Robin Hughes of Hallamshire Historic Buildings responded to the news that Sheffield City Council announced on Wednesday, January 5 that The Yorkshireman’s Arms on Burgess Street, behind Barkers Pool, is subject to an emergency demolition order because of “major unforeseeable structural concerns”.
He argued that pubs like The Yorkshireman, as it is known, are “a vital part of our history”.
Demolition and construction work is taking place on Burgess and Cambridge Streets during the latest phase of the Heart of the City redevelopment, which will include a new Radisson Blu hotel and Gaumont Building ‘leisure destination’ on Barkers Pool, flats and the restoration of historic Leah’s Yard on Cambridge Street as a creative businesses hub.
Robin said: “It’s sad to see yet another historic pub being lost. I have been told that there has been a pub on the Yorkshireman’s Arms site since 1796.
“No record has been found of it being replaced, so what we are about to lose may incorporate the original building, which would make it the oldest in the Heart of the City.
“Until the 1840s it was known as the Oxford Blue, which can be traced back to 1822. The landlord then was Samuel Linley, who also made table knives (it was common for publicans to carry on another trade).
“The pub has certainly been a survivor. There were plans to carve a new street through the site in the early 19th century. In the late 19th century it only just missed being swept away with the creation of Pinstone Street, and became completely hemmed in during the 20th century as buildings around it were demolished and rebuilt on a much bigger scale.
“The Council’s statement that they understand the importance of pubs (occupied or not) to the city of Sheffield and its unique character would carry a bit more conviction if they had not been so keen to almost entirely demolish the Sportsman in Cambridge Street, and before it the Athol Hotel in Pinstone Street.
“Both of these buildings could have been reused. This latest development means that of the three intact pubs that the Council inherited in the Heart of the City area, two will be entirely lost and one reduced to a mere façade.
“There will always be heritage that we cannot keep, so if we do not treasure what we can, we lose both, and that is what has occurred here. Even these few pubs were only the remnant of a much larger number.
“In 1891, there was strenuous opposition by the temperance movement to the renewal of the licence of the Yorkshireman’s Arms, on the grounds that the Council’s ambitious ‘Street Improvements’ had removed a lot of houses, so there was less demand.
“The licensee argued that in fact at least 10 pubs within a 200-yard radius had recently been lost. The major role that beer and pubs have played in Sheffield, both in industry and in the lives of the people, is a vital part of our history. It’s good that the Council has finally woken up to this, but it comes too late for the Heart of the City.”