The Sheffield Vestry Hall which has served its community for over 160 years
While it is good to remember Sheffield’s lost landmarks such as the Hole in the Road or the Tinsley cooling towers, it is also important to appreciate the ones that are still here.
One such Sheffield landmark is the Grade II listed Burngreave Vestry Hall, which is located on Burngreave Road in Pitsmoor.
For decades it has been familiar to local residents and passers-by from all over the city.
The grandiose building was erected in 1846, and while no known records of the builder or architects are known to exist, it is said to be a Jacobean-style creation.
This was at time when the local population was growing rapidly, and as such, a large meeting hall was required to meet the area’s administrative needs
Burngreave’s Vestry Hall was one of several built in the city, all of which were designed to have an appearance of status.
Over the years, Burngreave Vestry Hall performed similar functions to those of the town hall. It contained offices and a meeting place for public officials who delivered municipal services in the area.
It also served as a soup kitchen in times of hardship and economic decline, on several occasions.
The Hall became the local registry office, a polling station and also the centre from which rate collection was organised.
During the Second World War it became an emergency feeding station, and gas mask distribution centre.
After the war, it became much more of a community centre and was a popular venue for wedding receptions and even church services.
The Hall provided emergency and temporary accommmodation for those in need during the severe gales of February 1962, which damaged around two-thirds of Sheffield homes.
The gales saw gusts of up to 96mph, leaving 250 homeless and three dead.
The youngest victim was 17-year-old John William Johsnon of Attercliffe.
He died when he became trapped under a collapsed chimney, which fell into his bedroom.
During the 1970s and '80s the Hall was used by many local community groups for youth clubs, concerts, dance displays and even church services.
By the 1990s, however, it fell into a state of disrepair.
After a leaking roof and serious structural problems in the foundations were discovered, the building finally closed its doors in 1997.
The Hall stayed closed and unused for many years, with local groups trying unsuccessfully to raise enough funds to restore and put the building back into use.
The building stayed shuttered and empty for several years, with little prospect of any renewal work.
However in 2006 work started on renovating the hall in order to create a community education centre. This is part of a programme of regeneration for the area, funded by Burngreave New Deal for Communities.
The hall reopened in the autumn of 2007 and it now continues to play a vital part in the life of the local community.