Monthly Archives: April 2024

Brightside & Carbrook

Former Brightside & Carbrook Co-operative Society branch, 18/20/22 Page Hall Road, Sheffield

In the late nineteenth century Sheffield, like most places, was dotted with Co-op shops selling food and all kinds of household goods.

Many co-op branches were mundane buildings which, if they survive, are difficult to recognise, but on occasions a society would make an architectural statement in the grimy streets.

The Brightside and Carbrook branch at 18/20/22 Page Hall Road, on the former tram route to Firth Park, remains a particularly spectacular landmark, faced with white faience and an elaborate composition of pilasters, aedicules and festoons. 

Its opulent interiors were photographed at the time of its opening in 1914, when smart assistants and the manager, Alf Sparkes, waited expectantly for the first customers

It served a moderately affluent community with clothing, drapery and haberdashery.  An early image shows that the fascia advertised “clothing & outfitting…boots & shoes…linoleum & carpets…drapery, millinery and costumes”.

A much later image of the frontage dated 1952, showing that the white faience had become distinctly grubby in Sheffield’s polluted atmosphere, advertises “baby linen, ribbons, laces, a millinery showroom, ladies’ & childrens’ underwear, furs, corsets, skirts [and] a mantle showroom”.

At the time it closed on June 12th 1965 the front windows advertised “Co-operative furnishing, footwear…outfitting [and] drapery”.

Since then the building has been used as Patnick’s Junk Shop (1972), Pope’s DIY superstore (1993), Khawaja & Sons Halal Supermarket and presently the Hamza Supermarket.

It was listed Grade II in 1995.

Across the road is a less regarded building, 25 Page Hall Road, which has an inscription ‘FIRTH PARK COLISEUM’ and the date 1906.  This has prompted overenthusiastic cinema enthusiasts sometimes to speculate that it was a cinema, but in fact it was a rival to the Co-op opposite.

It was owned by the outfitter Mr Samuel Alonzo Peel, who also ran the Emporium and Peel’s Stores in the nearby suburb of Brightside.

He was provoked in May 1915 to issue the following legal notice in the Sheffield newspapers:

It has come to my knowledge that statements have been made to the effect that the above businesses are not in a good financial condition and that I have therefore been compelled to work as a Turner at one of the large firms in Sheffield.  Such a statement is untrue.  When I heard of the shortage of men (although I have been out of the trade twelve years) I returned to this trade purely from a patriotic motive.  My businesses are financially sound and if I can ascertain who the originators of the above slander are I shall be prepared to take proceedings against them… [Searching Picture Sheffield].

May 1915 is the precise date of the Lusitania riots, which destroyed many German butchers’ businesses in Sheffield and other cities:  Libraries Sheffield: From the Archives: Sheffield and the Lusitania riots of 1915 (shefflibraries.blogspot.com).

According to the information in Picture Sheffield, Mr Peel died in 1925.  His Coliseum survives.  When I first knew it and puzzled over the inscription in the 1970s it was a launderette.  Since 2014 it has been SK Market – Mix Potraviny.  Mix Potraviny is Slovak for “mixed food”.

Castle House

Former Brightside & Carbrook Co-operative Store, Castle House, Sheffield
Former Brightside & Carbrook Co-operative Store, Castle House, Sheffield: main staircase

The “Co-op” was the mainstay of many working-class families, particularly in the north of England, from the mid-nineteenth century until well after the Second World War.  Not only did it provide groceries and greengroceries;  it offered furniture, funerals, clothing, carpets, soap and shoes as well as banking and insurance.  The Co-operative Group remains powerful, but it has lost its proud tradition of cradle-to-grave service to customers who regained the profits of their trading through the dividend, or “divi”.

For historical reasons which were perpetuated by political inertia, there were two co-operative societies in Sheffield, the Brightside & Carbrook and the Sheffield & Ecclesall – the former based in the gritty, working-class east end and the latter serving the more affluent areas to the west.  Geography divided Sheffield’s population in shopping, just as it did in football.  Both co-ops originated in the 1860s.

Everyone remembered their “stores number”, which they gave to the shop assistant for every purchase so that at the end of the year the “divi” reached their membership account.

The Brightside & Carbrook Co-operative Society chose to plant their flagship city-centre store at the south end of Lady’s Bridge on land purchased from the City Council in 1914.

