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Buildings

Livesey-Clegg House

The last remaining Victorian building on Union Street is due to be demolished. (Image: David Poole)

Union Street is not a fashionable road, its role as one of Sheffield’s important thoroughfares, and its ancient connection with Norfolk Street, long diminished.

Post-war redevelopment deprived Union Street of its character, and one of its most important buildings, the shops and offices that made up Cambridge Arcade (with its covered walkway into Pinstone Street) disappeared in the 1970s.

A walk along Union Street today shows that almost all its architecture is from the sixties onwards. All except for one narrow building, a survivor of Sheffield’s Victorian past, sandwiched between unsightly 20th century structures.

However, Livesey-Clegg House, at 44 Union Street, is expected to go the same way as its long-lost neighbours soon.

If plans to create Midcity House, three new tower blocks, up to 25-storeys high, are given the go ahead, then this old building will be demolished.

The last Victorian building to survive on Union Street was built for Thomas Henry Vernon, cork manufacturer, in 1881. His father’s business had originally existed at 2 Union Street at the junction with the old line of Pinstone Street.

Street improvements in 1875 resulted in the creation of Moorhead and comprehensive redevelopment in the area. As part of this, Vernon’s old premises were demolished, with Thomas Henry Vernon succeeding to the business and relocating to Milk Street. When his new premises were built in 1881, he moved to 44 Union Street, and employed about a dozen people.

Vernon died in 1919, the ground floor becoming a small car showroom for Midland Motors, later Moorhead Motors, and the upper floors converted into offices.

The ground floor was taken over by Hardy’s Bakery in the 1970s, and frequently changed hands afterwards, used as a shop and several food takeaways, and is now empty and boarded-up.

Livesey-Clegg House. The ground floor was occupied by Moorhead Motors in 1961. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

While most Sheffield folk were interested in what went on at street level, it is the floors above that provide the real sense of history.

The name above an adjacent door – Livesey-Clegg House – indicates that this was once home to the British Temperance League.

(Image: David Poole)

In Victorian times, high levels of alcohol consumption and drunkenness were seen by some as a danger to society’s well-being, leading to poverty, child neglect, immorality, and economic decline. As a result, temperance societies began to be formed in the 1830s to campaign against alcohol.

The British Temperance League, a predominantly northern teetotal and Christian society, was the new name in 1854 for the British Association for the Promotion of Temperance. In 1880 it moved its headquarters from Preston to Union Street in Sheffield, largely due to the influence of the Clegg family.

Successive members of the Clegg family served as chairman of the executive committee: William Johnson Clegg (1826-1895), sometime alderman of Sheffield, and his son Sir (John) Charles Clegg, best known as chairman and president of the Football Association. His brother, Sir William Edwin Clegg, sometime Mayor of Sheffield, was a vice-president.

By the 1890s its finances and prestige were in decline, but the society persevered and by 1938 was looking for new premises.

“Street widening and re-planning will shortly make it necessary for us to vacate the offices in Union Street, of which we have been tenants for more than 50 years,” said Herbert Jones, the secretary. “We have long felt the need of a permanent home for books, pictures, and other treasures of the movement.”

The ground floor was occupied by Hardy’s Bakery in the 1970s. The sign above the doorway to the right of the shop still exists. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

In 1940, the society moved into 44 Union Street and called it Livesey-Clegg House – named after Joseph William Livesey (1794-1884), a temperance campaigner, politician, and social reformer, and Sir John Charles Clegg (1850-1937), chairman and president of Sheffield Wednesday and founder of Sheffield United.

As well as the headquarters of the British Temperance League, its collection of journals, monographs, bound collections of pamphlets and non-textual items, including lantern slides, posters, banners, textiles, and crockery, were housed in Victorian bookcases in a large old-fashioned room that was used as a library.

