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Places Streets

It’s hard to imagine our former landscape

Sheffield in 1791. This reproduction was one of David Martin’s Series of Sheffield Sketches, showing what was the appearance of the town from the north side of Broomhall Spring.

The wood called Broomhall Spring extended to Broomhall Park, full of fine old oak trees, with very little underwood, and soft turf like that of a park. The wood was later cut down, the Government wanting oak timber for ship-building.

The spring itself was later referred to as Spring Garden Well, with the inscription “To the public use, by the Rev. James Wilkinson and Phillip Gell, Esq. Freely take – freely communicate. thank God.”

It was at what is now the corner of Gell Street and Conway Street, and it isn’t without coincidence that the names Broomspring Lane, Wilkinson Street and Gell Street emerged.

To the picture itself, and the fields between Broomhall Spring and the churches – the Parish Church, St. James’s and St. Paul’s – are known to us now as West Street, Division Street, and their adjacent thoroughfares.

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

The new Isaacs Building takes shape

Scaffolding and new steel work support retained Victorian fronts on Pinstone Street. (Image: Heart of the City II)

A photograph that tells a story. The remains of the Victorian facade at the lower end of Pinstone Street in Sheffield city centre. Everything behind has been demolished, and the famous old fronts preserved for posterity.

Block C of the Heart of the City II masterplan is located between Pinstone Street, Cambridge Street and Charles Street.

It incorporates two historic building blocks which form the southern end of the Pinstone streetscape.

The combined façade and its dramatic roofscape is an excellent example of Sheffield brick and terracotta architecture. It occupies a prominent position and is visible from the Peace Gardens through to The Moor.

Block C will be home to 39,000 sq ft of premium Grade A office space, serving 450 employees, plus six premium retail units comprising over 8,000 sq ft.

It will be known as the Isaacs Building, named after Edwardian-era paper-hangings merchant David Isaac, and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Categories
Streets

Brownell Street: Forgotten stories

Cobbles glisten in the rain, weeds grow through cracks, but this pitifully empty street is a poignant reminder of our past.

Brownell Street, at Netherthorpe, is in a sorry state and awaits nearby redevelopment.

But if we go back in time, this was one of the poorest streets in Sheffield, a slum at the heart of St. Philips, where families crowded together in dirty back-to-back houses, fought to make ends meet, and fought one another.

Crime was rife, and it was only after the broken-down houses were boarded-up, then demolished, that order was restored.

It is an empty space now, but what stories these cobble stones could tell.

Tales of horse and carts. Damp houses, unfit for human habitation. Tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, and infant mortality. Brawls, stabbings, and gun shots. Tales of the unruly Jericho Gang. Gambling. Happiness. Births, weddings, and certain death. Tragedy and despair. And tales of a better life that existed somewhere else.

The houses disappeared in the 1930s and most of the people vanished with them. From the slums came industry, and as history repeats itself, industry has given way to housing again.

The upper end of Brownell Street might have been lost to Netherthorpe Road (and Supertram), but the area is blooming with new-build student accommodation.

Remember these cobbles because next time you look, they’ll probably be gone.

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

Old name, new look: the Gaumont Building

How we’ve loved to hate. The Odeon Building built in 1986-1987.

Back in the 1980s it was an important part of Sheffield’s regeneration, but after completion was universally hated. The steel and concrete building in Barker’s Pool opened as the Odeon, replacing the Gaumont Cinema, built in 1927 (as The Regent) for the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres circuit, and demolished in 1985.

A tear or two was shed, but its severe appearance could never keep up with the go-getting eighties.

We enjoyed its bright new replacement, but it didn’t last long, closed in 1994 in favour of Odeon’s multi-screen complex on Arundel Gate. And then came its reincarnation as a nightclub.

The Regent Theatre was built in 1927 for Provincial Cinematograph Theatres and was the first major cinema designed by architect William Edward Trent. Taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in 1929 it retained the Regent name until 1946. (Picture Sheffield)

If memory serves correct, it was vilified by Prince Charles, but fiercest criticism came from Sheffielders. It was considered downright ugly.

