What do you do if a building is looking tired? As in the case of the former John Lewis store in Barker’s Pool. One solution is to cover it in vinyl wrap. And that is the proposal by Sheffield City Council which has submitted a planning application to shroud the 1960s building with a massive advertisement until its fate is decided.
It seems incredible that a city that promotes itself as an ‘Outdoor City’ won’t have any refreshment facilities in its largest park. I refer to the sudden closure of the Rose Garden Café in Graves Park, a story breaking across the media.
The reason behind the closure, and its shielding behind metal railings, is the unsafe condition of the building.
The council estimates that it will cost at least £550k to repair the building and they only have £200k. A consultant report says that there is significant roof sag, dormer windows leaning inwards, leaking roof, blocked drains, bulging of the soffit beams both sides of the entrance, and a long list of other problems. According to the report, “It has reached the end of its design life.”
“It is not recommended to refurbish the Rose Garden Café,” says the report. “Unless it is considered to be of sufficient historic interest and additional funding is readily available. Any building can be repaired but at a cost. The café is not listed but the repair details involved would be as if it was listed. It is recommended that the café and rear kitchen/store extension be demolished and the newer toilet block retained. For comparison a new build modular of 500 square metres will be circa £425,000.”
The Rose Garden Café was built as a pavilion and tearoom in 1927 by Sheffield Corporation’s Parks Committee to the designs of city architect W.G. Davies.
It was constructed by Reeves Charlesworth Ltd at a cost of £2,500.
The pavilion was built close to Summerhouse Wood, in the old orchard of a summer house. It was here that park keepers used to toll the bell to warn users that the park was closing. After this the gates would be locked, and you were not allowed in.
According to Ian Rotherham, from Sheffield Hallam University, the summer house survived until demolition by Sheffield City Council in the early 1970s.
“We believe that this may have been a possible Tudor hunting tower for the old deer parks alongside the now Hemsworth Road.”
The opening ceremony for the pavilion was on July 29, 1927, when David Flather, Master Cutler, handed the Lord Mayor, Alderman J.G. Graves, a gold key, a gift from the building contractor. Flather said that the Cutlers’ Company had the greatest admiration for the work which the Lord Mayor was doing for the city. It was J.G. Graves who had gifted the park to Sheffield in 1925.
The Lord Mayor said he regarded the building of the pavilion as a remunerative undertaking and not as a luxury expenditure. If the Council continued to encourage the public to make use of the natural advantages of the city and to indulge in healthy recreation, then there would be less spent on hospital services, the drink and gambling evils would decrease and there would be less policemen needed.
“We have facilities for accommodating considerable numbers of our fellow citizens from the more distant parts of Sheffield. We could, with the help of the Tramways Committee, who will, I am sure, be reasonable, provide facilities for bringing parties of people from all parts of the city, particularly the East End. I refer to mothers’ unions, old folks’ treats, and others. I hope it will be possible to entertain 100 or 150 people at given dates in advance and that the facilities will be taken advantage of at ordinary times.”
A year later, in 1928, the rose garden was laid out in front of the pavilion, prompting J.G. Graves to say that he hadn’t seen anything better outside Regent’s Park.
Happy times. But in the 95 years since, Sheffield City Council has woefully neglected Graves Park.
“Like the rest of Graves Park, the cafe building belongs to The Graves Park Charity,” says the Friends of Graves Park. “The problem has always been that the trustees of the charity are Sheffield councillors, and whilst they are required to make decisions in the best interests of the charity there have been many occasions where some might suggest they put the interest of the council first.”
J.G. Graves will rightly feel miffed in his grave (no pun intended), because the condition of the old pavilion is a shocking indictment.
Buildings should last longer than 100 years (although many don’t) and with careful maintenance will be structurally safe. On hindsight, the construction of the pavilion may have had design defects and the build quality may have been inadequate.
Allegedly, the current tenant has paid over £400K in rent and a share of his profits to Sheffield City Council over the past 14 years, but no maintenance on the building has been completed.
I suspect the likely outcome will be demolition, and with inadequate funds in the budget for a replacement, the park might be left without any facilities.
It might be the case, as in some other cities around the world, that any development is handed to private enterprise, to build, and operate, a replacement facility. And might this create an opportunity to rebuild incorporating parts of the old pavilion?
©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.
