... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Bower Spring Furnaces (Franklin Works)

And so the time comes, at last, for another random(ish) Pevsner walk. My pencil hovered over the next column of the index, and alighted on the Franklin Works (p.163).

The works themselves, however, are mentioned only in passing. They are long gone - but have left a legacy: the remains of a pair of cementation furnaces. Although there is little of these left, and what there is is overgrown to the point of invisibility, they are sufficiently rare and significant to have been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument by Historic England. 

I've written about cementation furnaces before, notably the complete and largely intact one on Doncaster Street, which is the only surviving example in Britain - in their heyday, in the 18th and 19th centuries, there were more than 200 in Sheffield alone. The Hoyle Street / Meadow Street / Doncaster Street site on the corner of which it sits is still abandoned with work barely begun, which may be a blessing.

Building work progresses in other parts of Netherthorpe / Shalesmoor though.

This is the site of the Queens Hotel (Ward's Fine Malt Ales) and the Robert Neil works on Scotland Street
Fortuitously taken from exactly the same angle. An urban exploration from 2016 (just two years after its closure) yields some poignant images of the pub's interior.

Here's an undated photo from the Sheffield History Forum of both buildings in better days:

And further on down the road, the 1854 'Nicholson Building' is clearly being gutted, extended and destined to be gritty post-industrial apartments. Is there a term for eviscerating a building and rebuilding behind its original facade?
Of course it's good that a fine facade like this is retained. This is clearly an area in transition, as Kelham Island's gentrification edges outwards, with a fascinating mix of working businesses, derelict sites and swish new builds and conversions, often next door to one another.

Ogley Bros, for example, manufacturers and distributors of metal products including 'steam trapping equipment' don't look at first glance to be prospering - but a second glance reveals a brand new lorry, suggesting business is alive and well.

Anyway, back to the Bower Spring furnaces. Given how overgrown they are this must be the absolute worst time of year to try to view them - although it wouldn't be easy at any time.
As usual, I snuck around the back as well:
The Sheffield History Forum has an earlier photograph - possibly dating from the time the furnaces were excavated - from a now defunct website.
Which shows what's beneath this:
I did this walk on Tuesday August 3rd 2021, and with a bit of meandering made it a round trip of 2.85 miles.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Ecclesall Bierlow Poor Law Union offices and Workhouse

The Workhouse in the distance - now a gated community of a different kind
I put this one off for a while after picking it (rather like the Big Day Out to Ladybank) as it was a relatively long walk - in the end I made it a round trip of seven miles, nicely broken by a cup of tea and a chat with a friend in Nether Edge, and Saturday June 12th was a perfect sunny day for it.

Workhouses were built across the country following the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 (and I could have told you that date without looking it up) which ended 'outdoor relief' - i.e. the provision of parish funds or food to people in their own homes, forcing the destitute into the workhouse instead.  The Act was based on the principle of 'less eligibility' - the idea that claiming parish relief should be the absolutely worst thing short of starvation, lest a life on benefits otherwise prove too attractive to the lazy and indolent.

The Ecclesall Bierlow Workhouse Union was founded in 1837, and purchased the land for the Workhouse in 1839. It was built in 1841-2 (according to Pevsner) and opened in 1844, the architect being William Flockton. It was expanded considerably over the following decades, with the  addition of an infirmary, an asylum, a school and 'casual' or vagrants wards, where a (wooden plank) bed for the night could be bought for the price of nine hours hard labour.

The Workhouse was built on Cherry Tree Lane, but later gave its name to Union Road. Opposite the Workhouse are the Ecclesall Bierlow Poor Law Union Offices, built in 1902 (and yes, Holmes and Watson really were a firm of Sheffield architects).

The Poor Law Union Offices
Both buildings are now flats; from 1929 until the end of the 20th century, the Workhouse buildings were in use as Nether Edge Hospital.

There is an interesting history and lots of old photos here, and they have also published an account of a visit in 1896 by a Sheffield surgeon, whioch is well worth a read.

