Surprise inside former NUM headquarters in Sheffield as doors open after 25 years

Matthew Stephens, of Quest Property, studies the marble sculpture. All pictures by Counter Context
Matthew Stephens, of Quest Property, studies the marble sculpture. All pictures by Counter Context
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After 25 years, the former NUM headquarters are open again – revealing a four-tonne Italian marble carving of mineworkers on the wall.

Developers opeed the door to Arthur Scargill’s former base in Sheffield city centre just before launching a £5 million refit to create restaurants and offices.

The Italian marble frieze depicts two miners. Image by Counter Context

The Italian marble frieze depicts two miners. Image by Counter Context

Inside the smoked glass and sandstone building, internal fittings and furnishings have been ripped out.

But the sculpture – technically a frieze – remains in place, a symbol of the power and wealth of the National Union of Mineworkers in its heyday.

Matthew Stephens, of Barnsley-based developers Quest Property, said it was made in Florence and transported to Sheffield in two parts. The plan was to leave it in place, partly due to its size and weight, he added.

Mr Scargill’s office on the top floor is no longer there, but a tiled floor area adjacent, in a corner of the building, marks his ‘look-out’. It has impressive views over Barkers Pool, the City Hall and Sheffield town hall.

The former NUM headquarters on Holly Street next to the City Hall

The former NUM headquarters on Holly Street next to the City Hall

It also had a coal-fired boiler and developers found a bunker full of coal when they took the building on six years ago, Mr Stephens added: “I can’t think of another building in such a prime place that has stood empty for this long anywhere in the North.

“We are creating a new chapter for it. People are interested, they’re always walking past saying, ‘what’s happening?’

“It has been an eyesore for all these years and it’s the most challenging project we as a company have dealt with. But we stick at things.”

Built between 1986 and 1988, it was designed by architect Malcolm Lister with a prominent central section inspired by a pit head. The union occupied the building for less than four years before relocating to its current headquarters in Barnsley.

Matthew Stephens in the stairwell. Picture by Counter Context.

Matthew Stephens in the stairwell. Picture by Counter Context.

A host of redevelopment schemes were put forward over the years, a bid to have it listed also failed.

Quest, which signed a long lease, originally hoped to reopen it as a casino.

Now it is set to feature three restaurants including a Pitcher and Piano. The two floors above will become Grade ‘A’ offices. It is set to open next year.

Sheffield City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership helped fund the scheme.

NUM building showing Arthur Scargill's former office at top left.

NUM building showing Arthur Scargill's former office at top left.