The next major phase in Sheffield City Council’s plans to regenerate the historic area of Castlegate is underway as essential geoarchaeological work begins.
Geoarchaeological investigations will be carried out by archaeology and heritage specialists, Wessex Archaeology, as they conduct 33 borehole surveys across the site of Sheffield Castle to examine the characteristics and conditions of the site’s underlying groundworks. The findings will then be analysed to give insights into what is underground and in turn inform the council’s redevelopment proposals for the area.
It marks a significant step in propelling the council’s plans to revitalise Castlegate after securing £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund last year.
Plans include the de-culverting of the River Sheaf, interpretation of the castle remains and the creation of attractive green public spaces; the creation of a cultural destination providing S1 Artspace and Sheffield Music Academy and Sheffield Music Hub with new state-of-the-art facilities; the preparation of land for future uses and investment; better connectivity and improved infrastructure for active travel.
In consultation with South Yorkshire Archaeology and Historic England, each borehole’s location has been carefully planned based on a need to further investigate the site, in order to add the information to the previously conducted archaeological evaluations, including the one carried out by Wessex Archaeology in 2018, after the Castle Markets were demolished.
This phase will supplement the information gathered from earlier assessments to produce a report, a detailed deposit model and archaeological sensitivity map to feed into a constraints plan for the area. The drilling is expected to last 6 weeks.
Castle Market Site. Illustration of the proposed mixed use development and open space from Sheffield City Council.
It dates to 1965-1966, and stands at Coles Corner, the iconic site of the Cole Brothers department store.
2-18 Fargate, at the corner with Church Street, has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Nottingham property company ALB Group.
It already has Starbucks, Greggs and Hotel Chocolat on the ground floor, and plans are underway to convert the four upper floors of vacant office space into apartments.
The move follows a similar refurbishment model employed by ALB Group in other UK centres, including Stoke-on-Trent, Ipswich, Birkenhead, and Derby, which are already experiencing a turnaround in fortunes.
Group managing director Arran Bailey has long been committed to finding ways to reverse the trend of decay in UK town centres, particularly by encouraging local, independent entrepreneurs to launch new high street businesses, by offering lower rents with more flexible terms.
ALB is seeking to do the same with its vacant retail units in the Fargate building.
Sheffield City Council has gone to market with two new development plots within its transformational £470m Heart of the City masterplan.
The Council and its appointed marketing agent, CBRE, are seeking buyers for two development sites located on the former car park between Rockingham Street, Wellington Street and Carver Street.
The new developments would further contribute to the rapidly growing mixed-use district that is being created through Heart of the City – this includes the already completed Grosvenor House, plus several under-construction office, leisure, and residential developments.
The two new plots are located at opposite corners of the evolving Pound’s Park, having been originally outlined during the Council’s public consultation for this landmark public space last year.
Construction of Pound’s Park is already well underway and is set to complete towards the end of this year. By prioritising the physical and mental wellbeing of its visitors – through a focus on pedestrians, cycling, active play, and relaxation – the new green space is seen as a big draw for potential developers.
The sites are expected to provide active ground floor uses such as cafes and restaurants onto this high-quality public realm with office, hotel and residential uses on the upper floors considered appropriate. Whilst both sites could be developed by a single purchaser, the Council will consider separate or combined offers for the sites.
The largest of the two new sites (Site B) sits on the southeastern side of the park on the corner of Carver Street and Wellington Street.
One of the requirements for this site is that it must incorporate and display the locally cherished William Mitchell Frieze artwork, which was carefully removed from Barker’s Pool House to make way for a new Radisson Blu hotel last year.
The second site (Site A) sits to the northeast of the park on the corner of Rockingham Street and Division Lane.
More development proposals at Kelham Island. This time it involves the former Globe Steel Works on Alma Street.
Plans have been lodged to convert it into a bar, café, multi-use events and music venue. The full planning application has been submitted by Citu, supported by Directions Planning Consultancy.
The traditional red brick building was built about 1845 and is one of the last standing remnants of the former Globe Steel Works, which once incorporated land to the east, south and west. The extended site was last occupied by Richardson’s Cutlery Works and, more recently, this building was used by AW Tools (Europe) Limited.
Under the plans, an existing single-storey enclosed yard area that is already partially covered along the western elevation would be fully utilised to provide further accommodation at ground floor and a terrace at the first floor level. A new lobby area would also be created in the north-east corner.
