... 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.

Monday, 16 August 2021

The Odeon, Barkers Pool

Not a randon Pevsner walk, but this is in Pevsner (p. 98, where it is described as 'brash'), so ... This was the continuation of my stroll down Division Street to see the Kendal Works.
I had not known this was originally built as a cinema; I knew it only as the retail building it became. It is quite the most ghastly building in all Sheffield (beating even the Diamond).

And yet, and yet. There is still a pang of regret at the thought of it going. Not for aesthetic reasons - not for me, at any rate - but historic. It is an outstanding example of all that was the most egregious in 1980s architecture, and in a few more decades we may be looking to save such examples.

No architectural style is valued in the decades between its newness wearing off and its appreciation by those as yet unborn. Look how the sixties ripped through the Victorian (look, and weep, at Euston); and how we have only recently come to value and appreciate (if not, perhaps, love) the concrete of the fifties and sixties. The day will come when the mirrored glass and primary coloured steel of the eighties is back in fashion, but it will be too late for the Odeon (latterly 'Embrace'), Barkers Pool.

The Gaumont Building, as it will become known in honour of the cinema which the Odeon replaced in 1987, is not being demolished, merely given a 'facelift' so that it can continue to provide redundant retail space, but with a rather (from the artist's impression) fifties look plus living walls (which sound a bit high maintenance/garden bridge to me).

Less actively ugly perhaps, but is it really any more interesting, arresting or worthwhile?

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Kendal Works

Today's random pick took me back to the 'Devonshire Quarter', where I took my first Pevsner trip back in April. 

Pevsner (p.124) describes the Kendal Works as having 'a pedimented front range of c. 1830 and workshop ranges of the usual Sheffield type with a blank rear wall onto Carver Lane and large windows facing the yard. The rear range was probably a grinding hull. In the courtyard is an early c. 20 scissor forge, single storey with a hipped roof, large casement windows and two hearths. Part restored in 2004.'

A 2013 post on the Sheffield History forum suggests that it was in bad shape again by then - but also alerted me to its Grade II listing, which led me to the Historic England website, where I found a more detailed description of the building, along with a photo that showed it as more derelict in 2001 - prior to the restoration Pevsner mentions. I took a photo from the same angle to compare:

The windows, for example, have been replaced.

Like many former industrial buildings in the area, it is now a 'cocktail lounge', although how active or viable a one was hard to judge at eleven on a Sunday morning. It wasn't looking very well cared-for.

After exhausting the photographic possibilities of the Kendal Works I continued down Division Street to Barkers Pool and thence to Pinstone Street, and sort of wished I hadn't ... but that's for another post.

I did this walk on Sunday August 15th, and it totalled 3.7 miles.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Desirable addresses

In the course of landing the four jobs (two fixed term and two open-ended) I've had in HE since 2003, I applied for somewhere in the region of 300, and probably had 20-30 interviews. Once you get to the interview stage you can't help but star to fantasise, and research online, where you might live. 

The one that sticks in my mind was when I had an interview for a Philosophy post of all things, at Manchester Met's Alsager campus. The estate agency website's most attractive offering in the area was at 13 Primitive Street, Mow Cop (presumably named for a Primitive Methodist Chapel).

I was reminded of this by this location spotted near Hillsborough Barracks.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Hillsborough Barracks

A very quick post-work walk, along a familiar and not at all pleasant route. Hillsborough Barracks is situated on the Langsett Road, where I regularly used to walk, and even run, early in the morning. I even knew the distance before I set out, as the far entrance was the marker for my first mile on that route.
As you can see, the site is now a shopping centre.
A very recognisably 1980s shopping centre,
fallen on harder times,
with many empty units. There are a few charity shops, and this formed part of one of my chazzering circuits, taking in the ones at the Barracks followed by those on Hillsborough's main shopping street.

