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Restorations – Campaigners call for the rescue of a unique rooftop playground in Sheffield UK News

But even the author of Oliver Twist may have been surprised at the creation of a new space for “young frolics” for the guys from Charity School on lockdown.

The story begins in 1830 when the wardens of Sheffield Parish Church – now a cathedral – locked the doors, depriving young people of their only space to play.

Until then, some 90 students at the East Parade School were “using” the church yard to burn energy. It was the only open space around.

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19th century photo of Sheffield Parish Church – now a cathedral – showing railings and doors that were locked for the boys at the charity school. Photo:

A report by Robert Eadon Leader, in Reminiscences of Old Sheffield, states: “Their great fun was jumping over gravestones. One feat in particular was to jump ‘o’er t’alli’ – a so-called alabaster slab, but actually Derbyshire marble, forming the top of a grave near the sacristy door.

In the end, it seems to have escalated and Vicar Thomas Sutton ordered the doors locked. At that time, there were railings all around the church yard and there was no other way to enter.

Robin Hughes, Hallamshire Historic Buildings, said: “There was open space, gravestones and elaborate graves. There were things to run and hide behind, that was before the slides and swings.

“But there weren’t just a few guys in one corner, there were a lot of other places. There was a lack of playgrounds and public spaces, they had a rather constrained existence.

Robin Hughes, Hallamshire Historic Buildings, at the former Boys Charity School on East Parade.

“There is no evidence that Thomas Sutton disliked children. Maybe it was something that just couldn’t be controlled.

But even then, people knew the importance of exercise, especially for young people.

An account in White’s 1833 repertoire refers to this “deprivation which may be of no use to the graveyard, but is a serious injury to the 90 boys from whom he stole the only place suitable for this open exercise. air, which is necessary for the preservation of their health ”.

The story comes to an unhappy end thanks to Sheffield goldsmith and philanthropist Samuel Roberts.

The railings on the playground, which were a drop of over 50 feet until the building was filled in 1850.

He paid for a “large open cast iron and wrought iron gallery” 50 feet on the roof of the school. It was built between two wings at the rear of the building, directly above a large drop. In 1850 the space was filled up to the roof, but the flat space and balustrades remain and are still visible from York Street and Campo Lane today.

Mr. Hughes added: “Samuel Roberts was an extremely influential citizen, prominent in the anti-slavery movement, an activist against the Poor Law, and with great concern for the education of the poor.

“The playground he created in 1830 was considerably ahead of its time, and even after apparently having been modified in the 1850s, it is the first example I can find of a rooftop playground in all the countries. It is something important in the history of Sheffield.

He added: “I can find 10 examples of listed buildings where rooftop playgrounds are mentioned. But even modified, 14 East Parade predates all others by at least a decade, making it the first known in the country. Its origins in the 1830s make it unique ahead of its time.

19th century photo of Sheffield Parish Church – now a cathedral – showing railings and doors that were locked for the boys at the charity school. Photo:

Records show expenditure of £ 484 for the iron bridge and other things – a considerable sum at the time.

Mr. Hughes added: “I think that tells us that nothing is changing. Even today people complain that children are playing – but others see it has very important health and well-being benefits.

“Pounds Park in Heart of the City 2 will be a modern playground. But these are not new ideas, they link us to the beginning of the 19th century. People think and react the same way we do.

The beautiful Georgian building at 14 East Parade is Grade II listed. It was erected in 1825-1826 as a boys / blue charity school, replacing a school on the site dating from 1710. Use of the school had ceased in 1954 when the building was separated into offices. It was recently the labor court office, but it is now empty.

Plans have been submitted by Pinebridge Estates in Manchester to convert it into a 17-unit ‘aparthotel’, including one occupying the rooftop playground.

View of the playground, which was over 50 feet in height until the building was filled in 1850. Sheffield Cathedral is behind. Photo: Google.

Hallamshire Historic Buildings opposes it due to its uniqueness and historical significance, even though it is 50 feet tall and hardly anyone knows.

He says, “The importance of the setting is not limited to visual considerations, and this understanding of …

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This notice was published: 2021-09-03 14:25:39

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