Friday, 28 March 2014

Lees Hall, Gleadless.

Lees Hall duck pond, Gleadless Valley, Sheffield
Pond near the site of Lees Hall Farm - (Neil Theasby) / CC BY-SA 2.0
You have to hand it to Sheffield City Council. There's not many municipalities would think it a good idea to demolish a 16th Century mansion in order to create a rubbish tip - but Sheffield City Council did exactly that in the late 1950s when they knocked down Lees Hall in Gleadless Valley, in order to create what would later become the Blackstock Road Dump-It site.

Having done that, they then bulldozed the rubble into the house's duck pond, in order to completely remove all signs that any such thing had ever existed.

This is of course one of the great architectural scandals of Sheffield and would never be allowed today.

Lees Hall was a three story, triple gabled structure but all that remains of it now is the name - which lent itself to the neighbouring Lees Hall golf club - a bit of rubble and the above ditch which is the last remnant of the duck pond. Up until a few years ago, even that was lost but it was exposed during a clean-up of the site, meaning we can at least have a tantalising glimpse of what was once there.

That may be a picture of Lees Hall as it is now but pictures of it shortly before its destruction can be found at Picture Sheffield.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Egg Box Town Hall extension.

Sheffield Egg Box Town Hall extension being demolished
Photo by neuroticcamel from Sheffield, England (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I'll admit it. I liked the Egg Box. Plenty of people hated it but I refuse to hate any building that could possess such elements of chunky sticky-inness and sticky outness.

Not only that but it'll always hold a special place in my heart as the first building in Sheffield whose creation and then death I witnessed. Somehow, experiencing the entire lifespan of a building gives you a whole new view of life and the passage of time.

Of course, its great claim to fame was that, in Barry Hines' TV movie Threads, it was the location of the bunker from which Sheffield City Council would run the city in the event of a nuclear holocaust. Given that the council often struggle to run the city when there's not been a nuclear holocaust, perhaps it was a little optimistic to think they could run the place when there was one.

Well, that's all fine and dandy but, for me, its other claim to fame is that, in the 1970s, there was an amusement arcade in Blackpool that had a roof like an egg carton - and thus the two buildings felt like spiritual brothers. That building had a dalek you could sit inside and pretend to kill people with.

Sadly, Sheffield's building lacked such a thing.

No wonder it wasn't popular.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

King Edward VII School.

King Edward VII School, Sheffield
Photo by Wikityke at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
There are times when it seems like every single famous person from Sheffield went to the same school as each other.

And that school is King Edward VII.

People from the Housemartins went there. People from Def Leppard went there. People from the Human League went there. People from Heaven 17 went there. Matthew Bannister went there. John Rawling went there. Graham Fellows went there. Rony Robinson went there. Professor Ian Fells went there. Clive Betts went there. Even that woman from Countryfile, who seems to be permanently pregnant, went there.

Of course, that impression's completely false - as I didn't got there; proving that even a boy from a bog-standard comprehensive can achieve global superstardom if he only clings to his dreams.

Admittedly, my dreams all involve talking bunny rabbits but how I cling to those talking bunny rabbits, desperate in my hope that they might somehow yet prove to be my one route to immortality.

To be honest, without Googling, there's little knowledge I can impart about the building itself but I can tell you that, of all the buildings in Sheffield, this is the one I would most like to adopt as my secret headquarters.

Admittedly, being so visible might make some feel it would serve poorly as a, "Secret," headquarters but, then, what's the point of having a secret headquarters if you can't shove it in everyone else's face that you have one?

Friday, 31 January 2014

Mappin Art Gallery and City Museum, Weston Park

Mappin Art Gallery and City Museum, Weston Park, Sheffield
Photo by Oosoom at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia)
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Steve Does Facts:

The museum first opened in 1875 and was totally refurbished between 2003 and 2006. It attracts 250,000 visitors a year.

The art gallery was closed in the 1950s and 1960s, having been hit by a bomb and partially demolished during the war.
Dinosaurs aren't just ugly, they can also be a major letdown.

The ones in Sheffield's City Museum certainly are.

Mostly because they don't exist.

Nor are there any woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers or even a killer possum to excite the childish imagination.

And so it was that my first ever visit to Sheffield's city museum as a child was a severe disappointment to me.

Still, there were some good things to say about it. It had a stuffed polar bear and it had a bee colony stuck to one of its windows.

On top of that, on the way to it, we went past a genuine skyscraper in the form of the University Arts Tower which, despite it being the tallest building in the city and standing out like a sore thumb in its low level surroundings, I'd up until then somehow totally failed to notice the existence of.

But, of course, the building still manages to be a magical building because it not only contains the city's primary museum but also its major art gallery.

The dual purpose isn't in itself magical. What is magical is that the two buildings are separated by a single glass door in a corridor and that stepping from one building to the other really does feel like you're doing something strangely forbidden, even though you're not. I can only compare it to the feeling you used to get whilst using that mysterious subterranean tunnel that once linked Redgates toy shop to the former Quadrant Stationers.

It's strange how a building that lacks magic through its lack of monsters can instead have a sense of magic through having something as humble as a door.

And perhaps that's why doors still exist and dinosaurs are long gone. If only dinosaurs had had the cunning of doors, maybe, just maybe, they too would still be with us.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...