Sheffield Town Hall is a building in the City of Sheffield, England. The building is used by Sheffield City Council, and also contains a publicly displayed collection of silverware. The current building, Sheffield's fourth town hall, is located on Pinstone Street. It was designed by the London-based architect E. W. Mountford and constructed over a seven-year period from 1890 to 1897, opening on 21 May 1897. An extension designed by F. E. P. Edwards was completed in 1923.
The design of the exterior echoed to a certain extent the architecture of the adjacent St. Paul's Church of 1720 (now demolished). During construction, the building was criticised for its expensive embellishments. The exterior is built of Stoke stone from the Stoke Hall Quarry in Grindleford, Derbyshire and is decorated with carvings by F. W. Pomeroy. The friezes depict the industries of Sheffield, and the 64 metre high clock-tower is surmounted by a statue of Vulcan. Bells were never installed in the clock-tower, but in 2002 an electronic bell sound system was added to provide hourly strikes and Westminster-style quarter chimes.
The building was opened by Queen Victoria, using a remote control lock from her carriage. The turning of the key in the lock triggered a light in the building which was the signal for three concealed men to open the gates.
The entry contains displays relating to HMS Sheffield and leads to the Main Entrance Hall with a grand marble staircase. This also has an Electrolier an electric chandelier, part of the original lighting of the building. The walls include friezes including a depiction of the slaying of the Dragon of Wharncliffe. On the first landing is a statue of the first Lord Mayor Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk.
The first floor has a gallery running its length which can be divided into four sections by means of powered oak panels descending from the ceiling. The south room is the Lord Mayor's Parlour which is kept permanently divided. On the same floor is the oak-panelled Council Room and its antechamber, which has above its door the advice "Be Ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves". There are photographs of former mayors in the antechamber and some paintings in the parlour.
Sheffield's first town hall was referred to in a 1637 survey of the area. It is thought to have been at 10 Pinfold Street. From 1700–1808 there was a small brick-built community hall in the corner of the Churchyard. It was owned by the Town Trustees, as was its replacement, now Sheffield Old Town Hall. In 1886 the council cleared a number of premises in the Pinstone Street area to make way for the current Town Hall, and the old building was converted for use as a court, with further additions by Flockton, Gibbs & Flockton in 1896–7.
A new extension to the Town Hall was planned in the late 1930s and necessitated the demolition of the adjacent St Paul's Church in 1938. The extension plans were subsequently put on hold due to the Second World War, and the site was made into a public garden instead. The garden was called St Paul's Garden but was more popularly known as the Peace Gardens, which became the official name in 1985. One feature of the Peace Gardens was a standard ruler, 100 feet (30 m) long, built of metal and running along what was St Paul's Parade. It was accurately horizontal and varied in height above the pavement from a few inches to about four feet. It was possible for a small child to run along the ruler, as it was about a foot wide. It was presented to the City by the Lord Mayor in 1910, partly as a Standard of Length, and partly for its public education value. The ruler showed pre-metric measurements such as chains, links and rods.
By the 1990s, the gardens had gained a bad reputation as a haven for drunkards. In 1998 the gardens were renovated as the first stage of the Sheffield Council's Heart of the City project. The plans faced substantial local opposition as the Peace Gardens were a popular and well-loved feature of the city centre at the time. The new layout with its emphasis on water-features was initially criticised for its lack of garden, but has since become a popular venue for families during the summer; its walk-in fountain is especially popular with children.
In 1977, a new council building in a modern style was added to the east of the Peace Gardens, and was connected to the old Town Hall by way of a glazed flyover. The building was immediately unpopular and was nicknamed The Egg-Box after its appearance. The new building, complete with roof-garden, cost in the region of £9 million and was built with a life-span of about 500 years following concerns about the tenacity of the concrete structures built in the previous decade. It was demolished in 2002 after just 25 years to make way for the Sheffield Winter Gardens, St Paul's Hotel and an office block, and replaced with a new office block called Howden House to the south of the site on Charles Street.
The extension is the setting for much of the 1984 BBC drama documentary Threads.
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