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Dismay at partial demolition of historic South Yorkshire building damaged in blaze

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze (pic: Rotherham Central NHP)
Firefighters at the scene of the blaze (pic: Rotherham Central NHP)
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Campaigners have voiced their dismay at the partial demolition of one of South Yorkshire's most historic former factories, which was gutted by fire.

Flames tore through the Grade II-listed Guest and Chrimes building in Rotherham earlier this month, and part of the premises has now been demolished for what the owners described as 'safety reasons'.

The 19th-century building, beside Rotherham United's New York Stadium, has been described as nationally significant given Edward Chrimes invented the forerunner to the modern domestic tap and the firm once employed thousands of workers.

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Rotherham Council which owns the former works, and Rotherham United, which has been granted a long lease on the premises, announced last week that it had been decided the structure could not be salvaged in its entirety.

In a joint statement, they said: "Following initial advice from Historic England, an independent structural engineer has been consulted and has concluded that a section of the Guest and Chrimes building requires immediate demolition for safety reasons.

"Due to concerns over public access to the site, demolition to part of the frontage of the building will begin on Thursday, July 19.

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"Following this initial work, and in view of the building’s historical importance, a further assessment will be made on the last section of the frontage which contains both the main entrance and the most interesting architectural features.”

Howard Greaves, of the campaign group Hallamshire Historic Buildings, said: "This is a very nice building which is of national importance so it's a very sad day for Rotherham, which has precious little heritage.

""Hopefully they will be able to salvage at least some of this building, which could be turned into very nice riverside accommodation.

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"Cornish Place in Sheffield was virtually destroyed by fire and I thought the damage was irreversible but it was converted into a very desirable place to live, which shows what can be achieved if there's the will to make it happen."

Mr Greaves added that the fire, broke out in the early hours of Sunday, July 1, again illustrated the need for better security at historic buildings which had been left unoccupied.

Valerie Bayliss, who is leading efforts to save Sheffield's Old Town Hall, also expressed her dismay at the news.

She said: "It's a great shame but I'm afraid when you get a building that's left empty for years and years there's often a fire."

The foundry closed in 1999 and plans for a Tesco development there were rejected in 2004.

Rotherham United's RU Estates applied in 2012 to demolish the building, but the application was subsequently withdrawn.

Earlier this year, Rotherham Council announced it was looking for contractors to take on the £150 million redevelopment of Forge Island, with proposals including a cinema, an 80-bed hotel and a sports and leisure complex in the old Guest and Chrimes building.