Town Fields is an area of Sheffield that you’ve probably never heard of, but that’s what it was known as a couple of hundred years ago, which explains why. No doubt this is where one of the street names ‘Daisy Walk’ came from. By the 1850s however it had been developed and you would now refer to it as Netherthorpe and as a rough marker it’s near to where the famous St. Philip’s Working Men’s Club once stood. Back to back houses were the order of the day here, interspersed with small metal trades’ firms and the odd chapel. Part of the area was known as Jericho and there was a small open space which went by the name of Jericho Square – but more of that later.
Most of the large site involved has been cleared and outline planning permission for mixed use was granted in 2010 and again in 2015. Phase I is Centenary Square, which is the massive student block that you can hardly miss whilst sitting on Supertram. However, the proposed 15 storey tower certainly raised some eyebrows at the Conservation Advisory Group meeting, and their view was that it would not preserve or enhance the Conservation Area and would do significant harm to it. The plans propose to create 133 two-bed units, 139 one-bed units, 12 studios and a small commercial unit. Presumably that’s for the local SPAR Shop which will certainly be needed here. Two blocks are to be created in red-brick and bronze coloured cladding and they graduate from the 15 storey’s down to 5 storeys in a ‘rhythmic grid’ (non-musical). Brownell Street will disappear and be turned into a public courtyard and be landscaped using the existing historic cobbles. Jericho Square is also to be recreated as an area of public realm and together with the new Edward Street Park there will certainly be some nice little oases for the residents.
When the new dual carriageway was created it drastically altered this area and basically chopped Netherthorpe in half. Part of Jericho St still exists but the section on the other side of the carriageway is now known as Well Meadow Drive and is in the Well Meadow Conservation Area. This is a little known CA but contains some very important buildings which will be affected by the new scheme.
Probably the most important is Grade II* Joel’s Yard which according to Pevsner is ‘one of the most significant of Sheffield’s 19th century industrial monuments. It is a rare survivor of a Works which retains both elements of 19th century steel making production of crucible steel and manufacture of steel files’. Across the road 54 Well Meadow Street is Grade II listed and also historically important.
A third listed building in the Area, important for different reasons, is the 1873 Netherthorpe Junior School who’s 1878 Caretaker’s House and surrounding walls are also Grade II listed. Famous architects Innocent and Brown designed the school and it is their earliest survivor of School Board buildings. It was also amongst the first to be built in England after the 1870 Education Act.
Inevitably there is to be a casualty in the new scheme, but the building has been so heavily altered recently that it is now of no merit. It was included in the Conservation Area and although unlisted is probably of Georgian origin and part of a terrace. 80/86 Upper Allen Street was recently occupied by Pennine Instruments who have now moved on. It does give you an idea of the feel and character of the area as it used to be, and a photograph from the 1960’s shows its then merits and possibilities. In its life it has been both shops and the Black Horse public house and its retention would have been an interesting reminder of the height and look of this early part of Sheffield.
(Look up – http://www.picturesheffield.com Ref: s14817).
Restoration and reversal of alterations are just not financially feasible – so I’m afraid it’s got to go. Shame really, and another bit of old Sheffield bites the dust.