Case for saving Castle Market is demolished

CASTLERAM'Sheffield Castle Market
CASTLERAM'Sheffield Castle Market

IT’S not one of Sheffield’s grandest structures but the stark appearance of the Sixties-built Castle Market has its fans.

So much so that the Government’s conservation agency was asked to protect it from demolition as an example of modern brutalism – to the frustration of the council, which wants to clear the site, open up the castle ruins and press ahead with regeneration plans.

An objection was lodged and this week English Heritage and the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport agreed that the design of the building, while having its merits, does not qualify it for listing.

It means the council can press ahead with demolition – but not for some time. The markets are due to be relocated to The Moor but a deal has still not yet been finalised.

The application for listing Castle Market was made anonymously and threatened to frustrate the council’s long-term ambitions.

Council leader Paul Scriven described this week’s verdict as fantastic news. “The DCMS has effectively endorsed our view that Castle Market is not of listable quality. Castle Market consists of not very attractive, worn-out, not fit-for-purpose market buildings, that’s why we are working to build a new market on The Moor.

“Castlegate is one of Sheffield’s most important historic sites and we want to explore and find out what’s really under there. If the 1960s Castle Market building was listed we wouldn’t have been able to demolish the market to make the ruins of the castle more accessible.

“It would have been like a dead weight hanging around the neck of Sheffield. Thankfully now we can truly realise our vision for the Castlegate area, including revealing the remains of Sheffield Castle.”

The vision envisages opening up the area for gardens, with the remains of the castle, which dates from 1270, on the riverside and with offices and apartments on the rest of the site.

The council failed in an appeal against the listing of another building from the same era, the Castle House Co-op store just around the corner but English Heritage was not convinced in the case of Castle Market.

Heritage protection co-ordinator Victoria Ellis said: “Externally the building’s appearance is not notable, nor is its construction technologically innovative.

“The materials used in the main are concrete with terrazzo tiling, some now rendered and painted, and metal-framed windows. There is a lack of use of high-quality materials, in contrast to the nearby Castle House – listed Grade II – the contemporary former Co-operative department store.

“Castle Market is an intelligent design for a difficult site, done by a notable architect Andrew Derbyshire, though early in his career. It is one part of the wider post-war regeneration of Sheffield, aimed to put the city at the forefront of modern urban planning.

“However, the building does not display the quality of design or materials, the technological interest in its construction or the artistic interest which is found in the best market halls of this era and consequently does not meet the criteria for listing.”

Coun Scriven, meanwhile, reflected that his only wish was that “local Labour politicians had taken the same approach in previous years with other similar buildings when they ran the council, such as Park Hill”. He said: “Past experience has shown that London-based experts listing local large unpopular 1950s and Sixties buildings only leads to local taxpayers having to fork out for something that they don’t want.”