Category Archives: Exploring Attercliffe

Tinsley Tramsheds

Former Tinsley Tramsheds, Sheffield

Former Tinsley Tramsheds, Sheffield

The most substantial remnant of Sheffield’s first-generation tram system is the original depot at Weedon Street, Tinsley, built in 1874 for the Sheffield Tramways Company when it opened its first horse-drawn line.

This very early tramway was founded by the railway contractor Thomas Lightfoot, who also built the Douglas horse-tramway that opened in 1876 and still operates in the Isle of Man.

Tinsley Tram Sheds is possibly the oldest remaining purpose-built tram depot in the UK.

When the Sheffield Corporation took over the horse-tram company, its first electric trams, inaugurated in 1899, ran between Weedon Street and Nether Edge, with a depot at each end, and for the first few years vehicles were maintained and eventually built at the two depots – mechanical parts at Tinsley, bodywork at Nether Edge – until a purpose-built works at Queen’s Road opened in 1905.

A well-made film of a tram-journey from Beauchief to Weedon Street in 1960 ends with Roberts car 523 disappearing into the tramsheds:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0a28Q_78eM  [at 16:45 minutes].

Almost all Sheffield’s trams, including the very last in service and those in the final closing procession in October 1960, ended up at Weedon Street, from where they were towed across the road to Thomas W Ward’s scrapyard.

Sheffield people customarily referred to “tramsheds”, though all of them across the city were substantial brick buildings.  Apart from Tinsley, they have either disappeared or survive only as sad facades.

At one time Tinsley Tramsheds was home to Sheffield’s bus museum, until a schism led to one collection moving out to Aldwarke near Rotherham to become the South Yorkshire Bus Museum and the other, the South Yorkshire Transport Trust, eventually moving to Eastwood in a nearby part of Rotherham.

Little remains of the tram-depot interior:  the tracks, inspection pits and overhead gantries that gave exterior access to trams at upper-deck level have long gone.  The whole of the spacious interior is currently occupied by a tile-depot.

A glass-half-empty report from the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society suggests that the building is deteriorating:  http://hhbs.org.uk/2017/07/01/trams-to-tiles.

Nevertheless, this Grade II-listed relic of transport history, located between the Meadowhall shopping centre and Sheffield’s new Ikea store, close to a retail park and the Sheffield Arena, could be smartened up by a savvy developer.

Cracks in the tarmac of the forecourt show that the track-fan and stone setts survive, at least in part, waiting to be exposed.

The interior is a flexible space with scope for adaptation, and the exterior is capable of restoration as one of the few historic sites remaining in the Lower Don Valley.

Zion Graveyard 2

Zion Sabbath School, Attercliffe, Sheffield

Zion Sabbath School, Attercliffe, Sheffield

The Friends of Zion Graveyard have made great progress since their inauguration last May:  they have secured funds and bought the land from the United Reformed Church, and have continued to clear the graves which had become buried in undergrowth.

In the course of researching the Zion Congregational Church which stood on the site I’ve become fascinated by the history of the congregation, which stretches back almost continuously to the early history of Dissent in Sheffield.

Attercliffe and Carbrook, two of the three villages in the Lower Don Valley, were centres of Puritan and later Dissenting activity from before the Civil War, when Hill Top Chapel was built as a chapel-of-ease to Sheffield Parish Church (now the Anglican Cathedral).

There was a college for training Dissenting clergy at Attercliffe Old Hall in the late seventeenth-century, and informal congregations worshipped in several locations north of Sheffield during the eighteenth century.

A temporary chapel was built on the site that became the Zion Sabbath School in 1793, and a permanent building was erected on the opposite side of what became Zion Lane in 1805.  The existing Sabbath School building dates from 1854, and a fine Romanesque brick chapel with a tower and spire was opened in 1863.  This building was demolished after a fire in June 1987.

The 1863 chapel was founded on the energetic ministry of Rev John Calvert (1832-1922), who was invited to become minister in 1857.

His leadership made Zion Church prominent, until its attendances exceeded any other place of worship in Attercliffe.  Zion members helped to form branch churches in Brightside and Darnall, and a mission church at Baldwin Street, half a mile away.

When Mr Calvert retired to Southport in 1895 he named his house ‘Attercliffe’.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Zion was the largest Congregational community, measured by membership, in Sheffield:  it had four hundred members when the four city-centre chapels had around three hundred each.

