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Sid Fletchers Blog


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20th Century Architectural tour Sheffield

Posted on 20 October, 2014 at 9:44 Comments comments (115)
hole in the road, castle square , sheffield , sidfletcher , towerblockmetal , c20 yorks, post war , planning , subway,

Gleadless Valley - Park Hills suburban sibling?

Posted on 23 September, 2014 at 8:50 Comments comments (0)
Gleadless Valley, sidfletcher, towerblockmetal, J L Womersley,hemsworth , herdings , Rollestone,Gleadless Valley, 1955-62
(architect – Sheffield City Council Architect’s Department (City Architect – J L Womersley, project architects – D R Paxton, A N Tunley. G M D Elson, J Gray, GA Butcher, R A Shaw, R T Simpson)
                                                            Aerial View Blackstock road
Gleadless Valley was designed and built coincidentally with Park Hill between 1955 and 1962 under the supervision of city architect J.L. Womersley. The 300 acre site located some 2 to 3 miles from the city centre had been rejected before WW2 as unsuitable for building because of the hilly terrain. However, the demand for homes, and changes in architectural approach, made a housing scheme more feasible. Womersley exploited Sheffield's greatest asset - its topography and used it as an opportunity for picturesque planning. In a similar fashion to  his other schemes - he applied his favourite maxim from the 18 Century landscape architect Capability Brown “Flood the valleys , Plant the tops “
One of the  main challenges when designing the scheme was the rolling terrain of the area, An initial slope analysis revealed that nearly 50% of the proposed  residential areas had a slope steeper than one in eight ; reaching 1 in 4 in places. Womersley overcame this by using a diverse range of patio houses, chalet-type housing and blocks of cluster houses which could be varied in design to suit the slope. 
                                   The Valley by Jonathon Wilkinson
The way that the housing was built impressively on the contours of the land and the retention of the ancient woodland is the reason that Gleadless Valley is held in such high esteem. In the immediate post-war period, the Architectural Review were trying to promote an aesthetic of modern architecture was composed into the landscape. It was described at the time by the Council as being “Mediterranean in appearance”, perhaps because of the way the buildings caught the sun as it moved across the valley. It is commonly thought that the 1951 Festival of Britain was the culmination of this  ideal  The composition of Gleadless Valley is always surprising, always related to its natural setting and consisting  of close-up to long-distance views so you can quite clearly understand your position in the environment.
The recent Pevsner Architectural guide suggests that Gleadless Valley vies with Park Hill as Sheffield’s greatest contribution to the post war public housing in Britain. It is a highly successful fusion of two, apparently opposing ideals; high density housing types on small plots versus the garden city.
Essentially Gleadless Valley is the suburban counterpart to its fiercely cosmopolitan brother in the city centre and is often overlooked by many fans of post war architecture and planning in favour of the more urban and centralised schemes
Farmland was bought up by Sheffield City Council by compulsory purchase order The project was planned to accommodate 17000 residents The brief was to provide housing for 17,000 people in three distinct neighbourhoods, Hemsworth, Herdings, and Rollestone (apparently the names were taken from the area’s farms and hamlets for continuity), each having a shopping centre and a primary school. When completed, Hemsworth contained just over 2000 dwellings, Herdings about 750 and Rollestone 1600.
 The area is divided naturally into three parts by Rollestone Wood, a large triangular wedge of woodland and this has influenced the pattern of development.
As a rule, developments built on existing urban sites and those built in ‘virgin’ countryside have differing profiles of historic legibility.
 Those replacing earlier terraced and back-to-back housing tended to involve wholesale clearance and re-landscaping. Removing most physical traces of earlier landscapes, compared with those built across rural landscapes, which were more likely to preserve earlier features, such as mature trees, woodlands and earlier roads.
The best examples of this are to be found within the Newfield Green area, where ancient field boundaries are already marked by the presence of many mature trees
The Meersbrook stream separates Gleadless Valley with north and south-facing slopes on either side, the former having fine views of the city, the latter the Yorkshire/Derbyshire border moorland.
The valley itself and adjoining woodland formed the basis of a footpath system linking the neighbourhoods, shops and schools. Following Radburn principles, separating pedestrians from the road; two underpasses under principal traffic routes, further this aim. 
Two tower block schemes are incorporated into the project, three blocks were built at Herdings at Raeburn Place in 1959. These blocks are built at an altitude of over 660 feet (200 m) and are a significant landmark on the Sheffield skyline. (“Superhuman additions to a new landscape”- John Betjeman – 1961 ) They were among the first tower blocks to be built in Sheffield and were constructed by a London firm because; at the time; no Sheffield contractor felt confident to take on the project. One of the blocks was demolished in the mid 1990s after it was found that it had been built on a fault and was unsafe. The two remaining blocks were refurbished and re-clad in 1998.
 Six more tower blocks were built at Callow Mount, Drive and Place in 1962 at the northern end of Gleadless Valley close to Newfield Green, these too were re-clad and modernised in the late 1990s.
Gleadless Valley, sidfletcher, towerblockmetal, callow mount,
                              The six Point blocks at Callow mount
The natural characteristics of each area formed the basis for the house design and layout. A good deal of research work was apparently carried out in designing the house types suitable for steep slopes, leading to some unconventional (for the time) solutions. The general pattern was a ‘mixed’ development of two storey houses, three storey flats, four and six storey maisonettes and 13 and 15 storey point blocks, at a net average density of about 70 persons to the acre
The houses were designed to cope with the various slope conditions and fell into three broad categories – ‘along the contours’, ‘across the contours’ and ‘irregular contours’ types.’ The contemporary press reported that the experience gained from these designs, and subsequent Ministry of Housing and Local Government sociological surveys, would be invaluable in the development of future sites over similar terrain within the city.
 ‘Along the contours’ dwellings, used where the contours were roughly parallel for a horizontal distance of 80 feet or more, were generally terraced units. Steeper sloped led to the development of the ‘reverse plan’ (colloquially referred as an “upside down” house) with the living rooms at the upper entrance level and bedrooms below.
 Examples of this can be seen in Raeburn Road .
Other designs include flat roofed dwellings with entrances at first floor and garages underneath accessed via the rear as seen at Fleury Place
We had garages under the houses, bearing in mind they were
built into the steep hillside so the area comprising the middle hays did not have room to park on grass verges etc... Also they were all cul de sacs so no speeding motorists either due to the bollards at the end of each one, the view was (is) spectacular stretching over to the moors of the peak district.
‘Across the contours’ dwellings were generally narrow fronted in orders to present the minimum dimension to the slope. Footpath access was employed and, where this became too steep for convenience, the terraces were staggered, allowing footpaths to run diagonally across the contours.
Seen on the east of Blackstock road  
GleadlessVAlley, J L Womersley, sidfletcher, towerblockmetal,
Gleadless Valley, sidfletcher, towerblockmetal, Gleadless Valley,
‘Irregular contour’ houses were used on sites where irregular slopes and curves made the use of terraced dwellings difficult. 
There are several deck access blocks providing entry at different hillside levels.
These can be best viewed towards the bottom end of Gleadless Road
The team also developed a three storey cruciform block, with segments, which could be set at different levels to avoid excessive under building.
                                                                               Plan of cruciform block
Spotswood Mount Housing
These striking two storey patio houses with living rooms on the first floor are built on a 1:5 slope with an enclosed patio garden between each house. These look over the roof of the house below providing unobstructed views across the valley. Access to the lower houses is by steps and ramps
Gleadless valley, spotswood Mount, sidfletcher, towerblockemetal,
Perspective view of Spotswood Mount houses
Floor plans of Spotswood Mount houses
Gleadless Valley sports 2 post war churches 
Holy Cross Church, Spotswood Mount, 1964-65
(architect – Braddock & Martin Smith)
Now somewhat semi iconic as the the backdrop to Warp films “This is England 86” - It is dramatically sited, the church has a canted east front, broadly triangular in shape with a concrete central column rising to form a cross. The interior is lit by rooflights and is plain white. It is dominated by a very striking full height stained glass window by John Baker, made at the Whitefriars Studio - with immensely tall figures of the Virgin Mary and St John with their traditional symbols, and a crown of thorns above them. There is a chunky rough-hewn font on one side of the altar balanced by a wood pulpit on the other. The silver cross is by David Mellor.
The other church is the Gleadless Valley Methodist Church, Blackstock Road with its very Functional tower of 4 brick piers topped with a cross
Derby Place
. 1978-80(architect - Sheffield City Council, Planning & Design (John Taylor & Peter Jackson) 
These three-storey stepped profile blocks were built further up the south facing slope long after the main estate was finished. They were the second iteration of this type of development, the first being in Netherthorpe a couple of years earlier. Designed to house elderly people live on the top two floors, the ground floor was reserved for families who could enjoy private gardens. There are also flats similar to this off Fleury Road
Ok Ok this one isn't from Derby Place but you get the idea...
The flats are deck access and have extensively glazed facades articulated by projecting greenhouse porches and rain spouts carried on slim timber brackets. The ‘organic’ feel of the buildings is enhanced by the massive baulks of timber used to support the ends of the decks, by the planters of rough creosoted timber used to line them, and by the low-pitched roofs.
These blocks are different form their predecessors in ensuring that each level has its own access by means of bridges – to give the impression perhaps that the residents are not living in a block of flats but in bungalows that happen to be on top of one another. 
There are similar blocks in Stannington and they were some of the last deck access flats to be built, at last achieving at last the humane approach to housing that the Smithsons, amongst many others, believed such planning could provide.
A private development in the Rollestone area is Paxton Court - a group of 10 energy efficient buildings built in 1984 by Cedric Green
There no getting away from the fact that unfortunately nowadays that Gleadless Valley has the significant elements of a sink estate; with high levels of poor health and deprivation against a backdrop of limited occupational outlet and economic opportunity.
The mere mention of the estate will usually conjure exaggerated imagery and opinion regarding anti social behaviour, benefit dependents and criminality in the minds of those who have no connection or have never visited the estate. For those living on the estate, and with the generous help of the media, this can easily evolve into a self fulfilling prophecy. The residents, closely followed by the architects/ planners, are usually the first to be blamed for such sociological problems. I’m glad to note that there now appear to be several community groups fighting back against such prejudicial thoughts
Gleadless Valley (PDF — 3 MB)
Bibliography and acknowledgements
Ian McInnis and Sid Fletcher – C20 2012 AGM Sheffield tour
Sheffield Pevsner Architectural Guide- Ruth Harman / John Minnis