The BTL merged with the London-based National Temperance League in 1952 to become the British National Temperance League, with the HQ in Sheffield. It remained until 1987 when the historically valuable library was transferred to the University of Central Lancashire in Preston (now known as the Livesey Library after teetotal pioneer Joseph Livesey).

The old offices and library at Livesey-Clegg House were eventually turned into student accommodation.

Alas, the building is not considered to be of architectural importance and will most likely be demolished soon.

(Image: David Poole)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Other Streets

Connecting Sheffield

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.

The future of our city? Pedestrianisation of Pinstone Street and Charles Street connects with Heart of the City II redevelopment, due for completion in 2021. (Image: Connecting Sheffield)

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 prospect of a Town Hall Square, with pedestrian access and cycle routes linking Fargate, Leopold Street, Surrey Street, and the Peace Gardens. (Image: Connecting Sheffield).

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.  

An overview of the ‘Connecting Sheffield’ proposal, providing a green space around the city centre. (Image: Connecting Sheffield)

Connecting Sheffield

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

The new Isaacs Building takes shape

Scaffolding and new steel work support retained Victorian fronts on Pinstone Street. (Image: Heart of the City II)

A photograph that tells a story. The remains of the Victorian facade at the lower end of Pinstone Street in Sheffield city centre. Everything behind has been demolished, and the famous old fronts preserved for posterity.

Block C of the Heart of the City II masterplan is located between Pinstone Street, Cambridge Street and Charles Street.

It incorporates two historic building blocks which form the southern end of the Pinstone streetscape.

The combined façade and its dramatic roofscape is an excellent example of Sheffield brick and terracotta architecture. It occupies a prominent position and is visible from the Peace Gardens through to The Moor.

Block C will be home to 39,000 sq ft of premium Grade A office space, serving 450 employees, plus six premium retail units comprising over 8,000 sq ft.

It will be known as the Isaacs Building, named after Edwardian-era paper-hangings merchant David Isaac, and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Categories
Buildings

Sheffield Citadel

Photograph by Exposed Magazine

The Citadel, a prominent Sheffield building that has remained vacant since 1999, could finally be brought back into use after planning consent was granted for its redevelopment by Sheffield City Council.

WMA Architects, on behalf of Tandem Properties, submitted full planning and listed building applications in October 2019 for work on The Citadel on Cross Burgess Street.

The Grade II-listed building was constructed in 1894 as the Sheffield headquarters of the Salvation Army. It was designed by William Gillbee Scott (1857-1930), who had conceived the Gower Street Memorial Chapel in London.

The foundation stones were laid in September 1892 with construction completed by the end of 1893. Completed at a cost of £25,000, the building consisted of a large hall, various rooms and apartments, with three large business premises on Pinstone Street.

It has remained vacant following the charity’s relocation to new premises in 1999.

The interior of the four-storey building is set to be modernised to make it suitable for use as a food and drink establishment, while retaining its historic features.

Work will include increasing the amount of glazing on the Cross Burgess Street frontage with the existing auditorium expected to form part of the restaurant or bar area.

The applications have now been approved, subject to conditions, by Sheffield City Council under delegated powers.

Categories
Other

Sheffield’s sun-ray revolution

March 1927, and Sheffield’s first Sun-Ray Centre opened at the Imperial Rooms, on Pinstone Street, used for the treatment of nerve disorders, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, neuritis, sciatica, lumbago, neurasthenia, insomnia and anaemia.

It might seem strange in this day of sun-bed shops and tanning parlours that such excitement was created by the opening of Dr Mark Turner’s Sun-Ray Centre.

But the difference between sun-ray treatment and modern-day sunbeds is completely different.

Sun-ray treatment was seen as a cure for ailments, with Sir George Newman, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, proclaiming it “as one of the five great discoveries in medicine in the last two generations.”