The Barracks was built between 1848 and 1854 and was one of the largest in the country. Military presences were common in cities and one of the reasons for the massive contingent in Sheffield was the Chartist riots of 1839. These began when troops were called in from the earlier barracks at Hillfoot to break up an illegal, but previously peaceful, gathering on August 12th that year. The Chartists were a national movement, calling for democratic reform, including the vote for all men over 21, payment for MPs, the removal of the property qualification (the requirement that someone own property of a certain value to be eligible to stand for parliament), a secret ballot, equally sized constituencies, and annual parliaments. Following the 1839 riots, in which the government forces were seen by many to have over-reacted, Chartist membership and radicalism grew in Sheffield, with frequent demonstrations and real and imagined plots to stage riots and take over the Town Hall. Hence the perceived need for a strong military presence, not only in Sheffield, but in many other industrial towns too, as working men agitated for their political rights.

The turreted building fronting onto the Langsett Road was the officers' quarters and mess, with a chapel at the far end.

One parade ground is now a car park
The other, beyond the stables, has had an enormous Morrisons built on it.
If you look above the ground floor windows in the top photo, you'll see neat black shapes on the stonemwork. A similar phenomenon can be seen on this wall.

These blocks of black haven't been painted on; they're where there was a sign, which was in place when the stonework was cleaned but subsequntly removed. I don't know when the cleaning was done, but prior to then, the buildings - all the buildings - were that colour all over.

With the addtion of a little bit of wandering about, this walk was a fraction over two miles, on Wednesday August 11th.

Friday, 6 August 2021

Heeley Station extra

Paul of Waterways routes has found some more old photos of the station so I thought a second post was in order (incidentally the Chertsey blog's 1600th post).

This photo shows the entrance to the subway

which now looks like this

You can see where the roof of the entrance 'porch' was. And it looks as if the original low wrought iron railing to the right is still there:

Kevin Smith has recently added four photos from 1987 to his Flickr account - starting here and then going back, two of the front and two of the arches (I'm guessing from the non-road side, accessed from behind the station).

But despite all our best efforts, still no photo of the whole of the front of the building from any time between 1901 and 1968!

While I'm here, here are a few more details from that walk.

This is the view from Heeley Bridge, of a rather low River Sheaf - the river that runs in a culvert under the city centre and the Midland Station, and gives the city its name.

Next to the bridge, temporarily fenced off because of what appears to be a small sinkhole in the pavement, is a rather nice information point in the form of a wheel. I only photographed the section pertaining to the station.

It's a step up from your usual interpretation board, and crams in a lot of information; the photo should be big enough to read if you click on it.
In particular it notes that the road was lowered under the railway bridge to accommodate double decker trams, which has exacerbated flooding issues.
I'd previously come across this at Stretton Aqueduct on the A5 (albeit for lorries rather than trams). 

Just before I got to the station I found this ghost of a doorstep or entrance porch on the edge of a fenced off lot.

And finally, for fans of rust and rivets:
And pigeons

The local press have recently been reporting that Heeley Station and the line its on might re-open. I shall not be holding my breath.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Heeley Station

This post starts with a confession: I have driven past this car breakers' on the A61 dozens of times without recognising it for what it was - Heeley Station, built by the Midland Railway in 1901 (and closed by BR in 1968). I had always vaguely assumed it was a former garage. In my defence I can say that I was always driving past, concentrating on other things, and never had the opportunity to step back and look at the whole building.
Because when you do that, it is obviously a railway station. The criss-crossing railway bridges and the embankment extending along the road are also dead giveaways.
Pevsner notes that the station building is 'by the Midland Railway's architect Charles Trubshaw, in his characteristic style. Red brick with plenty of terracotta dressings (now overpainted).'

To be honest, I don't recognise that style, but other aspects were much more familiar from the main Midland Station

Including this, the entrance / exit of the pedestrian subway that ran under the tracks:
Previously bricked up, it was apparently opened up a couple of years ago for inspection / maintenance purposes - although it's only open for a few yards before being completely blocked with concrete. This info is again from the Sheffield History Forum, where there are also photos of the interior.

Not much to be seen round the back of the building - this was one I definitely couldn't circumambulate.

Strangely, I haven't been able to find any photos of the front of the station when it was still in use, prior to 1968. This nice one from Picture Sheffield shows that it became a breakers' yard quite early on - early 1980s? The current encumbents were established in 1987 and have expanded to take over the whole building.
The station's parcel office became a Post Office branch for a time.
This probably wasn't the healthiest walk, as much of it was along the A61. But it was six and a quarter miles of exercise on a pleasant, if slightly muggy, morning, on Wednesday August 4th.


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.