Category Archives: Sheffield’s Heritage

Tram tracks revealed

Tram tracks, Fargate and Leopold Street, Sheffield (2023) © John Binns

When Sheffield City Council abandoned its first-generation tram system in the 1950s, most of the redundant trackwork was simply covered with tarmac and forgotten.  At that time there was no value in uprooting the rails for scrap.

Ever since, workmen digging holes in main roads across the city have been repeatedly confronted by heavy steel girders blocking their way.

There was a recent flurry of media interest in Sheffield when most of the delta junction which connected the tracks along Fargate, Pinstone Street and Leopold Street came to light in the course of alterations to the pedestrianised area around the Town Hall.

People queued up to take photographs of the rusting rails, and BBC Look North and the Sheffield Star ran features on this 63-year-old piece of urban archaeology. 

Interviewees were sorry to see the tracks cut up, and wondered why they couldn’t be preserved for their heritage value:  Calls to preserve heritage as historic Sheffield tram tracks torn out for Fargate development (

Actually, that’s already happened.  Tram tracks found in the course of pedestrianising The Moor at the start of the 1980s were included in the landscaping, with immediately recognisable planters representing the lower-deck fronts of two standard Sheffield double deckers:  Searching Picture Sheffield.  These have now vanished.

In Firth Park, when a roundabout was constructed in the 1950s at the bottom of Bellhouse Road and Sicey Avenue, the trams continued to run directly through the road junction for the few years that remained before buses took over.  The tram tracks still slice through the roundabout after six decades’ disuse.

Firth Park, Sheffield: roundabout and tram tracks (2023)

This isn’t simply a Sheffield eccentricity.  Stretches of recovered track, and often the associated stone setts, are preserved in such cities as Birmingham, Bristol and Chester.

The Fargate discovery is old news.  A history forum stream dated 2008-2011 reported numerous excavated tracks across the city:  Tram Tracks on the Moor – Sheffield Buses, Trams and Trains – Sheffield History – Sheffield Memories.

Sheffield was one of the last British cities to eliminate tram services, yet though you have to be pushing seventy years of age even to remember these tracks being used, the nostalgia for the city’s cream and blue four-wheelers is powerful and, it seems, inheritable by younger generations.

It’s tempting to ask why there can’t be tram-tracks in use along Fargate, Pinstone Street and The Moor, heading to the south of the city, now that city-centre bus services are diverted several hundred yards from the city’s pedestrian thoroughfares.

The new Adelphi

Adelphi Cinema, Attercliffe, Sheffield: balcony plasterwork (1982)
Adelphi Cinema, Attercliffe: balcony (2023) [© Dan Bultin]

Sheffield has only two listed cinema buildings, both coincidentally opened in 1920 – the Abbeydale Picture House, designed as a multi-purpose entertainment venue with a full theatre stage, a ballroom, a billiard saloon and a café, and the Adelphi, Attercliffe, a straightforward silent-movie house which at the time of listing in 1996 was largely intact inside and out.

At present the Abbeydale is in a state of limbo.  Problems with the auditorium ceiling have led to a legal stand-off between the landlord and the lessee which needs to be resolved to safeguard the integrity of the building and enable a full restoration to take place.

There has been a flurry of media attention about the Adelphi, which was purchased by Sheffield City Council in March 2023 for refurbishment as a mixed-use cultural space, much needed for the revival and transformation of the local community. The Adelphi is on the market, with a promise of Levelling Up funding to make it once again “occupiable”:  Levelling Up: Adelphi Cinema in Attercliffe out to market (

A very attractive CGI image shows what the interior might look like after refurbishment, yet nowhere in the media coverage is there any indication that the original 1920 decoration has completely disappeared.

Other images showing the auditorium in its current state are a bleak contrast to how it looked at the time it was surveyed for listing, with “pilasters, segment-arched panelled ceiling and [a] moulded proscenium arch with [a] central crest flanked by torches [and a] U-shaped gallery with [a] latticework plaster front”.  The original scheme was delicate and light:  Searching Picture SheffieldSearching Picture Sheffield.

The listing inspector observed that “cinemas dating from this period, between 1918 and the introduction of sound in the early 1930s, are comparatively rare”.

What happened? 

I e-mailed a city councillor who will be in a position to know (or find out) but I’ve so far received no response.

I photographed the interior in 1982 when it was a bingo club and again in 1990 when it was unoccupied.  At the time the entire auditorium was bristling with classical plaster decoration designed by the architect William Carter Fenton (1861-1950;  Lord Mayor 1922).

