It’s hard to imagine Attercliffe with green fields and a beautiful river. It became a village, and when Sheffield’s industry exploded, it turned into a busy suburb. It was almost a town, but when the downturn came, we ignored it, and look at its present sorry state.
This will change because Attercliffe is a development opportunity waiting to happen. It’s close to the city centre, motorway, and Meadowhall, and it’s mostly brownfield site.
Sheffield Council probably thinks the same.
It is buying the Grade II-listed Adelphi building, on Vicarage Road, using some of the £37m government levelling-up funds allocated to the city, to buy and refurbish the site and open it for community use.
And the council says there are other ‘important’ buildings on Attercliffe’s faded high street that it might consider buying.
The Adelphi opened as a cinema in October 1920, built on the site of former vicarage gardens.
It was designed by William Carter Fenton (1861-1959), alderman and subsequently Lord Mayor of Sheffield, and a former corporation surveyor who established the architectural practice of Hall and Fenton.
With a seating capacity of 1,350, it joined four other cinemas at Attercliffe, and it’s first showing was Irving Cummings in Auction of Souls.
According to Cinema Treasures, the red brick building has buff and blue coloured terracotta enrichments on the façade, especially on the small turret dome over the entrance, which also has stained glass windows.
“Internally the features add to its grandeur with detailed ceilings, granite floors and wide staircases. Seating in the auditorium was provided in stalls and circle, and the projection box was in the rear stalls, underneath the circle.
“The cinema was in reverse, and patrons entered the auditorium from behind the screen. The decoration includes pilasters, a segment-arched panelled ceiling and a moulded proscenium arch with a central crest which is flanked by torches. The circle has a lattice-work plaster front.”
The familiar ‘soft carpets that harboured and carried disease’ were replaced with cork carpet and linoleum. But from the standpoint of health, it allowed fresh air and sunshine to be admitted. There were no fewer than 17 windows and between performances these were thrown wide open, and during showings they were covered with dark blinds.
It underwent some restoration in 1936 and a re-decoration in 1939. It received some bomb damage during the second week of the blitz and was closed for around a month. It received further renovation in 1946.
The Adelphi operated as a cinema until 1967 after which it became a bingo hall. The striking art deco building later hosted Sheffield’s famous Gatecrasher club nights, among other events, and was also used as a music teaching centre. It sat empty from 2006 until 2013 and has since been used only for storage.
Last year, CODA Bespoke on behalf of Olympia Wellbeing Academy, was granted permission to convert the building’s ground floor into an educational and sporting facility for children.
©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.