The lost picturesque ivy-clad building called Sharrow Moor School

Sharrow Moor Endowed School, also known as Whitehead’s School (after headmaster ‘Daddy’ Whitehead), Bagshot Street, Sharrow Moor. Built 1668, extended 1769. Demolished 1904. Image: Picture Sheffield

“Another bit of old Sheffield has disappeared. Over 200 years ago it stood ’distant, secluded, still’ away on Sharrow moor, with a beautiful rural country all around it, and Sheffield a comparatively long way off. But, like an invading army, Sheffield has been rapidly enveloping it in the last century. The city spread all around it. For a time, the town left it standing while it went on and on, seizing fields and woods, and filling them up with houses. Latterly, however, it has had time to turn back, and look around for spots that might have been passed and left unspoilt by bricks and mortar. And it has discovered quaint, old-fashioned Sharrow Moor School, a picturesque ivy-clad building, with its old-world air of simplicity and quietude, and its still rural surroundings. And down comes one of the few remaining bits of old Sheffield to make room for more of the all-devouring, up-to-date city.”

This expressive piece appeared in a local newspaper in November 1904.

Sharrow Moor School was one of Sheffield’s earliest schools. Originally a farmhouse, when erected in 1668, it subsequently became a charity school, and for many years boys and girls were taught to read and write, and some of them to learn mathematics.

In 1668, few houses dotted the landscape in this lovely valley. Its only neighbours were strewn far and wide across it. Beauchief Hall, Banner Cross, Whirlow Hall, Graystones, Whiteley Wood Hall, Broom Hall, Machon Bank,  and Mount Pleasant.

In 1769 the building passed into the hands of the Rev. Thomas Savage, of Cherry Tree Hill, who extended it, and through his will it was destined to become a school.

His trustees were obliged to pay someone “four pounds, eleven shillings, and four pence for the teaching and instructing of eight poor children, born, or residing in or belonging to the parish of Sheffield, at a certain school situated in Sharrow Moor called Sharrow Moor School, to read the English language, two whereof to be taught to write, and account by being taught the first four rules in arithmetic. The sum of nine shillings and eight pence to be paid annually for the purchase of books.”

Sharrow Moor Endowed School, also known as Whitehead’s School (after headmaster ‘Daddy’ Whitehead) in 1893. Image: Picture Sheffield

The school prospered under several masters – Mr Siddle up to 1860, followed by a Frenchman, Mons. Louis Theodore Elile Isensee, until 1865. Afterwards, ‘Daddy’ Whitehead took charge for 25 years until his death (the school referred to as Whitehead’s School)  and it  briefly closed before reopening in 1890 by Mr Haslam.

Then came the Free Education Act and the arrival of new schools at Hunter’s Bar, Pomona Street, Nether Green and Greystones, and the school closed. The money received from the sale of the land and building, together with its endowment, was transferred by the Charity Commission to find scholarships for children in the parish of Ecclesall, at the Sheffield Central, Technical, and Art Schools.

If it had survived, where would this forgotten treasure have been today? The answer is Bagshot Street, at Sharrow Vale.  

Old School House Bagshot St., Sharrow Vale Sheffield Built 1668; Renovated 1769. Image: Picture Sheffield

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved


Old Coroner’s Court

A miserable end for a fine old building. (Image: The Jessop Consultancy)

It is sad to be writing about a building that will soon be no more.

The Old Coroner’s Court on Nursery Street is to be demolished and replaced with 77 apartments, after a Government inspector overturned Sheffield City Council’s decision to halt the development.

Firestone, the developer, has been given permission to demolish the building as it is not listed, or in a conservation area.

It will be a miserable end for the building built in 1913-1914, one damaged during the Blitz, the subject of severe flooding, and an arson attack.

This grainy photograph was taken in 1914 shortly after the coroner’s court and mortuary had opened. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

At the end of November 1912, it was agreed by Sheffield Corporation that a new Coroner’s Court and Mortuary should be built on surplus land remaining after the widening of Nursery Street.

Prior to this, the land had been an area of mixed domestic, retail and industrial buildings, a far cry from the days when this was “a green and pleasant land, when salmon could be caught in the Don, and flowers gathered in the meadow” of Spittal Gardens, or the Duke of Norfolk’s Nursery.

The new Coroner’s Court was championed by Dr W.H. Fordham, of the Heeley Ward, chairman of the special committee set up to build it. The urgency was to replace the old coroner’s court that had stood on Plum Lane, off Corporation Street, since 1884, and had long been a disgrace to the city.

The building was designed by Sheffield’s first city architect, Frederick Ernest Pearce Edwards (1863-1945), who had previously held a similar position with Bradford Corporation.

The Coroner’s Court in 1914. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

Built of brick and stone, it drew on the design of Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Baroque traditions of the nineteenth century. Construction was by George Longden and Son and cost £5,000 to build.

The main courtroom was 30ft x 20ft and 25ft high. Within the building were various mortuaries, waiting rooms, jury retiring rooms, coroner and doctor waiting rooms, viewing rooms, coach and motor houses, stables, and a caretaker’s house.

It was furnished throughout in oak and contained all the ‘up-to-date’ appliances, including fixed and revolving tables in the post-mortem room.

The coroner at the time was Mr J. Kenyon Parker, but the first case held here was in May 1914 when Dr J.J. Baldwin Young, deputy coroner, investigated the death of Edward Villers, a labourer, and determined that he ‘hanged himself while of unsound mind.’

Buildings behind were added in the 1920s, and following bomb damage in December 1940, new plans were drawn up by W.G. Davis, city architect, in 1952-1953 to extend the courtroom buildings.

There is a chance that the developer will preserve the original date-stone. (The Jessop Consultancy)

The opening of the Medico Legal Centre on Watery Street, Netherthorpe, in the 1970s, brought an end to grisly proceedings on Nursery Street.

It became Sheffield City Council, Employment Department, Enterprise Works, and was subsequently sub-divided into 36 principal rooms. In later years it was known as the Old Coroner’s Court Business Centre.

Unfortunately, little remains of the original internal detail, but the outside is virtually untouched apart from minor restoration.

The building has been empty for several years and the developer had hoped to incorporate it into the new development, but this was considered unpractical.

And so, we lose another one of our historic buildings, to be replaced with something considered to be “favourable towards the character and appearance of the area.”

The inside of the building was sub-divided and this space once formed part of the old courtroom. (Image: The Jessop Consultancy)
The proposed development on the site of the Old Coroner’s Court. (Firestone)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.