A cluster of urban-explorer reports in 2011 suggests that conversion to a night-club was largely respectful of the building’s listed status, despite the need for structural alterations.

The building was sold for storage use in 2013 and at some point the plasterwork was stripped out.

Recent images show a bleak space that looks nothing like a 1920s cinema.  The CGI image represents an admirable exercise in making the best of a bad job, apart from the puny chandeliers.

Maybe there was a legitimate reason to take down the plasterwork:  perhaps it was unstable and might have injured someone.  Maybe the owner at the time discussed the matter with the Council planning authority, but I’ve never heard any public mention of alterations in the years after the listing.

Though the Adelphi deserves to retain its Grade II listing because its fine exterior survives intact, it now bears no comparison with the Abbeydale, and there are other Sheffield cinemas with surviving interior features which haven’t been considered for protection:

And if the stripping of the auditorium plasterwork was unauthorised, should there not be consequences for a flagrant disregard of the laws about listed buildings?

Zion Graveyard 4

Zion Congregational Church and Sabbath School, Attercliffe, Sheffield (1978)

When I went looking for the site of the Zion Congregational Church in 2017 while reconnoitring my Heritage Open Days Walk Round Attercliffe, all that could be seen through the boundary fence was a twelve-foot-high jungle.

Coincidentally, that was the summer when the group that maintains the undenominational Upper Wincobank Chapel came looking for the burial place of the Chapel’s founder, Mary Ann Rawson (1801-1887). 

It took a great deal of work to locate her family tomb, and the group resolved to form the Friends of Zion Graveyard, which quickly purchased and restored the site and made it accessible.

I don’t do gardening, so instead I’ve brought visitors to the Graveyard through my Walks Round Attercliffe and Bus Rides Round Attercliffe and busied myself researching the history of the buildings and the generations of worshippers dating back to the end of the eighteenth century.

During the lockdown period the Friends produced a series of interpretation boards – to which I contributed – to fix to the boundaries of the Graveyard.

These make a significant difference to visitors’ understanding, particularly because the images show how much the surroundings have changed since the 1970s:  two of the congregation’s three buildings have been destroyed, along with all of the surrounding housing.

Visitors to the Zion Graveyard can now take away the information and the pictures in a guide-book, The Story of Zion Graveyard Attercliffe:

My dad’s lost opportunity

King Edward VII School, Sheffield

I’ve known for a long time that my dad missed a lifetime opportunity in 1926 at the age of twelve when he was awarded a scholarship to King Edward VII Grammar School, which had a reputation as the best place in Sheffield to gain an education.

King Ted’s, as people called it (and still do), was at the time a fee-paying school where there were social expectations alongside academic opportunities.

My dad’s parents felt compelled to turn the scholarship down because they simply couldn’t afford the incidentals such as uniform and fares and needed their sons to start work at the then school-leaving age of fourteen.

In addition, it was the year of the General Strike and they had five children, with a sixth on the way, and there was no telling which of them might pass scholarships in future.  My granddad was a boilerman in the coke ovens at Tinsley Park, so their finances were precarious.

All this was simply family history of purely personal interest until I came across an obituary for Bill Moore (1911-2008), a celebrated figure in left-wing politics in Yorkshire and beyond, who was said to be the first Attercliffe boy to win a free scholarship to grammar school:

This set me thinking.  King Edward’s was founded in 1905.  If it took seventeen years for a lad from any of the numerous elementary schools in the Lower Don Valley to gain a free grammar-school education, perhaps my dad might have been the second.

I checked the Education Committee minutes and without looking further back than 1920 I discovered that Bill Moore was by no means the first Attercliffe lad to go to King Ted’s.  Between eleven and twenty scholarships were awarded each year from 1920 to 1926, mostly to pupils from schools on the prosperous west side of the city. 

In 1921 William Wild, aged 12 years 3 months, left my alma mater, Huntsman’s Gardens Council School, for King Edward’s on a Close Entrance Scholarship.  His father was a brass foundry manager, so could no doubt afford the tram fare, yet the family lived on Brinsworth Street, two minutes’ walk from Huntsman’s Gardens, in the very heart of the industrial East End – by no means a leafy affluent suburb.

By the time Bill Moore was eligible in the summer of 1923 the system had changed and under his birth name, Enos Leslie Moore, he was awarded a Free Scholarship, “tenable for the period of school life and covering free tuition, the provision of all school amenities and the use, but not the gift, of books” along with a maintenance grant.

