Riverside restaurant planned at ‘birthplace of mushy peas’ in Sheffield, where Lizzie the elephant lived

A riverside restaurant could open at a famous Sheffield landmark known as the ‘birthplace of mushy peas’.

Castle House, a distinctive red-and-yellow brick building dating back to the late 19th century, lies just off Lady’s Bridge at the edge of the city centre, overlooking the Don.

Castle House, off Lady's Bridge

Castle House, off Lady's Bridge

Built for animal breeder and vet John Henry Bryars, it was originally used as the stables for the Midland Railway Company's dray horses, which were accommodated over four floors.

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During the First World War it also housed the famous Tommy Ward's elephant, Lizzie, who was hired from the circus and became a familiar sight on the city's streets hauling heavy loads of steel while the horses were with troops in France.

In the 1920s, the site was bought by Batchelors and became the company’s first canning factory, gaining a reputation as the birthplace of mushy peas.

Lizzie the elephant, who worked for scrap merchant Thomas Ward during the First World War

Lizzie the elephant, who worked for scrap merchant Thomas Ward during the First World War

Planning permission was last year granted to refurbish the Grade II-listed building, which is currently vacant, and create 24 homes there, along with a cafe or restaurant on the ground floor.

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Saeed Nazir has now applied to change the use of the lower ground floor from storage to a restaurant or office, creating the prospect of an even larger restaurant at the site.

The application states that Castle House has been empty for some time and is in need of refurbishment.

How Castle House would look if the proposed development goes ahead (pic: CODA Architecture)

How Castle House would look if the proposed development goes ahead (pic: CODA Architecture)

CODA Architecture, which prepared the design and access statement for the applicant, claims its transformation could play a key role in the ongoing regeneration of the Castlegate area.

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The new Kommune food hall opened across the river last month in the other Castle House, which was home to the old Co-op department store; the National Videogame Museum moved to its new home there last year; and there are plans to restore the crumbling Old Town Hall, among other developments in the pipeline.

More controversially, there are plans to demolish the Old Coroner’s Court on Nursery Street and replace it with a five-story apartment block.

Sheffield Council has yet to make a decision on the Castle House planning application.