On the corner of Charles and Cambridge Streets stands another forgotten piece of Sheffield's history. It is not much to look at today, a simple brick-built terrace that older Sheffielders may remember once housed Pollard's famous tea and coffee shop.
This is Isaacs Buildings, erected by paperhangings merchant David Isaacs around 1904-5. Like its near neighbour the Athol Hotel, it was a hub of political activity almost as soon as it was built, providing a home for the Independent Labour Party, the ILP Club, and the ILP-supporting Sheffield Guardian, establishing this unregarded quarter as a hive of politics at a critical moment. The emerging Labour movement had hitherto relied on collaboration with the Liberals, but in 1909 Joseph Pointer, an ILP member, was elected as the city's first Labour MP, in Attercliffe. The rest, as they say, is history. It will, of course, be demolished under the Council's Heart of the City II plans.
Labour may have set up their HQ here so that they could out-stare the Tories at the Athol Hotel over the road, but they probably resorted to the Barleycorn Inn, on the opposite corner with Wellington Street. Rebuilt in 1903, more recently it was Henry's Bar, but don't expect this attractive building will stand much longer. What a shame the Council continue to claim that demolishing or gutting re-usable historic buildings does no harm. Less damaging options exist, but they protest that they are not obliged to consider these. With just a little imagination a vibrant residential and retail community could be created, much as proposed by the Sheffield Community Land Trust. This would make true the Council's boast that their plans have the city's heritage at their centre, which they have done so little to fulfil.
J Robin Hughes