The Market Tavern is falling down. Should it have been saved?
Plus, your chance to live in a water tower
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Today is meant to be Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. But looking out of my window at Park Hill it looks pretty stunning, if a little chilly! Today’s big story is a little downbeat though, after heritage experts blamed the council for letting the Market Tavern in Castlegate deteriorate to the point it needs demolishing. Campaigners are furious that another historic building has been left to rot, but the authority currently does have an estate-wide repair bill of £200 million. Today we ask: should the council have pulled out all the stops to preserve the 110-year-old building — or is there a limit to what we can save?
As well as that we have a new Phlegm exhibition at the Millennium Galley, a piece about how the north south divide began — and a former water tower comes up for sale in Fulwood.
Catch up and coming up
For our political weekend read, Dan visited Stannington to find out if this week’s council by-election could be a trial run for the next general election. You can read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,940 paying members. In the first, David Bocking travelled to the beautiful and historic Rivelin Valley to speak to the volunteers trying to preserve its heritage in an era of extreme weather. And in the second, Victoria looked at Supertram and whether the cost of bringing the system back into public ownership is falling unfairly on areas that are not served by the network. An extract from that first piece is below.
Graham used to be in the Royal Navy, and after witnessing battleships weighing hundreds of tons being tossed around like a cork, he understands the power of water better than most. After watching videos posted by extreme weather watchers on the night of the storm, he walked down the day after to assess the damage. “There were tons of debris, enormous blocks of stone and trees that had been washed down,” he says. “I’d never seen so much debris before — the water had been two or three metres higher than it should have been.” Most notably, Graham observed that Storm Babet had changed the course of the river.
This week we’ll send out two more, including one about the Sheffield United women’s team footballer Maddy Cusack, who tragically took her own life last year, and another about the ongoing turmoil at Sheffield Hallam. To help fund a new form of journalism based on paying members rather than clickbait and celebrity tittle-tattle, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week or 23p a day if you pay for 12 months up front (£70).
Editor’s note: It was about this time of year back in 2021 when I first started thinking about creating The Tribune. If someone would have told me then, at the beginning of the second Covid lockdown, that three years later we’d have created a sustainable business, I wouldn’t have believed them. But the fact that we have done is all down to you. If you want to ensure we’re around for the next three years and hopefully beyond, please become a member today. Thank you.
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The big picture: Bucolic green hills 🟢
Thanks to Richard Eyre for letting us use this amazing picture he took on the hills above Sheffield over the weekend (it reminds me a bit of the old Windows XP default wallpaper, Bucolic Green Hills, for those who remember it). The tiny city centre can be seen in the far distance in the top left. “Just can’t beat our stunning countryside right on the doorstep #outdoorcity,” Richard writes.
This week’s weather ❄
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say a very cold arctic air mass floods southwards this week with a lot of inland sunshine to enjoy. A snow risk from the northwest at times, with milder air back by the weekend.
Monday ☀ Very cold, and very sunny with a hard frost early and late. A significant and sub-zero windchill from the northwest with highs of just 1°C.
Tuesday 🌥❄ A frost to start, with more cloud compared to Monday. Largely dry but a cold front overnight may provide a covering of snow. Highs of 3°C.
Wednesday ☀️ With the front clear to the south, it's back to winter sunshine and hard frosts. Dry and clear conditions favoured with highs of 1°C.
Thursday 🌤❄️ The UKV model has a slightly heightened risk of snow showers funnelling down from the northwest, otherwise sunny with 2°C the high.
Friday 🌥 Sunshine perhaps hazier from the west as the Atlantic tries to move in. Likely dry though, with temperatures a little less raw at 4°C.
Outlook: Turning milder as our airmass shifts to something more typical from the southwest. Windier too with a risk of rain courtesy of low pressure to the north and west ☂️
The big story: The Market Tavern is falling down. Could it have been saved?
Top line: Just before Christmas, Sheffield City Council announced the shock news that the Market Tavern in Castlegate would have to be knocked down. The authority said an investigation of the building late last year revealed the chimneys were structurally unsound and the only option was demolition. How far should we go to preserve the city’s heritage?
When the news was announced it caused widespread sadness. Sheffield heritage campaigners Hallamshire Historic Buildings (HHB) said the former Exchange Street pub was a “landmark building in the heart of Castlegate with a rich history”. The current building dates from 1914 and has been known by several names, including most notably the Rotherham House.
HHB says the Market Tavern was a building of “obvious good quality”, yet since the council took ownership of it in 2006 its story has been one of “neglect and decline”.
At that time the building was in reasonable condition, but over the last 18 years it has deteriorated dramatically, possibly in part due to the demolition of the Castle Market in 2014.