Building operations stalled until 1927, and construction revealed vestiges of the medieval Sheffield Castle, which had been dismantled in the mid-seventeenth century after the end of the Civil War.

The City Stores, a splendid shopping emporium with a lengthy façade stretching from Waingate along Exchange Street, eventually opened in 1929.

The building lasted only eleven years, and was destroyed in the 1940 Blitz. 

After the B&C Co-op gave up the site to the City Council for what became Castle Market it took instead a site at the corner of Castle Street and Angel Street, and initially made do with a single-storey shop opened in 1949.

When building restrictions were eventually relaxed at the end of the 1950s the Society expanded upwards, building the impressive Castle House, designed by George S Hay, the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s chief architect, in collaboration with the CWS interior designer, Stanley Layland.  It cost slightly under a million pounds.

Castle House began trading in 1962 and opened formally in 1964, joining replacements for other bombed-out Sheffield department stores – Walsh’s (1953; reconfigured early 1960s), Roberts Brothers (1954), Cockaynes (1955-56), Atkinsons (1960) and Pauldens (1965), along with the one of the only two Sheffield stores that wasn’t bombed, Cole Brothers, which relocated to Barker’s Pool in 1965.

Of these, the Brightside & Carbrook store expressed a different architectural language to any other building in the city.  The façade, splayed across the street corner, presents a blind wall of Blue Pearl Cornish granite that masked the sales floors on the first and second storeys. 

Within, an elegant spiral main staircase connected the ground floor to each floor, and at the top a mural relief of a cockerel and a fish heralded the restaurant, with an innovative suspended ceiling, and the directors’ lavish board room and executives’ offices.

Castle House stood out from the other postwar city-centre department stores by the quality of its design in the style then known as ‘contemporary’.  It spoke of the optimism of the 1950s and 1960s that life really was better than before the War and that there was no going back to the drudgery and hardship of the interwar period.

Shopping footfall in the city centre inexorably declined from the opening of the Meadowhall Centre in 1990.  The main retail operation at Castle House closed in 2008, followed by the remaining peripheral departments, travel, the Post Office (2011) and latterly the supermarket (2022).  It was listed Grade II in 2009.

Castle House and the adjacent former Horne’s building were repurposed in 2018 by the developer Kollider, though this enterprise hasn’t had a smooth passage:  Is Kommune on the verge of kollapse? – by Victoria Munro (sheffieldtribune.co.uk).

The building is apparently intact but clearly underused.   It still looks excitingly modern, though it’ll soon be sixty years old.  Like all buildings, it needs to earn its keep in a continuing hostile economic environment, yet deserves considerable amounts of TLC.

Indeed, when the Heart of the City development is complete, it’s to be hoped that the desert of decaying buildings and empty spaces between Castle Square and the Victoria Quays, with the Old Town Hall in its centre, will be similarly transformed. 

The longer it’s left, the more difficult it’ll be to rejuvenate.

St Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, Keighley

St Anne’s Roman Catholic Parish Church, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) began his career as an architect in the early 1830s, empowered by two events, the Roman Catholic Relief Act (1829) and his own conversion to Catholicism in 1834, which led him to become the great pioneer of the Gothic Revival in the British Isles and across the world.

John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury (1791-1852) enlisted him to design Catholic churches, monasteries and schools, and Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) hired him to contribute detailed designs to the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster for which he was never in his lifetime accorded adequate credit.

In a short career lasting barely a decade Pugin directed his prodigious artistic talent to provide inexpensive church designs for impoverished congregations alongside opulent commissions for wealthy Catholic patrons.

He was capable of devising simple, dignified parish churches for as little as £3,000, yet when he had access to a generous budget – and when he was footing the bill himself – he spent lavishly and designed richly.

St Anne’s, Keighley is typical of his low-budget commissions, a modest nave with a short chancel and a belfry which fell down during construction and had to be rebuilt.  The current edition of Pevsner’s Buildings of England:  Yorkshire West Riding – Leeds, Bradford and the North (Yale University Press 2009) points out that the simplicity of the lancet windows were “popular among less exacting architects”;  given the chance, Pugin would have insisted on tracery.

The Pevsner volume (p 353) shows an 1843 engraving of the building in its original form – modest, simple, elegant, and instantly recognisable as essentially Pugin.

