SLIDESHOW - Retro: A castle for the people

Co-operative store brought a new Continental-style look to city centre shopping

Back in May 1964, Sheffielders were all agog to have a look inside a new city centre store at Castle House on Angel Street.

Brightside & Carbrook Sheffield'Grocery Department''Submitted

Brightside & Carbrook Sheffield'Grocery Department''Submitted

The striking new building, with its granite facade, was described as “a shopping paradise for the whole family” in a supplement in the Sheffield Telegraph.

The departments sold everything from food to furniture and gardening equipment to clothing.

Brightside and Carbrook Co-op built the store to replace its building in Exchange Street that was destroyed in the Blitz.

It was just one expression of how the city was moving forward from the dark days of war.

The city corporation took over the old Exchange Street site to build Castle Market, which opened in 1959 to replace Norfolk Market hall.

The corporation gave the Co-op the site on Angel Street and Exchange Street to replace the old store.

A single-storey prefab building was put up in 1950 and demolition work started nine years later.

The first half of the building opened in 1962, with all departments squeezed in there for two years.

The Sheffield Telegraph reported in 1964: “The new building is probably the most striking to go up in the city since the war, mainly because it is a different colour.

“Its blue pearl and Cornish grey marble facade is a refreshing breakaway from the monotone Portland stone which the city council has decreed for all new buildings in the city centre since the war”.

The corporation had to give special permission for the marble frontage to break the Portland stone rule.

The paper’s special correspondent reported that the nearest building resembling it was in Amsterdam.

The central spiral staircase that became a much-loved feature was a piece of clever engineering that didn’t need a central pillar.

The restaurant roof was another marvel. The concrete structure appeared to be floating on glass, with its supports hidden out of sight.

The ‘fish and fowl’ metal artwork that adorned the staircase was designed by a 24-year-old CWS shopfitter, Stanley Layland.

The building has been closed for seven years now but was reopened briefly last autumn as a base for arts installations as part of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind.

Castle House could find a new use as a permanent cultural space. That would be a fitting use for a building that brought a lot of art and style to shopping in its heyday.