To accommodate the Sunday School and young people’s activities, in 1911 the congregation opened an extensive Institute next to the chapel, designed by the Sheffield architects Hemsoll & Chapman, whose best surviving building is Cavendish Buildings on West Street.  When first built, the Institute offered football, cricket, tennis, a gymnasium and a literary and debating section to young members of the congregation.

This vigorous Christian community filled its extensive buildings for only twenty years.  By 1930 the Sabbath School was leased as a printing works, and after the Second World War rooms in the Institute were leased to the Ministry of Works for use by civil-service departments.

Gale-damage in 1962 made the church itself unusable, and services moved next door into the Institute.  Zion Congregational Church closed entirely at the end of 1969 when the congregation amalgamated with Darnall Congregational Church.

Photographic evidence shows that the Institute building was completely demolished by July 1977.

The Church continued to be used as a furniture store until a serious fire on June 22nd 1987 led to its subsequent demolition.

Now only the Sabbath School and the graveyard remain – unobtrusive monuments to a long, proud tradition of Nonconformist worship in north Sheffield.

On Thursday May 24th the Friends of Zion Graveyard present Mike Higginbottom’s talk on Victorian Cemeteries at the Upper Wincobank Chapel, Sheffield.  For further details, please click here.

Zion Graveyard 1

51750-Sheffield-Attercliffe

There’s not a lot left of the vibrant community that existed in Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley until the late 1950s.  Two ancient structures – Carbrook Hall and Hill Top Chapel – survive from the seventeenth century.  There are some twentieth-century buildings, such as Banners Department Store and the former Adelphi Cinema.  Other, less prepossessing buildings have become significant simply because they survived – a number of banks and pubs, two Burton’s tailors, a chapel, a swimming baths and a library.

In a corner behind the remaining shops on Attercliffe Road is a historic discovery.

Parallel to the main road runs Zion Lane, a narrow alley still paved with bricks and stone setts.  It takes its name from the former Zion Congregational Church, a place of worship since 1793, the site ultimately occupied by a grand Romanesque chapel with a tower and spire, opened in 1863.

Inevitably, as the houses were cleared in the 1950s and 1960s the church became unsustainable. The building was sold in 1976 and the church became a furniture store until it burnt down in 1987 and was afterwards demolished.  The Zion Sabbath School across the lane survives as a motor-repair business.

Through all this, in the graveyard behind the church generations of Attercliffe people slept undisturbed.  I photographed it in 1977, and another photographer recorded it in 1994, when it still looked like a burial ground.

Eventually it became a jungle, which still belonged to the United Reformed Church, which needed to divest itself of the responsibility.

A sharp-eyed member of the Upper Wincobank Chapel, a historic independent congregation located a couple of miles away, spotted the sale notice, which led to the formation of the Friends of Zion Graveyard who cleared sufficient clutter to reveal that this place is freighted with historic significance,

With the help of a crowdfunding campaign and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the Friends have bought the graveyard and, in co-operation with its neighbours, made it accessible on specified open days.

Among the graves uncovered and identified are Mark Oakes (died September 19, 1856) – assayer, refiner and crucible maker, John Pearson of Hall Carr House (died January 14th 1877) – whose daughter Martha was assistant organist to Zion Church, buried with his wife and sister in an elaborate grave marked with iron posts and railings, and Jonathan Wood (died October 20th 1848), – owner of Wood’s (or Bridge) Foundry, member of the Zion Church choir, buried with their two infant children in an tomb surrounded by iron railings that were once painted gold, alongside the graves of their daughter Catherine and her husband Frank Barnsley, and two grandchildren, aged one year and two months, close by.

Most important of all, the Friends located the burial vault of the Read family.

Joseph Read (1774-1837) established the Sheffield Smelting Company (which is still in operation as Thessco Ltd) at Royd’s Mill, Washford Bridge, half a mile away from the Zion Church.  He contributed to the cost of building Zion Chapel and his daughters ran the Sunday School.  The family continued to attend Zion after they moved from Royds Mill to Wincobank Hall in 1814

One of Joseph Read’s daughters, Mary Anne Rawson (1801-1887), was a notable anti-slavery campaigner who with her sister Emily Read was a founder-member of the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society and its successor, the Sheffield Ladies Association for the Universal Abolition of Slavery.

Another of his daughters, Elizabeth “Eliza” Read (1803-1851), married William Wilson (1800-1866), a nonconformist Radical who was chairman of the Nottingham Anti-Slavery Committee.

