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Two hundred years of history about to be replaced with apartments

Broad Street proposal. Image: Falconer Chester Hall

Once upon a time, in 1822, a public house opened on Broad Street, Park, called The Harrow, containing an adjacent cottage and workshops. It was held on lease under the Duke of Norfolk for ninety years. No doubt it was named after the heavy agricultural tool dragged over ploughed land to break up clods.

By the 1850s, it had been enlarged and stabling added, but the character of the pub had changed entirely. Now called ‘The Old Harrow,’ it briefly lost its licence in 1852 because of the misconduct of its tenant, James Potts.

The charm of the area was lost, with dense back-to-back housing spreading across the Park district, and providing a raft of thirsty drinkers for the pub, but still attractive enough to show the celebrated prize pig ‘Champion’ in 1858.

There were ups and downs at The Old Harrow: successes, failures, bankruptcies, deaths, burglaries, and numerous inquests held on persons who had died in the vicinity.

The slum housing was subsequently replaced with the sprawling Hyde Park and Park Hill flats, but to keep the allure of days past, the pub became known as Ye Old Harrow.

But customers eventually dried up, and the pub closed in 2008, falling into disrepair, and was victim of an arson attack in 2019.

Ye Old Harrow (just about) remained standing, gaining a reputation as Sheffield’s most haunted pub, and only entered by those with their wits about them – urban explorers who captured the blackened interiors on film.

Ye Old Harrow. This year marks two hundred years since it was built

A year ago, the pub and accompanying land was put up for auction with a guide price of £225,000, and its prime location near to Park Hill, Park Square, and the city centre, meant it was quickly snapped up.

Now, D&S Properties SPV has submitted a full planning application for the construction of a new building of up to seven storeys. It will mean the demolition of Ye Old Harrow and its replacement would comprise 55 one-bed and two two-bed private rented sector (PRS) apartments, together with an office and residential gym on the ground floor.

The good news is that Granelli’s ice cream and sweet shop, at the bottom of Broad Street, remains unaffected.

Broad Street proposal. Image: Falconer Chester Hall

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

Charles Street Station

Charles Street Station. Image: Picture Sheffield/P. David Turton

A photograph that will confuse younger generations. Doing an excellent job at imitating the London Underground, this was Charles Street Station, pictured in 1983. This was a theme bar, but such was the authenticity, that Omnia, the online cultural site, includes the image on its London Underground pages. It was incorporated within the Isaacs Building, built by David Isaacs, a wallpaper merchant, in 1905.

Isaacs Building was an example of Edwardian entrepreneurship, the ground floor containing seven shop units with an assembly hall above, its entrance being from Charles Street. The top floor of the building contained offices and several workshops, mostly rented by enterprising tailoring businesses.

The assembly hall was once the Sheffield Trades Club and in the 1970s was converted into a nightclub, its various incarnations being Faces, Raffles, Charlie Parker’s and Freedom. For a time, the old basement was used as Charles Street Station.

Stephen Shephard busking outside Charles Street Station in 1983. Image: Picture Sheffield/Sheffield Newspapers Ltd

The bar was short-lived, and the entire building was demolished in 2020 as part of the Heart of the City redevelopment. Its replacement, modern office-space, with ground-floor retail units, is nearing completion, and is also called Isaacs Building.

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved. Supporting Picture Sheffield

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Buildings

Matilda Tavern: the life and times of a coaching inn

Recent image of the Matilda Tavern. Photograph: Sheffield Star

Once upon a time there was a mill called Cinder Hill Mill, the property of the Wigfull family, powered by water from Porter Brook that flowed into a dam. In 1780, Joshua Wigfull rebuilt Wigfull’s Mill, and it was later enlarged, with a steam engine fixed for driving six pairs of French stones, one pair of grey stones, and a shelling mill.

Most of the flour made at these mills went to Stockport and taken by wagons and pack-saddle to Middleton. There they were met by a team of relay teams and vehicles and carried forward. The mill was demolished in 1862 and stood in or near the present Leadmill Road.

At the side of the mill were fields rented by a Doctor Brown from the Duke of Norfolk, and the district became known as Doctor’s Fields.

Wigfull’s Mill. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

In the late 18th century, the Duke of Norfolk set about his ambitious plan to develop this neighbourhood, alongside Alsop Fields, into a fashionable residential district. James Paine drew up a masterplan with a proposed gridwork of streets, the key ones being Union Street, Norfolk Street, Eyre Street, Arundel Street, Howard Street, Charles Street, Furnival Street, and Duke Street.

Duke Street stretched between Union Street and Porter Brook, and when it was extended towards Doctor’s Fields the new portion from Arundel Street onwards became known as Matilda Street, named after William the Conqueror’s wife, Queen Matilda of Flanders.

By 1838 nine newly-erected houses had been constructed, one of them a large public-house, a coaching inn beside Porter Brook, with an archway that led to a stable yard behind, and this was called the Matilda Tavern.

The masterplan faltered, and instead of posh houses for the wealthy, the area was instead utilised for industry. By the 1870s, the upper portion of the road, Duke Street, was also renamed Matilda Street to avoid confusion with the street of the same name at Park.

The Matilda Tavern thrived and apart from serving ale, it was a place where Thomas Badger, coroner for the Upper Division of the Wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill, held inquests on dead bodies, many of whom had drowned in Porter Brook or in the unprotected portion of the Wigfull Mill dam.

Photograph: Picture Sheffield

And so, the Matilda Tavern thrived, and when coach and horses disappeared, it served the hundreds of thousands of workers that worked in nearby factories. Eventually, industry disappeared, and its fortunes waned.

In 1999, its exterior was used in an ITV series called Four Fathers, starring Tony Doyle and Neil Dudgeon, its north of England setting somewhat gloomy, but its characters gainfully employed with humour amid the drama.

However, six years later, in 2005, the Matilda Tavern closed for good, its windows boarded-up, and the interiors left to rot.

Photograph: Closed Pubs

Several new residential developments in the area, notably the apartments on the corner of Matilda Street and Arundel Street, and the apartments along Fornham Street, have brought students to the area.

In 2007, developers were given permission to alter and extend the old pub and erect a new building behind for student accommodation and ground floor business space. All these years later, conversion of the upper floors have been completed and work on the new student accommodation is under way and due to be finished in spring 2022.

However, in a new planning application, architects Wireframe Studio, says “The proposal is to now change the ground floor and basement of the building from business use back to its original use as a drinking establishment with the paved area along the river as an external terrace.”

The golden days might have disappeared, its smoky rooms and beer-stained carpets likely replaced with modern interiors, but at least the Matilda Tavern may live-on.

Photograph: David Johnson

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.