However, by the end of the nineteenth century the congregation had outgrown the building and the Bradford architect Edward Simpson (1844-1937) turned the place on its axis and more than doubled its floor area in 1907.

Pugin had observed the tradition that worshippers should face east towards Jerusalem, but his chancel became the entrance, and at the west end Simpson added a florid new chancel and a pair of double transepts.  They are clearly by a different hand, yet Simpson shows respect for the original design.  This layout is practical, providing direct entry from North Street, and is visually harmonious.

The interior was extensively beautified in the period 1908-1915.  Pugin’s 1841 east window by Thomas Willement (1786-1871) remains above the entrance doors, and the original altar is now in the Chapel of Our Lady.  The main sanctuary has an imposing high altar and reredos, installed in 1915:  Taking Stock – Catholic Churches of England and Wales (taking-stock.org.uk).

It’s ironic that when a similar rearrangement was proposed at the former St Aidan’s, Small Heath, Birmingham, now All Saints’, in 1998, the Victorian Society strongly objected, until firmly told by the Chancellor of the Consistory Court that worship took precedence over antiquarianism.

St Anne’s amalgamated with the nearby parish of Our Lady Of Victories Keighley in 2016 and it’s apparent from the parish website that the congregation is thriving:  St Anne’s Catholic Church – Priest’s Welcome (stanneskeighley.org.uk).

The parish has a long tradition of welcoming strangers to its community – “…not only the Irish immigrants but later on the Italians, Poles, Slovenians, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Latvians, Czechoslovakians, people from many African countries and most recently Indians from Kerela as well as many migrant workers from Eastern Europe” – and supports socially and economically disadvantaged members of the local community through its charity shop and at the Good Shepherd Centre:  St Anne’s Catholic Church – Good Shepherd Centre (stanneskeighley.org.uk).

Temple Street Methodist Church, Keighley

Temple Street Methodist Church, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Temple Street Methodist Church (1846) is indeed a temple celebrating the growth of Wesleyan Methodism in Keighley in the former West Riding of Yorkshire.

There had been Methodists in the town for just over a hundred years by the time it was built.  A journeyman shoemaker called John Wilkinson formed a small group to meet in his cottage for worship in 1742. 

The tiny congregation rapidly grew to over a hundred, and John Wesley (1703-1791) made his first visit to the town in 1746.  He returned in 1753, 1759 and 1772.  On his last visit, in April 1774, he preached to “our old, upright, loving brethren at Keighley”.

The first purpose-built preaching house opened in 1754 and was enlarged in 1764 and 1777.  It was superseded by the Eden Chapel in 1811, which became a Sunday School when the Temple Street chapel opened, designed to accommodate 1,600 people, in 1846.

At that time the façade looked out across an open space to North Street, the main road, but later its façade was hemmed in by the buildings of Russell Chambers.

This was not the only Methodist presence in Keighley.  The Primitive Methodists began a mission in 1821 and eventually extended to three circuits, and the Wesleyan Protestant Methodists built their Gothic church with its 125-foot spire, the tallest in the town, in c1863.  These were only the most prominent among a scattering of little chapels across the locality.

My friend John who grew up in Haworth in the 1960s remembers Temple Street for the Keighley Grammar School Founder’s Day services and the annual performances of Messiah which, in the local tradition, were in two parts, afternoon and evening, with community hymn-singing in between.  The Messiah events involved choirs of up to three hundred.  Sometimes extra chairs were needed to seat the congregation.

In a surprisingly short time at the end of the 1960s there followed a rapid decline, as the Christian population moved to the outlying suburbs and villages and an Asian population replaced them.  The Methodist congregation formed an ecumenical partnership with the parish church of St Andrew and the chapel was sold to the Borough Council for an intended redevelopment plan that was promptly abandoned when Keighley was transferred to the City of Bradford Metropolitan District in 1974.  In that year the Temple Street Chapel was listed Grade II.

The war-memorial stained-glass windows were transferred to the museum at nearby Cliffe Castle and the magnificent Foster & Andrews organ seems to have disappeared, as fine organs did and sometimes still do.

The oak war-memorial board also disappeared, but was reclaimed in remarkable circumstances in 2015:  Temple Street | Men of Worth.

Temple Street was sold in 1978 and became the Shahjalal Mosque, and remains after all a place of worship.