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Sheffield Town Hall

From Academic Kids

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Sheffield_Town_Hall_and_The_Peace_Gardens.jpg
Sheffield Town Hall and the Peace Gardens.

Sheffield Town Hall is a building in the city of Sheffield in the north of England. The building is used by the council, and also contains a publicly displayed collection of silverware.

The current building on Pinstone Street was opened on 21 May 1897 and was extended in 1923. It was designed by the London-based architect E. W. Mountford, and echoed to a certain extent the architecture of the adjacent St. Paul's Church of 1720.

The exterior is built of "Stoke" stone from the Stoke Hall Quarry in Grindleford, Derbyshire and is decorated with carvings by F. W. Pomeroy. The friezes depict the industries of Sheffield, while the 64 metre high clock-tower is surmounted by a statue of Vulcan. During construction, the building was criticised for its expensive embellishments.

The building was opened by Queen Victoria, using a remote control lock from her carriage. The turning of the key in the lock triggered a light in the building which was the signal for three concealed men to open the gates.

Previous Buildings

Sheffield's first town hall was referred to in a 1637 survey of the area. It is thought to have been at 10 Pinfold Street.

From 1700-1708 there was a small brick-built community hall in the corner of the Churchyard. It was owned by the Town Trustees, as was its replacement, built in 1808 on the corner of Waingate and Castle Street. This building was designed by Charles Watson, and was extended twice (1833 and 1867).

The first Town Council was elected in 1843 and took over the lease of the Town Trustees' hall in 1866. The following year, the building was extensively renovated, with a clock tower being added.

In 1886 the council cleared a number of premises in the Pinstone Street area to make way for the current Town Hall.

Sheffield Peace Gardens

A new extension to the Town Hall was planned in the late 1930s and necessitated the demolition of the adjacent St Paul's Church in 1938. The extension plans were subsequently put on hold due to the Second World War, and the site was made into a public garden instead. The garden was called St Paul's Garden but was more popularly known as the Peace Gardens.

One feature of the Peace Gardens was a standard ruler, 100 feet long, built of metal and running along what was St Paul's Parade. It was accurately horizontal and varied in height above the pavement from a few inches to about four feet. It was possible for a small child to run along the ruler, as it was about a foot wide. It was presented to the City by the Lord Mayor in 1910, partly as a Standard of Length, and partly for its public education value. The ruler showed pre-metric measurements such as chains, links and poles.

By the 1990s, the gardens had got a bad reputation as a haven for drunkards. In 1998 the gardens were renovated as the first stage of the Sheffield Council's Heart of the City project. The plans faced substantial local opposition as the Peace Gardens were a popular and well-loved feature of the city centre at the time.

The new layout with its emphasis on water-features was initially criticised for its lack of garden, but has since become a popular venue for families during the summer; its walk-in fountain is especially popular with children.

The New Town Hall Extension

In 1977, a new council building in a modern style was added to the east of the Peace Gardens, and was connected to the old Town Hall by way of a glazed flyover. The building was immediately unpopular and was nicknamed the Egg-Box after its appearance.

The new building, complete with roof-garden, cost in the region of 9 million and was built with a life-span of about 500 years following concerns about the tenacity of the concrete structures built in the previous decade.

It was demolished in 2002 to make way for the Sheffield Winter Gardens.

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