Their son, Henry Joseph Wilson (1833-1914) was the “stern and uncompromising” Liberal MP for Holmfirth (1885-1912).

His teetotal, non-smoking younger brother, John Wycliffe Wilson JP (1836-1921) became Lord Mayor of Sheffield (1902) on condition that alcohol should be banned at the Town Hall during his term.  As Chairman of Sheffield Board of Guardians he instigated the development of cottage homes for orphaned children.

Henry Joseph Wilson’s son, Cecil Henry Wilson (1864-1945) was Labour MP for Attercliffe (1922-1931 and 1935-1944).  Cecil’s sister Dr Helen Mary Wilson was the first woman medical doctor in Sheffield and president of the Sheffield Suffrage Society.

In this nonconformist, Radical, individualistic town, this self-made dynasty is working-class aristocracy and Mary Anne Rawson’s campaigning career entitles her to national recognition.

Their unassuming, long-forgotten burial place deserves to be treasured and celebrated.

It commemorates what made Sheffield.

Chapel of ease

Hill Top Chapel, Attercliffe, Sheffield

Hill Top Chapel, Attercliffe, Sheffield

It’s no accident that the main road through Attercliffe, the industrial east end of Sheffield, is called Attercliffe Common.

Until 1811 it was indeed agricultural common land, where the highwayman Spence Broughton was gibbeted in 1792 near to the scene of his crime.  His name and the location are commemorated in nearby Broughton Lane.

After the enclosure the salubrious country homes and villas of the valley were overrun by steelworks and housing, so that only their names survive in the street-plan – Attercliffe Old and New Halls, Woodbourn Hall and Chippingham House, though part of the Jacobean Carbrook Hall, with its original panelling, plaster ceilings and ghost, survived and still survives as a public house.

Of similar age to Carbrook Hall is another unlikely survival, Hill Top Chapel, a simple Gothic-survival building of 1629, built ostensibly because the journey to Sheffield parish church, now the Cathedral, was said to be impossible in winter.

It was built by subscription, with contributions from William Spencer of Attercliffe Hall and Stephen Bright (1583-1642) of Carbrook Hall.  His younger brother Rev John Bright (1594/5-1643) was vicar of Sheffield from 1635 until the year of his death.  Both of them, like most influential people in Sheffield, were Puritans.

Stephen Bright’s son, John (1619-1688), was an important figure supporting Parliament in the Civil Wars, and politically astute enough to be awarded a baronetcy at the Restoration.  He retired to Badsworth, near Wakefield.

The Brights’ puritan influence remained in Attercliffe, where a dissenting academy was founded in 1686.

The steelmaker Benjamin Huntsman was buried in the Hill Top graveyard in 1776.

The Hill Top Chapel remained the only Anglican place of worship between Sheffield and Rotherham until a new parish church, Christ Church, Attercliffe, was consecrated in 1826. 

By the 1840s the chapel served only for funerals in the surrounding graveyard. 

After Attercliffe Cemetery opened in 1859 alongside Christ Church, even that function declined, yet the chapel and the graveyard survived amid the grimy industrial works and densely packed streets of terraced housing.

The structure was reduced and substantially rebuilt by John Dodsley Webster in 1909.

The exterior featured in the music video of ‘Sensoria’, by the Sheffield group Cabaret Voltaire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2vCpT1H7u0 – made in 1984, an interesting moment of change in the landscape of the Lower Don Valley.

In the late 1990s Hill Top Chapel accommodated an offshoot of the Nine o’Clock Service [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/nine-oclock-church-relaunches-services-1303804.html], which was witnessed by a bemused mystery worshipper from the Ship of Fools website:  http://shipoffools.com/mystery/1998/026Mystery.html.

The building is now used, appropriately, by a Presbyterian congregation that proudly recalls the building’s Puritan heritage:  http://sheffieldpres.org.uk/about-us/hill-top-chapel.

The Sheffield’s Heritage (October 2nd-6th 2017) tour includes a visit to the former industrial East End of Sheffield.  For details, please click here.

The most haunted pub in Sheffield

Carbrook Hall, Sheffield

Carbrook Hall, Sheffield

Some historians suggest that the fact that Attercliffe is mentioned first in the Domesday Survey of 1086 – “Ateclive & Escaveld” – is an indication that Attercliffe was more significant than Sheffield before the building of the Norman castle.

Certainly there was a manor house belonging to the Blunt family by 1176 and this house was rebuilt in 1462 and became Carbrook Hall.