Ashfield Valley Flats Rochdale

Posted on 18 September, 2014 at 16:53 Comments comments (0)
                           ASHFIELD VALLEY FLATS ROCHDALE    
Like many other estates built by local authorities to meet an increased housing demand back in the heady 1960s, the design ethic of Ashfield Valley was heavily influenced by French architect Le Corbusier and his utopian notion of "Streets in the Sky" - where deck access blocks of tenancies, interconnected by walkways would substitute and mimic traditional terraced streets- the idea being that community spirit and identity would be maintained and embraced - an aspect of life that traditional tower blocks were starting to become criticised for lacking;

 For its time Ashfield Valley was an ambitious project  - 1014  flats divided into 26 alphabetically named blocks. The cost for the initial build  was £3,100,00: Cruden  emp
loyed the Scandanavian industrialised building system known as "Skarne" utilising pre cast concrete slabs:
The estate  became known locally as "The Valley"

The flats went up;  becoming available  50 tenancies at a time which were readily snapped up , the building of the estate was completed in 1969 . ...unfortunately the facilities and amenities that are essentially required to service the needs of over 1000 tenancies didn't follow and the project rapidly fell in somewhat of a decline - the estate started to become scapegoated by most Rochdalians .   The Valley was viewed as a dumping ground. This perception was strongly reflected in the local media at the time and even years after its demolition (see Article)  the myth of the lawlessness of the Valley lived on



 Despite some attempts to improve it that were deemed as too little too late, a strong community spirit and hints of a distinct counterculture developing -The death knell for the Valley was inevitable and  the bulldozers moved in - essentially it had become Rochdale's ghetto and to most people who'd probably never ever been to the place, a symbol of all the failings of post war governments 

The 3 smallest blocks of the Valley (J, K and L) remain - they have since been renamed

I never actually lived on the Valley; ironically despite the local myth that "anybody could get a flat on the "Valley"  - the council refused me a transfer there!-  but  I spent at lot of time in the flats in the years towards its demise and during the start of its demolition ( Urbexing years before  it was trendy eh!)  - its abundantly   clear from comments on  its FaceBook page that despite its many problems a great number of people enjoyed their life on the Valley;  and look back on it with fond memories

There have been several documentaries and books written about the Valley 
Xanadu" by Simon Armitage
"Rule of night" by Trevor Hoyle  think ClockworkOrange rochdale styley
Housing documentary  Granada 1977
"Heroin- the local connection" 
TV Eye 1984"The English Estate"  film made by community group approx 1986 
"Hardcore Valley"  Granada TV  1990  on YouTube

Hardcore Valley Part 1 - Ashfield Valley Flats, Rochdale Greater Manchester.Granada TV documentary made during the demolition of the infamous Ashfield Valley estate, Rochdale. early 1990s


- Xanadu (Part 1) by Simon Armitage -Ashfield Valley Flats , RochdaleBBC Words on film programme featuring poetry by Simon Armitage- influenced by his work as a probation officer on the Ashfield VAlley estate Rochdale




Moore Street substation - Now Listed

Posted on 24 September, 2013 at 1:59 Comments comments (221)

Gives me great pleasure here at TBM to proudly announce that the Moore street substation, (opposite Waitrose) Sheffield was given Grade 2 listed status last week  by English Heritage 
The landmark building is becoming an increasingly popular favourite amongst Brutalist admirers both locally and nationally 

                         Limited edition print-
A typical TowerBlockMetal take on things

Of course Brutalist Architecture has never sat comfortably with some - Don't they make everyone else aware of it ? Judging by some of the one liners in the Star there's the usual drizzle- I'm sure they'll go into meltdown if ParkHill wins the Stirling prize this Thursday 

Anyhow some great shots here from some lucky Urbexers whom managed to gain access

And for the real Anoraks amongst you here's the notes from English Heiritage describing the Architecture and reasons for listing - not that the drizzlers ever get this far! 

