A couple of weeks ago I did a Where Thi Ells That article in Retro mentioning the carvings on the YMCA building in Fargate, saying that the man responsible for the intricate work was Frank Tory senior.
I was surprised and delighted to receive a letter from Bob and Gina Hodges. Frank was Gina’s great grandad. They were very pleased with my article and mentioning Gina’s great grandfather as the sculptor responsible for the wonderful carvings.
Bob asked why I did not mention the sculptor in my Retro article the following week, that showed the plaque of Mark Firth on the Sheffield Grammar School on Leopold Street.
I phoned Bob and told him that there’s no mention in Pevsner’s Architectural Guide to Sheffield of the plaque but it does attribute the YMCA carvings to him. Bob and Gina are 99.9% sure that the work on the Grammar School is definitely Frank’s. I am behind them.
All the books concerning the works of the Tory family should include this as all their other fantastic work is mentioned. I cannot see the commission being given to someone else after people saw their brilliant work.
Bob told me that when the Porter Brook pub was the home and workshop of the Tory business there were lots of works in and around the building.
When the building was taken over for the pub, Bob saw a staircase intricately carved as an oak tree showing acorns, bees, butterflies and leaves. It had been just thrown in a skip.
Other pieces of sculpture and carvings were taken to Psalter Lane College of Art. When that closed, no doubt most of the works of Frank Tory and his sons Alfred and Frank were taken by art lovers and adorn someone’s garden or wall.
Gina has nothing of her great grandfather’s work, or that of his sons, which is a terrible shame. If anyone has any knowledge of any of these lost works I urge them to let Bob and Gina Hodges have at least one of them.
Vin Malone, S14