Over thirty years later, disapproval never waned, and the once-futuristic appearance looks as much out of place as it did then.

But that might be about to change.

A planning application proposing a significant facelift to the Gaumont building (as it has wistfully been renamed), has been submitted to Sheffield City Council.

The improvement works fall within the wider Heart of the City II development scheme – led by the Council and their Strategic Development Partner, Queensberry. Plans would see the building’s current red steel frame completely removed and replaced with a contemporary design.

The new façade proposals for the building, designed by Sheffield-based HLM Architects, who are also working on the Radisson Blu hotel, take inspiration from the building’s origins as the Regent Theatre (although I see no resemblance whatsoever).

Gone is the glass and steel. An artist’s impression of the new design of the Gaumont Building. (Sheffield City Council)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings Streets

The widening of High Street

High Street as it was during the 1880s. (British Newspaper Archive)

Back in Victorian times, High Street and its approach was compared to a bottle, of which the approach was the body and the street the neck.

From the Churchgates (Sheffield Cathedral) the road tapered away until constricted at what was known as ‘Grundy’s Corner’ – the bulging portion of which had been an eye-sore for years.

Horse-drawn traffic was the problem, and every year the neck became increasingly congested.

Plans to divert traffic away from High Street were considered impossible, and the Town Council had considered an ambitious widening of the street as far back as 1875.

However, it involved demolishing buildings and prompted objections from shopkeepers concerned about compensation and property boundaries, and it wasn’t until the 1890s that work started.

These two illustrations from 1890, both taken from Coles Corner, showed High Street as was, and the proposed widening of the street.

The proposed High Street widening from 1890. (British Newspaper Archive)

It was completed in 1895-1896 and involved demolition of buildings on the south side (to the right), replacing them with elegant Victorian structures, including the Foster’s Building.

Sadly, the Blitz of World War Two destroyed most of the property and we are left with twentieth century replacements including what was once Walsh’s department store, an old Sheffield name that mutated into Rackhams, House of Fraser, eventually handed over to TJ Hughes.

Only one building survives both sketches and is as familiar today as it was then. Parade Chambers, built for Pawson and Brailsford by Charles Hadfield, and constructed by George Longden & Son between 1883-1885.

High Street before the street widening of 1895-1896. (Picture Sheffield)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

Old Coroner’s Court

A miserable end for a fine old building. (Image: The Jessop Consultancy)

It is sad to be writing about a building that will soon be no more.

The Old Coroner’s Court on Nursery Street is to be demolished and replaced with 77 apartments, after a Government inspector overturned Sheffield City Council’s decision to halt the development.

Firestone, the developer, has been given permission to demolish the building as it is not listed, or in a conservation area.

It will be a miserable end for the building built in 1913-1914, one damaged during the Blitz, the subject of severe flooding, and an arson attack.

This grainy photograph was taken in 1914 shortly after the coroner’s court and mortuary had opened. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

At the end of November 1912, it was agreed by Sheffield Corporation that a new Coroner’s Court and Mortuary should be built on surplus land remaining after the widening of Nursery Street.

Prior to this, the land had been an area of mixed domestic, retail and industrial buildings, a far cry from the days when this was “a green and pleasant land, when salmon could be caught in the Don, and flowers gathered in the meadow” of Spittal Gardens, or the Duke of Norfolk’s Nursery.

The new Coroner’s Court was championed by Dr W.H. Fordham, of the Heeley Ward, chairman of the special committee set up to build it. The urgency was to replace the old coroner’s court that had stood on Plum Lane, off Corporation Street, since 1884, and had long been a disgrace to the city.

The building was designed by Sheffield’s first city architect, Frederick Ernest Pearce Edwards (1863-1945), who had previously held a similar position with Bradford Corporation.

