Monday, 30 September 2013

Sheffield United's Cherry Street car park.

Sheffield United, Bramall Lane, Cherry Street car park
Photo  © Copyright M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Granted there aren't many people who'd be excited by a photo of a football ground's car park but no one ever said I'm not the saddest of individuals.

What makes this photo a thing of magic and wonder to me is that it's taken from the stadium hotel and therefore provides a view I'd not normally have.

Also, the angle makes it difficult to see the awful red and white striped cladding that's been affixed to the back of the South Stand in recent years.

Yes, I know red and white stripes are the club's official colours - but such a colour scheme looks a lot better on a shirt than it does on the back of a building.

All I can do is hope that, at some point, someone at the club sees sense and restores the stand's exterior to its original uncluttered appearance and at last we'll be able to appreciate all that concrete finny goodness without it making our eyes hurt.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Roundhouse, Ringinglow.

Ringinglow Roundhouse, Sheffield
Photo by Martin Speck [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Even though I've never been to Ringinglow, it's shaping up to be an exciting place for me.

First we had its alpaca farm and now we have its roundhouse which was, it seems, an 18th Century toll house. Currently serving as a proper house, it's now a listed building.

Apparently, Ringinglow was on the traditional border between the Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria and may have once possessed a prehistoric burial mound from which it got its name.

Inter-kingdom borders, alpacas, prehistoric burial mounds? Is there no limit to the wonders that Ringinglow can fling at a man?

Friday, 20 September 2013

The old post office, Fitzalan Square.

Old Post Office, Fitzalan Square, Sheffield
Photo © Copyright Julian Osley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Sheffield's old main post office building in Fitzalan Square's been empty for years, ever since the post office moved its operations to Castle House. Clearly that wasn't the smartest of moves, as Castle House then closed down - apart from the bit that houses the post office.

Since then the old Fitzalan Square building's fallen into decay and decrepitude but at last there's hope for it with news that it's to be converted to student flats and an educational building. As well as the existing building, which'll be refurbished, there'll be a fourteen and a twenty two story block of flats for international students built on the Flat Street/Pond Hill end of the site.

It all sounds exciting and glamorous but I must admit my main memory of the building is that, when I was little, there was a TARDIS-style police box outside, which sadly no longer stands. I demand the developers of the site bring it back.

I fear my demands may be ignored.


More info on the planned development here.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Herdings - Herdings.

The Herdings, Sheffield
Photo by Mick Knapton (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Up until last year I never knew that Herdings was named after an actual building called The Herdings. It's even more odd as it's a building I'd passed plenty of times in my childhood - and even recently - without ever knowing what it was. It was always obvious even to my untutored eye that it was far older than the rest of the estate in which it sits but I'd assumed it must date back to the 19th Century and assumed it was probably an old water company house or some such.

It was a bit of a shock therefore to discover, a few months back, that its origins date all the way back to the 14th century, with later additions in the 17th and that some would argue it's the second oldest building in Sheffield.

This great age is made all the more surreal by the fact it's in a 1950s/60s council estate and slap-bang next to two of the city's most high profile tower blocks. It's such incongruities that lend a city magic and intrigue.

Apparently, it caught fire a few years back but has since been fully restored and now seems to serve as some sort of community centre which is a relief as it's a Grade II listed building and you wouldn't want such a thing to become derelict.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Mayfield Alpaca Farm, Ringinglow.

Alapaca Farm, Ringinglow, Sheffield
Photo © Copyright Penny Mayes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Let's be honest, when you think of Sheffield, the first thing you think of is not necessarily alpacas. But here they are, blundering around near Ringinglow. Don't you just want to run up to them and give them a great big hug?

Admittedly I don't know how good an idea that is. I don't know how alpacas take to random hugging but personally I'm willing to risk it.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Arundel Gate.

Arundel Gate, Sheffield, Cheese Grater St Pauls Tower
Photo by St BC (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Has there been anywhere in Sheffield changed more in spirit in the last decade than Arundel Gate? When I was little, it was a wide, impenetrable road with barely any buildings on it. To get from one side to the other, you had to risk your life sprinting between its barriers, or use one of a string of sinister underpasses. And, when you emerged on the other side, you still felt a million miles away from anywhere that was actually worth getting to.

Now it's a much narrower road with lots of buildings on it. In the process, it's developed more of an air of belonging in the hub of a major city centre and also lost its previous mood of limbo-esque desolation.

It still has its failings. The old Top Rank/Fiesta complex is still there and the buildings at the Castle Square end are less than impressive but, for me at least, it's a vast improvement on how it once was.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bishop's House, Meersbrook Park.

Bishop's House, Meersbrook Park, Sheffield
Photo by Martin Speck [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Like the Howard and the Queen's Head, it's another of those buildings that's pretending to be a zebra. I just hope there're no lions around, or it'll be in serious trouble.

Actually, I don't know that much about it, other than it was built around 1500 and is now a museum.

Apparently, it gets its name because two bishops were supposed to have grown up in it, though that may well be apocryphal.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Odeon/Fiesta/Top Rank/02 Academy complex, Pond Street.

Odeon complex, Sheffield, Pond Street, Bus station
Photo by Nigel Chadwick [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Here it is, my nomination for the worst building ever erected in the entire history of Sheffield.

For some reason, in the 1960s, someone decided it'd be a great idea to build a huge concrete cliff on Pond/Flat Street to cut the bus and railway stations off from the city centre - and then to cover it with what seemed to be tiles stolen from a public lavatory. The only way to navigate through the complex was through narrow, spiralling stairwells or via cramped escalators that never seemed to work - all imbued with a sense of menace that grew with every step you took. Once you actually reached the top of the complex, you then had to navigate disturbing underpasses to actually escape it and reach the city centre.

Just to make it even more user-friendly, the site incorporated a porn cinema and lots multi-storey parking.

Just over twenty years ago, the complex became even more isolating when the council decided to get rid of the escalators that connected it to the bus station, meaning you couldn't even properly access the row of shops in its mid sections, thus sealing their doom and leaving a great chunk of it derelict. It's genius like that that wins councils awards.

Photos of the site before it was built really are some of the most baffling things I've ever seen, with strange and random buildings dotted around on a rather wild hill. Were they houses? Were they industrial buildings? I really have no idea but, for the sheer strangeness of it all, I really do wish they'd been allowed to stand.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

St Paul's Tower, Arundel Gate.

St Pauls Tower, Sheffield, tallest building
 Photo  © Copyright Neil Theasby
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
At last! Because you the reader demanded it! It's that building!

It started out as the Conran Tower. Then it was, "City Lofts." Then it was St Paul's Tower. But, whatever you call it, you can't ignore it. At thirty two storeys, stuck atop a hill overlooking the railway station, it's Sheffield's tallest and most visible building.

And what an odd structure it is. When the sun hits it at the right angle - usually early in the morning - it can look golden, gleaming, optimistic and sparkling.

When the sun doesn't hit it from the right angle - or doesn't hit it at all - it can look suspiciously like a dull, brown utilitarian 1960s block of council flats.

I do love the way it totally dwarfs the mock Tudorness of the Howard in this shot. I can't help feeling they should add a thirty storey vertical extension to the Howard to bring it up to the same height and turn it into Sheffield's first mock Tudor skyscraper.

A quick Google for images of mock Tudor skyscrapers suggests to me that there're no mock Tudor skyscrapers anywhere on Earth. Given that there are mock Gothic and mock Classical skyscrapers, the lack of mock Tudors seems an egregious omission that we can only hope someone will one day put right.
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