This July (and September) came a chance to return to Sheffield, to see the changes and more importantly view the city as a whole rather than just as an appendage to its most iconic hilltop landmark. What follow are the photos and comments from that trip.

From bottom left the station roof then Sheaf Square fountain. At far left the Showroom and above it the Hubs. Above that the Butcher Works Arundel St (find chimney). In the centre The Howard and at top right the “cheese-grater” car park.

Many of the  other buildings form part of Sheffield Hallam University.

Back in Sheaf Square the ugly and intrusive City Lofts / St Pauls Tower makes an appearance to the right of the Cheese-grater while the elegant fountain occupies the foreground.

. . . a better view of the fountain with the Showroom at left and The Hubs poking through looking like ET in this photo.

The Showroom from South Street Park

Here’s a front shot of The Hubs, formerly the National Centre for Popular Music and latterly the Sheffield Hallam University Student Union.

Walking up from the station through Sheffield Hallam University and then to the foot of Surrey Street last October I was met with this sight on a glorious autumnal morning.


A Routemaster bus and a wheel. A temporary installation I gather as it was not there this July. The Crucible Theatre is off to the right.

The weather made these photographs I have to say. The clear blue (almost) cloudless sky and clear air combined with a slight chill meant this vapour coming off the square added an ethereal look and was a great introduction to the city.

Looking down Barker’s Pool from the Concert Hall to the wheel situated outside the Town Hall at the top of Surrey Street and Fargate on October 20th 2010.

City Hall – used as a concert hall these days

A building that went unnoticed by me until I came across . . .

an article by Owen Hatherley in which he identifies it as the former . . .

National Union of Mineworkers headquarters. Now empty and overgrown it serves only as a meeting place for unemployed youth who are to be seen present at both the front and the back of it knowing they are unlikely to be disturbed, and soon to be a casino if the news is to be believed.

Just behind me the City Hall – (taken last October).

Back to the present but not far from where the wheel was sited stands the Town Hall for details click the link, it has some lovely gardens on the other side with fountains of which more below.

The Peace Gardens and St Paul’s Hotel with the Winter Garden entrance just visible at right in 11/2010. I learned from a friend that the hotel was built after the Winter Garden thus ruining the view.  Such is commerce…

but here’s a pic I found from before the hotel was built showing how the Winter Garden would look from the Peace Garden.

Thanks to from whom I’ve nicked it.

Which were themselves preceded by the “eggbox” town hall extension, now long gone.

The Peace Gardens.

It’s a personal preference but to me the deep dark blue of the October sky makes a better backdrop so I’ve included shots from both visits. I like the photograph above of the Winter Gardens but how much more impressive they look with the October sky below.

A little bleak perhaps?

The Winter Garden from inside looking out.

The Town Hall from the top of The Moor

Walking from the end of Pinstone Street and down the Moor is to enter another time and place.   I like fifties architecture and the effect is impressive, or was when built, as shown by these photographs so thoughtfully provided on hoardings further down the hill.

It quickly becomes apparent that the architecture extends all the way down the Moor and indeed the buildings both sides of the Moor are from the 1950s . . .

. . . presumably from the post war rebuilding on a long sloping site that has to my mind been a triumph. I have mixed feelings about the 1971 pedestrianisation because it has allowed street furniture sprawl and while I generally like trees in this instance they block what would otherwise be a good view of the architecture.

Many of these buildings are still recognisable and the overall appearance is diminished only by the presence of trees and market stands and other frankly superfluous street furniture which prevents a modern day longitudinal view shown in these wonderful historic photographs.

The beauty and strength of the 1950s architects was the overall composition of similar but different buildings facing each other in one street and I fear that has been lost, and to no good purpose.

The opportunity will arise, as the new market is constructed at the foot of the Moor, to reconsider the overall scope of the Moor and I hope this opportunity is taken.

I like that view.  Or would if the trees, steel market stands and lights further up were removed.  Dear Sheffield City Council, please restore the 1950s view along the Moor!  You would be doing the city a service.

Now we are looking at the view from the foot of the Moor towards “The Ziggurat” as a friend referred to it, aka the Manpower building. Here’s another shot from higher up.

It struck me as vast.  It certainly feels vast when you walk around its footprint.  According to my Sheffield contact it was once possible to walk underneath it but this was later blocked off for security reasons making the pedestrian journey from London Road to the Moor that much longer.  Google Earth shows it having two courtyards so clearly the number of offices is less than that implied by its bulk.

Nearby are two buildings of some note.  This one is an example of “facadism” being I believe a local authority college although I have no idea of its former purpose.

