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Wesleyan Institute Building

The Carver Street Chapel (now Walkabout) was built on green fields in 1805, with the Sunday School premises of Red Hill constructed in 1812, and 73 years later additional vestries built behind the chapel. In 1897, new schools and classrooms were erected on Rockingham Street (now Soyo), to meet the ever-growing needs of the chapel and district.

In 1912, the centenary of Red Hill Schools, plans were discussed to enlarge its premises at Carver Street, but the outbreak of World War One delayed progress.

By the 1920s, the original scheme had entirely been remodelled and new premises were built on West Street, officially opened in 1929.

Designed by architect W. J. Hale, of St. James’ Row, the large block constituted shops at ground level with rooms above.

It was constructed by the William G. Robson Building Company, of Bamforth Street, a firm that had built cinemas, dance halls, institutes, hospitals, warehouses, showrooms, hotels and houses throughout the country.

Another firm that played an important part in the construction was the Sheffield Brick Company, of Rutland Road, providing an extensive range of plastic stock, “Winco” and rustic facing bricks.

The whole of the precast fireproof concrete flooring was “Armoured” Tubular Patent Flooring, made by John Cooke and Son, Huddersfield, its main advantage being “fireproof, soundproof, warm and well-tempered.”

At this stage, architects were realising the importance of aggregate concrete in building construction. This structure was no exception, with graded sands and gravels provided by the Yorkshire Amalgamated Products company, the largest quarry owner in the county, with offices on Queen Street.

The contract for the whole of the plumbing had been executed by George W. Rusling and Son, at Brook Hill, with a reputation of 40-years standing in plumbing, glazing, gas-fitting, and sanitary work.

The whole of the building was electrically lit, but it was the heating that was a novel feature for the time. Instead of the usual hot water pipes, a new system of tubular electric heaters had been installed, two inches in diameter. All this work had been undertaken by Charles Ross Ltd, of Heeley Bridge.

The decorative scheme inside was executed by W.J. Wollerton, house and church decorators and furnishers, of Stratford House, at Broomhill. Church decoration was a speciality of this firm, using Sanderson Fast-to-Light wallpapers and treating woodwork with “Durolave” paint.

The main entrance to the Institute was in Rockingham Street. On the first floor, at the top of the stairs, a room was set apart for the Deaconess, where young women and girls were able to take their difficulties and hopes and discuss them with Sister Hilda Morris.

To the right was the Girls’ Institute Room, a spacious room with polished floor, carpeted here and there, with beautiful curtains at the windows, the work of “Painted Fabric.” This was a large drawing room, open nightly for girls over 14 years of age. They had their own kitchen and cooking arrangements, with supervision from helpers. A Rest Room, Library and Handicraft Classes were included in the scheme.

Adjoining the Girls’ Room was the Primary – for children from six to eight years of age, a bright square room, and the Beginners’ Room, for tiny tots, aged three to five years.

“There, while watching the fairies on the walls, they will take in the simple stories that form the basis of all true life.”

The top portion of the Institute was the men’s department. One large room running practically the whole length of the building, containing six billiard tables at one end, and the other arranged with tables for chess, draughts and books.

More importantly, voluntary workers used the new Institute for various organisations, including the Lads’ Guild, the Boys’ Brigade and the Reserves, Girl Guides, Brownies, two Bands of Hope, Children’s Play Hour, Gymnasium, Girls’ Club, Men’s Institute, Wesley Guild, Teacher’s Preparation and fellowship Classes.

In every spare room, always tucked in and arranged like a jigsaw puzzle, were committees and working parties.

Many ministers were realising that it was impossible to expect poorer youngsters to spend all their spare time in prayer meetings, therefore it looked to involve them in activities to keep them occupied. These included three football teams, a cricket club, tennis club, and a playing field up at Hagg Lane.

The cost of the building was over £17,000, with £8,500 already raised through fund-raising, and the remainder underwritten by renting out nine shops, fronting West Street.

All the shops were roomy and contained basements that were easily accessible. These were let by W.F. Corker and Son, estate agents, of 19 Figtree Lane. One of the first to take advantage of the shops was F. Wallis and Son, furniture sellers.