The existing Globe Steel Works sign would be retained.
I recently featured Canada House, on Commercial Street, a well-known building, built in 1874 for the Sheffield United Gas Light Company. Plans have been submitted to convert it into Harmony Works, a home for music education in the region.
However, next door to Canada House is an often overlooked building that was originally an extension to the former gas showrooms.
The building, No. 9 Commercial Street, is no longer connected with Canada House, and was recently used by Jessops photographic shop.
This Portland stone building is conspicuous against its Victorian neighbours, added in 1938 by Hadfield & Cawkwell. It is described as ‘between stripped classical and modern.’ Harman and MInnis in Pevsner’s Architectural Guide describe it as ‘a Greek Key band and flutes representing pilasters combining sculpture by Philip Lindsey Clark of a flying female figure with a sunbeam behind her and a male figure backed by flames.’
Next time you pass, take a good look because the sculpture makes sense when you know what you are looking at.
The life-size sculptural figures represent Heat and Light.
Heat is represented by the male figure with the feet coming out of the earth to suggest the origin of gas. Flames twisting and expanding upwards, with a ‘quivering’ background, convey the suggestion of heat.
The female figure was chosen to represent light, designed to give an impression of light descending in rays controlled by the arms of the figure to shed light on the earth. In the background, a star suggests night turned into day by means of this light.
Philip Lindsey Clark (1889-1977) was the son of sculptor Robert Lindsey Clark, and he worked with him at the Cheltenham School of Art from 1905 until 1910. He later studied at the City and Guilds School in Kennington, had a distinguished record in World War One, and continued his training at the Royal Academy and Salon des Artistes, Paris.
His work from 1930 onwards became more of a religious nature and can be seen in ecclesiastical buildings across the country.
In Sheffield, there are other examples of his sculpture at Church of the Sacred Heart (Hillsborough), the Royal Institution to the Blind in Mappin Street (still retained in the replacement building), and St Theresa of the Child Jesus Church at Manor, including, amongst others, the stone statue of St Theresa above the main door of the church.
©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.
News of what could become Sheffield’s tallest building, and it’s a development that has featured on this page before.
Revised plans have been lodged for King’s Tower, a 40-storey tower in the city centre.
CJS7 Ltd (trading as Oppidan Life) and SFGE Properties Ltd have applied to Sheffield City Council for development on the site at the junction of High Street, Angel Street, and Arundel Gate, previously occupied by part of the city’s Primark store.
Planning permission was granted in December 2020 for a 39-storey development featuring 206 apartments. However, new plans seek full planning permission for the demolition of the existing building and construction of a new 40-storey tower. It would now comprise 428 co-living units and 33 studio apartments.
Shared facilities would include workspaces, cycle store, private meeting and dining rooms, cinema/presentation rooms, gym, bar and lounges. Roof terraces and balconies would be provided where possible.
The site is of little architectural value, much of its history lost underneath twentieth century developments.
It is the site of the ancient market adjacent to Sheffield Castle, first established as the result of a Royal Charter of 1296. The market stall and buildings that occupied the site were demolished in 1786 to make way for the construction of the Fitzalan Market (also known as ‘The Shambles’).
Fitzalan Market was demolished in 1930 when the new Castle Hill Market opened, and a new shop was constructed on the corner of Angel Street for Montague Burton, of Burton Menswear, in 1932.
The Burton building was badly damaged during the Sheffield Blitz of 1940, and stood as an empty shell for many years
It was eventually demolished and replaced by a new steel-framed building, clad in concrete and tile panels, and opened in 1962 as a Peter Robinson department store.
From 1974, the adjacent C&A store absorbed the upper floors of Peter Robinson, while furniture retailer Waring & Gillow occupied the ground floor.
After C&A vacated in the 1990s, it became Primark until it relocated to The Moor in 2016, leaving the old department store empty.
If it is completed it would become Sheffield’s tallest building, a claim that will shortly pass from St Paul’s Tower to Code Sheffield (on the site which borders Rockingham Street, Wellington Street, and Trafalgar Street, and adjacent to Kangaroo Works), at 38 storeys and 383ft tall.
In the meantime, planning is also sought for the temporary display of an illuminated building wrap advertisement around the facing elevations of the existing building for a period of 12 months whilst pre-enabling works take place.
