Tag Archives: 19th century

Press Release

The Old Town Hall up for sale – yet again?
Yet again, Sheffield’s historic Old Town Hall, in Waingate, has been advertised for sale. This happened only a few weeks ago – at the end of August –  and the advert was pulled after only ten days or so.
‘We have to ask what the owners are playing at’, said Valerie Bayliss, Chair of the campaigning group, Friends of the Old Town Hall. ‘The sale advert and the linked brochure – for what it’s worth, as it gives very little information – are the same as the ones that were pulled last month. The same agent is still asking the same amount for the building – £2 million or more, which is a huge amount for a building bought in 2004 for £650,000 and allowed to go to semi-ruin ever since. Even as a potential residential conversion, which the agent mentions, the price strikes local property experts as implausible, because of the general level of property values in the area and of course the state it’s in’.
Damaged area 1
The Friends are asking whether there is some complicated game going on. If there is, they are not impressed. ‘Our supporters have been concerned for ages about the state of the building’, said Friends’ committee member Joy Bullivant. ‘They object to a listed historic asset in the city being treated so poorly. Why don’t the owners do the right thing and get it back into use themselves?And if they can’t, or won’t, why won’t they make a realistic attempt to sell it on to someone who will?’
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The owners of the Old Town Hall since 2004 are  London-based G1 London Properties Ltd. The company’s object is said to be ‘development of building projects’.  Since 2004 there have been no planning applications of any kind for the Old Town Hall. The Friends say this suggests the owners have had no plans to regenerate the building. ‘We would love to talk to the owners about how the building could be regenerated’, says Valerie. ‘The invitation we issued earlier this year is still open. We really want to stop the rot. But they have simply not responded to us. Meanwhile the neglect continues. It just isn’t good enough’.
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Press Release 11th September 2015

Sheffield’s Old Town Hall and Courthouse, controversially put up for sale by its London-based owners only two weeks ago as a ’residential development opportunity’, has been taken off the market. The move comes only days after the agents told Radio Sheffield that ‘several enquiries’ had been received. But by yesterday evening (10 September) all trace of the sale brochure had been taken down from the internet by the agents,  Michael Berman of Whetstone, north London.

‘It’s a very interesting move’ said Valerie Bayliss, chair of the campaigning group the Friends of the Old Town Hall. ‘Exactly the same thing happened a year ago, when a sale brochure appeared on a different agent’s website for a couple of weeks and then vanished. Clearly no sale took place then and it seems unlikely there’s been a sale now. We wonder what the owners are playing at. As far back as 2008 they advertised the building as for sale by auction, but it never got as far as the auction room. That happened after the Victorian Society included the Old Town Hall in its annual list of the country’s most endangered buildings. There’s a pattern here, and it isn’t one that helps the city’.

The Old Town Hall has been owned since 2004 by London-based G1 London Properties Ltd. Since then, as the Friends have pointed out, the building has been allowed to suffer serious decay. ‘This is a Grade 2 listed building’, said Brian Holmshaw of the Friends. ‘It is a disgrace that the owners appear to have done nothing to stop the rot. Meanwhile they advertised it, this year and last, at a price – £2m or more – that looks way over the top given the cost of repairing the damage’.

Meanwhile the Friends are working actively to find out what the building could be used for, and have commissioned a professional appraisal of potential options for its future use. ‘We expect the results of the study by the end of the year’, says Brian, ‘and that it will open up the building to many more opportunities than simply residential conversion – just look around the country. There are many town hall and courthouse conversions, as restaurants, offices and museums as well as housing. Places like Guildford, Oldham and Coventry have found imaginative new uses for them, often a mix of uses. In fact, while housing may be a possibility the layout of the Old Town Hall, with its two huge, top-lit Victorian courtrooms, makes it a challenge’.

The Friends hope that their study will encourage a wide range of potential users to take an active interest in restoring the Old Town Hall  and make it once again an asset to Sheffield.

19th century Timeline

Not a comprehensive list but a snapshot of the many stories the Old Town Hall was involved in. IMG_3257_8_9_tonemappedmerged

1808 Town Hall built by Charles Watson

1812 Luddite Riots Lady Ludd

1817 Combination act imprisonment for Trade Union Activities

1820 Yorkshire Rebellion John Blackwell arrested & tried for riotous behaviour

1832 Cholera  Town Hall becomes  control centre to fight contagion

1833 refit of Town Hall by William Fairbanks

1842 Chartist Holberry and others arrested

1843 Town Council elected for first time

1844 Colliery riots Woodhouse arrests made on the Wicker

1850 Tontine Inn demolished along with Castle Barns to make way for New Markets

1854 Sheffield Canal banks burst

1855 Irish Riots Westbar Green

1861 First sitting of County court in Bank Street  as bankruptcy courts

1862 Bodysnatching riot Wardsend cemetery Sexton and Vicar convicted

1864 Sheffield Floods  Town Hall becomes rescue centre and place of refuge for survivors, later enquiry and distribution of compensation

1864 Central Police Station built

1867 Enquiry Royal Commission into  Outrages, Trade Union violence

1867 refit of Town Hall

1879 Charlie Peace arrest

1896 extension built  Town Hall

1897 New Town Hall opened in Pinstone Street