Bodies consumed therapeutic light in one of two ways: outdoors in the natural sunshine, or indoors with artificial, electrical substitutes, known variously as phototherapy, artificial sunlight therapy, ray therapy, or actinotherapy. The latter method commonly used carbon arc, tungsten arc, or mercury vapour lamps, which produced different outputs of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet rays. Most prized among these was the ultraviolet. Referred to as ‘chemical’ or ‘actinic’ rays – notably for their use in photography – the ultraviolet rays were understood to disinfect and heal lesions and wounds by virtue of being bactericidal; to regenerate blood by increasing phosphorus, calcium, and haemoglobin levels; and to stimulate the production of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’.

Niels Finsen, a Faroese-Danish physician who had grown up in the dim light of the North Atlantic, was fascinated by the link between sun exposure and health. He noticed that ultraviolet light could apparently kill bacteria. In the 1890s he designed the Finsen Light, a powerful electric lamp which proved effective in treating lupus vulgaris, a skin disease caused by tuberculosis bacteria.

Hearing of his work, Queen Alexandra, a fellow Dane, provided “the first Finsen lamp in Great Britain” to a hospital.

In 1903, Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for his work on phototherapy.

Dr Mark Turner arrived in Sheffield after setting up similar establishments at Nottingham, Lincoln and Derby. And with him came plaudits and recommendations from former patients:

“Dear Mr Turner. You will be pleased to know that I walked up and down the dining room without the aid of sticks yesterday, this after only six treatments.”

“I’m much better, so much better after suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, I can’t tell you what I feel like, but just watch me walk.”

“Well, it does one good to see what a wonderful improvement there is in us all; no wonder we look so bright and happy.”

Sheffield newspapers were full of stories from grateful patients, but one suspects the column inches were paid for by Dr Turner.

A month later, the Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported:

“A sensation awaited those who watched the arrival of Mrs Hannah Lindsay, of Wolseley Road, at the Sun-Ray Centre for Private Patients in Pinstone Street.

“Mrs Lindsay electrified the onlookers by walking from her car to the Treatment Rooms, instead of being carried in the hospital chair as formerly.

“A murmur of applause greeted her arrival, some of the bystanders had had the opportunity of witnessing her former visits and were enthusiastic at what they saw.

For sixteen years she had suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis so severely as to make walking impossible, now she is really walking.”

The promotion of actinotherapy received its greatest boost in December 1928, when it was used on King George V, who was ill with pneumonia: “the ray therapy treatment would be used as a new method of attack in the difficult struggle which the doctors are waging . . . The new treatment may act as a tonic and increase the bacterial power of the blood.”

By 1928, light therapy had reached its zenith in popularity, both among the public and the medical profession. Although almost 200 clinics existed in England at this time, it was unregulated and incredibly expensive.

And, some medical professionals continued to have reservations about the treatments. A 1930 meeting at the British Medical Council discussed experiments by the Medical Research Council which found ultraviolet rays “to be no more effective than a mustard plaster”.

Despite the accolades, Dr Turner’s Sun-Ray Centre appears to have been short-lived and within a couple of years had disappeared.

For much of the first half of the twentieth century, phototherapy or “sun ray” therapy was prescribed by hospitals for children for a wide range of maladies, from chest infections to anaemia. At the same time, concerns mounted over the link between exposure to ultraviolet light and skin cancer.

By the 1960s, antibiotics and alternative treatments rendered sun ray therapy obsolete for most purposes. Targeted ultraviolet light is still used today for some skin disorders, and other types of non-ultraviolet light treatments are used to treat mood and sleep disorders.

Categories
Other People

Marconiphone

Photograph by WorthPoint.

In February 1932, the advances made in wireless radio reception was demonstrated, when Stainless Stephen, a well-known Sheffield comedian and broadcast artist, opened at the Imperial Rooms, on Pinstone Street, an exhibition of Marconiphone Magic Radio Stagecraft.

Marconiphone was an English manufacturer of domestic receiving equipment, notably radio receivers and later reel-to-reel tape machines. In 1922, Marconi had set up the Marconiphone department to design, manufacture and sell domestic receiving equipment. It complied with Post Office specifications and tests, and was therefore awarded the BBC authorisation stamp.

