Sheffield pigeon lofts that looked more like a shanty town

Not everyone fancied them, quite a few people were bewildered by them, not quite sure what they were. Others said they created a poor impression of the city, yet they clung to the side of a major road for decades.

By Charles Smith
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:46 pm
Some of the remaining pigeon lofts on the hillside
Some of the remaining pigeon lofts on the hillside

What feature of our fine city could we be talking about?

Pigeon lofts, of course!

Drivers motoring along Pentistone Road towards Hillsborough these days may cast a wistful glance to their left and recall them with a twinge of nostalgia.

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The pigeon lofts long before Penistone Road was developed into the major road it is today

The pigeon lofts clung to the sloping side of the road and became increasingly obscured by trees and shrubs.

They were still visible in 2015, sparking online conversations, some asking what they were.

One person said: "At first I thought they were children's treehouses, all sprayed with graffiti but I think they're old train carriages."

They were swiftly put right - pigeon lofts came the reply, sparking some reminiscences.

One of the pigeon lofts covered in graffiti

"There used to be many more lofts, inhabited by large numbers of pigeons which could often be seen flying over the Langsett Road, Hillfoot area," recalled one local.

"I wish they'd be taken down and that whole embankment tidied up. It looks like Sheffield has its own shanty town now that some of the trees have been removed. Not a great advert for the city on the major route in from the north" said another echoing sentiments expressed in a Star story some 12 years earlier.

A city architectural consultant bemoaned their presence way back in April 1993 after the newly developed road had been unveiled.

John Hannah, who drove past the wooden huts on his way into the city, wasn't a fan.

"How on earth millions can be spent on a showpiece road into the heart of the city and yet such an eyesore as that ramshackle shanty town, reminiscent of some Third World bush settlement, can seemingly be left is beyond me," he argued.

"Anybody coming into Sheffield on what will be a premier route should not be faced by that. It doesn't give a very good impression of the city."

A decade later they were still in use...

In Septmebr 2003, firefighters tackled a blaze which destroyed one of the pigeon lofts.

Some birds were inside the building, which collapsed before firefighters arrived, and they said it was impossible to see how many had died.

Police also attended but were unable to trace the owner of the birds.