RETRO: Towering above

Hallam Tower Hotel, Sheffield - 1978
Hallam Tower Hotel, Sheffield - 1978
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IT was once considered the height of opulence; Sheffield’s first £1 million hotel featuring restaurants and bars, a ballroom, heated swimming pool and three-and-a-half acres of stunning gardens.

Today, the Hallam Tower Hotel looks somewhat different. The empty 11-storey building, in Fulwood Road, Broomhill, has stood derelict for almost a decade.

But many readers may remember when this 136-bedroom stay-over was capable of attracting international football teams and A-list celebrities like Elton John and David Bowie. It was considered so luxurious that Ford filmed a global advert there. The late night bar, this newspaper reported with awe when the complex opened in 1965, “will even serve an omelette at midnight”.

Now, to celebrate recent reports that the landmark building is generating strong interest after being put up for sale, Midweek Retro brings you these pictures illustrating the bright white tower in its heyday.

They show everything from artist impressions before it was even built to staff from decades gone.

“It was quite the place to stay,” Carole Leader, who worked there as a telephonist between 1967 and 1974, previously told The Star. “I had a great time working there. It felt like you were part of something special. We had all sorts staying at the hotel – footballers, singers, actors, musicians.”

More of the celebrities shortly. For now, the facility, built for Trust House Hotels, opened on March 24, 1965, with much fanfare.

“One hundred and thirty-six bedrooms - all with a good view of the city,” this newspaper declared.

“This hotel should work wonders in stimulating the image of Sheffield as an important regional and industrial centre. They will also add 100 per cent to the city’s attraction as a conference centre.”

Particularly impressive, we noted, was the wine list: “37 kinds in all,” our man on the scene reported.

Other statistics? The hotel had 3,000 towels, 10,000 pieces of cutlery and 6,500 yards of curtain.

Some 140 staff kept the place running. Later, in 1990, we reported the hotel cooked 150,000 meals every year. How many were midnight omelettes was never ascertained.

The venue’s reputation meant it became the base for the Swiss national football team during the 1966 World Cup. They were followed by the likes of Cilla Black, Bob Geldof and Gloria Estefan. Boxer Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham opened a state-of-the-art gym in 1986.

Not that all stars were welcome. In a bid to maintain high standards hotel managers came up with a dress code for touring rock stars in 1978: no jeans or sweatshirts.

“We’re trying to move away from punk rock people,” said manager Roger Burnay. “It’s not a ban on pop groups but we’ve had complaints from other guests when they roll into the restaurant in jeans. Our customers don’t always like these people.

“How would you like to be eating a meal with your wife when the person at the next table is wearing a sweat shirt?”

He was, it seems, serious.

The glamour, in any case, wouldn’t last. Within 15 years of its opening other, newer city centre hotels were competing for custom.

In 1986 after various takeovers, the complex changed its name to the Hallam Tower Post House Hotel before becoming the Forte Crest Sheffield, the Posthouse Sheffield and finally the Holiday Inn Sheffield West.

It closed its doors for the last time in 2004.