  • Electricity substation. 1968 to designs by consulting architects Jefferson, Sheard and Partners, Sheffield, led by Bryan Jefferson, in association with the Regional Civil Engineers' Department of the CEGB North East Region. Contractors, Longden & Sons Ltd, Sheffield. Reinforced concrete frame with board-marked finish with formwork bolt marks, construction and daywork joints emphasized, concrete floor slabs, blue engineering facing bricks, cladding panels of Cornish granite aggregate.Reasons for DesignationThe electricity substation, Moore Street, Sheffield, of 1968 by Jefferson, Sheard and Partners, led by Bryan Jefferson, in association with the Regional Civil Engineers' Department of CEGB North East Region, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Planning: built in 1968, this substation is highly unusual for its date as due to its prominent urban position in a post-war redevelopment area the transformers and switchgear are enclosed within an architect-designed building, rather than being located in an open-air site surrounded by security fencing as was the usual form for substations of this period; as such it was commended in the Financial Times Architectural Awards of 1968; * Architectural Interest: designed in the Brutalist idiom and described as a 'citadel' at the time of its construction, the substation takes the form of a massive and uncompromising bunker which by its plainness and fully-displayed structure expresses a highly appropriate impression of enormous energy confined and controlled within; * Design: the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the building is clear in the precision of the clean, crisp lines, the scrupulously finished concrete which carries a board-marked finish and formwork bolt marks emphasizing the material's rugged strength, and the placing of the human access in a separate triangular staircase with external walkways, which combine to give the building a dramatic, sculptural quality; * Interior: the same attention to detail apparent in the exterior is displayed in the ancillary personnel area at the south-west end with the simple forms of the internal free-standing concrete staircase and pentagonal mezzanine landing having a fine sculptural form, as do other internal staircases, while in contrast to the human scale of these elements, are the spaces holding the equipment, which are sublime in their cathedral-like size; * Historic Interest: the substation forms a significant and highly visible component of a much wider post-war scheme to revitalise Sheffield's infrastructure and bring it to the vanguard of contemporary thinking on urban environments that had commenced under the guidance of City Architect, J L Womersley, and included a number of Brutalist buildings including the Grade II* Park Hill of 1955-61 based on Le Corbusier's Unite de Habitation, Marseilles.HistoryDuring the 1960s electricity distribution in the City of Sheffield called for the use of a 275 kilovolt cable ring around the city centre with transformer and switching substations on the ring to supply the local Area Board 33kilovolt (kV) system. One such substation was required to be sited near the junction of the Moor and Ecclesall Road, an area which in the 1960s was largely occupied by substandard back-to-back housing and numerous small cutlery factories and was in the process of redevelopment. For amenity reasons, and because of the scarcity and high cost of land needed for a conventional open-air substation layout, it was decided to build an enclosed substation containing transformers, switchgear, and busbars on separate floors. The preferred layout would have been square in plan, but provision of a suitable site would have required the closure of several small factories. Consequently, the Sheffield Planning Officer restricted the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) to an L-shaped area occupied by back-to-back properties already scheduled for demolition.

  • The construction of the substation was due to be carried out in two phases, the first being situated between Moore Street and Hodgson Street and measuring 320 ft (97.5 m) long by 56 ft (17 m) wide, with a corner linking section. Phase 2, forming the other leg of the L, was never built as the increased demand which would have justified its construction did not materialise.

  • Due to the prominent position, and with extensive redevelopment planned, the architectural treatment of the structure was considered important and the CEGB engaged Jefferson, Sheard and Partners of Sheffield and London as architects to work in collaboration with the Board's own regional civil engineer. The design of both wings was dictated by the structural and statutory requirements of the electrical gear to be housed. Each was to have two 90 MVA transformers on the ground floor, one air-blast switchgear installation on the first floor and associated busbars on the second floor, together with associated ancillary equipment. Factors included weight of the plant and specified air clearance distances which had to be maintained between the structure and live equipment and the necessary clearances for the maintenance of equipment. The statutory clearance laid down by CEGB required an uninterrupted space in the transformer chambers of 99 ft (30 m) by 47 ft 9 in (14.5 m) and this dictated the clear span of the structural framing. A reinforced concrete structural frame was chosen over a steel frame because of the heavy floor loads requiring continuous stress distribution from floor to frame, fireproofing requirements, and the mass required to reduce noise. With no windows needed in the main portions of the structure housing the electrical equipment, the opportunity was taken to design a building which was a powerful expression of its purpose. The building gained considerable critical acclaim and was commended in the Financial Times Industrial Architecture Awards in 1968.

  • The building remains in use as an electricity substation. The structure has changed very little in appearance other than the building of a short wall at ground-floor level enclosing the base of the external staircase to prevent it being accessible from the street. The inserted wall uses the same type of blue engineering brick as was originally used for the ground floor. Since October 2010 the building has been floodlit with coloured lighting at night-time with the aim of creating a dramatic artistic focal point on the City's ring road (Hanover Way).DetailsPLAN: long, rectangular building with angled south-west end. Cable basement, two transformers on ground floor, switchgear on first floor, second floor originally for busbars (now empty), with floors linked by external staircase and covered walkways at east corner, some floors linked by internal staircases. Battery room and ancillary personnel areas at south-west end on ground floor and mezzanine floor, internal staircase and lift.

  • EXTERIOR: the substation is situated on the north-west side of Moore Street at the junction with Hanover Way. The Moore Street elevation is of seventeen bays of reinforced concrete portal frames mainly located at 21 ft (6.4m) centres along the length of the building. The first two bays are angled, facing onto a roundabout, and on the first floor the tenth, eleventh and twelfth bays project slightly. Between the ground and first floors is a deep, chamfered floor plate, with projecting, rectangular floor beams at the bay divisions. The floor plate between the first and second floors forms a string band with similarly projecting floor beams, with a similar eaves band. Flaring roof coping panels, which are gapped at the projecting roof beams, produce a castellated effect. At ground-floor level the two angled bays and the third, fourth and fifth bays have spaced concrete vertical slats, behind which is glazing. Those to the third to fifth bays have set-back blue brick infill panels beneath. The remainder of the ground floor has set-back blue brick infill between the portal frames, with the exception of bay eleven, which also has vertical concrete slats. Bays eight to sixteen have projecting low, flat-roofed blocks, which are similarly detailed with concrete portal frames, a deep concrete roof and blue brick infill. There are concrete roof ventilators on the slightly lower block in bays eight to ten. The first floor has horizontal aggregate cladding panels fixed over the concrete portal frames with narrow gaps between the panels. The second floor has similarly spaced cladding panels, which are set-back between the portal frames. At the right-hand end is a free-standing external staircase, now enclosed at ground-floor level by a wall of blue bricks. The staircase is triangular with chamfered corners. It has a triangular, board-marked concrete core with a sloping top which projects above the actual staircase. The flights of concrete steps wrap round the core supported on cantilevered brackets. At ground-floor level the staircase walls are infilled with blue brick, at first-floor level narrow vertical concrete slabs are used, while the three upper flights are glazed with narrow vertical panels of glass. 

