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Report - Sheffield Crown Courts/Old Town Hall, September 2018

HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#1
1. The History
The building was commissioned to replace Sheffield's first town hall, which had opened in 1700 next to the parish church. The Old Town Hall was designed by Charles Watson and built in 1807–08. It was designed to house the Town Trustees and the Petty and Quarter Sessions. Initially building had five bays and faced Castle Street, however, it was extended in 1833 then again in 1866 to plans drawn up by Sheffield architect William Flockton (1804–64) and his partner George Abbott. The most grandiose feature was the new central clock tower over a new main entrance. At the same time the building's courtrooms were linked by underground passages to the neighboring Sheffield Police Offices. The first Town Council was elected in 1843 and took over the lease of the Town Trustees' hall in 1866. The next year the building was extensively renovated, and the clock tower designed by Flockton & Abbott was added although Flockton was no longer alive to witness its construction.

By the 1890s Sheffield's administration had again outgrown the building, and the current Sheffield Town Hall was built further south. The Old Town Hall was again extended in 1896–97, by the renamed Flockton, Gibbs & Flockton, and became Sheffield Crown Court and Sheffield High Court. The drinking fountain on the Castle Street side of the building was added at this time. In 1973 the Old Town Hall was made a Grade II listed building. In the 1990s the courts had moved to new premises just around the corner. Since 1997 the building has been empty and remains in a poor state. In 2004 the building was bought by London-based G1 London Properties Ltd for £650,000. In 2008 the Victorian Society named the building as one of its top ten buildings most at-risk. More recently a campaign group, The Friends of the Old Town Hall was formed (in November 2014) with the aim of getting the building's owner G1 London Property to state its intention for its future use. In September 2015 the building was put for sale with an asking price of £2 million. The sale brochure was withdrawn from the internet after about ten days. It’s now currently back on the market again, this time with Fernie and Greaves but, strangely, does not appear on their website.

It recently appeared for the first time in the annual Buildings at Risk list, a national list published by independent heritage charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

2. The Explore
This place will be familiar to a lot of you. And as anybody who has been round here in the past will know, entry has always been, erm how shall we put it, challenging to get into this place. The comedy entrance over the roller blind was a thing of urbex folklore. I’ve been watching it for ages and in the past regretted not being in a position to be able to take advantage when the place was presented on a plate. Then the old entrance point was well and truly sealed. I’d effectively admitted defeat, but then one word was out that it was doable. After a bit of intel and a bit of a reccie, it looked like it might just be doable again. So, early one morning I set off with two non-forum members to give it our best shot. It was amazing just how busy Sheffield was even on the morning of supposedly the quietest day of the week. There were workman coming and going at the top of the road and cars flashing past. But in we went and at last we’d cracked the courts. We had the place to ourselves and we weren’t disappointed. Despite some of the floors being a bit shady the building appeared to be pretty water-tight and the court-rooms in good nick. It may have been a long time coming but cracking the courts was well worth the wait.

3. The Pictures
The glorious street level view:

Law Courts 23
by HughieDW, on Flickr

…and a few other externals:

img9789
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9787
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9788
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9790
by HughieDW, on Flickr

One of the first sights to greet us on the inside:

img9680
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9679
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Up to court No.1:

Law Courts 01
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9731
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9732
by HughieDW, on Flickr

All about the cupolas here:

img9726
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9730
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Nice to see so many fireplaces in situ still:

Law Courts 12
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Law Courts 02
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9739
by HughieDW, on Flickr

The woodwork in the courts is fab:

img9741
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Law Courts 13
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9761
by HughieDW, on Flickr

This medium-sized court has the most intricate carvings:

Law Courts 21
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9772
by HughieDW, on Flickr

This is the smallest of the courts:

Law Courts 19
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9766
by HughieDW, on Flickr

The rear, newer side of the building isn’t quite as impressive:

Law Courts 16
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9744
by HughieDW, on Flickr

But it allows a view of the roof:

img9748
by HughieDW, on Flickr

A quick shufty in the clock tower:

img9755
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Back down to ground level:

img9780
by HughieDW, on Flickr

And this delightful view:

img9783
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Nice bit o’ egg and dart:

img9784
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wonder where this locks/unlocks?

img9785
by HughieDW, on Flickr
 
Last edited:

HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#2
Part 2:

Down to the cells:

img9682
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9692
by HughieDW, on Flickr

…and the obligatory ‘knob’ graffiti:

Law Courts 04
by HughieDW, on Flickr

The cells:

Law Courts 08
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9701
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9712
by HughieDW, on Flickr

The ‘facilities’:

Law Courts 06
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Law Courts 07
by HughieDW, on Flickr

And out again:

Law Courts 15
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Law Courts 16
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Law Courts 12
by HughieDW, on Flickr

Law Courts 08
by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

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