Successor will have their work cut out

This letter sent to the Star was written by J Robin Hughes, Towngate Road, Worrall, Sheffield, S35

By Diana Stannard
Wednesday, 08 May, 2019, 07:11
The Athol Hotel, 9 Charles Street

Thanks to Vin Malone for an interesting and informative article on the cutlery firm of Atkinson Brothers. I can confirm that they were indeed maternal grandsons of Henry Andrew Bacon, founder of the Sheffield Independent newspaper, who was bankrupted in 1837, (having spent his wife's fortune).

Their father, a draper turned property speculator, was more canny, and they inherited well, as did two further brothers, Joseph Francis and Henry Bacon Atkinson. Henry trained as a pharmacist, but turned to property after his father died. He was young and a little impetuous, some of his schemes were subject to change while they were being built, and he was fined at least once for starting building work before he had Council approval, but he was successful. One of his greatest successes was the Athol Hotel in Pinstone Street, soon to be demolished by the Council despite their own admission that it is both historic and re-usable. The Athol's central sporting, political and social role, and the key part it played in the creation the Victorian foundations of modern Sheffield, has already been well-reported in the Star. The connection to the Atkinsons is just part of a rich tapestry connecting the movers and shakers of history to us today through the buildings we have inherited. These are the stories that Sheffield must tell proudly to attract businesses, visitors and residents and the investment that they bring.

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It is the cause of some sadness that Ian Saunders, the Council's redoubtable Heritage Champion, has lost his seat. I have enjoyed his enthusiasm, and was delighted to find him both approachable and serious about the role. His successor will have their work cut out. Despite some indications that they have learned to say the right things about heritage, this is a Council that cancels a Conservation Area consultation at short notice and with scant explanation, appears paralysed over the Old Coroner's Court despite its owner's evident desire to find a solution, and has so far failed to take the lead in the use of heritage in its own schemes. The new Council cabinet will no doubt be announced shortly: time for one of them to be Heritage Champion.