It was purchased by Thomas Bright, lord of the manor of Ecclesall, in the late-sixteenth century and the surviving stone-built wing was built c1620 for Stephen Bright (1583-1642), bailiff of the Earl of Arundel’s Hallamshire estates from 1622 and later lord of the manor of Ecclesall.

Stephen Bright’s son, Sir John (1619-1688) helped co-ordinate the siege of Sheffield Castle in 1644 from the Hall.

The Brights’ Carbrook estate passed repeatedly through the female line, and it seems that later generations let the building from early in the eighteenth century.

The house was more extensive than the surviving remnant:  it was surveyed by William Fairbank in 1777, and E Blore’s engraving in Joseph Hunter’s Hallamshire:  the history and topography of the parish of Sheffield in the county of York (1819) shows an elaborate jettied timber wing and other outbuildings.

There remain two elaborate interiors with fine oak panelling and plasterwork, possibly the work of the same craftsmen who decorated the Little Keep at Bolsover Castle.

The lower room has an oak chimney piece dated 1623 with Corinthian columns and strapwork and a depiction of Wisdom trampling on Ignorance, with scrolls containing mottoes.  A very similar fireplace, originally at Norton House, is now preserved at the Cutlers’ Hall.

The stone fireplace in the upper chamber is stone, and instead of columns features unusual caryatids.  In a nearly circular cartouche is an image of the pelican in her piety.

Carbrook Hall became a public house sometime in the nineteenth century – all surviving photographs show it without the timbered wing – and in that guise it became an unlikely survivor of the days when Attercliffe was rural:  http://www.sheffieldcamra.org.uk/2016/10/heritage-pubs-with-dave-pickersgill-carbrook-hall.

In recent times it has traded on a reputation as “the most haunted pub in Sheffield”, giving rise to investigations and reports that lose nothing in the telling:  http://www.project-reveal.com/carbrook-hall-ghosts/4540202323.

In February 2017 the Carbrook Hall closed as a pub, to the distress of CAMRA and local workers.  The new owner, West Street Leisure, did not at first disclose future plans for the building, beyond saying that its status as a Grade II* listed building would be respected.  Conservationists are concerned that if it stands empty it will be vulnerable to vandalism: [http://www.thestar.co.uk/our-towns-and-cities/sheffield/fight-to-protect-historic-haunted-pub-in-sheffield-passes-first-hurdle-1-8539851].

This rare survival, a fragmentary reminder of the days when Attercliffe Common really was common land and Meadowhall was surrounded by meadows, contains one of the finest historic interiors in the city.

The next chapter in its long history is a transformation into a Starbucks coffee shop: https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/starbucks-drive-thru-plan-for-carbrook-hall-sparks-debate-1-9474416.

The Sheffield’s Heritage (October 2nd-6th 2017) tour includes a visit to the former industrial East End of Sheffield.  For details, please click here.

’Ackydoc

Worksop Road Aqueduct, Sheffield & Tinsley Canal (1977)

Worksop Road Aqueduct, Sheffield & Tinsley Canal (1977)

I’ll journey some distance to hear Mike Spick, the distinguished Sheffield local historian, and indeed I travelled as far as Chesterfield when he gave his Sheffield Canal presentation to the North-East Derbyshire Industrial Archaeological Society.

At the risk of showing disrespect I took issue when Mike referred to the Worksop Road Aqueduct as “T’ackydoc”.  The “t’” may be useful in print, but in Attercliffe dialect it was a pure glottal stop, as in “Weer’s thi dad?”  “Is on ’closet.”

Otherwise I listened to Mike’s presentation with admiration for the accuracy of his account, the richness of his illustrations and his adept use of PowerPoint to animate and explain.

The Sheffield & Tinsley Canal, not quite four miles long, climbs from the River Don at Tinsley, very near to the latter-day M1 viaduct and the much-lamented cooling towers that were demolished in 2008, by a flight of eleven (originally twelve) locks to its terminus on the edge of Sheffield city centre.

For over a century before it was built the nearest navigable waterway was the River Don Navigation at Tinsley;  the next nearest was the River Idle at Bawtry, over twenty miles away.

The canal was financially supported and its route along the south side of the Don Valley was directly influenced by the estate of the Duke of Norfolk, the ground-landlord for much of Sheffield.

To please the Duke a branch canal was built to his Tinsley Park collieries.  The course of the Greenland Arm is now Greenland Road, part of the Sheffield ring-road.

