Sheffield Court House
|The Old Town Hall was built in 1807–8 by Charles Watson, and was designed to house not only the Town Trustees but also the Petty and Quarter Sessions. The initial building was a five-bay structure fronting Castle Street, but it was extended in 1833 and again in 1866 by William Flockton (1804-1864) of Sheffield and his partner for the project, Abbott; to cope with the increase in the city’s population (or maybe because they’re all villains in Sheffield) The most prominent feature in the extension was the new central clock tower over a new main entrance that reoriented the building to Waingate. At the same time, the building’s courtrooms were linked by underground passages to the neighbouring Sheffield Police Offices. (blocked) By the 1890s the building had become too small again, and a whole new Town Hall was built on Pinstone Street. That one opened in 1897 around the time that Sheffield was given city status. From then on the building on Waingate became an even larger courthouse and the police court. The law quarter of Sheffield is still based around this area, with the current Law Courts and many solicitors offices in this area too. It remained a courthouse and police court until the late 1990s when Sheffield High Court and Sheffield Crown Court moved to new premises behind the High Street. Since that point, the old Town Hall on Waingate has been derelict – so much so that in 2007 the national charity The Victorian Society placed it on their list of most at-risk buildings in the whole of the UK.|
So 3 years on, and seemingly no change.The last entry in Magistrate’s attendance book
Court No 1 Court No…errr 2? Clocktower Entrance to the cells Somehow we never stumbled across the actual cells
|The present owners have had the old Town Hall since 2004 but it has stood empty since then. It is Grade II listed and was supposed to go to auction in October 2008, but when BBC Radio Sheffield contacted the auctioneers they hadn’t been paid their fees so it wouldn’t be able to go under the hammer. The biggest problem for the Grade II listed building is it’s roof – but as Valerie Bayliss explains, there’s only a limited amount that can be done about it with the building’s owners being out of contact: “A lot of water has got in. We were told that the worst had been stopped with patching, but with another winter coming up we’re very concerned about the state of the building inside. “The City Council is as worried as the Victorian Society. They’ve been in touch with the owner and have been trying to get repairs done, such as patching up the roof, but councils cant get owners to do repairs on Grade II listed buildings themselves. They can do the repairs and send the owners the bill, but that’s about it. “I would encourage Sheffield City Council as strongly as I could to take that course of action with this building; it’s too important to lose. “It’s big, elegant, one of the most important buildings round here, and we should be giving it some TLC.” So what does Valerie see as the future for the Waingate building? “As long as it’s a use which respects the building inside and out and there are people using it I don’t really mind what it is. It would make offices, nightclub, restaurants, a cultural space for lectures and concerts, maybe even apartments – but you’d need a really good imaginative architect for that. “The current economic climate [autumn 2008] might be the worst possible time to say a private developer or a local authority should spend money on this – but what happens if they don’t?…”|
It’d be a real shame if a new use couldn’t be found for this building, but with the even worse economic climate and absentee owners I don’t hold out much hope, just hope it doesn’t detiorate further.
If anybody else visits, please can they keep an eye out for a torch that we lost. Cheers.