  • The north-east end elevation is of two bays with a third, narrower bay cantilevered out at first-floor level. Detailing is similar to the Moore Street elevation, with spaced concrete slats with blue brick infill beneath on the ground floor, horizontal cladding panels overlapping the concrete framing on the first floor and set-back on the second floor. At first and second-floor levels are enclosed cantilevered walkways opening off the external staircase at the left-hand end. Both have concrete floor and roof slabs and are glazed with narrow vertical panels of glass.

  • The south-west end elevation is of a single bay, similarly detailed to the two angled bays which form part of the Moore Street elevation. 

  • The Hodgson Street elevation is of fifteen bays and has similar detailing to the Moore Street elevation, the main difference being that the first floor is cantilevered with large triangular brackets on the portal frames supporting the floor beams. The first floor projects slightly in bays six to eight, mirroring the projecting bays on the Moore Street elevation. The underside of the projecting bays in the Hodgson Street elevation contains a large access hatchway. In bay nine is a projecting semi-circular staircase outshut at ground-floor level, built of blue brick.

  • INTERIOR: On the ground floor are two large, mirror-image transformer rooms separated by a transverse access way. They have high ceilings, designed so that the brickwork, which is here of orange bricks, can be removed from between the concrete portal frames to enable equipment to be inserted/removed. The transformers are set into large pits. On the outside of each transformer room is a room containing cooling equipment, which is open to the Hodgson Street elevation. Opening off the south-west transformer room is the semi-circular staircase, which connects the ground floor with the cable basement and with a self-contained mezzanine level housing a room with air receiver containers and an air compressor room. Concrete flights of steps rise round a slab-like concrete core, with semi-circular landings. Plastic-coated metal handrails are attached to the inner core. At the south-west end of the building is the ancillary personnel area, with a number of rooms opening off an irregular pentagonal circulation area containing a free-standing concrete staircase. Three flights of concrete steps overhanging a central concrete beam are angled round two intermediate landings to form a triangular shape; the landings are supported on circular concrete columns. The swept balustrades are of metal square-section bars with black plastic-coated handrails. On the north-west side is a personnel lift set in a concrete lift shaft and the other walls in this public area are of blue brick, with small, square blue-glazed tiles on the floors and forming a skirting. The doors opening off both the ground floor and mezzanine landing are of narrow vertical boarding set in a wider stile and rail frame. On the north-east side of the lift is a second concrete staircase with metal balustrades rising from the mezzanine level to the first floor. The flights of steps rise round a slab-like concrete core with intermediate semi-circular landings supported on projecting horizontal beams. The first floor is a single open space with switchgear equipment in fenced-off areas. The access hatchway has a pivoting metal hatch. Attached across the width of the concrete ceiling above are a number of rolled steel girders and winches to facilitate the movement of equipment. There is a large rectangular hatch in the ceiling, now covered, through which the switchgear originally linked with the busbars on the second floor. A doorway in the north-east end wall opens into the covered walkway linking to the external staircase. The second floor is presently empty. At the north-east end is a largely free-standing concrete staircase leading up to the roof. The three flights of concrete steps rise between intermediate landings. The lower landing is supported on a circular concrete column and the upper landing rests against the end wall. The metal balustrades are similar to elsewhere. A doorway in the north-east end wall opens into the upper covered walkway linking to the external staircase. The cable basement has shallow concrete troughs for the cables to run in. In the east corner is an internal staircase leading up to a door opening adjacent to the external staircase. 

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the electrical equipment contained within the substation is not of special architectural or historic interest.Selected Sources

C20 tour Sheffield Architectural tour

Posted on 26 June, 2012 at 9:03 Comments comments (0)
Last weekend (Sat 26th and Sun 27th May) saw Sheffield host the AGM of the 20th Century Society 

C20 (as they are colloquially known )  are a dedicated pressure or interest group devoted to the protection of ...well obviously 20th century buildings! ...They've certainly got their work cut out for them here in sunny Sheffield with a plethora of structures to observe, research and possibly protect  -I've made a few friendships with several members over the past couple of years and was both delighted and honored to be asked to lead both a short walking tour of the City Centre and also a coach tour round the outer estates and suburbs. Obviously a far amount of research and planning  had to go into such a project - I've enclosed my notes for the second half off the city centre walking tour - the first half consisted of the usual suspects -  Peace gardens ,City Hall and Cathedral which as much as I like and appreciate - are not really my specialism; this section of the tour starts off from Castle Square 

TowerBlockMetal Tours 

(think Owen Hatherley without the academia !)


There’s tons of this sort of stuff going on these days and everyone seems to be at it – Urban exploring, industrial archaeology, urbanwandering, psychogeography, industrial history, modernist revival,TowerBlocktrainspotting!.

Fact is...I’ve done it for yonks, have always done it and always will continue to do it…..  Not that I’m professing to be an authority on it by any stretch of the imagination; It’s always something I’ve found a very natural thing to do …It’s not a new idea and was first mooted by the Situationists in Europe during WW2 (interestingly enough they influenced a lot of the early punk stuff so hey …no surprises why I’m attracted to it!) 
Anyhow I digress …The Situationists talked about a concept of Derive 

dérive is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, where an individual travels where the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct them with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience.  The term is literally translated into Englishas drift.The dérive, an unplanned tour through an urban landscape directed entirely by the feelings evoked in the individual by their surroundings, served as the primary means for mapping and investigating the psychogeography of these different areas. The need for the dérive is necessitated, according to situationist theory, by the increasingly predictable and monotonous experience of everyday life trudged through every day by workers in advancedcapitalism. The dérive grants a rare instance of pure chance, an opportunity for an utterly new and authentic experience of the different atmospheres and feelings generated by the urban landscape.


If that’s not high brow enough for you… here’s an even poncier version



In its most basic and crudest terms I interpret the derive as

“roaming somewhat aimlessly around the Urban Landscape just taking things in”

Or in my case cruising around Sheffield CityCentre


 – I identify most with that definition without the need for an over academic analysis although I do have to admit it great to read what you’ve passionately done for ages validated in print – Also more recently I’ve been prompted to try and learn more about the urban environment that I’m familiar with; How its been shaped,planned and designed; What works and what doesn’t work about it, What influences how it is

Back to latest offering has been somewhat inspired by this guy-


 Owen Hatherley - author of Militant Modernism and a Guide to the new ruins of Great Britain – he also writes a number of wellreceived blogs...and he LOVES Sheffield – he’s a man after my own heart…


“Sheffield’s post war architecture is often better than London’s, let alone that of any provincialcompetitor” 
  The New Ruins of Great Britain


 I’m somewhatimpressed with Owens research, passion and attention to detail - he argues points brilliantly but to be quite frank …there’s too many big words for me. Pass the dictionary please. Here’s his last outage in Steel city 


And this is where TowerBlockMetal picks up in a 12in remix(Battle Metal Styley)
My intention initially was to really scratch away further at some of the points that Owen touches on but I’ve ended up following my own perspective and direction Writing isn’t my strong point; I only just scraped thru a diploma many years ago so readers will have to grin and bear it.
Throughout this journey  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of social history in such a small area and finally the vast amount of Public Art that’s around that I’ve never acknowledged - (If its that’s good why haven’t you noticed it before eh I hear you saying)

  It’s a bit of a mix of a Psychotic cut n paste plagiarized homage to the joys of Wikipedia,various architectural reference books of mine and many a trawl through some of the online Sheffield forums- a real "mash up" of an   Architectural/ Social history/Public Art /Industrial tour - I don’t profess to be a master at any of those areas but an interested researcher definitely

The Old Town!

