I am fascinated by the interest shown in the preservation of the old school on Gleadless Road.
I was privileged to work on the extensive alterations which were carried out in 1969/70 to enable it to be used as a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses during the 1970s.
One of the first tasks was to replace the wooden floor, (which was riddled with dry rot), and remove the old fireplace which stood in the corner of the room.
In the pictures in The Star, Page 16, April 11, you will notice an opening at the top of the rainwater pipe on the front of the building. Before the alterations, this was a solid wall with just a narrow outlet from the roof which used to get blocked regularly by leaves etc. You will see from older photographs the alterations to the stonework which allowed the rainwater to exit the roof freely.
Another “modification” was the construction of a manhole outside the toilets at the back which was necessary as the school was at the end of a long stretch of drains which used to get frequently blocked with no access to release it.
Further work was needed in the back room as much of the wooden floor was rotten and below it was a virtual ‘lake’ of rainwater up to two feet deep.
After removing the rotten timbers, the water was drained, the hole filled in and a concrete floor was laid.
A further modification was the installation of a gas fire at the back of the main hall and a partition to facilitate a cloakroom.
After using the school for a number of years, the building proved too small for our growing congregation and was then occupied as a mosque, (I don’t know how long it was in use after that).
Having knowledge of the building, I am sure that with a bit of TLC it could be made habitable once again and perhaps used as a local library or place of historic interest, (similar to the Bishops’ House in Meersbrook Park.
It would be a crime of historic vandalism to let such a valuable piece of history be lost along with much of Sheffield’s heritage.
I hope the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society can save this wonderful piece of Sheffield’s history.