History a thing of the past?

Tracy Annenberg
Tracy Annenberg
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The demolition of old buildings is an emotive issue.

Some people (screaming ‘historical value!’) like old, character, original; others (crying ‘modernisation!’) like new, modern, fresh.

History is relative: Sheffield existed before Cook sailed around New Zealand; when it became a city more people lived there than lived in the entire country here.

I met someone recently bemoaning the state of his farm, with ‘it’s really old.’ I nodded, remembering old stone farms, crumbling barns awaiting ‘conversion’. Then it struck me – it wouldn’t be stone here, and certainly not centuries old.

‘How old is it?’

‘Really old. Seventies.’

I couldn’t help my mouth forming a big ‘O’ – I’m older than that! My Sheffield home was built in 1905 and will stand for many years.

I’ve lived and worked in draughty old buildings that oozed character but had no decent heating system, I’ve been in new buildings that were so featureless they made my eyes hurt.

I love older things, grand buildings of a bygone age that have stood for centuries, could tell amazing tales if they could talk, but I also love my up-to-date kitchen with its clean lines and mod cons and couldn’t wait to replace the old, original one when we moved in.

Every time I visit Sheffield something has gone. Last time it was the central reservation on Arundel Gate, which impacted my memory so much I missed my turn and became lost. New buildings grow – in place of some of the city’s best pubs if social media comments are accurate.

I try to view Sheffield as a visitor, rather than someone who knew the old so well and I’m usually impressed – the Winter Gardens and the Heart of the City is one of the most beautiful city centre areas I’ve seen anywhere.

Humans accept change, even when they fight against it. Those sights that were alien to me have become the new normal for those who see them regularly.

It’s always sad to see an older building destroyed. On the positive side of the proposed demolition of part of the cultural quarter, I see that plans include a micro-brewery. Some consolation for the loss of those pubs?

And that ‘old’ kiwi farmhouse? He is building a new one.