Locked up forever: West Bar police station closes

Activity in a murder incident room at West Bar police HQ in November 1975.
Activity in a murder incident room at West Bar police HQ in November 1975.
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IT was the end of an era for criminals and coppers alike - as Sheffield’s West Bar police station closed it doors for the last time after almost 50 years.

What was once Sheffield’s tallest and most modern building ended up a crumbling shell, and police chiefs locked it up for one final time ready for developers to demolish to make way for a new plush hotel and restaurant.

West Bar ‘nick’ opened in 1965 and became a landmark building - towering above all the others in the city centre.

It was the place where, in 1982, the European Cup was handed in after a man stole it from Aston Villa players who were celebrating their win in a pub in Tamworth. Bobbies on duty at the time held a football game in the West Bar backyard to compete for the trophy until it was reclaimed.

And it was the base for Sgt Howard Webb, below, before he went off on the football refeering sabbatical which last summer saw him preside over the World Cup final.

But over the years the ageing building gradually fell into a state of disrepair and, despite it being an authentic vintage cop shop, even the producers of the BBC’s Life On Mars police series found it too dilapidated to be considered as a filming location. It closed yesterday lunchtime - and now all enquiries will be handled at South Yorkshire Police’s HQ on Snig Hill.

Sheffield’s District Commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Torr, said: “West Bar was an iconic building - it was once the tallest building in Sheffield and everyone knew West Bar nick, so closing it for the last time really is the end of an era.

“It served us well over the years but towards the end it became too rundown for us to consider keeping it - they even turned it down as a filming location for Life On Mars.

“It is a sad day for the officers and staff who have worked there over the years - a lot of people have fond memories of the place.

He said the closure of the station and relocation to Snig Hill was part of the police force’s “long-term accommodation strategy” aimed at improving resources and facilities.

“Replacing the ageing West Bar building with improved facilities at HQ is a key part of this strategy and, apart from the change in location, it’s business as usual for the people of Sheffield,” he added.

Builders are due to move in as early as April next year, with a brief to transform the seven-storey 1960s tower into a 141-room hotel, a restaurant and an 80-space car park.