Authorised in 1815, four years after Attercliffe Common was enclosed, the Sheffield Canal opened with much celebration in 1819.

It was the first effective means of breaking Sheffield’s physical isolation, surrounded by seven hills.

Its heyday lasted barely twenty years, until the Sheffield & Rotherham Railway opened in 1839, following (as it still does) the north side of the valley.

For thirty years Sheffield passengers and goods headed east to Retford or north to Rotherham in order to travel south to London.  Only in 1870 did the Midland Railway complete its direct line from Chesterfield, the present-day route via Dronfield that to this day is known to railwaymen as the “New Road”.

The canal continued to serve the city under railway ownership well into the twentieth century.  Indeed, a new warehouse was built, for lack of anywhere else to put it, over the quay in 1896 and is known for obvious reasons as the Straddle Warehouse.

The last commercial cargo went down the canal in 1980.  It never became unnavigable but it was practically derelict by the time the opening scene of The Full Monty was filmed near Bacon Lane in 1997.

Now, as part of the regeneration of the Lower Don Valley, the canal has become almost unrecognisably emparked.  The terminal basin is a marina called Victoria Quays, presumably commemorating the defunct Victoria railway station.  The Quays, like the former station, is out on a limb, not easily accessible from the city centre.

There are hotel boats offering an alternative pied-â-terre to the corporate hotels, and a trip-boat offering “cruising for all occasions”, along the surprisingly silvan Attercliffe Cutting, over ’Ackydoc and down the locks to Tinsley.

In fact, it’s an ideal venue for a birthday party.

The Sheffield’s Heritage (October 2nd-6th 2017) tour includes a visit to the former industrial East End of Sheffield.  For details, please click here.

Benjamin Huntsman

Britannia Inn, Worksop Road, Attercliffe Sheffield (2010)

Britannia Inn, Worksop Road, Attercliffe Sheffield (2010)

Benjamin Huntsman (1704-1776), a Quaker clockmaker from Doncaster, was dissatisfied with the inconsistent quality of the blister steel manufactured in cementation furnaces.  He needed consistent quality in the steel he used for the springs of his timepieces.

He evolved cast steel during the 1740s by melting bars of blister steel in closed fireclay crucibles and went into commercial production in 1751.

Huntsman’s process generated steel of far higher, more consistent quality, but it was expensive.

He moved to the outskirts of Sheffield to be nearer to collieries, first to Handsworth, and then to a larger site at Attercliffe before 1763, by which time he was producing up to ten tons of cast steel a year.

Hunstman did not patent his process and Sheffield cutlers at first refused to use cast steel.  He sold his entire output to French cutlers, and in the face of competition his neighbours surreptitiously spied on his works and stole his expertise.

His business nevertheless prospered and was passed to his son, William Huntsman (1733–1809).

The site of his Attercliffe works was commemorated in the name of the now-demolished Huntsman’s Gardens Schools.

The only remaining reminder on the site now is the cast numerals which form the date 1772 on the Britannia Inn, Worksop Road.

Benjamin Huntsman is buried in the graveyard of Hill Top Chapel, Attercliffe.

The Britannia Inn and Huntsman’s grave at Hill Top Chapel are included in the itinerary of the Sheffield’s Heritage (October 2nd-6th 2017) tour.  For details, please click here.

Steel workers’ resting place 2

Tinsley Park Cemetery, Sheffield

Tinsley Park Cemetery, Sheffield

I’ve known Tinsley Park Cemetery, Sheffield, all my life, because my maternal grandfather and a bevy of Salvation Army aunties and uncles lie there.  When you visit a cemetery for a funeral, or even simply to tend a grave, as my mother and grandmother did when I was little, you don’t take notice of the surroundings.

The cemetery was opened in 1882 by the Attercliffe Burial Board to supplement their earlier cemetery adjoining the burial ground of Christ Church parish church, a Commissioners’ church built in 1826 and demolished after it was ruined in the 1940 Blitz.

In recent years, when I’ve found my way to Tinsley Park Cemetery, I’ve been intrigued by the quality of the architecture of the funeral chapels, a typical pair – one for the Church of England, the other for the Nonconformists – with an archway, a timber loggia, a clock in the gable and twin bell-turrets.  Each of the arches of the carriageway is decorated with angel headstops carrying Biblical mottoes.

The superintendent’s house incorporated a boardroom for meetings.

