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Buildings Streets

Thomas Street – the people are returning

Thomas Street, looking towards Moore Street, with a covered walkway between Cosmos, recently constructed student accommodation.

This was formerly the site of Stokes Tiles, but back in 1892 we would have been looking at a much narrower Thomas Street, with the Noah’s Ark public house evident. The council paid £750 for 113 square yards of freehold land from Tennant Bros for the purpose of widening these streets.

Former back-to-back housing in the area was cleared and made way for industry, but times change, and the people are returning.

In the background is the Moorfoot Building, and Wickes, this land now under ownership of NewRiver, owners of The Moor, and I’m informed will be assigned for further residential development.

Cosmos. New student accommodation situated at the corner of Fitzwilliam Street and Moore Street. The people are returning to Sheffield city centre. Image: DJP/2021

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

The Electricity Substation referred to as a “citadel” when it was built 

Electricity Substation, at the junction of Moore Street and Hanover Way. Built 1968. Photograph: DJP/2021

Here’s a building that attracts attention from all over the world. Strangely enough, it is a building that frightened me as a child. The cold, harsh, concrete structure overpowers one of the main gateways into Sheffield city centre.

Do we like it?

It seems that disapproval of Sheffield’s Brutalist architecture is reserved for Park Hill flats, and the Electricity Substation, on Moore Street and Hanover Way, seemingly escapes most criticism. And since October 2010, the building has been floodlit with coloured lighting at night-time creating a dramatic artistic focal point on Sheffield’s ring road.

Its history goes back to the early 1960s when electricity distribution in the city called for the use of a 275 kilovolt cable ring around the city centre with transformer and switching substations needed on the ring.

A substation was needed near the junction of The Moor and Ecclesall Road. Back then, this was an area largely occupied by substandard back-to-back housing and small cutlery works and was identified for redevelopment.

The original plan was square in detail, but this was rejected because it would have forced the closure of several small factories. Instead, an L-shaped plan, occupied by back-to-back properties, was devised by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) to be built in two phases.

The chosen site needed an architectural statement and the CEGB appointed Jefferson, Sheard and Partners of Sheffield and London, led by Bryan Jefferson, as architects to work with the board’s own civil engineer.

The result was this concrete building that housed transformers, switchgears, and busbars on separate floors. Phase 2, forming the other leg of the substation was never built because anticipated demand never materialised.

Vertical circulation is via an external staircase with covered walkway. Photograph: DJP/2021

The Electricity Substation was built by Longden & Sons and completed in 1968. In the same year, it was commended in the Financial Times Industrial Architecture Awards.

Constructed with a reinforced concrete frame with concrete floor slabs, blue engineering facing bricks, and cladding panels of Cornish granite aggregate, it was completed by Longden & Sons in 1968. In the same year, the building was commended in the Financial Times Industrial Architecture Awards.

The ground floor houses two transformers, with switch gear occupying the floor above. It was Grade II listed in 2013, considered to be of special interest, and is still in use, although advanced technology means the second floor is redundant.

Exposed concrete panels are on the upper levels and are illuminated at night. Photograph: DJP/2021

Note: –
Bryan Jefferson founded his practice with Garry Sheard in 1958, and the architects were also responsible for the Cinema and Entertainment complex in Pond Street, now occupied by Odeon Luxe, Tank Nightclub, and the O2 Academy.

The substation is highly unusual for its date as due to its prominent urban position in a post-war redevelopment area the transformers and switchgear are enclosed within an architect-designed building, rather than being located in an open-air site surrounded by security fencing as was the usual form for substations of this period. Photograph: DJP/2021

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Buildings

Velocity Tower

Things didn’t go to plan with the Velocity Tower, near Moore Street roundabout, at the edge of the city centre.

When it was built it should have been 30-storeys high, (an application for 36-storeys was wisely rejected by planners), but construction halted on the 21st floor, as the firm behind it went into administration. A student block alongside would have reached 18-storeys, containing 41 cluster flats, but only the ground-floor podium was completed.

In 2011 the complex went on the market for £10.5million and was eventually snapped up by Dubai-based Select Group.

A few corners had been cut during the initial build, something that Select have been able to rectify as well as completing the unfinished twenty-first floor.

More importantly, it agreed a deal for a £6.5million Ibis Hotel in the footprint of the proposed student block.

Work is almost completed on the seven-storey building, designed by Whittam Cox Architects, and will provide an extra 126 beds for the city centre. A coffee shop will be created on the ground floor along with the reception and (somewhat scanty) 14 car-parking spaces.

Meanwhile, planning permission remains for the 30-storeys at Velocity Tower, although the developer says there are no plans to extend higher.