Sheffield heritage ‘falling into disrepair’

Ron Clayton outside derelict Loxley Chapel

Ron Clayton outside derelict Loxley Chapel

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Let’s consider something that’s always been close to my heart, the way we treat our old and historic heritage in this fair city and let’s zoom into S6.

We’ll start with the long running saga of Loxley Old Church or Chapel. Built in 1787, and closed in 1993, it is probably the oldest building in Loxley.

Ron Clayton outside the old Coachhouse in Hillsborough Park

Ron Clayton outside the old Coachhouse in Hillsborough Park

The photograph shows how it is faring since Mark Rodgers and I photographed it in 2009 for our book on the River Loxley. Badly is an understatement.

Do a little internet research and you will see its deplorable internal state plastered across several websites.

Locals in S6 know the background. It belonged to the local Hague family group of companies and concern about its condition has been voiced for years.

Representations about it have been made to the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Sheffield City Council, English Heritage, the Bishop of Sheffield and for all I know the Lord High Executioner, Result?

Derelict Loxley Chapel

Derelict Loxley Chapel

Well you can see. Grade 2 listed and containing the graves of Sheffield Flood victims in its overgrown burial ground.

I understand that it has recently been sold to a property developer who has apparently also purchased the former Claremont building further up Loxley Valley. Time for a new start hopefully.

Well, let’s lift our spirits and take a turn down to Middlewood Road and the Walled Garden in Hillsborough Park which contains the coachhouse to Hillsborough House/Hall built 1779 and in the protective custody of Sheffield City Council.

The amount of paper, designs and dreams that has been spent and spawned on giving this Grade 2 listed structure a viable future would paper its inside and yet it is still in a parlous state. Back in 2012 Kier put it up for sale – presumably with a view to it being developed into a cafe for the park.

The old Coachhouse in Hillsborough Park

The old Coachhouse in Hillsborough Park

Well, time and tide wait for no man and while it was on the market and after it was taken off the market Hillsborough saw an increase in the number of coffee shops – most of them independents thank goodness – along Middlewood Road which obviously negates the need for a cafe in the park especially when you have the Stadium facility as well. A Catch 22 or was it a Catch Up Scenario?

Next it is off to Neepsend and a sign of the times. A former watering hole that survived the Great Flood of 1864 but may not survive the effects of the Less Great Flood of 2007.

I refer, of course, to the Farfield Hotel which is boarded up due to vandalism. Grade 2, again, belongs to Ralph Salt, well known on the local music scene and also the owner of the former Lancers pub which is in good nick and boasts a beautiful cherry blossom tree.

Ralph has had the usual problems with the tooth fairy removing the roof lead but the former pub/guesthouse was gutted in the 2007 flood and looks more forlorn than Miss Haversham at her wedding breakfast.

It may not have the elegance of the scanty remnants of Georgian Sheffield a la Paradise Square or parts of Broomhall – mind you no inside lavs – but it dates from 1754 and in its day was a house of some importance like the long lost Barrack Tavern which stood nearby in the days when Sheffield’s Royal Infirmary stood in virtually a rural setting.

A rumour that it had changed hands some time ago appears to be unfounded.

Finally we end up at Oakland Road admiring a real survivor. Yes it is a Webbs Patent Gas Destructor Lamp, a fascinating piece of early 20th century technology designed to utilise the power of sewer gas and freshen up the inner reaches of one’s gennel.

Sheffield invested in 80 or so of these and now they are as rare as rocking horse manure. London has got one left, Sheffield 20 odd or so – there’s obviously gas in them there seven hills of Sheffield. The council keeps a list of most of them but the one at Oakland Road deserves some TLC.

To me these are causes for concern because if they fall into disrepair then environmentally it is the same as litter or graffiti because it affects us all. Time for a real change of outlook and a serious attempt to resource and get a Heritage Strategy in place to make Sheffield’s past part of its future.

n We want you to tell us which of Sheffield’s old buildings should be Causes For Concern. Email alex.moore@jpress.co.uk or ring on 0114 276 7676 ext 3345.