Praised with faint damns

St Hilda's Church, Shiregreen, Sheffield (December 2011)

St Hilda’s Church, Shiregreen, Sheffield (December 2011)

After I first expressed an interest in the threatened St Hilda’s Church, Shiregreen, Sheffield I was shown the Council for the Care of Churches 2006 report, from which I quoted in Church going, which recommended the building for listing.

I’ve now seen the latest English Heritage advice-report rejecting that recommendation.  The task of an English Heritage inspector is to evaluate the building in the context of its national significance, according to guidelines which are set out at  At the end of these guidelines (p 20) is a comment that “while all listed buildings are of national importance, local factors may sometimes be of significance”.

St Hilda’s failed the tests when it was last inspected in October 2011.  There’s more than a hint of de haut en bas about the inspector’s silky comments.

The architect, Leslie Moore, is described as a “junior partner” to his better-known father-in-law, which he would be, being the son-in-law.  The original design of 1922 had a “strong resemblance” to Temple Moore’s St Mary, Nunthorpe, but the rather different building of 1935-8 is “simplified down” – as if an imitation is preferable to an adaptation while still not quite good enough.

It’s described as a “plain rectangular box”, which it certainly isn’t, “old-fashioned for [its] date”, built of red engineering brick which is “common”, like most of inter-war Sheffield, and the interior, embellished by George Pace, is “austere”.  Ruth Harman and John Minnis clearly thought it merited an illustration in their Pevsner Architectural Guide Sheffield (2004), p 188.

All this suggests that if St Hilda’s has aesthetic worth, it belongs on a local list in “recognition of its architectural or historical importance and its value to the local community” [see–conservation/locallisting-.html].  Somehow, it seems not to have been considered so far as a candidate for the local list.

It’s not for me to assert that the national inspector and the local planners are wrong about St Hilda’s.  I think it’s a memorable, exciting, confident building that could once more be put to good use.  None of those epithets is necessarily a criterion for listing.

It would be peevish to point to listed buildings in the locality that might compare with St Hilda’s, but it is pertinent to point to some of the interesting, attractive and potentially useful structures that Sheffield has lost over the decades when listed-building legislation has existed to protect the built environment – the Britannia Music Hall, Huntsman’s Gardens Schools and the Pavilion Cinema, Attercliffe.

While St Hilda’s stands, there’s a chance of saving it – and it’s worth saving, whether it’s worth listing or not.

One less twentieth-century suburban church makes the others that remain marginally more valuable.

The failed campaign to save St Hilda’s Church, Shiregreen is featured in Demolished Sheffield, a 112-page full colour A4 publication by Mike Higginbottom.

For details please click here.

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