It has a beautiful exterior with a variety of stone colours some in salmon pink which look exquisite, to which my poor quality photograph does no justice whatsoever, you’ll have to visit Sheffield yourself and I’ll have to buy a better camera.

Across the road stands this brutalist example of 1960s concrete architecture known locally as the substation and dealt with elsewhere by Owen Hatherley in his chapter on the city from TNRoGB.  All I could establish on site was that it has 275,000 volts inside it and a couple of large transformers.

I am frankly intrigued at what the rest of the building contains.  “I’ve never seen anybody go in or out” was the dry response from my resident companion.  The block behind is part of the Broomhall estate and is being refurbished hence the scaffolding just visible.

I thought I’d just add this shot of the Arts Building (the tower) of the University of Sheffield, made more attractive to my eye by the subtle shadings of brickwork on the buildings before it reminiscent of the three colours chosen for Park Hill in the original development being beige, ochre and plum.

Back towards the centre of town now and visible along Charles Street is the “Cheese-grater” car park as its known locally owing to the choice of cladding.  It stands beside a tower of dubious merit which I find utterly repulsive both in appearance and sheer audacity for it ruins the views of the city centre from almost anywhere, contributing nothing to the landscape and spoiling the scale of other buildings.

Here’s another shot of the cheese-grater this time from Arundel Gate.  Interesting isn’t it how one adds to the landscape and the other detracts from it. I’d willingly see the tower demolished, I think it’s an eyesore.

Here’s the tower in its full glory(?) from the new South Street Park of which more elsewhere.  I don’t wish to celebrate this monstrosity I just want to reveal its awfulness.

One of my favourite buildings in this area is a mock Tudor pub called The Howard, at the foot of the hill that leads into town from Midland Station.  It adds a welcome touch of history set among so many modern buildings and the area would be poorer for its absence.

Back in town just entering Fargate from the High Street and tucked away on the left is Black Swan Walk, easily missed but worth a look.  It is a treasure.

A Victorian street in miniature tucked away and hinting at former glories now mostly but not entirely wiped away by unloving builders but revealing enough of its past to encourage further research.

A detail from Black Swan Walk with stained glass and original brickwork making me curious as to what this was and what purpose the street once served.  A glimpse through a doorway into the ground floor revealed that to be entirely given over to modern uses being the back of a shop but nevertheless the structure retains its original form while guarding its past.

Just down the hill from Fargate and looking South from Fitzalan Square is this view of Park Square and the tram bridge looking up towards Hyde Park.  Park Hill while not visible in this photograph, is off to the right and the subject of another article to come.

On the other side of the Supertram bridge in the picture above is a pedestrian walkway (exit left) that will take you down across Park Square and Exchange Place to Victoria Quays . . .

. . . a delightful canal basin so well hidden I stayed for a week in Sheffield without ever realising it was near my hotel until this was pointed out.

It is well worth a visit, truly an oasis in a sea of traffic and modern buildings. Below is a historic photograph of the same location. Click the photo for the full sized version.


All these places seem destined to go through a period of post industrial decline before being either demolished or tarted up.

Castle Market is a wonderful place that has failed to get listed and advertises its coming demise by being of a different era, something that isn’t allowed anymore in the built environment  unless it’s “heritage” or Tudor, or a castle, or cathedral.  Apparently being 1960s doesn’t cut it though I notice Carnaby Street (London) has survived though not in its original form.

Photo borrowed from Nothing to See Here – without permission and linked to an excellent article about Castle Market for some reason I believe to have been written by O.H. who has a wonderful list of all the reasons it should stay in another of  his articles about Sheffield.

My Castle Market photos here

The last time I remember having this feeling of imminent demise (the building, not mine) was in 2007 when I went to the Pentagon Mall in Chatham for an afternoon . . .

. . . I walked into the 1970s, there’s no other way I can describe it.  It still stands.  I’ve been on to the council and they have no plans to allow it to be “modernised”.  What a joy, more photos >here< if you’re interested, and >here<

By way of complete contrast Sheffield also has Meadowhall out by the double decker Tinsley viaduct and late of the cooling towers.  It is utterly soulless, identikit designed and looks like any other large shopping mall in the Uk as but is neverthess extremely popular as evidenced by the crowds I witnessed within.

A rubbish picture taken in a hurry from the tram stop, the usual domes and PoMo adornments abound but it doesn’t have to look good from the outside, it’s a high street inside out and the shoppers will happily pass through the utilitarian exterior to get to the goodies within.

It’s those sewing machines again. Glasgow, Camden Town and Sheffield (this photo added 12/9/11)

In the early afternoon of the last day I was standing on Platform 2 looking across at the meeting point for my catch up with a fellow blogger and took this photo.

The view from Platform 2 with happy memories of Wild Swan

Leave a Reply