He stayed at King Edward’s until 1930 when he won a further scholarship to study history at Oriel College, Oxford.  In 1935, after graduation he joined the Communist Party and engaged in left-wing politics for the rest of his long life.

Bill Moore’s story gives me a perspective of the magnitude of my dad’s loss, and explains why he and my mother were so keen for me to have the opportunity that had been denied them.

For that I have always been profoundly grateful.

A long way from home

Red Decker Tours, Hobart, Tasmania

Walking down the street in the centre of Hobart, Tasmania in 2017 I noticed a red double-deck tourist bus approaching and instantly recognised its destination display, ‘CITY/CIRCULAR’.

The typeface was unmistakably from my home city of Sheffield.

When I checked the vehicle’s history I found that it was indeed from Sheffield, dating from 1973, the year before Sheffield Transport Department merged into South Yorkshire Passenger Transport and the livery changed from the smart azure blue and cream to a more insipid coffee and cream. Its original identity was no: 299 in the Sheffield fleet, with the UK registration UWA 299L: 298. UWA 298L: Sheffield Transport | Sheffield Transport 298… | Flickr. This had been obscured by its Australian identity as part of Red Decker Tours Hobart Explorer fleet.

Red double-deckers are ubiquitous in locations that lend themselves to hop-on-hop-off city tours, whereas for ordinary services Australian bus operators have traditionally stuck to single-deck vehicles.

I’ve encountered British-style double-deck tourist buses as far away as Brisbane, Philadelphia, Sydney and Tokyo, but it’s never occurred to me to notice their provenance.

Some of these operations take pride in using genuine traditional London red buses, as in Niagara Falls and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Clearly, Red Decker Tours found it practical to import British buses to the Antipodes for the sake of the better view they offer visitors, though their website shop window shows that they now use purpose-built vehicles with panoramic windows as well as open top decks.

Destination art

Sheffield tram blind

I was born in working-class post-war Sheffield to parents who were determined that I would have the educational opportunities that had been denied them between the wars.

They started early, teaching me to read at every opportunity, which included reading the destinations – and the fleet numbers – of the trams that went back and forth along Attercliffe Common outside our house.

The typeface of the blinds that Sheffield Corporation used for both tram and bus destinations is Curwen Sans, developed by the typographer Harold Curwen (1885-1949), and dating from 1912. 

Harold Curwen was taught at the Central School of Arts & Crafts by Edward Johnston (1872-1944) and Eric Gill (1882-1940), respectively the designers of the London Transport Johnston font (1916) and Gill Sans (1928).

Curwen’s lettering is distinctive and I recognised it immediately when some years ago I spotted and afterwards bought a half-size canvas print of a Sheffield tram blind in an antique shop on the Abbeydale Road.

Like Johnston, the Curwen ‘O’ is a circle, as for practical purposes are the ‘C’, ‘G’ and ‘Q’.  The ‘W’ is in fact two overlapping ‘Vs’.  The bar, or middle stroke, of ‘E’ and ‘F’ protrudes, instead of being the same length as or less than those above and below.  Perhaps this is to improve the legibility of a white-on-black sign on the front of an approaching vehicle.

The individual destinations are meticulously composed.  Abbreviations – ‘ST.’ for ‘STREET’ and ‘RD.’ for ‘ROAD’ – are followed by dots.  ‘HILLSBORO’’ has an apostrophe but ‘HUNTERS BAR’ oddly doesn’t.  ‘WOODHOUSE ROAD’, which would only appear in the lower aperture below ‘INTAKE’ above it, has brackets.

Destinations too long to appear as a single line – ‘INTAKE/(ELM TREE)’, ‘CITY/(FITZALAN SQUARE)’ and ‘FOOTBALL/GROUND’ are displayed as two lines which are not of equal height.  The top line is bigger than the bottom, following the typographical convention that the upper half of a line of letters is more noticeable than the bottom.

Even the sequence of destinations is carefully thought out, with displays grouped geographically, clockwise from north to west, to save unnecessary winding of the fiddly handle that turned the blind rollers.

In two well-produced films of the final year of Sheffield trams, tram crews mention the tedium of changing four sets of indicators at each end of a journey:  Sheffield Tram 1960 – Meadowhead to Sheffield Lane Top – YouTube and Sheffield The Last Trams – YouTube.

Nowadays it’s all done by key-taps on a digital display.

Roller blinds are still manufactured, in plastic, primarily for owners of preserved heritage buses and trams:  (2) Replica Blinds by PWC | Facebook.

