Thumbs up for plans to transform Leah's Yard – a once thriving hub of business in Sheffield city centre​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The son of one of Sheffield's Little Mesters has welcomed the suggestion that Leah’s Yard be transformed into a food hall with bars, cafés and restaurants.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 4:53 pm
Leah's Yard, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Merrylees
Leah's Yard, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Derek Naylor’s dad Lawrence worked at the city centre site as a mirror polisher, polishing cutlery, in one of its many workshops.

Sheffield Council announced last week that it was in discussions over opening up the courtyard of the Cambridge Street site for outdoor dining and drinking.

Mr Naylor said: “I wouldn't like to see somebody go in and strip it all apart but opening it up would be nice.

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Coun Mazher Iqbal and former worker Philip Drury in Leah's Yard. Picture: Scott Merrylees

"It's a shame that it’s in the state it is now but in them days there was no electricity on the site and it was gas lamps and a huge steam engine and when they started it up the whole ground shook.”

The Star went on a tour of the mid-Victorian era site, which once offered space for trades such as silversmiths, burnishers, silver platers and hammer men, last week.

Scaffolding masking the front of the building gives a clue to its current state – then, beyond that, the scale of the job faced by building engineers and developers can truly be seen.

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Mr Naylor said: “My dad worked there for about three or four years and it was an amazing place.

“He was a mirror polisher, polishing cutlery, and when I was about 13 or 14 I remember having to take him some tea down because he was so busy.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business and investment, said the courtyard offered a great city centre location for bars, restaurants and cafés.

He added: “We have been speaking to a number of stakeholders across the city and there is this idea of a food hall and bringing the workshops back into use for small businesses.

“Jewellery making is still going so if we could bring that back here that would be great. We want to make it something that makes it vibrant and thriving again.”