The company was sold to the Gramophone Company in 1931, which became Electric and Musical Industries (EMI) and produced domestic radio receivers using the Marconiphone trademark until 1956.

At the event, Stainless Stephen said that in the early days of broadcasting, reception was so poor that it was difficult for listeners to tell the difference between his voice and that of a famous tenor.

A demonstration of effective radio magic followed, and similar performances were given five times daily.

The audience was introduced to the performers – standard Marconiphone models – by a young lady who apparently was able to carry on conversation with the individual models. Indeed, the models sang together the well-known chorus of Uncle Tom Cobley, chiming in with precision and great effect.

Then they combined to present various items in an amusing village concert, and there was an admirable climax introducing a soldier on sentry duty, the ghosts of his former comrades, and a swinging marching song.

Another instance of radio magic was the introduction of the various sections of an orchestra, music being played by the strings, the bass instruments, the drums etc., apparently from different parts of a stage, and precisely when requested by the main receiving set visible to the audience.

Categories
Buildings

Radisson Blu

Photograph by Sheffield City Council

Here’s news of an important development in Sheffield’s Heart of the City II programme.

Radisson Blu has been selected by Sheffield City Council as the preferred hotel brand for its flagship Heart of the City II hotel on Pinstone Street, overlooking the Peace Gardens.

The hotel will anchor the new Heart of the City II scheme which is already home to global bank HSBC, and which will shortly welcome prominent international law firm, CMS, who are occupying 45,000 sq. ft of office space later in the year.

Part of Block A in Heart of the City II, the hotel will be housed in the striking Victorian architecture towards the top end of Pinstone Street, adjacent to the Barclays building on the corner. It is expected to feature over 150 rooms and will have a prominent location with views of the Peace Gardens.

Developed by Sheffield City Council and its strategic delivery partner, Queensberry, Block A sits between Pinstone Street, Burgess Street and Barker’s Pool. Providing a key gateway to the Heart of the City II district from the east, Block A will also feature premium retail units at street level and 45,000 sq. ft of office or residential space.

Radisson Blu is an international chain of 328 ‘upper upscale’ hotels operated by the Radisson Hotel Group. Its origins go back to 1960, with the opening of the SAS Royal Denmark Hotel in Copenhagen, the group rebranded from Radisson SAS in 2009.

At present, the nearest Radisson Blu hotels are in Derby, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and York.

Categories
Buildings

Grosvenor House

Making use of the rooftop terrace. Not bad at all. Grosvenor House, the name chosen by HSBC employees, and paying homage to the hotel that stood here before. The main office entrance is located on the corner of Wellington Street and Cambridge Street, and another entrance faces onto a new area of public realm at Charter Square. The building will also include retail space and shop fronts will be primarily located on Cambridge Street and also the important corner where Pinstone Street meets Furnival Gate. HSBC employees in Sheffield are being relocated from their current office space at Griffin House after the banking giant signed as the anchor tenant on a 15-year lease, committing them to Sheffield city centre.

Categories
Buildings

Sheffield Citadel

This photograph says it all. Trees and bushes growing out of the brickwork of the Grade II-listed Salvation Army Citadel on Cross Burgess Street, Sheffield. A favourite of urban explorers, this remarkable looking building has stood empty since the Salvation Army moved to Psalter Lane in 1999. The building’s future looks a little brighter, with Tandem Properties currently awaiting a planning decision to turn it into a bar and restaurant, the development forming part of the Heart of the City 2 project.

The Salvation Army arrived in Sheffield during 1878 and within three years had four halls attracting attendances of over 4,000 people. It was obvious that a bigger venue was needed for the No. 1 Corps which had previously met in a small building on Thomas Street. The London headquarters of the Army promised to fund the construction of a new meeting hall on the understanding that there would be a local contribution of £2,000. A piece of land on the junction of Pinstone Street and Cross Burgess Street was bought from Sheffield Corporation at a cost of £7,812.

