Crumbling heritage

Astonishing pictures: Hedley Bishop, left and Jim Lambert. picture: Stuart hastings
Astonishing pictures: Hedley Bishop, left and Jim Lambert. picture: Stuart hastings
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ONCE they were grand and glorious buildings, stunning symbols of Sheffield’s confidence and civic pride.

But now some of the Steel City’s most instantly recognisable landmarks are looking, well, all but unrecognisable when viewed from inside.

These astonishing pictures are to be exhibited this weekend - and they show how historic sites, including the city centre’s Grade II listed General Post Office, the 19th century Middlewood Hospital chapel and Parson Cross’s art deco Ritz complex, have been left to go to rack and ruin.

“I hope there is an element of shock when people see them,” says co-organiser and one of six photographers Jim Lambert. “If we let these buildings crumble around us we will never get them back. The pictures show something must be done before the damage is irreparable. People have every right to be furious that it’s happening.”

It is not the first exhibition Jim, 57, of Netherthorpe, and pal Hedley Bishop, 43, of Woodseats, have been behind.

The pair featured on this page previously after a website they founded in their spare time - called Pictures Of Sheffield Old And New - became so popular, it attracted more than 3,000 members and led to them displaying some of the contributed images in Castle Market and in The Moor.

But this particular exhibition may prove a little more controversial than those.

Because these images - 40 in all including shots of the 1960s Hallam Tower Hotel in Broomhill and the nineteenth century Abbeydale Road Tram Depot - were all taken without the consent of the building’s owners.

In other words, they were taken while trespassing.

“But we’ve taken advice on this and under no circumstances is what we do a criminal matter,” says Jim, who works in the construction trade. “We don’t break into anywhere ever and we don’t do any damage. We’re respectable people and we feel strongly this is in the public interest - that’s why we’re holding this exhibition. This is our city’s heritage that is being allowed to fall apart.”

For Jim and Hedley, they reckon, it’s one the most important things they have ever done.

“The old pictures of Sheffield were always among the more popular in our previous displays,” says Hedley, a mental health nurse. “And I get why that is. But these are pictures with a social conscience. We want people to sit up and take notice of them.”

The exhibition, called Hidden, takes place at Block Projects Gallery in Eyre Lane this weekend, opening Friday 6 - 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am - 4pm.

The snapped six

General Post Office, Fitzalan Square, city centre (1910).

Middlewood Hospital chapel, off Middlewood Road, Middlewood (1872).

The Ritz, Wordsworth Avenue, Parson Cross. (1939).

Hallam Tower Hotel, Fulwood Road, Broomhill (1965).

Abbeydale Road Tram Depot, Abbeydale Road, Nether Edge (1899).

Sheffield Foundry Workers Social Club, Beaumont Road North, Manor Park (1975).