Categories
Places Streets

Kelham Island

Little Kelham. (DJP/2021)

Once a rural idyll, along came industry, and Kelham Island became famous for its factories and works. It’s hard to believe that in a remarkably short space of time, the last remnants of industrial heritage are being squeezed out, and Kelham is becoming one of the “coolest places to live in Britain.”

Here’s an extract from Robert Eadon Leader’s ‘Reminiscences of Old Sheffield: Its Streets and Its People’ (1876), in which Richard Leonard remembered the days before industry.

“Beyond Bower Spring, the footpath – Cottonmill Walk – was the continuation of Spring Street. It ran in the direction now taken by Russell Street, across ‘Longcroft,’ as the open space was called in 1771, towards Green Lane. Of course, it took its name from the cotton mill of Mr Middleton.

“An open stream ran from the top of Cornish Street, in front of Green Lane, and emptied itself in the Don, below where Green Lane works now stand. On the other side of the stream were cottage gardens. Middleton’s silk mill – built in 1758, burnt down in 1792, and the cotton mill, re-erected on the same site only in turn to be burnt down in 1810, and again built only to become the Poor-house in 1829 – stood alone in its glory, its nearest neighbour being Kelham Wheel, still there, as it had been at least as long before as in 1674, on the now covered-in ‘Goit’.

“Across the river was the suburb of Bridgehouses, and all around was verdure. Those were the days when ‘the old cherry tree,’ whose name is now perpetuated only by the public-house (on Gibraltar Street) and the yard where it stood, was still young, and when Allen ‘Lane’ and the Bowling Green marked the extremity of the inhabited region of Gibraltar. Beyond the road ran between fields – ‘Moorfields’ (now Shalesmoor) – and on to the distant rural haunts of Philadelphia and Upperthorpe.”

The photographs show Citu’s recent sustainable housing development at Little Kelham (Little Kelham Street).

Little Kelham. (DJP/2021)
Little Kelham. (DJP/2021)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

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.

Categories
Buildings Streets

Leopold Street

Work in progress. The pedestrianisation of Leopold Street (above), Pinstone Street, and Surrey Street, will create a traffic-free Town Hall Square. (DJP/2021)

Our city centre is at a crossroads. The city is in flux and a street that highlights it most is Leopold Street. Buses no longer run along here, and all traffic is halted mid-way. Sheffield is going car-free, and with it our streets become soulless. Nothing is sadder than a street about to undergo pedestrianisation. It is blocked with traffic cones and concrete barriers and unsure what it wants to be.

As far as Sheffield streets go, Leopold Street is relatively new, a pet-project for town planners in 1873.  Back then, access to Fargate and Pinstone Street was via Church Street, along awkwardly narrow Orchard Street, to its junction with Orchard Lane, and dog-legged towards what is now the top of Fargate.

Its making was the result of Sheffield Corporation’s three-street development scheme – the creation of Surrey Street, Fargate improvements, and the construction of ‘modern-day’ Pinstone Street. A new road was needed to link these streets with Bow Street (the road that became the bottom of West Street) and a link between old Sheffield Moor and Shalesmoor.

A long-standing road, South Street, was swept away, the land around it cleared, and the large sloping site bounded by the proposed new road, Orchard Lane, Holly Street and Bow Street (West Street) earmarked for educational purposes. It became the site of Firth College (1879), School Board offices and the Central School (both 1880). Of course, we now know these buildings as the Leopold Hotel and Leopold Square

By May 1880, half its length had been completed, 60-feet wide from Bow Street to Fargate, paved in wooden blocks, and converted to macadam in 1883.

Aerial view of Leopold Street. The Leopold Hotel and Leopold Square are centre. Before 1880, the main route between Church Street and Fargate was along narrow Orchard Street, to the left, which curved at its junction with Orchard Lane (where the mini-roundabout is today). The top-end of Orchard Street (near to Fargate) was absorbed into Leopold Street. (Google)

The Watch Committee recommended that the new street be named after Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884), eighth and youngest son of Queen Victoria, who had opened Firth College in October 1879.

The addition of the Sheffield Medical Institution on the other side of the road in 1888 prompted one expert to say that Leopold Street would become a “street of institutions.”

It never became a street of learning. Firth College and the Medical Institution were the foundation stones for the University of Sheffield and moved away. By the late 1970s, the old education buildings were in decline, mostly unoccupied, but spared the fate that befell the nearby Assay Office and Grand Hotel, both demolished, and replaced with office blocks.

A street sign on the wall of what was once Firth College, at its junction with West Street, and now part of the Leopold Hotel. (DJP/2021)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Places Sculpture Streets

Grey to Green

The recent post about Castlegate failed to mention that it is in the process of being part-pedestrianised, Phase 2 of Sheffield’s ‘Grey to Green’ project. Unless you visit this forgotten part of the city centre the relevance of the initiative might escape you.

It is part of an approach to transform ‘redundant’ road space into a network of public spaces, sustainable drainage and urban rain gardens, which aims to improve the setting of the Riverside Business District, Castlegate and the rest of the city centre and then on to Kelham Island and Victoria Quays, as a place to work, live and enjoy, whilst also dealing with the effects of climate change.

Phase 1 (West Bar/Bridge Street/Snig Hill) was completed in Spring 2016 and was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund and Sheffield City Council.

The area suffered catastrophic river floods in 2007. With the completion of the Inner Relief Road in 2008, traffic was diverted away from West Bar. The opportunity was seized to replace the ‘grey’ impermeable ‘redundant’ roads into ‘green’ permeable beds, transforming the space with colourful meadow-like planting and significantly increasing surface water storage.

With advice on plant selection from the University of Sheffield Landscape Department this has created a new townscape that is different to anything done in Sheffield before. Over 40,000 bulbs, 40 new trees, 600 evergreen shrubs and 26,000 herbaceous plants were introduced to form a seasonal urban meadow.

The new road layout was designed to slow vehicle speeds and make walking and cycling more attractive. New paving, street furniture, colourful seating and five eye-catching  public art ‘totems’ celebrate the local history of the West Bar area including its Victorian music halls and theatres, its lively street life, its complex relationship to the river and its legacy of industry and brewing.

Phase 2 (Castlegate to Exchange Place) is nearing completion, and Phase 3 (Gibraltar Street  to Shalesmoor) will eventually transform 1.2km of ‘redundant’ road-space into an attractive new linear green public space.

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.