Report - - Castle Market, Sheffield - May 2015 | High Stuff | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Castle Market, Sheffield - May 2015


Is this the future?
Regular User
What can I tell you about Castle Market? As a child, it seemed to have come straight out of Hieronymus Bosch. The bustle, the mess, the noise. The smell of mackerel and bloodied sawdust. The cabbage leaves and broken biscuits underfoot… How, I used to worry, would I ever find my way out if I were to become separated from my father?... The market’s multi-storied galleries, engineered for ease of movement, were linked by a system of walkways and curved ramps. But their logic, if it existed at all, was lost on me then, obscured as it was by the massed ranks of trolley-dragging old ladies in mushroom-shaped hats and fuzzy coats…

Like Park Hill, Castle Market was yet another one of Sheffield City Council’s utopian modernist projects. J. L. Womersley, the architect responsible for the legendary Park Hill residential complex, drafted the design in the early 1960’s and by 1965 it was open for business. Castle Market was constructed on the remains of Sheffield Castle and the site of an earlier fish and vegetable market which was created in the inter-war period. After 1965, however, the site had been extensively redeveloped into two main floors which both included many small static shops and stalls. A number of other stores faced the streets surrounding the indoor market, and a gallery, which also gave access to an additional number of shops, was positioned above one of the main market halls. The market could be accessed via a number of main entrances and by the gallery which was linked to the bridges by Exchange Street. Furthermore, an office block situated on the corner of the site, adjacent to the former Town Hall and Courthouse, was made assessable via the market. Despite the market’s popularity, the council have proposed to redevelop and regenerate the Castle Market site since the 1980’s. More or less thirty years later, very much true to their word, the council finally elected to close the market in 2013. It is reported that the 1990’s recession stalled earlier plans to revitalise the area. Most of the former businesses, stalls and shops were moved to the newly constructed Moor Market on the other side of the city centre, which, contrary to popular belief, is not owned exclusively by the council; it is, rather, part of a partnership between Sheffield City Council and private developers.

Since its closure, demolition has commenced; although last minute plans have been drafted to save the large tower positioned on the former office block. It is rumoured that the tower is Grade II listed. Further plans that detail the reconstruction of Sheffield Castle’s Gatehouse and moat have been revealed, as part of a £5 million city regeneration programme. The actual castle was destroyed in 1648 after it was captured by parliamentary forces. The aim of the council is to create a new park so that people “can be surprised by what a rich history the castle site has witnessed”. Councillor Leigh Bramall reported that the Castlegate site will become “an area of real historical significance for visitors, and an area where vacant buildings are being regenerated and brought back into use”. Having said that, however, many of us may wonder which buildings she is referring to in this statement since most have already come face to face with the wrecking ball.
Our routine was always the same: a precision raid, two stops. First, the meat market. “Lovely FRESH pipe and bag!” the signs used to say… Pipe was a euphemism for intestines, and bag meant stomach, and both would be draped palely across the stalls like something recently washed up on a beach. If you looked down, you’d often see a bucket of cow heels as well, though I tried hard not to… We were just scooting by on our way to the fish stalls, so much more genteel, the stock piled tidily at the back and pride of place at the front given to row upon row of tiny ceramic plates in dolly mixture colours. Each one held three fat whelks, half a dozen prawns, a little mound of cockles or winkles. They came from Bridlington. You paid per plate, and ate the contents standing up, while the fishmonger chatted to you… We would proceed directly to stop number two, a sweet stall that sold real aniseed balls. We were fundamentalist about aniseed balls: no dusty seeds, no return custom. (Extracts by Rachel Cooke, November 2014).
During my time in New Zealand Castle Market reports cropped up a good few times, and since then I’ve had an itch to go and have a nose around myself. Having put it off for weeks, imagining that it was in all probability going to be a complete and utter waste of time since demolition is well underway, I finally decided that it was worth a visit on account of the ‘locked tower’ that’s been raised in several conversations. So, before time ran out (because the demo job seems to be going well), I quickly arranged to meet up with another explorer, Soul, and we wandered over one miserable afternoon. However, Just as we were about to make our move to sneak inside, I quickly detected a couple of suspicious looking characters lurking near the fence. Suspecting that they too were attempting to get inside, we decided to loiter nearby; creating a slightly awkward situation as the other guys suddenly became awfully interested in examining the quality of the fence. A good old fashioned Mexican standoff ensured, except there were no Mexicans. A few moments later I approached them and, using the most authoritative voice I could muster, asked what they were doing.

Ten minutes later, we were stood inside Castle Market’s crumbling interior alongside UrbanGhosts. The place has certainly changed since I was last in there. I recall my last ever purchase being a giant watermelon, but there’s no trace of the stall anymore, only the memory. I can’t say it was particularly difficult to find the way to the tower, even if the office block is a little maze-like, but the views certainly don’t disappoint. Ever since I arrived in Sheffield, I’ve wondered what the city would look like from that random turret poking up above the market. Now I know… Pretty damn awesome! After spending a bit of time up there, grabbing a few shots and watching the world go by below, we decided to try and find the legendary castle remains, but, after much searching we never did manage to unearth their whereabouts. I’ve got a vague idea, but it all seemed to be locked up tight. I suppose we’ll have to wait until the archaeologists excavate it a little more, then we can perhaps think about sneaking back for a quick look. For any others who have thought about having a wander through Castle Market, I’d recommend it: the tower alone is worth standing on.

Explored with Soul and UrbanGhosts.

Castle Market: Out of Hours Entrance


Shots from the Tower and Rooftop









The Remains of the Market

1: The Tower Staircase


2: Demolition in Progress


3: The Tower


4: View from the Office


5: South Gallery


6: Inside the Former Market


7: Downstairs in the Market


8: Old Shops and Stalls


9: Tunnels Beneath the Market


10: Main Section of the Tunnel


11: Lift Out of Service


12: A Brief History of the Life of a Building



Is this the future?
Regular User
Sweet, good to see a last ditch effort on this place. Wouldn't mind going back to see if the castle ruins are still accessible you know.
Haha. I can't believe the council actually decided to demolish something so quickly. They usually let it sit around and fall apart for a good few years. Give me a shout if you fancy popping back for the ruins, really keen to see them.

Nice one. Be a shame if more people didn't get on this rooftop before it's gone.
Yeah. Although it's not the highest thing in town it offers some good views of the city.

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Some cracking pics of Sheffield and of the structure :thumb

Kicking myself I didn't make it up when stopping at the Premier Inn next door!


28DL Member
28DL Member
Wilkinsons was about as close to Castle Market as I ever wanted to go. The whole area needs knocking down (with regulars included...) :D

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