The cemetery was designed by a local practice, Holmes & Johnson.  Samuel Furness Holmes (1821-1882) was essentially a civil engineer:  he had been a highway surveyor and was Borough Surveyor from 1864 to 1873.

It’s likely therefore that the architectural work was done by his partner, C H Johnson, about whose career and work I’ve so far been able to trace nothing of any substance.

The Burial Board was taken over by the city in 1900, and Tinsley Park Cemetery remains under the care of what is now called Sheffield Bereavement Services:  https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/caresupport/bereavement/cemeteries-directory.html?showdetails=Show&uuid=b11e9afa-d9d8-4ee6-b005-b3ef498370f7&isDirectorySearch=true.  The Anglican chapel is still available for funeral services, while the Nonconformist chapel is a store.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Victorian Cemeteries, please click here.

Reformed chapel

Wesleyan Reform Chapel, Bodmin Street, Attercliffe, Sheffield (1977)

Wesleyan Reform Chapel, Bodmin Street, Attercliffe, Sheffield (1977)

32200 Sheffield Attercliffe

Some buildings stick in the memory for entirely sentimental reasons.  I passed the Wesleyan Reform Chapel, Bodmin Street, Attercliffe, Sheffield every morning in my first five years of schooling.

My Auntie Nellie lived literally next door.  It formed the background to my earliest memories of backyard Bonfire Nights when Uncle Charlie was in charge of the box of matches:  in Coronation year the biggest bang of all came when Auntie Nellie’s new pressure-cooker, inexpertly screwed down, exploded and spattered mushy peas all over the kitchen ceiling.

My latest memory of this thriving temple of Methodism is of my cousin Cathryn singing at a chapel anniversary in the early 1960s.

It’s an austerely attractive, utterly unremarkable building, unlisted, invisible in the Sheffield Local Studies Library index.

Built in 1890, its foundation stones were laid by a star-studded cast of Sheffield’s most important Methodists, such as Jethro and Samson Chambers, Robert Hadfield and Frederick Mappin – all of them men of steel with Attercliffe connections, the latter two later to become baronets.

Its registration for marriages was cancelled because it was no longer used for worship in 1966.

My 1977 image of the building shows the brickwork still encrusted with industrial grime and most of the windows smashed.

No-one would have given tuppence for its chances of survival.

Nowadays it sparkles:  it’s well-maintained;  its windows are renewed and its brickwork is beautifully cleaned.  It serves as the Jamiyat Tableegh ul Islam Mosque.

So historic buildings which are not worth listing can survive if someone finds an appropriate use for them that will justify their upkeep.

Picture palace gathers dust

Former Adelphi Cinema, Attercliffe, Sheffield (1985)

Former Adelphi Cinema, Attercliffe, Sheffield (1985)

When the Victorian Society South Yorkshire Group ran a historic walk of Attercliffe in 2010, one of the buildings they were able to point out was the Adelphi Cinema (1920), one of Sheffield’s two listed cinemas and currently a cause for conservationist concern.

Originally located up a cul-de-sac, it has an interesting façade of buff and blue faience with a stubby little dome, designed to catch the eye.  Now that the surrounding buildings have been cleared, it’s more visible from the main road and forms one of a group of historic buildings alongside the former Attercliffe Baths (1879), the former Attercliffe Library (1894) and one of Attercliffe’s two Burton’s stores.

All these survive alongside the site of the Don Valley Stadium, formerly Brown Bayley’s steelworks, and shortly to be redeveloped:  there seems to be an opportunity waiting to be taken to develop the possibilities of this location.  The Baths and the Library have been converted into rather sterile office and conference facilities, which at least safeguards the fabric, but the Adelphi is more of a problem.

It closed as a cinema in 1967, and operated as a bingo club until well into the 1980s.  There was a project to take advantage of its elegant classical interior as a gay club, and eventually it was transformed into a rock venue.  It’s listed Grade II, which does nothing to keep the rain out.  Though it appears to be in fair condition, it badly needs a sympathetic owner and a way of earning its keep.

Now that the Stadium has gone, the area is largely deserted apart from the patrons of the sad massage parlours up the road.

Yet the Adelphi stands on the main road between Sheffield, Rotherham and the M1 motorway.  There’s no shortage of car-parking.

It’s a possibility waiting to be turned into a practicality.

For details of the Victorian Society South Yorkshire Group’s future events and conservation activities, go to http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/south-yorkshire.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Fun Palaces:  the history and architecture of the entertainment industry please click here.