One of Sheffield’s most iconic buildings will be open to the public for the first time in almost 50 years this weekend.
Hambleton House – the six storey block built as a WH Smith in Exchange Place in 1927 – has been transformed into a complex of 60 artist studios.
It had previously been threatened with demolition after standing derelict since 2009.
Now visitors will tomorrow be invited to look around the newly refurbished building – rechristened Exchange Place Studios.
It is thought it will be the first time there has been public access since 1966 when the complex changed from its original use to a transport office block.
Twelve artists, designers and jewellers who have taken space there will show visitors around between 11am and 6pm. Crafts will be on sale. A pop-up cafe is being set up.
Kate Dore, director of Yorkshire Artspace which is managing the complex, said: “It’s a wonderful art deco building and I am sure people will enjoy the views across the city from the top floor, and have a good time looking round the place as well as meeting our pioneer artists.
“It’s a bit like having a housewarming before the removal lorry has left the road but there will be tea and cake and craft activities so I’m sure people won’t mind that we aren’t quite as presentable as we usually are.”
The new look is just the latest in Hambleton House’s long history.
It was built and opened in 1927 as a WH Smith wholesale branch which included news counters, book saloons and top floor cafe popular because of its panorama over Sheffield.
It was taken over by the council in 1966 and transformed into transport offices. Most recently the South Yorkshire Transport Passenger Executive was based there until 2009. A plan to demolish the building in 2012 was scrapped after protests.
Yorkshire Artspace’s other studios – Persistence Works in Brown Street and Manor Oaks in Manor Lane – are also open the same day.