Monday, 24 May 2021

What's this? A boat?

Still afloat! Hooray!
 Yes! We went to Alvecote on Saturday - with some trepidation - to check on Chertsey. Given that Jim was last there in November, clothing her up with Aaron, and I last saw my precious boat some time in 2019 (later than August? Maybe. But only maybe) - our trepidation was understandable, but largely unfounded. 

The cloths were all still securely fixed, and it was very dry in both the hold and the back cabin, with no more than three or four inches of water in the back end. Given how much it has rained, this is testament to some really excellent clothing up. 

Where the neglect is showing is in the paintwork. The slides (wooden runners and tops covered in galvanised sheet) are in a pretty poor state; the wooden handrails likewise need fairly urgent attention, and the cabin top is horribly flaky. This last was done only a couple of years ago, but the (highly recommended) paint, whose name, perhaps fortunately I can't recall, has been very disappointing. It went dull and faded almost immediately and is now flaking badly. All Chertsey's 'red oxide' when we first applied it in 2010 was Leyland's gloss red oxide; fabulous paint - exactly the right colour, easy to apply and very durable, and not even expensive. The inside of the hull is still looking great ten years later. So naturally they stopped making it.

The starboad cabin side (in the photo) isn't too bad but the other side (which wherever we moor always seems to get the sun) is much worse. It will have to be satisfied however with a light rub and a varnish, while the other bits are going to have to be done properly. That, however, is a bit further into the future.

Immediate plans (for next weekend, in fact) are to get a new translucent sheet on (they seem to have a life of a couple of years) so that we can see what we're doing, then give it a bloody good clean and clean the water tanks. Then we can maybe check the engine and inspect the diesel (more trepidation), and make more detailed plans for the painting. Small steps ...

I have a week booked off at the beginning of July, and have vaguely pencilled in a trip up the Ashby. You may be getting a strong sense of deja vu here, as the times we have planned and then aborted a trip up the Ashby are without number.

Our new neighbour behind the pub is Lancing, a boat which I had a little steer of in 2009. It looks very different now, and has lost both its PD2 and its licenced bar. I'm not sure which is the greater impoverishment.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Collegiate Hall

My most recent walk (I still have a couple in reserve to write up) took me back to Broomhall, seeking Collegiate Hall, on the corner of Collegiate Crescent and Ecclesall Road. This is very much Sheffield Hallam territory, and I got a serious case of campus envy strolling past their collection of handsome stone villas connected by paths winding through lawns.

As an aside, I get the impression that Hallam have a much better record with buildings than we (University of Sheffield) do. For example. We demolished this

photo credit
to build this - runner up for the Carbuncle Cup (and it wuz robbed)
photo credit - creative commons
Whereas Hallam took over and restored the abandoned and rapidly declining Head Post Office for their Sheffield Institute of Art
photo: SHU
Anyway, I digress. Also part of Hallam's Collegiate Campus is the former Anglican Sheffield Collegiate School, and Collegiate Hall began life in 1837 as the headmaster's house (probably, Pevsner says, designed by J.G. Weightman, who was responsible for the school, 'in a very convincing Tudor' style). When the school became a teacher training college, additions were made in the form of 'substantial stone blocks' either side, in 1906 (by our friends Gibbs and Flockton) to create halls of residence, further expanded in 1911 by the City Architect (teacher training colleges owned by the local authority; what a quaint idea).

The building as it stands today is very large, and I wasn't readily able to identify the original house within it. I did stroll insouciantly into the grounds (well, it's all HE isn't it) but as they were deserted I didn't want to make myself additionally conspicuous, so I contented myself with walking half way around and exiting on Broomgrove Road before making my way home.

This was a 3.8 mile walk, on Thursday May 6th around 4-5pm, mostly sunny but with a cold breeze, and a shower towards the end, and I saw 8 discarded masks.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Camellia and magnolia

I think. 

