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Urban architects reach for the sky

How Code Sheffield will look

A few weeks ago, Sheffield councillor Chris Rosling-Josephs, called on developers to be ‘more creative’ and build a 50 storey tower block so the city can have taller buildings than Leeds.

This might well happen, but for the time being the tallest building in Yorkshire is Altus House in Leeds, at 374ft.  Sheffield’s tallest building is City Lofts, or St Paul’s Tower, at 331ft.

But the tallest building crown will switch to Sheffield soon.

Work has started on Code Sheffield, three blocks of 12, 17 and 38 storeys costing £100m. Foundations are being dug on the site which borders Rockingham Street, Wellington Street, and Trafalgar Street, and adjacent to Kangaroo Works. Once completed it will be 383ft tall.

It is a significant change for this part of the city centre which was once developed with terraced back-to-back housing and small factories.

The site of Code Sheffield is no different, except that the eastern part of the site was once Mount Tabor Chapel, with a small steel works (Foundling Works or Samuel Buckley Styrian Steel Works) to the south-east along Rockingham Street.

Rockingham Street, demolition of Saville Press Ltd., No 37, Wellington Street (former Mount Tabor Chapel, United Methodist Free Church). Image: Picture Sheffield
Same place as above. The site from the south-east, showing garage and Wellington House looking north
Same place as above. Recent photograph of excavations for Code Sheffield

The Chapel was built in 1837-1838 for the Reverend Robert Aitken, a Wesleyan minister. The Wesleyan Reformers purchased the chapel in 1853 and redecorated it as the Mount Tabor Chapel but did not alter the layout. A Sunday School was later built on the land to the west. Both buildings are shown on 1923 and 1935 OS maps and there were plans to improve it in the 1940s, but by the 1950s it had been replaced by the Mount Tabor Printing Works.

Interior of Mount Tabor United Free Methodist Chapel, Wellington Street. Dated 1940-1959. Image: Picture Sheffield
Nos. 37 – 53 Wellington Street at junction with Trafalgar Street, looking towards Rockingham Street junction. Court 4 at rear of back to back properties in foreground. Mount Tabor United Free Methodist Church and Sunday School, in background. Dated 1938. Image: Picture Sheffield

The printing works were recorded in the trade directories of 1948 and 1957 as belonging to Saville Press Ltd and Greeting Card Ltd. This building was demolished in 1962-63.

Later buildings on the site included the telephone exchange, which replaced back to back housing, last occupied by the South Yorkshire Housing Association, and Wellington House, which contained Clark and Partners, providers of mobility aids and services.

The One-Stop garage at 210 Rockingham Street was recorded as a garage in 1968 and later as motor radiator repair shop for W.H. Tyas, subsequently occupied by Marston Radiator Services.

All these buildings were cleared in advance of present building work.

However, there is a further twist as to which city will have the tallest building. Plans have already been approved for a 43-storey tower block in Leeds.

The site from the junction of Wellington Street and Rockingham Street

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings Companies

Kangaroo Works will honour the site it stands on

The scheme comprises 364 dwellings with a mix of 1, 2  and 3 bedroom apartments, which will be built and operated under the Build to Rent (BtR) Sector model.  Commercial space will be provided at ground floor levels, providing active frontages to Rockingham and Wellington Streets. Image: Whittam Cox Architects

Next year, people will start moving into a new residential complex in Sheffield City Centre. When they do, the occupants of Kangaroo Works, a 364 apartment development, will have one of the oddest postal addresses in the city.

Designed by Whittam Cox Architects, with construction underway by Henry Boot, Kangaroo Works is the latest building in Sheffield’s Heart of the City II development. The building, with frontages to Rockingham and Wellington Streets, is designed around the vernacular Sheffield courtyard plan, and provides a stepped roofscape, responding to the sloping typology of the site and forming a transition between the formal city centre and more historic Devonshire Quarter.

The block has a peak of 14 storeys whilst a unique brick façade, taking inspiration from Sheffield’s urban heritage, supports the Masterplan palette and industrial heritage of the original Kangaroo Works site, which the development now stands on.

Kangaroo Works was home to Robert Sorby and Sons, makers of edge tools, later becoming a merchant and steel maker, that had set up on Union Street in 1828 and then moved to Carver Street in 1837.

About 1896 it moved a short distance to this site at the corner of Trafalgar and Wellington Streets.

Former premises of Robert Sorby and Son Ltd, edge tool manufacturer, No. 44 Wellington Street, (his trade mark was a kangaroo so was referred to as the Kangaroo Works) with the Fire Station, Wellington Street in the background. Image from 2006 by David Bocking/SLAI/Picture Sheffield

Their products included adzes, axes, augers, edge tools, joiners’ tools, saws, scythes, hooks, sheep shears and crucible steel. The company sought markets worldwide, and the Kangaroo brand, which was used until the 1980s, was adopted to emphasise the company’s interest in Australia.

Former premises of Robert Sorby and Sons, edge tool manufacturer, No. 44 Wellington Street. Image from 2006 by David Bocking/SLAI/Picture Sheffield

Robert Sorby and Sons was acquired by Hattersley and Davidson in 1923, and vacated Kangaroo Works in 1934 to share a site on Chesterfield Road. It still survives in premises on Athol Road at Woodseats.

The former Kangaroo Works became dilapidated and converted for multi-use, and remained so until demolition in 2008, after which it was used as a car-park.

Former Kangaroo Works gateway. Image: The Glasgow Gallivanter

But what happened to the famous stone-carved Kangaroo trademark that once stood over the gateway on Wellington Street?

It was rescued and re-erected at Kelham Island Museum, slightly shorter in height so that it would fit into the restored Russell Works building that houses the Ken Hawley Collection of tools, cutlery and silversmithing made in Sheffield.

And so, the name lives on, and Kangaroo Works will occupy pride of place overlooking Pound’s Park, the new urban green space also under construction.

Located within close proximity to the Cambridge Street Collective and Elshaw House project, Kangaroo Works is a privately funded development forming part of the Heart of the City masterplan. Image: Whittam Cox Architects

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Buildings

The tallest building in Yorkshire

Sheffield’s skyline is going to look very different in the coming years. With several high-rise projects in development, the news comes that planning consent has been granted for a £100million scheme that is set to include the tallest building in Yorkshire.

The plans from Code will include three buildings of 12, 17 and 38 storeys, located on a site adjacent to the Vita building between Rockingham Street, Wellington Street and Trafalgar Street.

At almost 117 metres tall, the main tower would be taller than a 114-metre Hume House scheme currently under construction in Leeds, which is set to become the tallest in the region.

It would also be 16 metres taller than St Paul’s Tower, Sheffield’s current title holder.

The co-living development is aimed at a mixture of students, post-graduates and younger people. It will feature a 24-hour concierge on site and communal space at both the ground level of the main tower and the top floor of the 17-storey block.

A total of 1,230 apartments will be provided, with the majority being studios but also one- and two-bedroom units.

Sheffield City Council’s planning and highways committee voted to approve the plans at a meeting yesterday (28 January).

Planning Officers had recommended approval after noting the quality of the design, and suggesting the building would act as a positive key marker for the ongoing redevelopment of the neighbouring Heart of the City II area.

Work to bring forward the development is set to begin immediately, with Code aiming to be on site to begin construction this summer. It was supported in its application by Howes Percival and Staniforth Architects.