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

Construction begins on Pound’s Park in Sheffield City Centre

Pounds Park, named after the man responsible for creating Sheffield’s first fire brigade. The former John Lewis store is seen at bottom-left, and might even be demolished to become a green space itself. Image: Sheffield City Council

Once upon a time, the Sheffield construction company, George Longden and Son, might have been chosen to build a new park. From Victorian times, the company was the powerhouse behind many city landmarks. But it lost its way, and the name is all but forgotten.

Instead, the creation of a green space in the city centre will fall to another stalwart of Sheffield construction.

Henry Boot has been appointed to deliver Pounds Park, the landmark new public space, and work gets underway this month.

Sheffield City Council sees this as a key piece of the Heart of the City programme, and it is another project that Henry Boot has been involved with. The builder is underway with the residential development at Kangaroo Works, the Elshaw House office development and the Cambridge Street Collective – a food hall and restaurant destination.

(Left) Tony Shaw, Managing Director for Henry Boot Construction, and (Right) Cllr Mazher Iqbal, Executive Member for City Futures, Sheffield City Council. Image: Heart of the City

Pound’s Park is named after Sheffield’s first Chief Fire Officer, Superintendent John Charles Pound, and is being built on the former fire station site between Rockingham Street, Wellington Street and Carver Street.

Pound’s Park and two new office buildings within the Heart of the City masterplan. Image: Sheffield City Council

As we move forward, Pound’s Park probably won’t be the only new green space in the city centre.

Projects like this are seen as a critical tool in revitalising cities, regenerating poor areas, bringing nature into the city, rejuvenating neighbourhoods, creating a space for physical interaction in our increasingly digital world, and improving city sustainability.

“They are almost being viewed as like anchor stores, as a way of bringing people into a certain part of town,” says Dr Danielle Sinnett, director of the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments at the University of the West of England.

Previously, she reckons, there was some tendency for green space to be tagged onto the end of developments where land was left over. Not so much anymore. “Now it is being seen as key infrastructure in and of itself,” she says.

As well as being a green space, Pound’s Park will have a childrens’ play area, water features, and a new bus interchange. It will also provide an accessible new home for the William Mitchell frieze, which was removed from demolished Barker’s Pool House.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
People Places Streets

Pound’s Park: a belated tribute to a fire chief

Pound’s Park, named after the man responsible for creating Sheffield’s first fire brigade. The former John Lewis store is seen at bottom-left. Cambridge Street is already being developed as a cultural centre. (Sheffield City Council)

The Heart of the City II programme moves forward, and this artist impression shows Pound’s Park, a new public space that will be created on the site of the demolished Wellington Street fire station.

It will be on the western side of the Heart of the City masterplan, located between Rockingham Street, Wellington Street and Carver Street, and will create another green space in the city centre, as well as creating children’s’ play areas, water features, and a new bus interchange.

The Park will also provide an accessible new home for the William Mitchell frieze, which was removed from Barker’s Pool House a few months ago in preparation for the construction of the new Radisson Blu hotel on Pinstone Street.

A lot has been written about Pound’s Park, but I’d like to focus on the man it is named after.

John Charles Pound (1834 -1918) was the city’s first Fire Superintendent, and responsible for laying the foundations of our modern fire service.

He was born at Sittingbourne in Kent and served for eight years  in the Navy and Mercantile Marine Service, and as a man-of-war took part in operations in the Crimea.

Leaving the sea, he joined the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in its earliest days. He was engaged at the memorable Tooley Street fire in 1861, where his chief, Captain Braidwood, was killed by a falling wall just minutes after Pound had been talking to him. (It was referred to as ‘the greatest fire since the Great Fire of London,’ and occurred at Cotton Wharf where many warehouses were situated. It attracted a crowd of more than 30,000 spectators).

“This was in the early days of fire brigade work, and long before the extinguishing of fires had been the object of practical and scientific studies. The Metropolitan firemen learnt engineering by travelling on locomotives and receiving instruction from engine drivers. The scheme had been adopted by Captain Braidwood, and John Pound was one of those who familiarised himself in engineering. When proficient he was appointed to a responsible position on one of the brigade’s river floats.”

He applied for a position at Nottingham and was appointed as engineer of the first steam fire engine, staying two years before coming to Sheffield in 1869 to form the Corporation’s first fire brigade. The decision of the Corporation to take over and run the Fire Brigade was brought to a head by a series of large fires between 1865 and 1869.

John Charles Pound (1834-1918). Sheffield Fire Superintendent between 1869 and 1895. (Picture Sheffield)

Pound established the fire brigade over 26 years, with trained firemen, and the introduction of the best firefighting appliances. His biggest fires included Portland Street Confectionery Works (George Bassett and Co) and at G. H. Hovey and Sons (drapers and house furnishers) in Angel Street in the winter of 1893 in which six large shops were destroyed.

Superintendent Pound was injured at the Park Club fire, on Bernard Street, in February 1895 when he fell against a kerbstone whilst handling a jet. His injuries were at first thought to be bruising of the ribs, but later he suffered difficulty in breathing. He retired from the Fire Brigade shortly afterwards.

“He may now begin to feel the need of rest and relief from being in a state of incessant preparedness, and the Micawbian attitude of ‘waiting for something to turn up,’ and the good wishes of the citizens will follow him in retirement.”

John Charles Pound died from influenza at his home on Tullibardine Road in 1918. His coffin was shrouded in the Union Jack and conveyed on a horse-drawn fire brigade tender, with Indian Mutiny veterans, firemen and police taking part in the cortege. He was buried at Sheffield General Cemetery.

A fitting tribute that Sheffield’s first fire officer should be honoured with a park, and on the site of a former fire station.

Pound’s Park will be the latest addition to Sheffield City Council’s plans to create green spaces in the city centre. (Sheffield City Council)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.