A tree and a bush in gorgeous flower on my way back from Broomgrove Terrace. Pretty sure this is a magnolia (although far removed rom the insipid paint colour we associate with the name)

I'm fairly (albeit slightly less) confident that this is a camellia
The intriguing thing was that the stripy flowers really did seem to be on the same bush as the plain pink ones. Is this a possibility, or was I just failing to see the join?

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Broomgrove Terrace, Broomhall

I had always thought of Broomhall (as opposed to Broomhill, where I used to live) as the slightly insalubrious area behind the office; thatks to Pevsner, I now know that it actually encompasses the Botanical Gardens, and began life as an estate of middle and upper-middle class housing, including some very fine large houses, in the early to mid nineteenth century.

This was in one way an ideal Pevsner walk, taking me to a not very remarkable building in the suburbs which I would not otherwise have noticed. That's one of the joys of this approach; the taking notice of the not otherwise noteworthy.

Broomgrove Terrace warrants a scant sentence on p. 261: 'Numerous pleasant mid-C19 houses on the s side of Clarkehouse Road. Further w, Nos. 61-67 Broomgrove Terrace are a group of four Italianate Houses, C1844 with shared doorcases.' 

Once again, I was sufficiently familiar with the territory to set off without map or satnav to Clarkehouse Road, and identified nos. 61-67 without much difficulty.

Just as the view of Barclays Bank was obscured by street signs and a tram wire pole (perhaps those things have a special name?), again here some traffic lights and a parking restrictions sign hampered the view of the front of the houses, behind their relatively neat privet hedges. You can just about see those shared doorcases. At least one of the houses (and probably all) is student accommodation; this whole area is very much the territory of Sheffield Hallam, surrounding their Collegiate Campus. This was actually the first part of Sheffield I ever visited, as I had an interview at Hallam some time before the one that landed me the job at Sheffield ('Uni of' as our students appear to call it to distinguish it from our post-92 citymate).

I couldn't walk all the way around the terrace, but managed to capture the back and one flank
complete with coal hole and decorative cast iron grilles, and this window which I rather liked
I did this walk on Sunday 18th of April, which was a lovely bright morning. I took a roundabout walk through three different parks, making a total round trip of 3.65 miles, in the course of which I saw nine discarded masks.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Barclays Bank, Glossop Road

Occupying another of those acute corner sites, the Birmingham District and Counties Banking Co. set up shop in Sheffield in 1907. If you have not heard of the Birmingham District and Counties Banking Co., this is probably because less than ten years later, in 1916, they were taken over by Barclays Bank. This building on Glossop Road was still a branch of Barclays when Pevsner was published in 2004.
When I visited on April 17th, it was a defunct hairdressers, and looking slightly the worse for wear.
However, there were signs of life round the back, so hopefully that portends new tenants and a new use.
My first guess would have been an another eaterie of some kind, but I didn't notice a planning application (might have been and gone of course in all the months I didn't set foot near the city centre).

Pevsner notes that the building originally housed the bank, plus three additional shops, in the plainer part of the building. These 1985 photos from Picture Sheffield (an excellent online photo archive held by the City Council) suggest that by then it was all in use by Barclays.

So, some little details that I spotted:

The carved wooden frames in the mullioned windows around the back
Some lovely stonework
Some of it suffering the depradations of time, weather and above all, pollution
but generally holding up well
Pevsner (p. 129) says that the bank was designed by Gibbs and Flockton, names - Flockton in particular - that crop up very frequently. It turns out that there were three generations of Flocktons, working over the years in various partnerships, as part of a complicated and incestuous web of family firms and partnerships working in Sheffield. Given time, I might disentangle them. This Flockton would have been the youngest of three generations, Charles Burrows, whose father Thomas had worked as an assistant to George Gilbert Scott of St Pancras Midland Grand Hotel fame. Mostly though it seems that Sheffield's significant architects mainly trained and worked within Sheffield.

I couldn't make out whose sign the traces of remained here

Hidden along the redbrick back of the building
was my very favourite little detail:
Perhaps originally where the manager lived? A lovely little bit of (slightly inexpert) old signwriting directly onto the brick by the (more modern) doorbell.