The architect William Gillbee Scott (1857-1930), who had conceived the Gower Street Memorial Chapel in London, was asked to design the new Citadel along with shops and offices alongside. The foundation stones were laid in September 1892 with construction completed by the end of 1893. Its fortress-like appearance, with battlements and towers, lived up to the Citadel’s name. Completed at a cost of £25,000, the building consisted of a large hall, various rooms and apartments, with three large business premises on Pinstone Street, which were let almost immediately.

The main hall in the Citadel had seating for 2,000 people. At one end was a theatre-like platform with an orchestra behind. A main gallery occupied three sides of the hall with boxes sited at each end. An upper gallery was also situated at the back. In addition, there were ante-rooms, a band room for use of the brass band, and a large room under the orchestra accommodating another 300 people.

The Salvation Army Citadel opened in January 1894, spoilt by heavy rain, forcing the planned outdoor event to be adjourned inside. The ceremony started when the order was given to fire a volley, followed by a rousing rendition of Hallelujah.

The Citadel survived for 105 years, its popularity waning in time, resulting in its final departure to smaller premises at the end of last century. Admired by many, but seemingly unable to attract the right kind of developer, the building has been subject to several unsuccessful redevelopment plans.

Categories
Buildings

Prudential Assurance Building

I think this is one of the finest looking buildings in Sheffield. Also, special because it was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, responsible for Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.

Looking into the history of the Prudential Assurance Building also reveals one of those ‘I never knew that’ moments – the fact that for twelve months, at least, part of it was used as a hotel.

The Prudential Assurance Building is an imposing Grade II-listed property built in 1896 on Pinstone Street adjoining what was then St Paul’s churchyard (now the Peace Gardens). It was the latest in a series of constructions that appeared around the country, designed by Alfred Waterhouse and Son, London, for Prudential Assurance.

Often built in red brick with a granite plinth and the company’s favoured terracotta dressings from J.C. Edwards of Ruabon, these handsome Renaissance-Revival buildings were to be seen in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Leicester, Dundee and Nottingham. The exception was Edinburgh, where the authorities objected to the use of terracotta and insisted on stone instead.

This was boom-time for the insurance industry. At the end of 1896, Prudential Assurance had twelve million policies in force within its industrial division – one third of the population of Great Britain – with a further 500,000 policies taken out at its ‘ordinary’ division. These generated a combined income of £7million and assets worth £27million.

The cost of the building and land in Sheffield was £25,000, a large sum but easily affordable for the company. The shape of the land also posed a problem resulting in the absence of corridors throughout.

The building contract was given to the Sheffield firm of George Longden and Son, work starting in 1896 and completed the following year.

There were two entrances.

On the left, a door led into the main offices, designed to impress the visitor, elegantly fitted and decorated. There was a glaced faciene from the Bormantoft Works and the fittings were Spanish mahogany and American walnut.

To the right, there was a staircase and lift leading downwards to a spacious restaurant tenanted by Mr William Bird, and upwards to offices (subsequently let off) and to a billiard and other rooms connected with the restaurant. A shop to the right of the door (still there) also formed part of Mr Bird’s tenancy.

William Bird, caterer and refreshment house-keeper had opened Bird’s Restaurant on (New) Surrey Street in 1895 (in part of the building most recently used by Halifax Bank). He took out a lease in the Prudential Assurance Building and, as well as opening another restaurant, created thirty bedrooms above, as well as coffee, billiard, sitting and commercial rooms – all under the guise of Bird’s Hotel.

The hotel lasted just twelve months, and in 1898 William Bird executed a deed of assignment, meaning he had to give up the property and contents for non-payment of rent to the Prudential company.

His restaurant on Surrey Street also collapsed in 1901 when receivers were called in.

In modern times, Prudential Assurance vacated the building, its ground floor converted into a shop for Laura Ashley, and latterly turned into Costa Coffee.