Old Town Hall on Waingate - a bit grim
Sheffield's old and derelict Town Hall
Sheffield's first Town Hall was on Fargate, the third and present one is on Pinstone Street - but the second... well, that's near Castle Market and it's fast falling into disrepair.
:: October 2008
It's the large and imposing (but very dirty) building with a clock tower on Waingate.
Sheffield old Town Hall's clock tower
BBC Radio Sheffield's Natalie Clifford went for a look at the 1808 building along with Valerie Bayliss of the Victorian Society in Sheffield.
"It started off in 1808 as a Town Hall and courts for the Petty Sessions (now known as Magistrates' Courts) and Quarter Sessions. The city was growing enormously at this time.
"In 1866 it had to be extended by the Sheffield architects Flockton and Abbott. That firm of architects built the police offices just across from here, at the back of Castle Green, at the same time. Incidentally these might be brought back into use as police offices [at the time of writing in 2008]."
Sheffield Town Hall on Pinstone Street
By the 1890s the building had become too small again, and a whole new Town Hall was built on Pinstone Street. That one opened in 1897 around the time that Sheffield was given city status.
From then on the building on Waingate became an even larger courthouse and the police court. The law quarter of Sheffield is still based around this area, with the current Law Courts and many solicitors offices in this area too.
It remained a courthouse and police court until the late 1990s when Sheffield High Court and Sheffield Crown Court moved to new premises behind the High Street - so a lot of people over a century and a half have been in and out of this building for good reasons and bad.
Sheffield's old Town Hall on Waingate - a bit grim
Since that point, the old Town Hall on Waingate has been derelict - so much so that in 2007 the national charity The Victorian Society placed it on their list of most at-risk buildings in the whole of the UK.
The present owners have had the old Town Hall since 2004 but it has stood empty since then.
It is Grade II listed and was supposed to go to auction in October 2008, but when BBC Radio Sheffield contacted the auctioneers they hadn't been paid their fees so it wouldn't be able to go under the hammer.
Castle Market, Sheffield
"I'd just love to see scaffolding up, stone-cleaning and the inside being renovated," says Valerie Bayliss of the Victorian Society. "There are at least three courtrooms still in there plus 14 police cells, so there's a lot of history - a lot of Sheffielders and others will have been locked up here at some time!
"It's very elegant and classical in design, with well-made stonework but it's absolutely filthy on the stone and the windows. Pigeons and graffiti artists have had a go at it and now it looks very sorry for itself."
The biggest problem for the Grade II listed building is it's roof - but as Valerie Bayliss explains, there's only a limited amount that can be done about it with the building's owners being out of contact:
Fountain at Sheffield's old Town Hall
"A lot of water has got in. We were told that the worst had been stopped with patching, but with another winter coming up we're very concerned about the state of the building inside.
"The City Council is as worried as the Victorian Society. They've been in touch with the owner and have been trying to get repairs done, such as patching up the roof, but councils cant get owners to do repairs on Grade II listed buildings themselves. They can do the repairs and send the owners the bill, but that's about it.
"I would encourage Sheffield City Council as strongly as I could to take that course of action with this building; it's too important to lose.
Sheffield's old Town Hall on Waingate
"It's big, elegant, one of the most important buildings round here, and we should be giving it some TLC."
So what does Valerie see as the future for the Waingate building?
"As long as it's a use which respects the building inside and out and there are people using it I don't really mind what it is. It would make offices, nightclub, restaurants, a cultural space for lectures and concerts, maybe even apartments - but you'd need a really good imaginative architect for that.
"The current economic climate [autumn 2008] might be the worst possible time to say a private developer or a local authority should spend money on this - but what happens if they don't?..."
last updated: 23/10/2008 at 11:28
Have Your Say
Have you ever been inside the old Town Hall? What do you think should be done with it? What should its purpose be next?
Mrs Janet Oakland