It now seems that the last opportunity to save it has been squandered. When the council said it would have to be demolished, HHB called for “urgent discussion and analysis of options”. But last week they revealed that despite an offer of help from SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the building has deteriorated further, with the entire top floor of the structure and roof now having collapsed. Some have suggested that the facade could still be saved, but this would cost money and much of the £15 million the council was awarded from the Levelling Up Scheme to regenerate the former castle site has already been spoken for.
Spare a thought for Sheffield City Council, however. The authority has an astonishing 282 buildings in its estate, which a recent report found needed £200 million worth of repairs doing to them. £48 million worth of these repairs are deemed “essential or critical” and include work on some of the best known buildings in the city such as the Graves Gallery and Central Library, which is currently shrouded in scaffolding to prevent masonry falling from the roof.
But is preservation always the best option? Recently, the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park was saved from demolition by a well-organised campaign, but it’s unlikely that the council will have the money to make the building modern and accessible.
The Tribune understands that some council officers believe a better option would have been to replace the 1927 building with a more modern cafe — but have now become wary of making the case for demolition for fear of angering local friends’ groups.
Our take: Everyone agrees that heritage is important, both as a way of conserving memory and meaning but also as a way of spurring regeneration (areas with rich histories are often places where people want to live and work). The Market Tavern may well have been beyond repair, but could there have been a way of intervening before things got too bad? As part of a new strategy from Joined Up Heritage Sheffield, residents have been asked to nominate buildings and landscapes they want to preserve. If we can help identify the heritage we think is important, we may be able to rescue the things which are important to us before it is too late.
Do you think the Market Tavern should have been saved? Or do you have some sympathy with the council? As always, paying members can let us know in the comments.
The Weekly Whitworth ✍️
Our cartoonist James Whitworth with his own take on this week’s big story.
Our media picks 🎧
🎓 Sheffield Hallam University hopes to get rid of 5% of its 1,700 academic staff — or 85 people — through the voluntary severance scheme announced last month, reports Times Higher Education. The university needs to make sure it does not breach its agreements with banks, after borrowing significant amounts of money to fund projects like the new city centre campus, as we detailed last month here. We’re going to be reporting further on the situation at Hallam very soon. Email Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have information or opinions you want to pass on.
🏨 Sheffield is in the grip of a “refugee homelessness crisis,” reports the Big Issue, after evictions from asylum-seeker hotels resumed on 3rd January. Babu, from the Sheffield Project for Refugee Integration & Growth (SPRING), said many who are granted asylum in the UK are going “from burning bush to a flaming oil situation,” ending up on the streets within days of receiving their decision. In October, we spoke to the CEO of a local homelessness charity, who said they were being “inundated” with referrals after a change in government policy.
❓ The Telegraph seeks to provide a decisive answer to a deceptively simple question: where does the north begin? It’s a question I’ve seen provoke furious rows, including one recently in The Washington pub where someone from Leeds made the bold case that “the Midlands doesn’t exist”. For many people, as the article notes, Sheffield and South Yorkshire mark the gateway to the superior half of England.
Home of the week 🏡
Ever wanted to live in a water tower? This unique four-bedroomed Fulwood detached home dates back to the early 1900s and has far-reaching views across some of the most beautiful countryside in Sheffield — as well as a private tennis court. It’s on the market for £1,195,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first poll instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
Things to do 📆
Art 🖼️ At the beginning of the pandemic, artist Phlegm started to document his observations of daily life in lockdown in the form of an ongoing series of artworks. These 67 pen and ink drawings blur the reality of the pandemic with the imaginary world he has created throughout his career; one full of long-limbed forest creatures, fantastical contraptions and hybrid cities that seem to grow organically. The exhibition is on at the Millennium Gallery until 7 July.
Talk 🗣️ On Tuesday at Weston Park Museum, find out about the historical and ongoing work of caring for the natural and built environment of Sheffield’s rivers. Geoffrey Guy, Riverlution Manager will explain how this work fosters a sense of place and a connection with your local waterways. This free talk runs from 1pm-1.45pm and forms part of the programme of events linked to the exhibition City of Rivers, which will continue at the museum until 3 November.
Theatre 🎭 Starting on Tuesday at the Lyceum is I Should Be So Lucky, a new musical based on the hits of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The show features music from pop stars including Kylie Minogue (I Should Be So Lucky), Rick Astley (Never Gonna Give You Up), Jason Donovan (Especially for You), Bananarama (Love In The First Degree) and many more, all woven into an original story. The show runs until Saturday and tickets are £15-£57.