Monday, 3 December 2012

News - Historic landmark given new lease of life (Sheffield)

Plans to preserve an important and unique part of Sheffield’s Victorian history have been given the green light after a 15-year battle with conservation authorities.

The Anglican Chapel in Sheffield’s General Cemetery is a Grade 2 listed building and known for its distinct gothic style and Victorian spire. Despite its position as an integral part of local history, the chapel has been allowed to fall into disrepair and has stood empty for a number of years.

Efforts to bring the chapel back into use have been on-going since 1997, but the latest proposal to convert the historic building into two domestic flats has finally been given the go ahead by Sheffield City Council.

Valerie Bayliss from the Sheffield Victorian Society said she was pleased to see an iconic monument being restored. She said: “The General Cemetery chapel has been empty for many years and has been subject to extensive vandalism. There have been several attempts to find a new use for it, and we are pleased that at last the essential repairs will be carried out and the building returned to use.”

The chapel, built in 1850, was designed by Sheffield architect William Flockton in a Victorian gothic style whilst other buildings in the cemetery are considered to be of a Classical or Egyptian style. The building is unique for its distinctive windows and entrance as well as the spire which was purposefully built too big so as to clearly visible.

Sheffield General Cemetery opened in 1836 and is one of the oldest public cemeteries in Britain. A number of figures from Sheffield’s industrialist past are buried there including steel manufacturer Mark First and the 19th century chartist Samuel Holberry, known for his role in the failed Sheffield Rising of 1840.

Two previous schemes to renovate the Anglican Chapel were turned down by planning officials after meeting strong local opposition. The latest proposal however is supported English Heritage and the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust who have looked after the cemetery since it closed to public burial in 1979.

The chapel will be converted into two flats with parking space for four cars. A council spokesman said that every effort would be made to preserve the building’s historical features.

Councillor Andrew Sangar said it was important to bring the chapel back into use but expressed concerns that the proposed plans did not go far enough.

He said: “In the past we have turned down numerous schemes to bring this building back into use and it needs to be done otherwise it will fall down. It is currently in a dreadful state of disrepair.

“In principal I support the idea to bring back old churches and old chapels into use. But I think we have missed an opportunity here.

“Given the history there and the little of it we have left to us today. This scheme does not go far enough to preserve an important and unique part of Sheffield’s history.”


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