Nichols Building

Nichols Building. An artist impression of how the old building might look after conversion into flats and commercial space. (Ashgate)

A £3.25m funding package from Lloyds Bank has been secured to support the redevelopment of a former grocer’s warehouse and coffee roastery in Sheffield’s Kelham Island district into apartments. Developer Ashgate is redeveloping the currently disused Nichols Building, Shalesmoor, to a mixed-use scheme with private residential units and commercial space.

Work is to start this summer, and retain many of the building’s original features, including mosaic tiling, stone, and brickwork.

The Nichols Building is an elegant three-storey range built with iron-hard engineering red bricks, such as Accrington or Noris type, laid in English Garden Wall bond.

Leather’s Plan of Sheffield (1823) shows the site (once known as Moor Fields) to have two buildings. The adjacent road had also been renamed ‘Shalesmoor’ although the smaller streets around it remained unnamed.

The 1853 Ordnance Survey map shows the site to comprise back-to-back housing, and likely small workshops, concentrated around two courtyards.

The Nichols Building appears to have been built in 1914 as indicated by a date sign located within the front gable at the corner between Shalesmoor and Shepherd Street. Cartographic records confirm such a date for the construction of the building as the site was formerly occupied by several terraced buildings with internal courts.

The building includes two signs stating, ‘FOUNDED AD 1854’, referring to the establishment of the company; and an additional one to the north-western end along Shalesmoor which reads ‘REBUILT AD 1914’, which refers to the ‘rebuilding’ of the company on the site.

An advertising postcard for Nichols and Co. (Sheffield) Ltd., Shalesmoor (dated between 1900-1919). The back of the postcard reads: “Wholesale grocers. Tea blenders and coffee roasters. Baking powder and self raising flour manufacturers. Dried fruit specialists. Tea packers to the trade. Colonial and foreign produce delivered or sold export. Only goods of reputed quality and of the leading manufacturers sold. Write for quotations.” (Picture Sheffield)

The business Nichols & Co., wholesale grocer, tea merchant and dealer, was established in 1854 by Charles Nichols which originally occupied premises at 231 Gibraltar Street. In 1868, the business held an additional property in Meadow Street and in 1877 in Langsett Road. The 1900 Kelly’s Directory also lists a property in Trinity Street. Once the company moved to the present Nichols Building, no other associated premises are listed, suggesting that the aim of the Nichols Building was to bring the different properties of the company together within a single and purposely-built warehouse.

Nichols and Co. are listed on the site until 1965 when the company is renamed ‘Nichols, Johnson and Bingham’. Following liquidation, various parts of the buildings were sold off with the final reference in the 1973 directory showing ‘Richardson, Arthurs and Son Ltd’ which had purchased part of the former Nichols and Co. business.

It subsequently became auction rooms for Eadon Lockwood & Riddle, and more recently functioned as an antique centre that closed in 2018.

ELR Auctions Ltd., The Nichols Building, at the junction of Shepherd Street and Shalesmoor in 2006. (Picture Sheffield)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Buildings Streets

Queen’s Hotel

Photograph by Stephen Richards

The Queen’s Hotel, on Scotland Street, is one of those public houses that has seen a lot of changes over the years.

Scotland Street itself dates from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, built along a former boundary of an open field system. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, small factories, workshops and housing were built in the area, encouraged by an influx of Irish immigrants during the 1840s.

A public house stood here before. Built in 1791, known as the Queen’s Inn, later the Queen’s Hotel, and under the ownership of William Bradley & Co, and subsequently S.H. Wards, which bought it in 1876.

By the 1920s, the Scotland Street area contained some of the city’s worst slum housing, described as “hovels of the aristocracy” and “mansions of the poor.” It prompted Sheffield Corporation to demolish large swathes of terraced houses.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

Sheffield Corporation set about widening Scotland Street, and in the process purchased land from S.H. Ward & Co, including the site of the nearby Old Hussar public house, and part of the site of the Queen’s Hotel, on condition that they paid the brewery £2,875 towards the cost of rebuilding the Queen’s Hotel.

The new pub, built with stark, simple, exterior lines, opened in December 1928 with guest rooms on the upper floors, a large function room on the first floor and two ground floor bars.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

It could be said that the new Queen’s Head opened at the wrong time and experienced highs and lows ever since.

In 1934, over 50 shopkeepers from the Scotland Street, Meadow Street and surrounding area congregated inside the Queen’s Hotel, demanding that Sheffield Corporation reduce their rent and rates.

They argued that while a great many of their customers had been removed to new housing estates, their rent and rates had remained the same.

The shopkeepers had suffered bad trade for years because at least eighty per cent of the inhabitants had been either unemployed or on short time, and now they were losing their custom altogether. Now they had been left on the edge of a “desert.”

A long-term lack of investment, and a general state of decline, resulted in the area becoming down-at-heel by the middle of the twentieth century.

Many local factories closed, and the decline accelerated in the 1970s, as did the fortunes of the Queen’s Hotel, not helped by S.H. Wards being taken over by Sunderland-based Vaux Breweries in 1972. The brewery closed in 1999, two years after the Queen’s Hotel had closed its doors for good in April 1997.

Photograph by Sheffielder

As reported a few months ago, plans have been floating around to demolish the Queen’s Head and construct a new residential development comprising more than 220 apartments.

That day has now come, with Rise Homes, supported by DLP Planning and Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson, submitting an application to Sheffield City Council for the new development.

The derelict public house would be demolished as would the former Robert Neil & Co (Sheffield) Ltd building next door.

Photograph by Yorbex/Derelict Places

The new residential development would comprise three blocks of up to ten storeys, with a total of 229 apartments, with 145 one-bedroom and 84 two-bedroom units.

Visitors to the area will agree that this part of Scotland Street is now down-at-heel, within an area of transition, which is becoming characterised by more city centre living.

Planning applications were previously approved in 2005 and 2007 for residential developments that would have retained the pub. However, it has now been determined it is not viable to retain any element of the building.

With the demolition of the Queen’s Head likely to be granted it will be a sad end for the public house, especially when people are now heading back to live here once again.

Photograph by Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson