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People

The Chinese in Sheffield

New Era Square. Sheffield’s Chinatown. Image: DJP/2022

According to the South China Morning Post there are at least 8,000 Chinese students in Sheffield, as well as other sizeable groups from Hong Kong. The University of Sheffield is said to earn £85m from them, and is one of nine UK universities that rely on Chinese income for a fifth of their revenue.

It hasn’t always been this way. When did the Chinese come to Sheffield?

It seems that Chinese people have been settling in Britain for over 200 years, coming via trading routes such as between Liverpool and Shanghai. Outside of London, the largest Chinese communities are in Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.

With a rise in demand for Chinese cuisine from the late 1950s, and the collapse of the agriculture sector in rural Hong Kong, many more Chinese came to the UK.

The earliest reference to Chinese settlers in Sheffield can be found in the burial register for St Paul’s churchyard (now the Peace Gardens) for 1855, when A. Chow, son of Too Ki (a magician), was buried.

The next reference isn’t until 1910 – a laundry proprietor named Yun Wong with a business on Abbeydale Road is listed in a trade directory for that year. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that many more Chinese came to settle in the city.

The 2001 census recorded 2,200 Chinese people in Sheffield, with an additional 1,000 students of Chinese origin. By 2011, this figure had increased to 7,400. The highest concentrations of Chinese are found in Highfield, Sharrow, Broomhill, and Broomhall. They have come from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as other parts of Britain.

Now we have New Era Square, dubbed Sheffield’s Chinatown, conceived by UK-Chinese Sheffield businessman Jerry Cheung, and designed by architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson.

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People

Johnny Moran – The first voice on Radio Hallam

The death is being reported of Johnny Moran, one of the original BBC Radio One DJs, and the first voice heard on Radio Hallam in October 1974.

His mother was born in Sheffield, and the family emigrated to Australia where he was born.

Johnny Moran began his career on Australian radio before joining Radio Luxembourg in 1964. He worked there for two years until moving to the UK in 1966. At the BBC, he presented Radio One Club, Housewives’ Choice, What’s New, and the pop magazine programme Scene and Heard, which ran for almost six years.

In 1974, while working for British Forces and recording a series of shows syndicated in North America, he met Keith Skues at a party given for singer Barry White, and first heard about the plans for Radio Hallam, the commercial station based at Hartshead in Sheffield.

He came ‘home’ to Sheffield and became a voice of a generation, presenting the breakfast show until the late-1980s.

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Buildings

Replacement chimneys arrive at Pepper Pot building

A chimney stack is lowered into place. Image: Sheffield Star

The Sheffield Star has posted several photographs of ‘fake’ chimneys that are being installed on the Pepper Pot building.

Six historic chimneys were removed as part of Heart of the City reconstruction, with only the façade remaining.

The Pepper Pot building is in Block C, bound by Pinstone Street, Cambridge Street and Charles Street.

Developers had asked for permission to change its original plans, by reducing the number of chimneys – designed by architects Flockton and Gibbs – and replicating only one.

Sheffield City Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly rejected the bid against the advice of officers who warned that refusal would put economic, social and environmental benefits of the scheme on hold and may lead to other cost cutting.

The replacement chimneys are two-tonne, 10ft ‘brick’ stacks, and thought to be made from glass reinforced concrete.

The pre-formed feature was seen on a lorry on PInstone Street ahead of being winched to the top of the Pepper Pot building. Image: Sheffield Star
A replacement a two-tonne, 10ft brick stack. A total of six were removed as part of a total revamp of the building. Image: Sheffield Star
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Buildings

Welcome to the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse

The Crucible Studio theatre is no more. Sheffield Theatres have announced that its small space is being renamed as the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse in honour of the theatre designer who played an important part in the creation of the theatre complex.

“Tanya Moiseiwitsch was a pioneer. Innovative, imaginative and a ground breaker in her profession,” says Artistic Director Rob Hastie. “Tanya created radical theatre shapes now enshrined and cherished in theatre buildings all over the world. Without her vision, neither the Crucible nor the newly named Playhouse would exist in the forms they do. Hers is an incredible legacy.”

The new name also honours the original Sheffield Playhouse, that closed its doors in 1971 when the company moved to the new Crucible Theatre. “The Playhouse had a reputation for bold, adventurous, and revolutionary productions, under the leadership of inaugural Crucible Artistic Director, Colin George,” says Rob Hastie.

Over the 50-year history of the space, audiences have seen performances from hundreds of actors, from professional debuts to famous faces including Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Tracey Bennett, Shaun Parkes, Niamh Cusack, Richard Wilson, Stephanie Street, James Norton, Chetna Pandya and Rose Leslie.

The 400-seat Studio theatre (for drama and music). Image: BFF Architects
Tanya Moiseiwitsch by Francis Goodman. 1947. Image: NPG

Tanya Moiseiwitsch (1914-2003) was regarded as one of the foremost designers in twentieth-century theatre, an innovative designer of costumes, sets, and stages, responsible for over two hundred productions in England, Canada, and the United States. 

She enjoyed long collaborations with director Tyrone Guthrie, beginning in 1945 at London’s Old Vic. When Guthrie was invited to Canada to establish the Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, he asked Moiseiwitsch to join him. The stage conceived by Guthrie and Moiseiwitsch was made of wood, thrusting out into the audience, and fostering a sense of intimacy between actors and audience.

In Minneapolis, where she was the principal designer at the Guthrie Theater from 1963–1966, she again designed a thrusting stage like the one she had designed in Stratford. 

Returning to England in the 1970s, she designed plays both for the National Theatre and the West End, as well as designing the stage for the Crucible Theatre. 

“The shape of the Crucible’s thrust stage was Tanya’s creation, and the studio is a smaller version of that unique performing space,” says Lucy George, daughter of the Crucible’s inaugural Artistic Director, Colin George,

“Tanya was a beloved member of the company and an inspiration for so many designers and women in the performing arts. The Sheffield Playhouse, the predecessor of the Crucible, is still remembered fondly by so many of us. The naming of the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse clarifies the connection between the Playhouse and the Crucible and ties together 100 years of Sheffield theatre history, recognising Tanya’s long-lasting impact on theatre design. Naming a theatre after Tanya would have pleased Dad enormously.”

Tanya Moiseiwitsch and Colin George. Image: George Family Archive
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Streets

Holy Green – the small road between The Moor and Charter Row with a big history

Holy Green, Sheffield. Image: DJP/2022

This article first appeared in The Star in April 2022, and is included here for the first time.

I suspect most Sheffield people will struggle to say where Holy Green is. It could be a village green in a rural idyll, but it is in the city centre, an uninspiring little road that stretches from The Moor to Charter Row between Atkinsons and Sainsburys.

Most of it remains hidden underneath the huge concrete ramp that allows drivers to enter the multi-storey carpark above Atkinsons.

This was once an extension of Eldon Street but hidden underneath the sprawling mass of Atkinsons department store is an extraordinary history that gives Holy Green its name.

A reminder of its past. Holy Green, Sheffield. Image: DJP/2022

We must go back to the 1700s when Sheffield was a town surrounded by fields and countryside. It gradually expanded until its southern edges skirted a gorse-clad swampy common called Sheffield Moor.

A footpath of single stone was eventually cut through the heath leading to the tiny hamlet of Little Sheffield.

It was a gentleman called Thomas Holy (1752-1830) who built a house at the edge of Sheffield Moor. Holy Green House had a straight avenue of large leaved poplars leading to its substantial doorway, with a kitchen garden at the back, and a grass field called ‘The Croft.

He was a cutlery manufacturers’ merchant and a member of an old Sheffield family of button-makers and soon afterwards added the small works of Holy, Suckley and Co. at the back of the house towards Button Lane (taking its name from the factory, and broadly following the line of present-day Charter Row). He built-up the business until it became an international concern, later diversifying into mining and other mineral activities.

Holy Green House, The Moor, between Eldon Street and Prince Street. Home of Thomas Holy, who entertained John Wesley here. Mr. Abraham, principal of Milk St. Academy, resided here, and also used it for boarders and evening classes. Image: Picture Sheffield

Thomas also became a prominent landowner, buy tracts of land from the Duke of Norfolk, and later leasing it to developers in what became the residential suburbs between Glossop Road, Broomhill and Fulwood.

He was also an early member of the Sheffield Wesleyan Methodist Society and was actively involved in the building of Carver Street Chapel (now Walkabout) in 1805.

John Wesley was a guest of Thomas on several occasions.

In 1786, “after preaching service (at Norfolk Street Chapel) crowds followed Wesley to Mr Holy’s house on the Moor, the streets were lined, and the windows filled with people anxious to have a glimpse of him. During the walk Wesley emptied his pockets scattering gifts to the poor. A vast crowd assembled in front of Mr Holy’s house. Wesley walked into their midst, knelt, and asked God to bless them, the crowd weeping at the thought of losing him.”

Thomas Holy died at Highfield House in 1830, but by this time Holy Green House was occupied by John Hessay Abraham, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and Principal of the Milk Street Academy, a classical, commercial, philosophical, and mathematical seminary for boys, some of whom boarded at his house.

On his retirement in 1835, his daughters, Mary, and Eliza, opened a girls’ school at Holy Green House.

“There were balsam poplars edging the walk, the scent of which was delicious after a shower in the spring, and a clematis arbour in the back garden abutting onto Button Lane.”

J.H. Abraham had been presented with a service of silver plate when he retired, and the girls drank their supper milk and water from silver beakers served by a man servant in white cotton gloves.

The music master was a handsome young Hungarian called Welhi, who encouraged his girls to give concerts for the important people of Sheffield.

However, the most fascinating person was the French teacher, an old lady, who was strong-minded, eccentric, and wore a horsehair wig kept in place by a velvet ‘brain band’ and covered by a white cap.

She was fond of descending into the schoolroom at night, opening the shutters and reciting poetry in the moonlight. But she was also prone to outbursts with the girls.

“I, who am the daughter of one of Napoleon’s generals and the wife of another, oh why have I to teach the daughter of a tailor?’ she asked bitterly one day.

The school closed in 1855 and Holy Green House was taken over as lodgings for the Sisters of Notre Dame, from Namur, in Belgium, who had opened a Roman Catholic school on Surrey Street.

They also started a school here in what was destined to become the great Notre Dame School that has served generations of Sheffield Catholics ever since.

The Sisters of Notre Dame relocated to Convent Walk in 1860 and Holy Green House appears to have been empty for several years before becoming home and workplace to Samuel Smith Middleton, a wholesale beer merchant, and agent for breweries across the country.

This part of expanding Sheffield was still relatively undeveloped and by 1870 there was still open space at Holy Green House between Button Lane to Sheffield Moor, the original path now known as South Street with several one-storey shops.

It was in one of these shops that John Atkinson, a draper,  arrived in 1872, subsequently absorbing neighbouring properties built on the green lawns of Holy Green House. A passage led between the shops to the house, now hidden from South Street, and occupied by Ecclesall Working Men’s Club after 1871.

On the further extension of Atkinson’s premises, the low shops were demolished, as was Holy Green House, and the last of its picturesque grounds disappeared forever.

Holy Green, Sheffield. It is now used as a ramp into the multi-storey car-park. Image: DJP/2022

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

Graves Park Pavilion – Blatant neglect, or is it time to rebuild?

The current plight of the Rose garden Café, Graves Park. It was designed as a pavilion by W.G. Davies in 1927 and opened by the Lord Mayor, J.G. Graves. The building is considered structurally unsafe. Image: Andy Kershaw.

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 ‘new’ pavilion and tea house erected in the old orchard of the summer house at Graves Park. Construction in 1927. Image: British Newspaper Archive.