I’ve always called this bit of Sheffield “The Old Town”because it reminds me of my home town – Rochdale,and of my upbringing in the 70s. It’s the bit of Sheffield where it feels like  there’s an imaginary Glass Berlinwallor some sort of demarcation zone   dividing the post war East of Sheffield (read poorer people)  from the free thinking more socially mobile  West of Sheffield ..That’s just my theory anyhow but there’s a definite shift in character and class the minute you cross those tramlines at the Cathedral end of Fargate -the whole ambience of this part is the hangover of a heady 1960s town plannersparty – that said and done I DO like the place and feel very much at home there.

World War II wreaked significant destruction of much of the ‘High Street and Castle’ character area and the vast majority of buildings in this area post-date 1945. Bomb damage included the destruction of every building in Angel Street and King Street and much of High Street,including the Marples Hotel where 70 civilians were killed whilst sheltering in its cellars on the night of December 12th 1940.
The area was rebuilt in Modernist style and architecturally is similar to the ‘Civic Circle’character area.

Castle Square/ Hole in t road

Castle Square was originally known as the Market Place (or the Shambles)
Markets had been held on this site from 1296 As stated earlier many buildings in the vicinity of the Market Place were damaged or destroyed on the night of 12 December 1940 when German aircraft bombed Sheffield. The bomb sites were cleared but most remained empty for many years. In 1968 many old streets were cleared to make way for the new Arundel Gate, a dual carriageway road part of the “Civic Circle” that terminated at a large roundaboutbuilt on the former market place. Underneath the roundabout a network of underpasses and shops were built (with a central area open to the sky), this formed a complex that was officially designated Castle Square but became affectionately known locally as "Hole in t' Road" or the Hole in the Road. 

Although considered by many to be a major city landmark,like many constructions of its time, it did not age well and was very dilapidated by the early 1990s. It lasted from 1967 until 1994, allegedly being filled in with the rubble from the recently demolished Hyde Park Flats

There's a very informative piece about the hole in the road here including some great info on the infamous fish tank

Another piece about the filling of the Hole in the road here 

There's a few bits of public art now dotted  around the Supertram  interchange; firstly as Arundel Gate terminates at Castle square you may notice the 4 Griffins

And also the Gothic railings

And lets not forget those Fighting Rams : A gritstone sculpture byJonathon Cox: "Carved in two blocks of stone, the animals charge againsteach other expressing strength and movement." The rough finish of the work adds to the ruggedness

Like many of Sheffield landmarks that are sadly no longer but never forgotten - here it still always pleases me to see Pete McKee's tribute to the yet again "infamous fishtank"

As we leave Castle square perusing about how much Public Art one can take in whilst simultaneously wading through the Greggs wrappers, betting slips and SuperBrew cans - attention is ultimately  drawn to a huge God of Metal  adorning the side of Castle House - there can be no mistake about this  my friends.
You are in Sheffield and this can only be...


 It is with great sadness that I have to inform you Vulcan is made of Fibre Glass ..not Metal 


Castle House  

CastleHouse in Angel Street is a wonderful example of sixties architecture; christened ‘the building of the future’ by a local paper, it was opened on the 13th May 1964. The building is Grade 2 listed 

.The Castle House department store was designed by G. S Hay of the Co-operative Wholesale Society and occupies a large site, with entrances on King Street, Angel Street and Castle Street. The store, which also housed the headquarters of the Brightside and Carbrook, features a massive unsplayed granite facade unbroken by windows.

 Inside, the focus is on a cantilevered spiral staircase connecting all the floors, under a partially glazed dome and a sculpture of a bird.

 Thestairwells of the Castle Street (north) entrance and the Angel Street (west) entrance retain their exciting full-height geometric abstract Carter’s tile murals, although the black and white relief-tiled lift surrounds by LucienMyers have been replaced.


  At ground level in the Angel Street corner is a post office, whose entrance is now host to a First World Warmemorial to Sheffield’s postal workers. The panel, showing a roll of honour between two classical columns, was moved from a nearby post office due to its closure in 1999. It was made by a local firm,Robertson & Russell, from an apparently ceramic material called morsatile;its opus sectile-like sheen and curving, cut forms suggest it contains some glass. The firm produced several other morsatile war memorials for localchurches during 1920-1, including the example still extant at Wadsley Parish Church,Worrall Road,to the west of the city centre, where Jeremiah Robertson of Robertson &Russell was a parishioner

In the 1980s, the Brightside and Carbrook Co-op merged with the Sheffield and Ecclesall Co-operative to form the Sheffield Co-operative Society.By 2006, the Society had 35 grocery shops, six travel stores, four petrol stations, seven funeral parlours and three department stores. However, the group faced competition within Sheffield from both the United Co-operatives and the Co-operative Group.In 2007, the Society voted to merge with the United Co-operatives, which itself merged with the Co-operative Group shortly afterwards. All three of the former Society's department stores, including Castle House, were closed in 2008.

Opposite the Co-op’s Castle Street entrance, a drab gable end has been transformed by a 1986 brick mural, the Steelworker by the artist Paul Waplington. It was constructed by Sheffield’sCity Works Department using eighteen different types of brick from eight manufacturers, the total number of bricks being about 30,000.

Sheffield City Council Arts Departmentand Department of Land and Planning (Planning Division).

the history of the steel industry is central to the city of Sheffield and its surrounding area.In recent years the industry (as mining in Derbyshire)has been in steady decline and this image is representative of the past Industrial boom and those who took a part in it. The portrait of the Steelworker is not a total invention, but based upon that of an actual individual and then adjusted to fit the medium. The artist Paul Waplington commented: (1984) "The eyes had to be enlarged, for example, or the pupils and the whites would have been smaller than a brick."

Thestrong image has been featured in publications to promote the use of brick,e.g. Brickwork Design Magazine No.3., Vol.3, Jan. 1988; Guide to SuccessfulBrickwork, Edward Arnold, 1993. The piece uses, after all, 30,000 bricks of 18 different types and 5 types of mortar. 'Steelworker' is considered by some to be one of the first modern public art works in the city, which has now expanded culturally embracing the arts within its changing cultural context



Castle Market

Yes there was a castle here once - it was raised to the ground approx 1650 there are ruins still underneath the market.

