Sheffield Town Hall

Sheffield Town Hall

Infobox Historic building

caption=Sheffield Town Hall and the Peace Gardens
name=Sheffield Town Hall
client=Sheffield Corporation

Sheffield Town Hall is a building in the City of Sheffield, England. The building is used by the City Council, and also contains a publicly displayed collection of silverware. The current building, Sheffield's fourth town hall, is located on Pinstone Street. It was designed by the London-based architect E. W. Mountford and constructed over a seven year period from 1890 to 1897, opening on 21 May 1897. An extension designed by F. E. P. Edwards was completed in 1923.

The design echoed to a certain extent the architecture of the adjacent St. Paul's Church of 1720 (now demolished). The exterior is built of "Stoke" stone from the Stoke Hall Quarry in Grindleford, Derbyshire and is decorated with carvings by F. W. Pomeroy. The friezes depict the industries of Sheffield, and the 64 metre high clock-tower is surmounted by a statue of Vulcan. During construction, the building was criticised for its expensive embellishments.

The building was opened by Queen Victoria, using a remote control lock from her carriage. The turning of the key in the lock triggered a light in the building which was the signal for three concealed men to open the gates.

Previous Buildings

Sheffield's first town hall was referred to in a 1637 survey of the area. It is thought to have been at 10 Pinfold Street. From 1700–1808 there was a small brick-built community hall in the corner of the Churchyard. It was owned by the Town Trustees, as was its replacement, now Sheffield Old Town Hall. In 1886 the council cleared a number of premises in the Pinstone Street area to make way for the current Town Hall, and the old building was converted for use as a court, with further additions by Flockton, Gibbs & Flockton in 1896–7.

heffield Peace Gardens

A new extension to the Town Hall was planned in the late 1930s and necessitated the demolition of the adjacent St Paul's Church in 1938. The extension plans were subsequently put on hold due to the Second World War, and the site was made into a public garden instead. The garden was called St Paul's Garden but was more popularly known as the Peace Gardens. One feature of the Peace Gardens was a standard ruler, 100 feet long, built of metal and running along what was St Paul's Parade. It was accurately horizontal and varied in height above the pavement from a few inches to about four feet. It was possible for a small child to run along the ruler, as it was about a foot wide. It was presented to the City by the Lord Mayor in 1910, partly as a Standard of Length, and partly for its public education value. The ruler showed pre-metric measurements such as chains, links and rods.

By the 1990s, the gardens had got a bad reputation as a haven for drunkards. In 1998 the gardens were renovated as the first stage of the Sheffield Council's "Heart of the City" project. The plans faced substantial local opposition as the Peace Gardens were a popular and well-loved feature of the city centre at the time. The new layout with its emphasis on water-features was initially criticised for its lack of garden, but has since become a popular venue for families during the summer; its walk-in fountain is especially popular with children.

The New Town Hall Extension

In 1977, a new council building in a modern style was added to the east of the Peace Gardens, and was connected to the old Town Hall by way of a glazed flyover. The building was immediately unpopular and was nicknamed "The Egg-Box" after its appearance. The new building, complete with roof-garden, cost in the region of £9 million and was built with a life-span of about 500 years following concerns about the tenacity of the concrete structures built in the previous decade. It was demolished in 2002 after just 25 years to make way for the Sheffield Winter Gardens, MacDonald's Hotel and an office block, and replaced with a new office block called Howden House to the south of the site on Charles Street.

The extension is the setting for much of the 1984 BBC docudrama "Threads".

ee also

*Listed buildings in Sheffield


*Sheffield City Council: " [ History of the Town Hall] " (accessed 27 December 2005).
*Harman, R. & Minnis, J. (2004) "Pevsner City Guides: Sheffield." pp61–66 & p147. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10585-1

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