The Coroner’s Court in 1914. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

Built of brick and stone, it drew on the design of Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Baroque traditions of the nineteenth century. Construction was by George Longden and Son and cost £5,000 to build.

The main courtroom was 30ft x 20ft and 25ft high. Within the building were various mortuaries, waiting rooms, jury retiring rooms, coroner and doctor waiting rooms, viewing rooms, coach and motor houses, stables, and a caretaker’s house.

It was furnished throughout in oak and contained all the ‘up-to-date’ appliances, including fixed and revolving tables in the post-mortem room.

The coroner at the time was Mr J. Kenyon Parker, but the first case held here was in May 1914 when Dr J.J. Baldwin Young, deputy coroner, investigated the death of Edward Villers, a labourer, and determined that he ‘hanged himself while of unsound mind.’

Buildings behind were added in the 1920s, and following bomb damage in December 1940, new plans were drawn up by W.G. Davis, city architect, in 1952-1953 to extend the courtroom buildings.

There is a chance that the developer will preserve the original date-stone. (The Jessop Consultancy)

The opening of the Medico Legal Centre on Watery Street, Netherthorpe, in the 1970s, brought an end to grisly proceedings on Nursery Street.

It became Sheffield City Council, Employment Department, Enterprise Works, and was subsequently sub-divided into 36 principal rooms. In later years it was known as the Old Coroner’s Court Business Centre.

Unfortunately, little remains of the original internal detail, but the outside is virtually untouched apart from minor restoration.

The building has been empty for several years and the developer had hoped to incorporate it into the new development, but this was considered unpractical.

And so, we lose another one of our historic buildings, to be replaced with something considered to be “favourable towards the character and appearance of the area.”

The inside of the building was sub-divided and this space once formed part of the old courtroom. (Image: The Jessop Consultancy)
The proposed development on the site of the Old Coroner’s Court. (Firestone)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
People

Dr Bartolomé: A Spaniard who made Sheffield his home

Bernard Edward Cammell’s portrait of Dr Mariano Martin de Bartolome (1813-1890), (Image: Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

The Story of Dr Mariano Alejo Martin de Bartolomé might be straight from the pages of a novel.

Bartolomé (1813-1890) was born in Segovia, Spain, and came from an old Castilian Hidalgo family, his father being the civil governor of the province.

Aged 8, he became a student at the Artillery College of the Alcazar of Segovia and had lined up a commission in the Hussars. However, Spain was in a state of revolution and the representative system was abolished. Ferdinand VII was restored by the intervention of the French, and the Bartolomé’s were driven out of Spain and their estate confiscated.

Segovia is a Spanish city located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the Province of Segovia.

They sought refuge in England, eventually taking up residence in Jersey.

It was here that Bartolomé met Mary Elizabeth Parker, the daughter of Rev Frank Parker of Dore, and they married in 1834. He had no profession, but Mary paid for him to become a medical student at Edinburgh University.

Bartolomé studied under Professor Sir Robert Christison, regarded as a brilliant physician and chemist, and gained his medical degree in 1838.

The couple moved to Sheffield taking up residence at 3 Eyre Street, popular with surgeons and physicians, and remained here for 45 years.

In 1840 Bartolomé was elected one of the honorary physicians to the Sheffield Hospital and Dispensary (later the Royal Hospital) and in 1846 joined the Sheffield Infirmary, later becoming senior physician. It was said that he rode there on a fine black horse and to have jumped the gate when he found it closed. By the time he retired through ill-health in 1889 it was estimated that Bartolomé had treated more than 750,000 patients.

Sheffield Infirmary (Image: Picture Sheffield)

In 1846, Bartolomé joined the staff of lecturers at the Sheffield Medical Institution, later the Medical School, delivering over 3,000 lectures and becoming its president.

As president he was instrumental in obtaining funds to build a new building in Leopold Street, finished in 1888, and after merging with Firth College and Sheffield Technical School it was renamed University College Sheffield before becoming University of Sheffield in 1905.