An excavation led by Leslie Armstrong in 1927,prior to the construction of the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Societystore, uncovered the base of one of the gateway bastion towers, as well as partof the gateway itself. These remains of the castle are preserved under thecity's Castle Market they are Grade II listed and are open for viewing. Thevisible remains are situated in two rooms below Castle Market One room is opento the public, pending booking of a tour, the other room is walled and the onlyaccess is via a manhole in the market's food court. Due to the precariousaccess down a narrow tunnel, tours are no longer conducted in the main roomthough the second room is accessible. The remaining ruins, approximately 32feet above the River Don, are those of one of the gate towers, they represent aquarter of the Eastern tower More recent excavations in 1999 and 2001  ARCUS, Sheffield University's archaeologicalresearch and consultancy unit, revealed the castle to have been much largerthan previously was thought: among the largest medieval castles in England Drilling was done in the upper food court delivery yard and flag stones left in situ to mark boundaries of the castle-Wikipedia

Fuller history and Map of Sheffield Castle here


Enough of the Middle Ages -Back to Castle Market! the oldest part of the building is the Fish and Vegetable Market, constructed in the inter-war period. The remainder of the building was constructed by J. L.Womersley and AndrewDarbyshire between 1960 and 1965. A labyrinthine structure built inthe 1960s and characteristic of its era. It has two main floors, both includingsmall shops and stalls, and each accessible from street level. Other stores face on to the surrounding streets, while a gallery found a storey above the main part of the market contains several more shops, and access to an officebuilding surmounting the structure. The gallery is linked by bridges across Exchange Street tofurther above-ground shopping areas. Unfortunately most of these walkways are now closed off

 Needless to say oneof the design features of the 1960s scheme and indeed a common feature of muchpost war planning was the concept of separating the pedestrian from the trafficbelow via galleries and walkways this seems to have proven largely unsuccessfulby the general density and volume of human traffic in the area. Still CastleMarket remains an exemplary statement of post war optimism and cool. 

Castle Market is a good old fashioned post-war Municipal market- cheap,cheerful and fiercely proud. Hellfire did I say “Old Fashioned” there - nowmaybe you’ll understand what I mean when I refer to “The Old Town”  I believe it’s a part of a  post-war history and social environment thatmoulded and shaped us into the people we are now… and its rapidly disappearingbefore our eyes!  I don’t feel I need toget into some sort of socially observational academic exercise about CastleMarket. There’s enough written about it and plenty of photos via the links below - you really need to get there yourself, honestly it won’t kill you andyou’ll probably kick yourself  not goingenough  or going at all when its gone


In his summing up of the feel of this place Owen Hatherley quintessentially acknowledges the atmosphere of Castle Market and what I and many others truly believe marks Sheffield different and much more socially minded than the other major Northern cities


Unfortunately this place, and those people, are what make Sheffield different from Leeds, or Manchester, or Birmingham - it has a city centre which can still accommodatethose who are elderly, or poor, or (from the looks of it, often) ill. It's aunique survival, architecturally and socially, which needs decent upkeep andlittle else - it's well-used, even on this miserable Monday morning.


For Owens fuller view on Sheffield have a look at this

The Market has always held a strong place in many Sheffielders hearts here's some sketches 


Despite a last minute campaign in 2010 by English Heritage;Castle Market didn’t get listed- apparently the request for consideration of listing was anonymous


Paradoxically the council in its wisdom were going to massively regenerate the area several years 
earlier see these pages from the Developers and also the Council

The original scheme to replace the markets fell victim to the 1990s recession. A new markets building is due to start construciont as part of The Moor(Sheffield) scheme, which is part partnership between the council and private developers. The multi-storey carpark for the scheme has already  been built on Eyre Street.
 Part of the council's current plans is to demolish the existing complex and open up a pedestrian route from the citycentre to the Victoria Docks area and the new Riverside Quarter, now that the ring road has been diverted.  So folks at some time in the near future Castle Market and buildings will be demolished; an open space will be created displaying the Castle ruins and also attempting tolink the long forgotten Victoria Quays to the City Centre. Despite having a presence in that part of Sheffield for a documented 700 years; Market traders will be moved to the Moor

When I saw it last year, I was shocked at how such a grand old building had been allowed to fall into such a run downstate. Surely, this is a building worth saving? Has any interest been shown inrestoring it? When I saw how much attention was being given to the Park HillFlats and I saw how the GPO in Fitzalan Sq and the old court house had been neglected, I really had to give my head a shake. :loopy
This is nothing unusual for that end of town the council have deliberately run the area down so as there will be no opposition to the demolition of CastleMarket. They can then carry out there stupid plan to build a market at the verybottom of The Moor, leaving the traditional Market area to be turned into some kind of grassed area with an old bit of Castle Wall at the bottom end they thenthink that the tourists will come flocking in ,you couldn’t make it up
Less well-offcitizens are not less deserving of a market that is easy to access

The current market building is unpleasant to use; this is not a reflection on the traders, but on a building that has not stood the test of time. If the location of the new market building is really such an insurmountable issue, why has nobody suggested adapting the old Co-op building (Castle House) for the markets?The merits of the building are in the eye of the beholder , I myself have on many occasions stated that if the Market must move then why not use CastleHouse [The Co Op] saving millions and millions of pounds on this ludiques move to the Moor. The historian's among us argue that the Markets must be moved so as to expose any possible ?remains of the old Castle and in so doing completly ignore the much older historical trading centre of Sheffield.                                                                          Local people -Sheffield Blog 

    Finally when Castle Market is dead and buried we can always thank the fantastically talented Jonathan Wilkinson of “WeLiveHere” for immortalising the municipal marketplace forevermore 
 Unfortunately this is now SOLD OUT – you should’ve been quicker!    


 Old Courthouse

  It is somewhat ironic that as the intelligentsia of the leftfield argue and debate about whether or not romanticised 1960s post-warbuildings  should be preserved Right across the road from Castle Market on the junction of Waingate and Castle Street is the (disused) and Grade 2 listed  Old Courthouse; which until 1890 was the Old Town Hall ; SomeSheffielders may well consider this  the“Old” Old Town Hall as The Town hall on Pinstone St is  commonly referred to as the Old town hall with the demolished “EggBox”from the 1970s being the “New” Town Hall! (Does that make any sense folks?)

The building was commissioned to replace Sheffield's first town hall, which had opened in 1700 to a design by William Renny.The Old Town Hall was built in 1807–8 by Charles Watson, and was designed to house not only the TownTrustees but also the Petty and Quarter Sessions. The initialbuilding was a five-bay structure fronting Castle Street, but it was extendedin 1833 and again in 1866 by William Flockton (1804-1864) of Sheffield and his partner for the project, Abbott; the most prominent feature was the new centralclock tower over a new main entrancethat reoriented the building to Waingate. At the same time, the building's courtrooms were linked by undergroundpassages to the neighboring Sheffield PoliceOffices  The first Town Council was elected in 1843and took over the lease of the Town Trustees' hall in 1866. The following year,the building was extensively renovated, with a clock tower designed by Flockton& Abbott being added.By the 1890s, the building had again becometoo small, and the current SheffieldTown Hall was built furthersouth. The Old Town Hall was again extended in 1896-7, by the renamed Flockton,Gibbs & Flockton, and became Sheffield Crown Courtand Sheffield High Court. In the 1990s, thesecourts moved to new premises, and since at least 1997 to present, the buildingremains disused.In 2007, it was named by the Victorian Society as one of their top ten buildings most at risk

State Dependent Family / Artists for the RedCross

Posted on 8 June, 2012 at 14:55 Comments comments (284)
Id be a fool if I didn't bang on about this 