Complete original rolls change hands for three-figure sums, though cut-up sections framed can cost as little as £10.

Like railway memorabilia – station signs and loco name and number plates – visual mementos of latter-day street-transport have become iconic.

Brown Bayley’s steam wagons

Brown Bayley Steels Ltd, Sentinel steam lorry no 6 (1968)

I’m very grateful to Stephen Johnson for providing me with a copy of his book The Other Mr Brown’s Business:  a short history of the firm of Brown Bayley’s Steel Works Ltd, Sheffield (2021), which is a significant contribution to the history of the Sheffield steel industry.

My granddad was a furnace bricklayer at Brown Bayley’s until shortly after the end of the Second World War, but my memory of the works in the 1950s is the common sight of their steam wagons, forerunners of the modern lorry, chugging around the streets.

The steam wagon like its contemporary, the electric tramcar, occupies the window between the initial superseding of horse power with mechanical traction and the eventual dominance of the internal combustion engine.

They were powerful and relatively fast, capable of 20mph fully loaded, and in their heyday far superior for their purpose to early petrol lorries.

Brown Bayley’s wagons were Sentinel Standard flat-bed lorries, mostly dating from the time of the First World War, bought to transport heavy materials around the company’s extensive Attercliffe steelworks and on occasions used for delivering materials further afield.

A well-documented journey in 1925 transported five-ton lengths of chain in three trips to stabilise the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, taking just over two days each way, with a day to unload at the destination.

The Brown Bayley fleet consisted of at least a dozen vehicles at its maximum, almost all of them registered in Shrewsbury rather than Sheffield or Rotherham by the manufacturer, Sentinel Waggon [sic] Works Ltd.

Brown Bayley’s wagons survived because they were robust and dependable, but they required a two-man crew like a railway steam locomotive, and they took ninety minutes to prepare from cold and used 1½cwt (1,524kg) of coke per shift.

Nevertheless they continued to work until 1970, when the last three were taken out of use.  The remaining wagons were snapped up for preservation by enthusiasts, apart from No 6 (AW 2964) which the Brown Bayley company exhibited at rallies.  It remains on static display at the Riverside Museum, Glasgow.

Others are still going strong, as these YouTube clips illustrate:  What’s the Greatest Machine of the 1930s…the Sentinel Steam Waggon? – YouTubeSentinel/ERF No.9370 ‘Typhoo’ Norwich to Ledbury – YouTube.

Sauce of inspiration

Henderson’s Relish bottle label (2023)

Mark Dawson’s talk ‘A Saucy Tale:  the history of Henderson’s Relish’ is a detailed account of one of Sheffield’s proudest cultural icons, created by a food historian with access to the archive of a traditionally reticent family business.

His presentation is exemplary:  the PowerPoint presentation is immaculate;  the content – replicated in his book of the same title – is comprehensive and entertaining, and though he talks at 100mph you can hear every single word.

Relish, a piquant condiment to meals as well as an ingredient in gravies and sauces, is derived from catchup – later ketchup – which from the late-seventeenth century was made laboriously and expensively by hand until after about a hundred years it was mass-produced to sell to middle- and then working-class markets.

The two most prominent brands were Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce and Goodhall, Backhouse & Co’s Yorkshire Relish, both introduced coincidentally in 1837.

Henry Henderson (1850-1930) was born in Lincolnshire and apprenticed as a miller until he realised that the impact of roller mills in the late-nineteenth century threatened him, as Mark relates, with grinding poverty.

He started a grocery business when he married and moved to Sheffield in 1874 and, like many of his competitors in the north of England, he began to make and sell his own version of Yorkshire relish from his shop on Green Lane, Neepsend.

In 1885, to avoid litigation, he adopted the brand ‘Henderson’s Relish’ for his unique blend of exotic spices – tamarind, cloves, cayenne pepper and garlic – in a vinegar base.  Modern food-labelling regulations make the claim of a secret ingredient ambiguous, but there’s no question that Henderson’s, unlike Lea & Perrins’, does not contain anchovies.

The Hendersons company is a remarkable survivor.  It has always been maintained and sold on as a family business, and it’s never left Sheffield.

Henry Henderson sold up in 1910, enjoyed a twenty-year retirement and left an estate worth, in current values, three-quarters of a million pounds.

The company passed to George Shaw, a Huddersfield jam and pickle manufacturer, who moved Hendersons to Leavygreave and meticulously kept the Sheffield and Huddersfield businesses separate, which reinforced the strong connection between the relish and the city.

