Reborn Jessop Hospital looking to a sound future

EVERY Christmas, nurses at the Jessop Hospital in Sheffield would line the main staircase, dressed in their capes, holding lanterns and singing carols.

That was virtually the only time that music echoed around the building.

Seven years after the maternity hospital relocated to the Jessop Wing near the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, the sound of music will be heard again – and this time throughout the year.

The main Victorian wing where generations of Sheffielders were bornx has been refurbished ready for the arrival of the University of Sheffield's Department of Music.

Around 230 staff and students will move in January from Taptonville Road, Broomhill, to the Jessop Building in Leavygreave and the equally distinctive rubber-clad 'Soundhouse' across the road in Gell Street.

They will find that the 1877 Jessop building has been restored to its former glory, both in terms of retaining and restoring features such as ornate staircases and cornices and cleaning up the brickwork.

It was quite a challenge.

"I don't think derelict is too strong a word," said Derek Lowe, head of capital projects in the university's department of estates, describing the state of the Jessop at the start of the project. "The building was infested with pigeons and we had water coming through the roof."

That has all changed as a result of the 6.7m scheme implemented by architects careyjones and contractors Kier Northern.

"We really have got a quality building," said Mr Lowe. "Everybody has been impressed."

One of those people is former matron Angela Culley, now retired and living in Fulwood, and who knows the building inside out. She believes the Jessop's original benefactors would be pleased with the care taken in the refurbishment.

The transformation had kept the style of the place, while creating modern accommodation. "I think they have done a brilliant job," said Miss Culley, who was matron from 1987, then head of nursing and midwifery during the relocation.

"I get the feeling that the renovation has been done by people who cared. It was not done by somebody just doing a job but somebody who appreciates the history associated with the building."

Admirers also includes Prof Anne Peat, Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sheffield, who was a student nurse at Jessop in 1970 and a tutor from 1977 to 1997.

"They have retained much of what it originally looked like," she said. "I think they have done an excellent job. Nothing has been spoiled."

Looking around the restored building Prof Peat found what used to be her office, the all-important office of the matron, and pointed out where the dining rooms and coffees rooms used to be – smoking and non-smoking.

Now the windows have now been triple glazed for soundproofing and an atrium has been slotted into part of the building where a relatively modern extension has been demolished.

An Edwardian wing, also a listed building, facing Broad Lane, remains derelict but will be made wind and watertight while its future is resolved.

On a street corner a Victorian gas lamp is due to be restored to working condition.

The Jessop project is part of a major redevelopment of the university's Western Bank campus. Also in January the multi-coloured Jessop West building, facing Brook Hill roundabout, will become home to the Department of History and the School of English and the School of Modern Languages and Linguistics.

Some teaching space for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities is being incorporated into the old hospital alongside the rehearsal rooms, computer studio and offices for the Department of Music.

A community day is being organised on Thursday, December 11, for former nurses and other staff. A tour can be booked through the university website or by calling 222 8893.

Prof Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "We feel extremely proud to be unveiling the carefully restored and renovated Jessop building.

"This is a building that is close to many people's hearts and is an important part of Sheffield's history. By bringing the building back to life we have created excellent facilities for our Department of Music and have retained a piece of exquisite Victorian architecture for the city."

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