Letter: Sheffield city centre pub should have been treated with equal respect
This letter was written by Howard Greaves from Hallamshire Historic Buildings
How sad that yet again our ‘wise’ councillors have nodded through the destruction of an important part of our industrial heritage.
The Sportsman / Chubby’s building on Cambridge Street is an incredibly rare, if not unique, example of an integral Victorian pub attached to a collection of little mester’s workshops.
The adjoining Leah’s Yard was never really under threat due to its Grade II* listed status, but the pub should have been treated with equal respect in spite of it not being listed. It has survived intact for 150 years and little would the workers, for whom it was built and who gathered in the large meeting room, imagine that the building would still have been here today (but not for much longer).
If the walls could talk we would hear the muttering and grievances of the workers who quite rightly were dissatisfied with their lot in life. From such meetings, the Labour Movement grew, but apparently this counts for nothing today.
In those days the life of the working classes was sheer hell and beer not only slaked their thirst but took their minds off the everyday drudgery. This large meeting room should be preserved as some sort of shrine and possibly converted into a restaurant with relevant themes.
The name of the long-gone Stirrings Restaurant could even be revived, and nothing could be more apt. As this grouping of buildings is unique to Sheffield, and probably the world, the potential is enormous.
The usual fatuous arguments regarding ceiling heights and floor loadings etc are just not credible. Chester or York would not dream of trashing the interiors of their historic higgledy-piggledy shops and buildings in this way, so why should Sheffield?
When are they going to realise that ‘quirky’ is what draws people in and genuine Victorian pubs are what people want to see. Unfortunately it all boils down to profit and with a cleared site much more value and money can be wrung out of it.
Retention of the façades is better than nothing but Sheffield is in danger of becoming Façade City.
The Pepper Pot building on Pinstone Street is now just a façade, and we understand that the magnificent Victorian chimney stacks which once graced the building will not now be reinstated in spite of previous promises. They have been described as ‘visual clutter’ which really means their non-reinstatement will make life much easier and cheaper.
In reality, as the interior with its chimney breasts has now been demolished there isn’t anything left to support the chimney stacks, which the developers will have been aware of from the word go. They have cited their excuse as ‘for engineering reasons’. For that read ‘cost reasons’.
In this day and age anything is possible and The Sportsman could and should be retained in its entirety. This is a very important slice of Sheffield’s industrial, social and political history and I would urge councillors to think again.