War of words raged before Sheffield City Hall was named

The war of words, apparently, raged for three years. From 1929 to 1932 one of the most hotly, and frequently, debated questions was what to call our new City Hall.

By Charles Smith
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:42 pm
Construction is well under way on Sheffield City Hall in 1932
Construction is well under way on Sheffield City Hall in 1932

If ex-servicemen’s associations had had their way it would have been the Memorial Hall. They argued building a public hall in Sheffield was part of the war memorial scheme and wanted its name to reflect this.

But the city council were having none of it and after what was described at the time as some ‘rather acrimonious’ debates Sheffield City Hall it was.

But the veterans hadn’t given up the fight yet – of course not. After all, fewer than two decades earlier these heroes had been manning the trenches in World War One.

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Sheffield City Hall was the envy of other cities

They put pen to paper and wrote to the King, no less.

There was to be no royal intervention, however, and, after much negotiation and after the words Sheffield City Hall had actually been carved on the entrance of the building, agreement was reached. One of the interior halls was to be named the Memorial Hall.

The grand opening took place on September 22, 1932, and a special supplement produced by what is now The Star celebrated the event. “It is,” we declared, “but natural that all cities should regard with admiration, and perhaps a little envy, this hall, which is generally recognised as the finest building of its type in the country.”

But, the people of Sheffield were reminded, ‘it is a hall which has been built not only to look at but to use’. It had been ‘designed to serve as many purposes as one building can possibly serve’. We can all agree it has certainly done that.

The special supplement to mark the opening of the City Hall in September 1932

‘Native pride’ in the building was well justified too – the work had been carried out almost entirely by local firms.

Plastering by Hodkin and Jones, of Queens Road, stone provided by Stancliffe Estates, of Darley Dale, beautiful carvings by Frank Tory and Sons, of Ecclesall Road, steelwork by Blake and Co, of Queens Road, rubber flooring by Sheffield and Ecclesall Co-operative Society, bricks by the Woodside Brick Co, of Chesterfield Road. The list went on.

Take a bow all of you. You gave the city a magnificent building which, despite some tough times of late, is something to be very proud of still.