre has never seen so much demolition and construction. The latest to fall is 1970s Barker’s Pool House, on Burgess Street, once linked to John Lewis by its high covered footbridge. The bridge has already gone, and now the bricks and mortar of the former office block will soon be no more. As part of the Heart of the City II development, it will be replaced by a stylish new Radisson Blu hotel, with its retained Victorian entrance on Pinstone Street. The William Mitchell ten-panel abstract reliefs, commissioned in 1972, were removed last year and will be resited in nearby Pound’s Park once completed.
It seems that nobody liked the former Odeon in Barker’s Pool. The red steel and glass facade never caught the imagination of Sheffielders. If we hated the exterior, we won’t like what was behind – plain boring brickwork – revealed in latest Heart of the City II works.
The whole exterior will be refaced to become the Gaumont Building, supposedly taking inspiration from the previous building’s origins as the Regent Theatre, later the Gaumont Cinema. The new design is by Sheffield-based HLM Architects.
Built by the Rank Organisation in 1986-1987 as a replacement, bosses realised it wasn’t cost effective to run two Odeons in the city centre, and one had to go, closing in 1994, and later becoming a nightclub.
The final use for the building has yet to be confirmed.
Heart of the City II is altering the way our city centre looks. We must go back to Victorian times to see anything resembling the magnitude of this change. Before then, the area around Pinstone Street was a region of dirty, narrow, streets and alleys that led to nowhere. The poor were abundant, and then the jennel known as Pinstone Street was replaced by a broad thoroughfare, and the people who lived under the shadow of St. Paul’s dome (now Peace Gardens) migrated southward. With it came shops and offices that are no longer suitable for the 21st century… and now we are preserving the look, but removing the myriad of old corridors, staircases, and rooms behind.
Once completed, almost the whole of the west side of Pinstone Street will have been touched by redevelopment… and that is quite a remarkable achievement.
One building will remain, oblivious to the change around it, and one that rarely gets a mention.
We can trace Pinstone Chambers (Nos. 44-62 Pinstone Street), at its corner with Cross Burgess Street, back to 1891, when the Salvation Army ‘planted the flag’ on a piece of land bought from Sheffield Corporation. A year later, a ceremony took place to turn the first sod. ‘The waste piece of ground has been as free of turf as a billiard ball is of hair, it was hard to see where the sod would be found.’
The foundation stones were laid in September 1892, and formed part of an inner wall, the inscriptions on them visible in the entrance hall by which the Sheffield Citadel behind was approached from Pinstone Street. By this, we know that this building was steadfastly linked with the Salvation Army’s place of worship, one that survives in disgraceful neglect, and awaits its own course of redevelopment.
The architect was William Gillbee Scott (1857-1930), who designed the Gower Street Memorial Chapel (now the Chinese Church in London), and the London and Provincial Bank in Enfield.
The building is curved on plan, has five storeys, and has seven bays at the east return and one along Cross Burgess Street to the south. The building is Classical in style and has red brick elevations with contrasting sandstone dressings. Architectural features include ground floor shopfronts, mullioned fenestrations, casement windows and rusticated pilasters between bays.
The building was erected by Messrs. Thomas Fish and Son, Nottingham, and comprised accommodation on the top floor, offices beneath, and six large shops on Pinstone Street. Painting and decoration were by Thomas Toon, of Nottingham.
The land cost £7,812, and the building work over £16,000, the shops and offices used to bring in considerable income for the Salvation Army.
It was opened by Commissioner Thomas Henry Howard, on 27 January 1894.
The main entrance to the Citadel was from Pinstone Street, flanked by the row of shops. The visitor passed along a vestibule lit by gas in ruby globes. The walls were decorated in green sage, with a deep maroon dado, and the floor was paved in mosaic style. Inserted into the wall on the right were the dozen stones, laid when the building commenced, with the names of those who undertook that duty.
While the temperance rooms at the Citadel are decisively linked with the Salvation Army, the Citadel Building (as it became known) was better known for its commercial activities. Soon after it opened it was occupied by the Wentworth Café and Hotel, moving here from Holly Street, a socialist meeting place famously linked with Edward Carpenter. That association ended in 1922 when the whole of the premises was leased by Stewart and Stewart, the well-known tailors, who extended from next door.
Afterwards, while shops frequently changed hands, the upper floors were used as offices until the interiors of Pinstone Chambers were completely remodelled for city living accommodation.
The Salvation Army moved out of the Citadel in 1999, the crumbling shell still attached to Pinstone Chambers, but the old main entrance and corridor to it long since blocked-off.
Is the ‘foundation stone’ wall still visible in the old vestibule? What survives of the Victorian floor mosaic? Is there any evidence of the sage green and deep maroon decoration?
Planning permission has been submitted for Leah’s Yard on Cambridge Street to be transformed into a new creative hub for independent businesses, with a slew of independent stores set to surround a public courtyard.
The venue will be operated by Tom Wolfenden, CEO of SSPCo, and James O’Hara of the Rockingham Group, who were appointed to the project by Sheffield City Council.