(University of Sheffield Library Digitals Collection)

His crowning glory was in 1876 when he was elected president of the British Medical Association (BMA) at a meeting in Sheffield. His presidential address was an exhaustive description of Sheffield, its surroundings, some of its trades, their effects on the health of workers, and suggestions as to future legislation.

Bartolomé was painted by artist Bernard Edward Cammell which was presented to him by the Medical School in November 1888.

“I came amongst you as a stranger and an alien, but you stretched out the right hand of friendship towards me, and I stand before you now one of the oldest Englishmen in the room, having been naturalised long before the majority of you were in existence.

“I wish that my portrait may remain in the midst of its givers – those friends whom I have so sincerely and frequently loved.”

Bartolomé moved his house and surgery to Glossop Road in the 1880s, the building on the corner with Hounsfield Road better known now as The Harley bar.

As well as his medical work, Bartolomé was a freemason at the Britannia and Brunswick Lodges (and laid the foundation stone at the Masonic Hall in Surrey Street) and was founder and president of Sheffield Athenaeum club.

In his last few years Bartolomé suffered from heart problems and was forced to give up a lot of work. In 1890, after waking, he attended his invalid son in an adjoining room and died soon after, supposedly “brought on by dressing somewhat hastily in order that he might visit his son.”

His wife, Mary, died in 1863, and Bartolomé married a second time, Mary Emily Jackson, the daughter of Samuel Jackson, who survived him.

After his death, Bartolomé’s family left the city, but his grandson, Dr Stephen M de Bartolomé (1919-2001), a former Sheffield University student returned to Sheffield to work for Spear & Jackson of which he became chairman.

The Bartolomé Papers – a collection relating to the history of the family through both Bartolomés – is held at the University of Sheffield. As a fitting tribute the former Winter Street Hospital (and then St George’s Hospital) became the School of Nursing for the University of Sheffield in 1997, named Bartolomé House in 1998 after Dr Mariano Martin de Bartolomé, and now the School of Law.

Bartolomé House. (Image: University of Sheffield)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

Chubbys: An obvious link with the pub next door

Chubbys, Michelin Three Star cuisine for the inebriated, is to close after 40 years.

The legendary takeaway on Cambridge Street will shut for the last time on Bank Holiday, August 31.

It has been a long journey for Mehran Behizad, Iranian by birth, who first came to Sheffield in 1973, to study industrial design at the polytechnic, but met his Sheffield-born wife and decided to stay and raise a family.

He set up Chubbys in 1980 with a few business partners but eventually became the sole owner. When it opened, it was only one of two late-night takeaways in the city centre, arguably the first place to get a kebab.

However, the staying power of Chubbys means we do not look beyond the familiar sign above the door.

The takeaway shares the same building as the empty Tap & Tankard (formerly The Sportsman) next door. Both ground floor units have two storeys above, with white painted red-brick and mock Tudor detailing, with applied black timber over Chubbys.

The date of construction is unknown, but we can trace The Sportsman’s Inn (later to become The Old Sportsman’s Inn and then The Sportsman) to 1828, which might suggest that the whole building was once used as a public house.

It also suggests that this is one of the oldest buildings on Cambridge Street, tracing its origins back to the days when it was still called Coal Pit Lane.

Before Chubbys, the unit had many uses, but had strong links with food and drink, at one time being a grocery shop, George Alfred Webster’s Dining Rooms, and the Cambridge Coffee House.

It is now subject to a compulsory purchase by Sheffield Council to make way for the ambitious Heart of the City II project and 70-year-old Mehran is using the opportunity of the enforced closure to retire.

The good news is that the building will be incorporated in the adjacent Leah’s Yard restoration, while the bricked-up former works below Chubbys will be demolished and become an open-space linking to the soon-to-be-restored Bethel Chapel.

And there is a suggestion that after the Covid-19 crisis subsides Chubbys might resurrect itself somewhere else in the city centre.

