I’m so sorry that in Councillor Peter Prices’s gushing Star Letter on Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre, (January 6), that he did not turn the clock back from the 80s to the 70s. Had he done so he would have discovered that Sheffield City Council were determined to see this iconic building wiped off the map.
At that time Coun Alf Wood attacked the conservationists who were trying to save it and actually referred to them as ‘vultures’! Council Leader Alderman Sir Ron Ironmonger stated that the theatre’s exterior was “without any redeeming features”.
In 1975 when the Secretary of State refused to allow the Lyceum to be demolished Coun Bill Michie, chairman of the environmental committee, said that he was “disappointed”. Even as late as the 1980s when water was pouring through the building’s roof and destroying the beautiful Grade II listed interior the council did not bother to prosecute the owners, even though they had the power to do so.
Fortunately during the 70s the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society had stepped in and obtained Listed status for several buildings in the Surrey Street/Norfolk Street area, the Lyceum being one of them. Believe it or not we also had to step in as recently as 2003 to save the Central Library as that too was under threat of demolition and Grade II Listed status was awarded to this building as well.
Sheffield Council will never learn and we look set to lose even more historic buildings when and if the Retail Quarter happens.
Architecturally speaking, if the replacements are on a par with the current new developments on The Moor, then Lord help us. Their numbness is mindboggling and it must have been no mean feat to make their 1960s predecessors appear to be positively delightful. Leeds and Manchester make the effort to preserve old buildings and build new buildings of merit and quality, hence people flock to shop there. Sheffield does neither and we now have the town centre that we deserve.
Sorry to have a go at your convenient memory Coun Price, but as you did not mention your council colleagues’ track records, fI elt that I had to. As to your other recent Star Letter regarding Sheffield’s historic trees, frankly it’s unreal and I’m so aghast that I will not waste column space with a reply. I would just say however that it merely confirms your disdain at anyone living on the south side of the city.
Vice chairman, Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society