In 1940 Shaw’s manager, Charles Hinksman, bought the Sheffield business, formed Hendersons Relish Ltd and enjoyed a boom period after the war.  Mark Dawson calculates that in the early 1950s the factory was producing enough relish for every Sheffield inhabitant to consume half a pint a year.

When Charles died in 1953 his widow Gladys appointed her brother Neville Freeman to the board, and he ran the business with the characteristic pride and obstinacy of Sheffield business traditions. 

“We don’t reckon to be up to date”, he told a news reporter, and admitted that he personally never used the relish.

This was the period when Henderson’s Relish became a Sheffield institution.  It wasn’t sold outside a 25-mile radius of the factory.  “If you mention Henderson’s Relish in Rotherham, they don’t know what you’re talking about,” Neville boasted.  The Sheffield actor Sean Bean bought two gallons of relish on the basis of a false rumour that company was going bust.  Other Sheffield illuminati ranging from the nightclub entrepreneur Peter Stringfellow to Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys and the musician Richard Hawley have eulogised a condiment that used to be practically unknown south of Dronfield.

Mark Dawson characterises Sheffield as “a one-sauce town”.

When Neville died in 1985 his widow Connie brought in her nephew Dr Kenneth Freeman, who reconciled the company to a retail market dominated by major supermarket chains, and faced down the threat of losing the Leavygreave site to university development by opening a brand-new factory on Sheffield Parkway.

The Lewisham MP Jim Dowd caused uproar in 2014 by claiming in the House of Commons that Henderson’s orange label was copied from Lea & Perrins.  He had the grace to apologise and to put in a stint in the packing department when he visited the factory.

Nowadays, it’s cool to use Henderson’s Relish.  The orange labels have occasionally been rested to celebrate the local football teams and Jessica Ennis’s 2012 Olympic gold medal.  The bottle features in the Park Hill musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge.

I’m intrigued that Henderson’s Relish stayed so close to home for so long.  Sheffield is different to the rest of the old West Riding.  When I was interviewed for a job in Ecclesfield in 1973, I was firmly told that “Hartley Brook [the old city boundary] is as wide as the English Channel”.

My distinguished interviewer added, “They’re very conservative round here.  They still return Liberal candidates.”

Not so much nowadays.

Standing at the Sky’s Edge

‘I love you will U marry me’ graffito, Park Hill Flats, Sheffield (2014)

One of the many pleasures of seeing the revised Chris Bush/Richard Hawley drama, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre is that when you walk out at the interval into the bar there through the huge windows – particularly at matinée performances – you see Park Hill Flats, and the horizon behind is Sky Edge.

The play, written by Chris Bush around Richard Hawley’s evocative music, is a tribute to Sheffield – Dan Hayes’ review in The Tribune called it “a musical love letter” – using Park Hill, the landmark 1960s housing development, as a backcloth to the changing fortunes of the city and its people.

Its intricate plot interweaves the lives of three sets of occupants of the same Park Hill flat – a 1960s newly-wed couple, a 1980s family of Liberian refugees and a 2010s London woman seeking a new life up north.

Using the dramatic technique of simultaneous setting, the three narratives overlay in fascinating, pertinent ways.  At one point members of the three families sit at the same dining table, oblivious of any time but their own, and are served meals from the same oven – freshly cooked decades apart, plated up in the kitchen on stage and served with a bottle of Henderson’s Relish.

Newcomers to Park Hill arrive in hope yet don’t necessarily live entirely happily ever after.  The promises on which these streets in the sky were built in the 1960s die unfulfilled.  The bitterness of the 1980s hurts the entire community as the flats begin to decay.  The refurbishment of the largest Grade II* listed building in Europe from 2009 onwards removes the families who remain from the beginning and replaces them with newcomers who are also usurpers.

The script highlights aspects of local culture that resonate with the story of the flats and the city.  The original families moved in alongside their old neighbours to walkways named after the demolished streets of terraces.  A generation later, the working-class tenants who wanted to stay put were evicted.  The story behind the celebrated graffito “I Love You Will U Marry Me” does not end happily:  Sheffield: ‘I Love You Will U Marry Me’ graffiti reinstated – BBC News

I sense that Standing at the Sky’s Edge is becoming a classic which will celebrate Sheffield for future generations, resonating with the way the Park Hill Flats dominate the city’s skyline.  It could achieve national stature as a document of ways our society has changed since the 1960s.