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

Bethel Chapel: a new beginning for a hidden building

Sometimes there is more to a building than meets the eye. This former shop on Cambridge Street hides an interesting past and will be reborn soon.

We know it as the former Sports and Toy Departments of Cole Brothers, more recently as a city centre outpost for Stone the Crows, but this empty shop is a 1930s front extension to the Bethel Chapel which stands behind.

From John Lewis’ car-park you can look down and see that the chapel, built in 1835, still survives behind the street frontage.

The chapel owes itself to John Coulson, the first leader connected with the Primitive Methodist Movement in Sheffield. A small society had been formed and services held in a building in Paradise Square. The movement seized hold of the working classes and later bought an existing old chapel in deprived Coal Pit Lane (later to become Cambridge Street), about 1823.

A few years later plans for a new building nearby were prepared and the mainly poor congregation helped demolish an existing house that had been converted into tenements. The foundation stone for the new chapel was laid in July 1835 and opened for services in June 1836.

The Primitive Methodist Bethel Chapel existed for just over a century and was latterly connected with Sheffield Methodist Mission. Its final service was on Sunday 20th September 1936.

(Image: picture Sheffield)
(Image: Picture Sheffield)

It was briefly empty before George Binns, an outfitter at Moorhead, bought the old chapel to relocate the business.

The small churchyard at the front was swept away, including iron railings and stone pillars, and probably a few gravestones.

In 1938 a two-storey extension was added to the front of the chapel, with stone initials on its parapet showing ‘GB’ and the date ‘1868’, the year the business was founded.

(Image: Picture Sheffield)

By the 1960s the shop had transferred to Lawsons Outfitters and in 1977 it was acquired by Cole Brothers (now John Lewis) to alleviate pressure on its store across the road.

With a short spell as Stone the Crows, the building has been vacant for several years, with the ‘ghost name’ of ‘Lawsons’ revealing itself above shop windows.

(Image: Graham Soult)

Now subject of compulsory purchase, Sheffield City Council, with its partner Queensbury, is now looking for occupiers to run it as a performing arts venue as part of Block H in the ongoing Heart of the City II development.

The question. How much of the old chapel interior remains?

NOTE: Bethel Walk is between Bethel Chapel and the former Bethel Chapel Sunday School, a listed building also included in Heart of the City II plans.

(Image: Picture Sheffield)
(Image: Picture Sheffield)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings

On this day: the fall of Sheffield Castle

A drawing of Sheffield Castle by Kenneth Steel (1950)

On this day, 376 years ago, after a short siege, Sheffield Castle was surrendered to the Parliamentarian army by Royalists, and its fate was sealed.

On August 11th, 1644, Major Thomas Beaumont handed the castle over to Major-General Crawford and Colonel Pickering of the Parliamentary army.

“The Castle, with all the fire-arms, ordnance, and ammunition, all their furniture of war, and all their provisions, to be delivered to Major-General Crawford, by three o’clock in the afternoon, being the 11th of this instant August, without any diminution or embezzlement.”

The castle was founded in the late 11th or early 12th century, possibly by Roger de Busli, at the confluence of the rivers Don and Sheaf. The castle became one of the largest and most important in the north of England and was rebuilt and developed by the de Lovetots through the 12th century and by the Furnivals in the 13th. By the 15th century, the castle had passed to the Earls of Shrewsbury and subsequently to the Dukes of Norfolk.

Two years after the surrender, on 30 April 1646, the House of Commons passed a resolution that Sheffield Castle should be made untenable, and on 13 July 1647 a resolution was passed for the castle to be demolished.

Despite considerable demolition work, in 1649 the Earl of Arundel (a title of the Duke of Norfolk) repurchased Sheffield Castle with the intention of restoring it, but the damage was too severe, and was completely razed; for a while it was used as an orchard, and then a bowling green, before being built over.

Following the demolition of Castle Market, the site is an empty space, awaiting its next adventure, with recent archaeological excavations still revealing some of its secrets from centuries ago.