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 Pavilion in Graves Park, which the Lord Mayor (Alderman J.G. Graves) opened in July 1927. Image: British Newspaper Archive

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.”

The Master Cutler presenting the key to the Lord Mayor at the opening of the Pavilion in Graves Park. 1927. Image: British Newspaper Archive.

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.

Gardens at front of the pavilion, Graves Park. Image: Picture Sheffield

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?

A taste of things to come? Architects around the world are creating contemporary park pavilions. But would these last another 100 years? Image: Archello

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Places

Castlegate – Geoarchaeological work begins on Sheffield Castle site

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.

Categories
Buildings

Coles Corner – Plans for apartments and indie business

2-18 Fargate. “Given the huge housing shortage, plus the frequently reported difficulties faced by first-time buyers, the most obvious answer is to turn this unused office space into much-needed, quality apartments or student accommodation.” Arran Bailey. Image: GCW

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.

Cole Brothers, Fargate/Church Street. 1900-1919. Image: Picture Sheffield
The demolition of the old Cole Brothers store in 1964. Photo: JPIMedia
Construction on the old Cole Brothers site (Coles Corner), junction of Church Street and Fargate in 1965. Image: SCC Engineers and Surveyors/Picture Sheffield

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Buildings

Sheffield City Council targets developers for two new Heart of the City sites

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.

Categories
Places

Happy Yorkshire Day

Map of the old Yorkshire Ridings

Happy Yorkshire Day. A celebration of the United Kingdom’s largest county.

Named after the old county town of York, we are familiar with its sub-division into North, West, South Yorkshire (the best of the lot), and Humberside.

But these are modern creations, and until 1974, the county was split into three ‘Ridings,’ derived from the Old Norse Þriding or Þriðing, meaning a “thirding”.

Yorkshire was divided into three ridings and surrounded the city of York, their boundaries meeting at the walls of the city: thus, York within the walls was the only part of Yorkshire outside any of the ridings.

East Riding, was the smallest and least hilly of the three, much of it in the plains extending from the north bank of the Humber and containing the seaport city of Kingston upon Hull.

The North Riding, extending from the Pennines to the North Sea, was the most rural but still contained Middlesbrough on industrial Teesside.

The West Riding, the largest and most urbanised as the southern part, contained the great industrial cities of Yorkshire, the largest being Sheffield and Leeds, though in its north it encompassed some of the finest of the Yorkshire Dales.

And each riding was divided into wapentakes, the Danelaw equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon Hundred in most other counties. The word derived from an assembly or meeting place, usually at cross-roads or near a river, where literally one’s presence or a vote was taken by a show of weapons.

And Sheffield was in the southern most wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill, the original meeting place unknown, but may have been the future site of Conisbrough Castle, near Doncaster.

Map of Yorkshire wapentakes

And to add further confusion, there are portions of the great county which retain, from old feudal times, names unrecognised by the geographer, but well known and adopted by Yorkshiremen themselves. You may look in vain on a map for Cleveland, Richmondshire, Hallamshire, Craven, or Holderness, but you will hear of them spoken in each area.

Hallamshire, a large manor at the time of the Conquest was the southern most part of the West Riding, including Sheffield.

South Yorkshire was created on 1 April 1974 because of the Local Government Act 1972. It was created from 32 local government districts of the West Riding of Yorkshire (the administrative county and four independent county boroughs), with small areas from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. South Yorkshire County Council was abolished in 1986 and its four metropolitan boroughs (Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, and Doncaster) effectively becoming unitary authorities, although the metropolitan county continues to exist in law.

And while we are left with North, West, and South Yorkshire, Humberside reverted to its original name of the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1996.

If you’ve stuck with it so far, I’ll confuse you further by throwing in the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (formerly Sheffield City Region), led by Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire.

He has powers over transport, economic development and regeneration, and includes the metropolitan county of South Yorkshire as full members, with North East Derbyshire, Derbyshire Dales, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield and Bolsover, non-metropolitan Districts, as non-constituent members.

Be proud!

Modern-day flag of the West Riding of Yorkshire