If approved, Leah’s Yard will be refurbished true to its current form, with a courtyard surrounded by small boutique shops, with the first and second floors hosting approximately 20 independent working studios.
The oldest buildings on the Leah’s Yard site are the two former houses fronting Cambridge Street that date from the early nineteenth century. The industrial legacy of Leah’s Yard began with George Linley in 1825 as a small shear and tool manufacturing complex during the early nineteenth century. The houses fronting the street were later converted to offices and shops, and the complex as a whole is characterised by piecemeal additions and alterations dating from the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Cambridge Street was known for its horn works, and James Morton, a horn dealer, became the major sole occupier about 1842.
Leah’s Yard was occupied from about 1891-92 by Henry Leah and Sons, a manufacturer of die stamps for silverware. By 1911 there were 23 occupants (little mesters) on site producing slightly different goods, and undertaking different processes yet all contributing to the cutlery trade.
The site was predominantly used for production associated with the metal trades well into the mid to late twentieth century. The Leah family remained in part of the complex until the 1970s when they merged with Spear and Jackson; they sold the site in the 1990s. The Cambridge Street frontage of the complex had been used as shops in its last few years of occupation, and takes into account the former Sportsman public house and Chubby’s recently closed takeaway.
As part of Heart of the City II, Leah’s Yard will sit alongside the upcoming Cambridge Street Collective and Bethel Chapel developments – both currently under construction – that will feature a contemporary food hall, cookery school, fine dining experience and live entertainment spaces.
Who says that the Heart of the City II development is just about new buildings?
Leah’s Yard is currently undergoing a £6m renovation to breathe life back into the old buildings. Set to open in early 2023, Leah’s Yard will be a destination for independent retail, and showcasing traders, makers and creators from Sheffield.
Throughout the 19th century the yard was used by a horn dealer (who supplied the cutlery handle making trade), Sheffield platers, knife manufacturers and silver stampers. In the 1880s the building was known as the Cambridge Street Horn Works.
In 1892 Henry Leah took over the building as a producer of die stamps for silverware, giving the building the name that it is known by today. Sharing the building at that time was Walter Walker & Co Ltd, who were piercers and stampers; the building was alternatively known as the Cambridge Stamping Works.
Behind the scaffolding, work is quietly progressing to restore what had become one of the city centre’s most endangered buildings.
With work progressing on the Heart of the City II development, it’s time to spruce up some our existing buildings. One already completed is the Telephone House NCP car park in Charter Row, achieved by recladding the facade in Corten coloured wave feature cladding and “goal post” feature frames to the ground floor retail units. These improvements addressed issues with the poor appearance of the existing concrete building (see photo) within the context of the new Charter Square development and assist in the future letting of ground floor retail units.
The former British Telecom tower, which is located above the carpark, was recently refurbished by Vita Student in 2016 to provide upmarket student accommodation.
A planning application has now been submitted to erect a new shop frontage to four existing retail units consisting of new aluminium curtain wall façade within existing feature goal post surrounds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our city centre may take on a new look if plans to pedestrianise large swathes of it get the go ahead. Sheffield City Council want to make foot and bicycle journeys easier and quicker, while streamlining public transport services.
The proposals include pedestrianisation to Pinstone Street and Leopold Street, linking Fargate with the Peace Gardens, as well as Charles Street between Union Street and Pinstone Street. The pedestrianisation of Surrey Street would create a traffic-free Town Hall Square.
Work would include more greenery, replicating the ‘Grey-to-Green’ scheme already seen between Castlegate and West Bar.
Bus gates would be installed in both directions on Furnival Gate, and along Arundel Gate to Norfolk Street
Rockingham Street would get a new bus hub with improvements to pavements, green planting, a pocket park, and bus stops.
Of course, there are benefits to the scheme – improved air quality, better accessibility to shops and businesses, a more attractive city centre, and public spaces that create city uniqueness.
Artist impressions paint a bright picture, but there are notes of caution.
Sheffield city centre is at a midpoint in its regeneration, with the pandemic decimating footfall, and placing even more uncertainty on retail, hospitality, and office space requirements.
The city centre is a travesty of its former self, Covid-19 exposing retailers already reeling from Meadowhall and the internet. And, after restrictions are eventually lifted, how many pubs, bars, and restaurants, will have survived?
Half-hearted attempts to open cycle lanes at the heart of the city, further reducing traffic flow, have met with lukewarm response. With respects to cyclists, our seven hills make four wheels the favoured choice in and out of the city.
The key to any redevelopment must take into consideration transport links.
Cars are already deterred from entering due to over-complicated traffic flow and the extortionate cost of parking. Our buses remain empty, not least because nobody knows where they go, or where to catch them anymore. Our elderly citizens must walk a distance to catch a bus, and the question remains whether they will bother anymore?
We must tread carefully, mindful that change must happen if our city centre is to be revitalised.
Any changes must take place before 2023 to qualify for a Government grant, managed by Sheffield City Region, and must be subject of public consultation.