Thursday, 29 August 2013

Banner's department store, Attercliffe.

Banners department store, Sheffield
By Warofdreams (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
When I was growing up, I knew nothing of the existence of Banner's department store. For that matter, I knew nothing of Attercliffe itself. My only knowledge of the area was that it existed and, despite its name, it didn't have a cliff.

Sadly, all these years later, I still know little of Banners, but I have at least seen it in the flesh now. What I do know is the place ceased to trade as a department store in 1980 and had the first escalators in Sheffield. It also had a tube system for delivering goods to the customers.

It's such a lovely, neat, building that it seems a shame they can't put it on castors and move it to the city centre where it could again be properly utilised for its original purpose and no longer feel so strangely out of place.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sheffield University Arts Tower.

Sheffield University Arts Tower
Photo  © Copyright Terry Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Hooray, it's that building that looks just like that one in New York whose name I can never remember.

I don't know if it still is but, at one point, it was the tallest university building in the country and is legendary for its Paternoster lifts, designed to satisfy the needs of those who've always wanted that Dumbwaiter experience.

Between 1965 and 2010, it was Sheffield's tallest building and is still the city's second tallest.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Norton Water Tower.

Norton Water Tower, Sheffield
Photo by David Morris [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Aw, just look at it. It's like the keep at Conisbrough Castle would be if the Plantagenets had ever heard of Brutalism. You could see it from the end of our road when I was little. Then again, you can see it from the end of plenty of roads, as it's up on a hill near the outskirts of town.

Back in the good old days, you used to be able to go up it and use its viewing platform, and I once had the pleasure of doing just that. Sadly, some decades ago, the practice was stopped. According to an interview I once heard on Radio Sheffield, that was because people kept trying to jump off it. To be honest, there's so many mobile phone dishes on it now that you'd probably be reluctant to go up it in case your brain got fried by microwaves.

Still, it'd be great to go up it again as an adult and see just what the view's like from the side that faces away from Sheffield.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Towers' Lodge, Sandygate Road.

The Towers, Sandygate Road, Sheffield
Photo by Mick Knapton (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I never even knew this building existed until I recently blundered across a picture of it whilst roaming the internet and was struck by its weird, fairy tale quality. You almost expect Hansel and Gretel to emerge from it before going for a roam in the woods.

Apparently, it was built in 1896 and was once a centre for disabled children before being restored in the 1990s to its original purpose as a private residence.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Queen's Tower Lodge, East Bank Road.

Queens Tower Lodge, East Bank Road, Sheffield
Photo by Warofdreams [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Near Park Grange Road, Norfolk Park, stands one of Sheffield's most magically loopy buildings; Queen's Tower. It's a 19th Century imitation castle inspired by Mary Queen of Scots' stay at Manor Lodge. But, further down the slope, on East Bank Road, is this baffling structure. I've never been sure if it's part of the same complex as Queen's Tower or if its proximity to the site is pure coincidence.

Anyway, its page on Wikimedia Commons labels it as, "Queen's Tower Lodge," so I'll assume that's what it is.

The rest of the Queen's Tower site is nowadays a gated apartment complex but what function does this particular building currently serve? I don't know. Occasionally, when you go past, you can spot a bare, lit bulb through one of the windows, suggesting some kind of activity within. But as to what goes on in there, we  passers-by can only guess.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Old Town Hall, Waingate.

Sheffield, Old Town Hall, Waingate
Photo © Copyright Stanley Walker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
To my ever-lasting shame, all through my childhood I knew this building only as, "That place with the drinking fountain on the side." Sadly, even then, one was warned not to use that fountain, as it wasn't hygienic.

When I was a kid, it was used as a courthouse but it was originally built in 1807-08 as Sheffield's town hall, before being superseded in the 1890s by its much larger replacement on Surrey Street.

As far as I'm aware, it's currently abandoned and growing increasingly derelict, which seems a scandal for such an historic building. One can only hope that a good use can be found for it at some point.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Cheese Grater car park, Charles Street.

Cheese Grater car park, Charles Street, Arundel Gate, Sheffield
Photo by Stanley Walker [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It's the Cheese Grater car park - or "carp ark" as I always manage to mistype it.

Personally I can think of no finer concept than a carp ark; to preserve our little scaly friends should the world ever again face global flooding.

Granted, as fish can swim - and breathe underwater - a carp ark might be viewed as inherently redundant but I do always feel that, when it comes to fish, it's better to be safe than sorry.

As for the Cheese Grater, it's a relatively new addition to the city's skyline and has recently been voted the world's third coolest car park by someone or other.

So, well done to it. It certainly makes a change from the usual nightmare concrete box that such structures tend to be.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Manor Lodge turret house.

Sheffield Manor Lodge turret house gate house
Photo © Copyright Dave Pickersgill
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Sheffield Manor Lodge turret house; the only fully standing part of the old Manor Lodge where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner during her "difficulties" with Elizabeth 1st. Apparently, in 1839, in order to preserve them, some parts of the complex were dismantled then re-erected at the rather wonderfully loopy Queen's Tower near Norfolk Park.

Despite it being not a million miles away from where I grew up, I've somehow never ever seen Manor Lodge with my own naked eyes. What a well-travelled person I am.

I once saw a David Starkey documentary about the life of Mary Queen of Scots. At no point did he mention Sheffield.

I always knew he was a wrong 'un.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sheffield Winter Garden.

Sheffield Winter Garden, inside
Photo © Copyright David Hallam-Jones
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
As the Silver Surfer would no doubt say, what new and strange madness is this?

It's a small chunk of rain forest in the middle of the city. Apparently it's 21 metres high, 22 metres wide and 70 metres long and is, according to Wikipedia, the largest urban glasshouse in Europe.

Not only does it feature all manner of strange and exotic plants, it also has all kinds of dinky little water features into which one may fling one's wish-laden coins and never have the courage to retrieve them from.

For someone who grew up in the city during a time when Sheffield city centre seemed to consist entirely of concrete boxes, scary underpasses and access-destroying dual carriageways, its arrival in 2003 came like something from outer space and offered proof that town planning's come a long way since the days of the 1960s and 1970s.

The only problem I have with it is the shortage of wildlife. I mean, come on, would it really kill them to let some gibbons loose in it? Let's face it, who doesn't want wild gibbons in their city centre?

Monday, 19 August 2013

Velocity Tower.

Velocity Tower, Sheffield
Velocity Tower photo © Copyright Graham Hogg
and licensed for reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Hooray! It's Velocity Tower, easily my favourite post-war building in the whole of Sheffield.

How could anyone not love all that floor-to-ceiling glass and that mix of ruler-straight lines and curves?

It is of course technically unfinished, as it's supposed to have an extra eight stories on top and there's supposed to be a second tower beside it but sadly the credit crunch threw a spanner into those particular works.

All we can do is hope that someday it finally gets fully completed and can be seen in all the glory it deserves.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

St Paul's Square in the Snow.

Peace Gardens and St Pauls Tower, Sheffield, in the snow

Most of the pics on this blog will be culled from other sources but I took this one myself, back in February when the winter was biting so hard we started to wonder if it'd ever end.

To be honest, I was one of the few people who didn't mind the old Eggbox building that once stood here but I have to admit the new Peace Gardens are a gazillion miles better than the old ones. And the new office blocks, hotel and walloping big skyscraper of St Paul's Tower do lend a much bigger city feel to the area. Squint really hard and you could convince yourself you're looking at the Canary Wharf of South Yorkshire.
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