In the 2014 edition of The Cruck we ran an article entitled Faulty Towers Scheme and rather than going over old ground it is re-printed at the end of this current article, so it might be an idea to read that one first.
A new application has been submitted which has revised the plans but frankly they are not much better than the old ones, except that 3 rather than 4 new dwellings on the site are envisaged. The coach house would be turned into 3 housing units and, according to the planning brief, this is how the restoration of the grand 19th century Gothic Revival mansion would be financed and turned back into a single house again. In all fairness the newbuild would have lower roofs than the original plans and there would be more use of stone, but the Conservation Advisory Group felt that a mews or courtyard would be much more in keeping with this very sensitive site. It does after all sit at the edge of Chelsea Park which was designed by Robert Marnock and used to be the gardens of the Towers. His original contours would be very much compromised and as the park is locally listed it is thus of great merit. Having said that there is no suggestion that Chelsea Park itself would be built on and the rough land to be used would originally have been the main house’s domestic garden and, just like the house which has no public access, is in a rough state.
This is a difficult one as if the scheme is refused then there is the danger that the Towers will just be left to rot away, which would be a great shame. The welcome demolition of the nasty 1950’s extensions would certainly revive the mansion’s original splendour in a new found isolation and conversion of the architecturally interesting coach house would be a good thing and Historic England have nodded their approval to this, but additional dwelling houses in modern design – no thanks!
Article from the 2014 edition of The Cruck – available from Sheffield Scene, Surrey Street or direct from us.
FAULTY TOWERS SCHEME
One of the smallest and much used parks in this green city of ours is Chelsea Park, situated just off Brincliffe Edge Road. In the grounds stands Brinkcliffe Tower, as it was then known. The ‘k’ was lost and an ‘s’ added somewhere along the line making it now Brincliffe Towers.
Built in 1852 it had the reputation of being the ‘most strongly built house in Sheffield’ and the basements were actually excavated out of solid rock. The mounds and trees in the park were added at a later date to obscure the views of the Union Workhouse at Nether Edge. What a different world!
It was lived in from 1902 to 1925 by well-known solicitor and JP, Robert Styring. He became Lord Mayor in 1907 and threw a party there for 600 people! Sadly his wife died in March 1925 and in November of the same year he donated the house and twelve acres of grounds to the City. He retired to Paignton in Devon and the house remained empty and after a brief period as a girl’s school dormitory, was requisitioned by the army in WWII.
In 1960 it was refurbished by the J. G. Graves Trust, the modern extensions added and it was then taken over by the Social Services Dept.
Up to three years ago, the house and coach house were in use as a private care home, but I presume that ever changing regulations forced it to close, which is happening more and more nowadays. Plans have now been submitted to turn it back into a single dwelling, which should be a very des res indeed. The coach house is also to be turned into a dwelling and the dreadful 1960’s extensions to be demolished. All good news so far.
Now for the bad news. It is proposed to build four 5 bed dwellings (of atrocious design) and a new access road (onto Brincliffe Edge Road) in the grounds, which the locals are saying is actually part of Chelsea Park. Over 30 of them (and not all Chelsea Pensioners!) lodged objections and I think they have a valid point as this land was not gifted to the City to enable a developer to have an earner. To use the word again ‘enabling development’ is a phrase often used to justify new-build and in this case, as usual, it is to finance the restoration of the mansion. Sorry but it doesn’t warrant the ruination of this lovely little green oasis.
I’ve done some research and found that in 1921 John Edward Lee lived at the Tower Lodge and there were also some Tower cottages on the site. Mr Lee was a tramway cleaner as opposed to the illustrious tenant at the ’big house’ and this is an interesting microcosm of life in those days. There’s probably enough material there for a TV series which could perhaps be called Brinkcton Abbey.