Wanton neglect and decay is a disgrace

Sheffield Old Town Hall.
Sheffield Old Town Hall.
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I don’t write many letters these days but there are times when I read something that makes my jaw drop open in utter disbelief and I feel I must respond.

One such occasion was the letter from Steven Ward, (Star October 27), regarding the neglected and abandoned Old Town Hall in Waingate. Mr Ward calls this wonderful old building ‘a dirty, derelict eye-sore’ and wants to see it demolished as he says preserving some historic old buildings makes us ‘prisoners of the past’. A city is built on its strong foundations and those who ignore its past have usually little of interest to contribute to the future.

In his ignorant disregard for our heritage he appears not to realise that this once magnificent Grade II Listed building is an integral part of our city’s history having served as the old Town Hall and then the Law Courts. He obviously cannot appreciate that instead of demolishing these precious pieces of old Sheffield we should be acting as custodians to protect what remains of the city’s beautiful architecture for future generations to enjoy. With vision, foresight and the necessary funds some company or organisation could bring this poor old building back to life from the brink of decay by restoring it to its original grandeur and adapting it to serve the Sheffield people once again in a new, modern role and what an asset it would be. As stated in The Star article, (October 24), ‘The walls of Sheffield’s Old Town Hall contain 200 years of history, from the building’s days as a court to its time as the home of city democracy’. Valerie Bayliss, Chairman of The Friends of the Old Town Hall, says “Our aim is to get the building properly and respectfully restored and back into productive use”.

The final word should go to Matthew Holmes the young ‘urban explorer’ who has a passion for Victorian architecture and took most of the photographs of the dilapidated and water-damaged interior which featured in The Star article. He said “You get a feeling of sadness that the building is falling down - the woodwork and the architecture - they just don’t make buildings like this any more”.

Are we going to stand by and allow all this history to crumble away and end up being destroyed by the bulldozer as has happened with so many of Sheffield’s unique and irreplaceable buildings? The wanton neglect and decay of this wonderful building by the owners is nothing short of a disgrace and that is why it MUST be saved.

Susan Richardson

Westminster Crescent, Lodge Moor, S10