‘A very depressing picture’ - Framework Gallery on The Moor in Sheffield set to close after 22 years

In some ways it is remarkable that Framework Gallery has survived for so long - but now the end is in sight.

Friday, 6th May 2022, 10:26 am
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 1:49 pm

The picture frame shop has been a fixture at Moorfoot for 22 years, but is set to close at the end of December.

Terry and Mary Gribben enjoyed a strong start to the millennium but the last 17 years have been about coping with decline: tightening belts, borrowing to survive and delaying retirement.

Terry, aged 68, enjoys the job but a row over their lease will see them throw in the towel.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Terry and Mary Gribben in the Framework Gallery at the bottom of The Moor in Sheffield.

Read More

Read More
Could new Sports Direct on The Moor in Sheffield be one of 10 regional flagships...

It will be the latest in a string of changes which have transformed this bit of precinct, which is cut off from the rest of The Moor by Cumberland Street.

Terry said: “This shop has earned us a living all this time, although The Moor has deteriorated. I’m quite happy working, I just don’t want to work six days any more. We enjoy what we are doing.

“We feel very fortunate that we have managed to get through. We have thought about leaving but it’s hard to move when you are not making money.”

From the start of the pandemic Framework Gallery was broken into seven times in six months, costing £7,000. In the end, the couple stopped replacing the glass and left the boards up.

The couple’s heyday were the five years from the year 2000. Back then, the Moorfoot office building above their shop was occupied by 3,000 well paid civil servants who would pass the door on the way into work.

HSBC had hundreds of staff in Deacon House on Eyre Street and a second office on Earl Street. There were offices above most of the shops on The Moor too, Terry says.

And the precinct was thriving. As well has Framework, there was Bensons Carpets on one corner, a large RBS bank opposite and a Co-op with a post office inside, as well as Yorkshire Bank, Thornton’s Chocolate, Big and Tall menswear, Weider gym equipment and public loos (although they were so bad some would hold their breath as they walked past).

The Moorfoot office building above their shop was occupied by 3,000 well paid civil servants who would pass the door on the way into work.

Terry said: “The Yorkshire Bank opposite would bring people from up The Moor. Many a time they would look across and say they had no idea we were here.”

It shows how Moorfoot is often overlooked. Terry is still cross that a big sign was once erected at the top of The Moor listing every shop - apart from all the ones beyond Cumberland Street.

He said: “Our address is 112-114 The Moor. Moorfoot is just a descriptive term, like Moorhead.”

Terry and Mary Gribben look to the future at the Framework shop on Junction Road, Sharrow Vale.

Change came in 2006 when demolition started on the block that would become The Moor Market. In the same year all the offices closed, he said, and 6,000 workers in the immediate vicinity vanished.

The development was delayed and the site stood empty for two years. Then in 2008 the recession hit causing further delays.

The market was supposed to have two floors of offices and six floors of flats above, Terry says. But when it finally opened in November 2013 it had neither.

He added: “In 2006 our takings nosedived. We waited a month for them to recover, then six. But turnover didn’t budge for five, six, seven years. Today it is 30 per cent less than it was 20 years ago. If you’re not careful you can paint a very depressing picture.”

Aberdeen Standard spent £120m revamping The Moor but it came at a devastating price. Last year it sold the entire estate of 42 shops to NewRiver for just £41m.

Today RBS bank is closed - and has been for more than six years - Yorkshire Bank has been replaced by nightspot Queer Junction so its shutters are down during the day, although Terry says he sees evidence of revelry every morning. There are three hairdressers, a ‘Pounds World’, a charity shop and an Iranian supermarket.

The RBS bank has been closed for years. Could it become a Wetherspoon?

It’s not empty by any means but it is different.

Meanwhile the Moorfoot building is occupied by Sheffield City Council staff. Post pandemic, Terry believes it is used by just 300 daily due to working from home. He sees once familiar faces only occasionally now.

From the start of the outbreak Framework Gallery was broken into seven times in six months, costing £7,000. In the end, the couple stopped replacing the glass and left the boards up.

“It looks horrible but they can’t kick it in,” says Terry.

To show the shop is still open they display items outside although sometimes they get stolen, such as a large 4ft by 3ft mirror recently.

It’s a sign that behaviour has changed.

Terry said: “We see a lot of drunkenness, some are the living dead. They sit on benches outside and there’s a lot of swearing. It’s not nice.”

Son Josh persuaded them to open a second shop on Junction Road at Sharrow Vale and Terry plans to make frames in a workshop at home.

A row with landlord NewRiver was the final straw.

Terry says they were offered a new lease with a three-month notice clause. He thinks it is in response to the council’s plan to perhaps convert Moorfoot into flats. But communication with the firm has been difficult.

“They don’t seem bothered whether we can sleep at night.”

A NewRiver spokesman said they had no comment.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, executive member for regeneration, is in favour of converting the giant office - Sheffield’s largest. The authority wants an extra 20,000 residents in the city centre to bring back ‘footfall’.

He said: “I appreciate there’s uncertainty. We will work with retailers and anyone involved in the consultation and make sure there is no detrimental effect.”

There are bright spots. Sports Direct is opening at the bottom of The Moor, Lidl is opening in the former Staples on Eyre Street and NewRiver is planning flats of its own.

It is rumoured RBS could become a Wetherspoon and the empty Bright House shop a St Luke’s charity shop.

Terry said: “There are positives creeping in but it will be a bit too late for us.”

To continue holding the powerful to account and giving people a voice, The Star needs you to subscribe, please

Sports Direct is set to open on The Moor in July.
Moorfoot precinct has changed a lot since its heyday in the year 2000, Terry Gribben says.
There used to be a Co-op with a post office inside in this row.