It’s all gone wrong at 45-47 Fargate, better known as the former Next store.
When the chain store relocated from the corner of Fargate and Norfok Row, the building was earmarked for a £1.5m makeover. It was to become a café/restaurant with external alterations including replacement facades, second floor extension and the formation of a roof terrace, with provision for a rooftop plant enclosure.
The application was made by Woodhead Investments and work started last year.
But in April, David Walsh, in The Star, showed photographs of the site, and the building had been demolished.
Owner David Woodhead of Woodhead Investments explained they had encountered structural problems. Original cast iron columns they hoped to reuse had proved too weak, forcing them to start from scratch.
However, the photographs revealed something interesting.
Demolition revealed old brickwork that didn’t fit in with what most of us thought to be a nineteen sixties construction. And the inclusion of cast iron columns certainly raised questions.
The site was once occupied by the “Lord’s House” which incorporated a Catholic Chapel. This was demolished in 1815 to make way for commercial buildings.
And digging deeper, we find that historical maps show an amalgamation of properties from the middle of the 19th Century onwards… and these formed the structure of the building recently demolished.
According to the planning application, remnants of the original shops fronting Fargate were visible in the basement, where substantial stone walls were incorporated into the existing framed structure.
And we find that underneath the early 1960s façade was the framed structure of the original three-storey shop, although the pitched roofs had been replaced with a flat roof.
We must be grateful to Picture Sheffield because we can see what the building looked like. In a photograph, taken between 1915-1925, it was occupied by Robert Hanbridge and Sons, hosiers, hatters, and glovers.
In 1953, it was purchased by Joseph Hepworth and Son, tailors, of Leeds, for £100,000, and after reconstruction and modernisation opened as a branch of Hepworths. The company rebranded to Next in the 1980s and stayed here until its closure in 2019.
The building was not deemed worthy of architectural interest and the sixties development destroyed much of its original character. However, we have lost another piece of Sheffield history, even if we didn’t know it still existed.
David Walsh, writing for The Star, said that construction of a new building was due to re-start in July 2022 after a four month delay. The project was held up due to the unexpected requirement for steel girders and soaring prices. Original columns they hoped to reuse turned out not to be steel but cast iron which was too weak, forcing them to start from scratch. It is hoped that the building might be completed in January 2023.
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