The confusingly named Carver Street Wesleyan Institute opened on February 7, 1929.

Times changed, the kids moved on, and as you might have seen from Gordon Mason’s comments on a previous post, the first and second floors eventually became Unemployment Benefit Offices in the 1980s.

The shops below changed hands numerous times, with the largest development about to take place at ground level, with a new German-themed bar, comprising several units, due to open this year.

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Buildings

Rockingham Street Methodist Sunday School

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, on Carver Street, was built at Cadman’s Fields in 1804, then green fields and trees, and a meeting place of political demonstrations.

The development of Sheffield westwards proceeded slowly until the end of the century, by which time the Carver Street Chapel was surrounded by housing, factories and shops.

These days we recognise the chapel as Walkabout, a vibrant city centre bar.

This was the biggest chapel in the town, and it expanded to meet the increasing popularity of Methodism.

The Carver Street Chapel built the Red Hill Sunday School on nearby Rockingham Lane in 1812, also adding an extension to the original building in 1885.

The Sunday School was one of 34 Wesleyan schools operating in Sheffield, with 1,096 teachers and 5,694 children across the city.

By the end of the century, the Red Hill Sunday School was considered too small, and in 1896 plans were made to build new facilities adjacent to it, fronting onto Rockingham Street.

Although the chapel had been in debt for most of its existence, it had consolidated its finances through generous donations and fundraising.

In 1898, the Carver Street Chapel was temporarily closed and the outside thoroughly cleaned of industrial grime. It was also the same year that the Methodist Sunday School was opened on Rockingham Street at a cost of £4,000.

Designed by Herbert W. Lockwood, this was a massive end of three-storeys with a tall gable, containing a lecture hall and 24 classrooms.

It proved to be a valuable addition in consolidating and expanding the work of the church.

“The area was indebted in no small measure for its record of successful spiritual work in a crowded district to the ability and zeal of its distinguished ministers and laymen.”

We’ve already seen that the Carver Street Chapel is now a bar, and these old schoolrooms also survive in a similar capacity.

These days the old building is home to Soyo, another trendy bar, making use of the exposed brick, and seemingly a million miles away from its Methodist roots.

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Buildings

Carver Street Methodist Sunday School

In another post we’ve looked at the history of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, on Carver Street, better known now as Walkabout, an Australian-themed bar.

The chapel was built in 1804 by Methodist minister-turned-architect, Rev. William Jenkins (1763-1844) and remained in use until the 1980s. It was converted into a bar at the start of this century.

If you take a walk alongside the former chapel, along West Street, and turn left into Rockingham Lane, you will see a brick building on the right with five bays and rounded windows.

Known today as Bishops Lodge, a series of luxury apartments, it was built in 1812 by the Carver Street Chapel for the Red Hill Methodist Sunday School (later extended into Rockingham Street, a building subject to a future post).

The former Sunday School was subsequently occupied by The Samaritans and Grade II-listed in 1995.

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Buildings

Carver Street Methodist Chapel

In this next post we take another look at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, on Carver Street, better known now as Walkabout, an Australian-themed bar.

The foundation stone was laid on March 1st, 1804, and once completed was referred to as the Methodist Cathedral of Sheffield. The Rev. William Jenkins, the architect, was also a circuit minister, one of the staff on the Wesleyan “Sheffield Circuit.”

The chapel was opened in 1805, on July 22nd, and a week later the first Sheffield Conference was held here, with 300 preachers assembled in the new building.

The first worshippers looked out on green fields and trees. The site was known as Cadman’s Fields and its selection aroused misgivings and opposition as being too far outside the town.

However, Henry Longden, a Methodist preacher, was quoted as saying that one day the town would spread and swallow up Cadman’s Fields.

And he was correct.

This photograph shows an extension built to the Carver Street Chapel, about 1885, in which band rooms and schoolrooms were built at the rear.

At the back of the Carver Street Chapel, on the opposite side of Rockingham Lane, the Red Hill Sunday School (seen on the right) was built in 1812, and subject of a separate post.