Plans for disused post office given stamp of approval by former workers

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Former post office workers have taken a step back in time to their old workplace – which is being given a new lease of life.

The Grade II-listed old post office building in Fitzalan Square, which has stood empty since 1999, will be the new base for the Sheffield Institute of Arts.

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being turned into an art facility for Sheffield Hallam University Dean Keith in the former post office building

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being turned into an art facility for Sheffield Hallam University Dean Keith in the former post office building

Sheffield Hallam University has taken over a long-term lease on the venue and it is hoped re-vamp work will be completed by January.

Paul Hinchcliffe, who worked on the premises for more than a decade, said: “I think it is brilliant, breathing new life into it. It needs it.

“It has been standing empty too long and it’ll be nice to see lots of colour and lots of people inside it again – it deserves it.”

Paul, aged 59, sorted mail and was also a postman.

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University'M3 Managing Director James Oliver talks Dean Keith through some of the refurbishments

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University'M3 Managing Director James Oliver talks Dean Keith through some of the refurbishments

He reminisced that even at Christmas when staff had to work long hours, ‘everyone kept everyone else going.’

He said: “Everyone was always laughing and joking. The camaraderie was second to none.”

Paul said he is delighted to hear the post office is going to ‘come back to life.’

He said: “It’s been dead for 15 years.

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

“When it was operating, every letter that was delivered in Sheffield came through the building. I’d like people and the students to know that it was a functioning post office.”

The post office opened in 1910 and operated as Sheffield’s head post office until 1999, when the service moved into modern premises in the nearby Co-op store on Angel Street.

Dean Keith, aged 55, also worked in the building – first as a cleaner in 1984 and then as a postman.

He said: “I’m pleased they are doing something with it and turning it into something useful.

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

“I really enjoyed working here. The upstairs was originally a telephone exchange but afterwards it was empty for years and used by the table tennis team. We had a snooker table to use during our breaks as well.”

The university’s plans for the interior include teaching rooms and practice studios as well as an exhibition space and public cafe.

A number of the SIA’s facilities in its current base at the university’s Furnival building will remain open after the move.

Claire Lockwood, deputy director of SIA, said: “We hope people will be happy to see the building being given a new lease of life. It is iconic and so it is perfect for art and design. We’ve got really high hopes for the building.

“I think students will be really interested in its heritage and we’d like to set something up so that people that used to work here can come and speak to them about the history of the building.

“We want the community to use the space as well. It will be a merge of old and new. We have completely re-purposed the building and we think it will really affect this area, encouraging other people to invest in it.”

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University

The former Central Post Office building in Fitzalan Square in Sheffield which is being tuned into an Art Facukty for Sheffield Hallam University