A superb book that gives a real insight into the changing Sheffield city landscape. Detailed information about the buildings and how they have appeared and how some of them have changed over the years. Lots of photographs, plans, engravings and maps. Highly recommended for getting to know more about the city of Sheffield.
Includes instructions for 6 walks around the city with plenty of notes about the buildings and their history.
Walk 1: The Town Hall Area
Walk 2: The Cathedral Area
Walk 3: The Devonshire Area
Walk 4: The Cultural Industries Area
Walk 5: The Castle and Wicker
Walk 6: Scotland Street to Neepsend
The only downside is that it was published in 2004 and with such a lot of change in the last 5 years, especially in the St Paul's Square area, the book is now ripe for an update.
In the absence of a revised edition for the West Riding of Yorkshire, we must needs fall back on the 2004 Pevsner for Sheffield. The guide to Sheffield, written by Ruth Harman and John Minnis, covers the centre and the inner city. Thus details are provided for Malin Bridge and Wisewood but not for Bradfield.
The writers’ forty-page introduction takes the reader on a chronological tour of the city and its architectural development. Towards the end they write, “The consistent theme of the last twenty-five years has been the need for economic regeneration, which has often meant that opportunities for new development promising jobs have been seized, however mediocre the quality of the new building and irrespective of the price paid in loss of irreplaceable fabric of historic interest.”
Recently visiting the city with this book in hand, I noted how so much has been lost even since 2004 in favour of mostly bland office and apartment developments. But there are some modern erections worthy of praise. Another process worthy of remark – and one certainly noted in this Sheffield Pevsner – is the conversion of so many buildings to licenced establishments. The short three words “now a bar”, or “now a pub” are a regular repeated.
As well as dealing separately with the city’s landmark buildings, and as well as covering much of the inner city with stimulating tours, the Sheffield volume also has an emphasis on housing estates, both council and private, now that time has settled on appreciation of their merits and demerits. But opinions will still be divided. (Is the Gleadless Valley estate really “stunning”? I would argue, only if dull uniformity is your thing.)
The book is illustrated in full in colour. Not only do these comprise the results of splendid modern photography, but also archive photographs as well as engravings and plans. Some are of more than casual interest, such as Nicholson’s 1936 plans for the cathedral. To me Sheffield Cathedral is of just as much architectural interest as some of the great medieval masterpieces elsewhere in England. But, thankfully, the baptismal pool under the west crossing was never built.
This book will appeal to all those with an interest in the built environment, but the buildings of a city also say so much about its economic, cultural, and social history too. This book, then, is a valuable contribution to what Sheffield is now and how it got there.