The advertisement will principally display signage relating to the new development – King’s Tower – highlighting the positive change and regeneration the area will experience on completion of the landmark development.
See also King’s Tower
©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.
I think this building looks quite elegant. Corporation Buildings, at the bottom of Snig Hill, is one of the few survivors of old Sheffield in this forgotten part of the city centre. And its proximity to the grey-to-green project adds to its stylishness.
But this was a troubled building from the start, and what you see today is a fragment of what it once looked like.
Our Victorian and Edwardian forebears had embarked on a plan to improve our streets, and too often we focus on Pinstone Street, Fargate, and High Street, as examples of their enterprise. But there were others, and Snig Hill was one of them.
At the turn of the twentieth century, plans were revealed to widen Snig Hill from Angel Street down to Bridge Street. Old buildings were swept away and in 1902 Sheffield Corporation revealed plans to build new Corporation Buildings stretching the whole of the right side going from the centre of town.
The original plans were drawn up by the city surveyor, Charles. F. Wilke, and showed a four-storey building, with a frontage of 140 yards, including thirteen shops, with showrooms above, and sixty artisan dwellings on top of them. The plans showed that turrets were included at each end, with gables introduced to break the differences in height created by the sloping gradient of the site.
The problem was that the Improvement Committee had drawn up the plans, but the council had already created an independent committee to deal with surplus land. The project was handed over to them and appears to have disregarded Mr Wilke’s plan.
Instead, the committee approached architects Gibbs and Flockton which came up with an alternative, if not dissimilar, plan for the site. Work began in 1903 and cost between £60K and £70K and was completed the following year.
Like all council-backed projects there was criticism about the Corporation Buildings, fuelled by the fact that when it was completed only three of the twenty-one shops had been let, and the rents for the flats appeared too expensive for Sheffield’s working class. One councillor referred to Corporation Buildings as ‘a ghastly array of empty shops.’
The scheme inevitably made a loss in its early years, but once shops and flats were occupied, it brought in steady income.
Nearly 120 years later, we are left with a small portion of the original construction.
What happened to the rest of it?
In World War Two, bombs destroyed much of the upper block at the top of Snig Hill. This had to be demolished and was replaced with ‘temporary’ single storey shops. A further portion was demolished in 1971 to make way for the new headquarters of Sheffield and Rotherham Constabulary, subsequently for South Yorkshire Police, and is now used as the divisional police station covering the city centre.
But at least we have something left, and most of us can only speculate as to how impressive the full block would have looked had it survived.
©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.
Earlier this week, I wrote about an exciting planning application for Canada House, formerly the Gas Offices, on Commercial Street. It might be some time away, but the regeneration of Fitzalan Square, Haymarket, Commercial Street, and Castlegate, is already on the mind of property developers and investors.
Here’s a recent statement from Connor Rogers, at Cushman & Wakefield:-
“The transformation of the immediate area led by the redevelopment of Fitzalan Square, part of the city’s £5m Knowledge Gateway programme, and the proximity to Sheffield Hallam and the city’s amenities, will allow Glenbrook to adapt its strategy to suit future market conditions.”
He refers to Manchester-based Glenbrook Investments which has made its first acquisition in Sheffield, across the road from Canada House. It has paid £3m for Commercial House, once the Barclays Bank building, that lays adjacent to Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.
Scott Griffiths, investment director at Glenbrook Investments, said: “Commercial House provides a high-quality income return until December 2024 from an attractive building that is well positioned within Sheffield city centre for both access and amenities.
“The ambition of Sheffield City Council to reposition the city through targeted investment makes it a very interesting proposition for investors. We look forward to bringing forward our vision for the building as we seek to maximise its potential as a landmark office.”
The building is predominantly let to law firm Knights plc (formerly Keebles) and comprises 33,000 sq ft arranged over basement, ground and four upper floors.
It is also home to Sheffield Town Trust, one of the oldest charitable organisations in the country, having originally been established in 1297 by Thomas de Furnival, Lord of the Manor of Hallam.
I can date Commercial House to the late 1960s or early 1970s, built for Barclays Bank to replace an older branch at the corner of Commercial Street and Fitzalan Square, and stands behind the site once occupied by the King’s Arms Hotel, both buildings demolished to turn Commercial Street into dual carriageway.
I suspect the new owners will be looking to 2024, when office leases expire, and future redevelopment.