I've donated a customized version of one of my most popular images - the classic "State Dependent Family" to a charity Art auction in aid of the RedCross .The auction comprises  10 pieces of original local  Art  They'll be  on display in the Winter Gardens until the end of tomorrow -Saturday June 9th - the art will remain  in a silent auction until June 29th - (to be honest I don't know how that works! possibly similar to Ebay)
The event has had  coverage in todays  Sheffield Star (Page 6)  which naturally I'm quite chuffed about as it features yours truly

And also in Postcode Gazette

The Red Cross website, where people can download a catalogue and  make their bids is at  (they can also make their bids at the exhibition).
There is  also  a Facebook page:

State Dependent Family is an open edition print and can be purchased online in most sizes and  mediums here

It also may be an appropriate time for me  to mention that I will be holding another stall at St Marys  Vintage Fair, Bramall Lane  next Saturday  16th June 10-4pm On sale as well as the standard issue cards and prints there will be many new and hand made bespoke pie
ces of unrelenting brutal concrete monotony - a great asset to any urban lounge (if you're that way inclined of course) there will be a similar larger guild framed version of State Dependent Family (version 2) on sale for £125- this isn't an auction though so it will be first come  first served i'm afraid 
Finally as a loyal TBM follower I've enclosed some of the notes I made in reference to the work
Hope to see you around 
Sid Fletcher

State Dependent Family by Sid FletcherBrief description Approx 20in square print on 340gsm vinyl of the Royal Family wavingfrom a  Balcony of ParkHill flats SheffieldThe print is mounted and glazed within a traditional Guild Frame - the print is personally customised and signed by the Artist  and so is a genuine one offState Dependent Family is one of the first and perhaps the best known of my all my creations.  Rather surprisingly, but hey anyone liking my art is always an unexpected delight, it continues to be popular managing to raise a smile from most people once they have worked outwhose actually waving across to them from the balconies of ParkHill flats.Of course it’s a cynical pastiche of the Windsors waving to their serfs from their usual balcony-  within this image they have been relocated to social housing (like most of their serfs!) , the title ofthe work also makes a comment about the monarchy receiving money fromthe UK taxpayer, which is always a perennial and polarised debateState Dependent Family amalgamates a number of  British icons such asthe Royal Family and possibly Sheffields most controversial  building-the grade 2 listed ParkHill flats;  The piece is also a personaltribute to what I consider as the symbol of  the cultural andpolitical explosion of Punk rock in 1977 ; Jamie Reid’s classic GodSave The Queen flag. -At the time the subverted image of the monarchand the manner in which punk was perceived;both  by the authoritiesand  the silent majority of the general public was indeed a shotacross the bows for the last remnants of imperialism and the BritishEmpire - nothing was sacred anymore and things were certainly nevergoing to be the same again- as a youth this was potent and heady stuffand i don't see anything these days that has the same impact
As its one of my first works its naturally somewhat crude ; Ive neverbeen 100% happy with the pixelation within  the concrete balcony inlarger formats of the image and so I managed to correct the mattersomewhat  in this customised work making it a genuine one off .
I am choosing to support the Red Cross because of the aid they provideto our fellow human beings, particulary in areas of conflict - despitemy adolescent platitudes and armchair politics   i'm terrible atgetting round to donating money but at least i'm honest enough to ownupI do sincerely hope that State Dependent Family catchs someones eyeand fetches the guide price of   £75- I really would be very chuffed if it were to fetch more

Vintage fairs and Charity Auctions

Posted on 15 February, 2012 at 7:09 Comments comments (0)
Many thanks  to all the good folk who came along to the Vintage and Craft Fair at St Marys Community Centre Saturday 4th Feb  and also  to  everyone who attended the Cupola Charity Auction  Saturday 11th Feb helping to raise £700 for charity -
Obviously the most thanks goes to the buyers of my 2 donations WHICH SOLD!

Park Hill reopening : Two tales, same city

Posted on 7 October, 2011 at 6:59 Comments comments (0)
0r  I search ParkHill on the Internet you don't have to Part3
Show apartments and marketing suite opening Saturday 8th October 2011 from 11am
It’s the day before the grand opening of the Urban Splash show flats at Park Hill; Everyone and their dog  seems to be having  (and is likely to be having for the next couple of months) a right royal feeding frenzy about it.
There’s been some high profile / high brow events such as the National Youth Theatres production of Slick and also a huge party last week organised by Article Magazine
Probably not my scene anyway….Anyhow there certainly seems to be an air of understandable trepidation within Sheffield about the reopening of the estate and whether or not it’s going to work in the long term; with the usual polar arguments from the pessimists - moaning that it’s a waste of money, time, dumping ground for problems, a blot on Sheffield skyline etc etc yawn - to the more progressive  hopeful optimists (My good self included)  - we all know a pessimist is never disappointed eh! This comment from a prospective buyer is a very encouraging one and I certainly hope more indicative of things to come  
I grew up in a village in the Derbyshire dales and Sheffield was always our closest major city. The place you went to but records, to go to concerts and to begin to grow up into. I was always brought up to look down my nose at Park Hill. A place for those who lived on benefits, didn’t contribute anything and spent their lives indulging in anti-social behaviour.
As I grew up, I got to know a number of people who lived at Park Hill and learned that its inhabitants were just like everyone else - stuggling through life and making the same mistakes as everyone else. I now visit family in derbyshire regularly and this entails a trip through the centre of sheffield. Each time my eyes drift towards the Park Hill skyline and I am thrilled to see how its changed on each consecutive visit. I happen to think that English Heritage are almost a liability under Simon Thurleys leadership, but on this decision they were not wrong.
I am delighted that this important element of Shgeffield’s social history is being brought back to life and with
any luck I will be first in line to buy one when they become available.
Discussion has ranged  from the colour of the iodised exterior panels, to the interior design, to how much they are; to much more serious fundamental and ethical questions such as who is going to live there ?, are private Landlords going to buy en masse,   how many social tenants or units of affordable housing are there likely to be and so on ad infinitum … Urban Splash have indicated there’s been tons of interest with at a ratio of 20 enquiries per unit so things are definitely looking good …
Urban Splash says it has been "delighted" with the response, with about 1,000 people signing up for information ahead of the first sales, and strong interest from businesses. If Park Hill is successfully reborn – far from a certainty for a project which has already required one public bailout – it will complete a 50-year full circle for the estate and indicate a possible wider shift in public opinion towards such postwar schemes.
For all you armchair design critics out here here’s the Brochure and also the promotional YouTube clip
ead whatthe Guardian and the Sheffield Telegraph have to say
There’s no doubt that the spec and design layout of these flats is world class and highly enviable – it does seem clear that the market there’re aiming to reach with this phase of the refurbishment is that of Urban professional
 (People seem to have dropped the “young” from this phrase - post millennia)
That said however it seems unclear about how a mix of social housing within the refurb is to be achieved - there is no more poignant moment to emphasize this than the video from TheOneShow; when former caretaker Grenville Squires looks around the new flats
– I was always under the understanding that some Social housing tenants were to be placed there;   indeed the re-housing list was already full of ex tenants who enjoyed living there so much they wanted to return.
It is somewhat frustrating to see so many inhabitable empty flats in the other parts of the estate with such a huge waiting list for to be rehoused – That said though it does give the lover of the Urban Environment a window of a couple of years to sit isolated within such a massive scheme - and take in the whole ambience of Brutalism in its finest and ultimately derelict form
Very good thought provoking comment on
•   Regeneration? What's happening in Sheffield's Park Hill is class cleansing
MelKelly's comment 28 September 2011 7:46PM
In the supposed free market councils are not allowed to borrow to build housing, yet housing associations can and property developers can.
If the market is free why successive government since have Margaret Thatcher's refused to let councils borrow to build social housing?
What good reason is there?
Councils invest for the long term need, not the short term profit, setting rents at affordable prices to cover the costs - not for making profit - and the private sector don't want to compete with that - so government's have kept the ban on councils building social housing in place.
So we are deprived of social housing to ensure private landlords can maximise profits in a rented housing monopoly.
And the end result is houses that councils would have rented out for £300 being rented out by the private sector for £800 per month
Why should any government be allowed to manipulate the market to deprive people of housing and maximize private sector profits which has resulted in mass homelessness and extortion by private sector landlords
It is time for the housing market to have the shackles removed and become truly free i.e. councils can borrow to build social housing and rent it out at affordable rates if that is what local people want.
I think it is time we had a referendum on this issue
 I still can’t understand why Sheffield City Council decanted residents pretty much enmasse from ParkHill;  Maybe they thought they could then demolish it without anyone noticing! I agree with Owen Hatherley on this - maybe the empty flats should be squatted?  but there again why should I understand any logic from the Council ; Its happy to entrust me with potential life or death decisions about who goes to hospital in the middle of the night; but won’t trust me to get an envelope from the stationary cupboard to send a GP a report!
Don’t get me wrong; this is a criticism of Local government than a criticism of UrbanSplash; if anyone is going to make Park Hill work then I believe it’s them,
Having stayed within some of their developments in Manchester which were categorically perceived as slums 10-15 years ago its amazing how much Urban Splash have  changed whole areas round. So at risk of being accused a naïve,  rose tinted spec wearing , splinter-arsed,fence sitter - I largely wish that the regeneration is a huge success –  
 Finally for all you old retro post war vintage nostalgia loving romantics here’s some great films of ParkHill first time round, get the tea and HobNobs out and enjoy…
Streets in the sky