The production transfers to the National Theatre, opening on February 9th 2023.  It will be interesting to see how well it travels.  In the Crucible there was a strong audience reaction to local allusions like Henderson’s Relish (don’t ever compare it to Worcestershire sauce), the rivalry between Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United and the belief that Leeds people are not a patch on Sheffield folk.

Both Richard Hawley and Chris Bush are Sheffield-born, and Richard has customarily named his albums after Sheffield locations – Coles’ Corner (2005), Lady’s Bridge (2007), Truelove’s Gutter (2009).  The title Standing at the Sky’s Edge comes from his 2012 album and identifies the scene of illegal pitch-and-toss activities dominated by Sheffield’s notorious Mooney and Garvin gangs in the 1920s.

The physical locations – Sky Edge, Park Hill and the Crucible Theatre – and Richard Hawley’s outstanding music and lyrics combine to celebrate places and people in a city that doesn’t make a fuss and gets on with life.

Highfield Cocoa and Coffee House

Former Highfield Cocoa & Coffee House, London Road, Sheffield

Some significant historic buildings hide in plain sight, unnoticed and at risk of disappearing without much warning.

It’s a recurring theme in my Demolished Sheffield book that a great many attractive and noteworthy structures are off the radar of listing and conservation planning policies, and need the vigilance of local people to ensure they survive.

I’m grateful, therefore, to Robin Hughes for alerting me to the former Highfield Cocoa and Coffee House on London Road, which is subject to a planning application for its demolition and replacement by an incongruous five-storey structure that intrudes on the surrounding streetscape.

I must have driven past the building thousands of times without even noticing it.  It’s attractive, dignified but reticent, and its historical significance is invisible.

It was built in 1877 to the designs of one of Sheffield’s foremost architectural practices, M E Hadfield & Son, for one of its most generous philanthropists, Frederick Thorpe Mappin (1821-1910), to provide workmen with a safe, comfortable environment to eat, drink and relax before and after their work.

The cocoa houses were in essence pubs with no alcohol, based on the upper-class gentlemen’s clubs that had grown from the coffee houses of the eighteenth century.

The Highfield Cocoa and Coffee House provided food starting with hot breakfasts from 5.00am, non-intoxicating drinks including a pint mug of coffee for one old penny, “the best tobacco and cigars…at the cheapest rate”, and offered billiards, draughts, dominoes, chess and skittles.  Alcohol and gambling were alike strictly prohibited.

The ground floor was occupied by a coffee room, a reading room, a bar and a kitchen.  Above, accessible by a “spacious staircase”, was a second reading room “well supplied with papers”, linking by folding doors to the billiard room with three tables.

The Highfield Cocoa House was the first such establishment in Sheffield when it opened on Monday April 9th 1877 in the presence of almost all the major leaders of Sheffield’s public life, including both Sheffield MPs, John Arthur Roebuck (1802-1879) and A J Mundella (1825-1897), and the MP for Scarborough, Sir Harcourt Johnstone (1829-1916), the Mayor of Sheffield, George Bassett (1818-1886), the Master Cutler, Edward Tozer (c1820-1890), and a whole posse of aldermen, clergy and other gentlemen. 

Mr Roebuck in his speech remarked that “you will not put down intemperance by being intemperate in trying to force upon the people teetotalism”. 

Frederick Thorpe Mappin, before he declared the building open, explained how he and the vicar of St Mary’s Parish Church, Bramall Lane, Rev C E Lamb, had investigated the flourishing cocoa-house movement in Liverpool, Oldham and London to determine the most appropriate model for their scheme.

Within two years the Sheffield Cocoa and Coffee House Company had opened six more cocoa houses with a seventh under construction.

The initial popularity of the Highfield house waned, and it closed on Saturday June 27th 1908.  An illustrated cutting, apparently from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, remarked,–

At the outset the place was a very popular centre – cafés in those days were in the nature of a rarity – but for a long time past the place has worn a somewhat melancholy appearance…

The building was taken over by a confectioner and a shopfitter and remained in use until at least 2008.  The Tramway pub next door was demolished in 2015.

The Hallamshire Historic Buildings’ detailed, informative comment on the 2022-23 planning application to demolish the Cocoa House is here. Nick Roscoe’s illustrated article is here.

Update, April 4th 2023: Vigilant steps by conservation-minded councillors have secured a six-month reprieve for the coffee house: Mappin Coffee House Sheffield: Historic building ‘saved’ from demolition for six months after notice served | The Star. This will safeguard the building – barring accidents – while alternatives to demolition are debated.

However, accidents can happen: Bringing the house down | Mike Higginbottom Interesting Times.