I research ParkHill on the internet you don't have to Part 2

Posted on 19 September, 2011 at 14:45 Comments comments (93)
Still tons and tons of interest and intrigue locally, nationally and (ahem) internationally regarding the developments at ParkHill 
 Apparently the show flats’ll be available for viewing from the 8th of October (form an orderly queue please)  here’s what some of the papers have to say about the refurbishment–
Firstly lets start closest to home -  here’s  the Sheffield Star –
Towerblockmetal fans will be glad to see I actually responded against the tirade of miserable drizzlers who are happy to condemn ParkHill and other high density social housing projects to the dustbin; blaming the buildings themselves as causing many social problems -check out the reasoned and well thought out contributions by some locals !
Also check out sneaky pics of the PH showflats  on the BBC  page
Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame – well Roy Hattersley and Grenville Squires certainly managed 5 minutes of theirs on the OneShow ; talking about Park Hill - Roy Hattersley was involved in the commissioning of  the estate from its inception in the 1950s and remembers well the ideals and visions of the planners at time ; Grenville Squires (now retired and semi legendary ) was  the  caretaker on ParkHill for the past 30 years and has always spoke vehemently in its defence.
Watching the clip i couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Grenville, who has obviously dedicated  so much of his time and effort into making ParkHill a positive place to live in and defended it from the doom mongers who've never been there. It felt like ParkHill  no longer needed Grenville and he was obsolete; i sincerely hope this isn't the case . The man deserves a statue!
Photo-  SingleAspect
Not one to miss out on anything to do with ParkHill the unstoppable Single Aspect has been back in Sheffield again-  to attend the recent Heritage days and also the "Brutalist Speculations" Conference  at  the Site gallery- the guy just can't stay away!
 –Although I was regretfully unable to attend said conference due to my work committments   I  did manage to meet up several times for housing tours, cooked breakfasts, general Urban derive and many a few beer or ten - ( I'd like to think Single Aspect feels  my city tours are better-could show Owen Hatherley a thing or two)
A nice add on to all this was our "Twilight tour" showing Senior staff of the 20C Society around the outer estates at dusk ; viewing the newly built Larkin Grove  at Parson Cross, the city vista from  Gleadless Valley and Norfolk Park and the finale ending up at the illuminated Moore Street Substation
Larkin Grove - Parson Cross
I can't say i'm overenthusiastic about the look;
 too much like something off CeeBeeBies for me
..but there're certainly interesting
Also ParkHill has made the shortlist for the 2011
 World Architecture Festival awards in the Future category
 It is the only UK building to be shortlisted in its category (residential)
the only UK project to be shortlisted in its category
Also check  this out from BuildingDesign 
Any non believers that say Tower blocks don't work and can't be managed  would do well to read the following article from the Guardian;  demonstrating that with the right mix of tenants (who want to be there) and simple concierge – the most deprived housing areas can be made to function well for the urban setting . It is a good article   also for believers to back up their arguments
Keep in touch folks - TowerBlockMetal mugs, cards and prints are now on sale at the Moonko stall in the Nicholls building Shalesmoor ,Sheffield
Grand opening event Saturday 24thb September

I search Park Hill on the internet you don't have to...

Posted on 23 June, 2011 at 20:42 Comments comments (212)
Heck of a lot of interest in the old dear on the week of her 50th Birthday! Check out "link central"  below.....
Lets kick off with  an article from the Independent
And also some Musings of an Urbanist on the above article;  the usual Hatherley type debate regarding the sale of social housing to the dreaded middle classes.... 
Some locals talking about the ongoing works  and the South Street  Ampitheatre
 in Skyscraper the idea of "Minack  North!"
Several events are up and coming ...Sheffield Civic Trust are holding a tour of the estate on Friday 24th June but alas its already fulled booked- rest assured they are holding further tours later in the year
The National Youth Theatre will be staging a performance  in Park Hill  early September
Also plenty of events coming up in the Autumn read Press release by Urban Splash
also here's their regular Park Hill Page
Sheffields much loved Jonathan Wilkinson of "Welivehere" fame; is  creating several new interpretations of the estate ;  also a set of new artworks are to be commissioned specially by architectural art specialists Dainow and Dainow ; as well as a new piece of home ware from Corin Mellor at David Mellor design
On a personal note;  I am looking forward to spending some time in July with fellow Blogger/ Housing  enthiasiast  SingleAspect
 Almost certainly we will be spending time in and around PH and we are endevouring; via  the council to gain (legal) access to one of the empty tenancies for photos research etc , obviously this will be a future Blog topic if we are sucessful; also am looking forward to organising several  other Industrial /  housing / heritage tours ...hopefully on the backdrop of too many Wetherspoons Breakfasts  and beer in the evenings
Hellfire ... just can't keep up..  Don't worry ...i'll be churning out even more TowerBlockMetal mugs and prints in the usual style and manner (sign up to my Blog or Twitter to keep up to speed on events) -  may even have to set up a trestle table in the middle of events  ...... jus like Del Boy eh!
And finally - forget what  all the socialites have to say ... here's Building UK s view on the matter