Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Castles In The Square (2)

It is perhaps fitting that in the week when we remember the joys of V E Day, we shall also give a thought to the horrors that were formally brought to an end on May 8th 1945.

There will always be mixed feelings in Sheffield when we look at photos of the Sheffield Blitz. In a gesture of defiance of the Luftwaffe's onslaught the city fathers began to plan a spectacular rebuild.

The Sheffield Blitz is less well known that that at Coventry but it was still grim in the extreme.

Thursday 12th December 1940
At about 9:30 pm a stick of bombs fell on Campo Lane and Vicar Lane, demolishing the West end of the Cathedral. At about 10:50 pm a 500 kg bomb fell on and destroyed the C&A and Burtons buildings opposite the Marples Hotel in Fitzalan Square.
Marples Hotel (left) with C & A opposite then and after rebuild
At 11:44 pm, The Marples Hotel itself received a direct hit. It is not known exactly how many people were killed but approximately 70 bodies were recovered from the rubble. This was the single biggest loss of life in the attacks. The majority of the bombs on this night fell on the City Centre and nearby residential areas with the last bombs falling at 4 am.
every dot, a bomb
Sunday 15th December 1940
Sunday, the second night of the Blitz saw the first use of a new German policy for their pathfinders. High-explosive bombs were no longer carried and were replaced by incendiaries. The main raid was carried out by 50 Heinkel 111s and 11 Dornier 17s. The raid finished at 10:15 pm. Many steelworks received hits, including Hadfields, Brown Bayleys and Steel, Peech and Tozer Ltd, although the damage was not serious enough to affect production.

In total over 660 people were killed, 1,500 injured and 40,000 made homeless. 3,000 homes were demolished with a further 3,000 badly damaged.
A total of 78,000 homes received damage. Six George Medals were awarded to citizens of Sheffield for their bravery during the raids. 134 victims of the raids were buried in a communal grave in City Road Cemetery.
And, of course, public transport suffered ...
... but, with gargantuan effort from Sheffield Transport and the Council's work force, services were relatively quick to recover.

Out of this devastation came a grand plan for a fresh start.
The plan included a complete outer ring road (mostly abandoned), an inner ring road (still not complete) ...
... and a grandiose civic circle framing the rebuilt city centre. The highlight of this would have been a huge civic square to the north of the town hall ...
... and approached from the west by a grand boulevard blasting through the suburb of Broomhall! 

It never happened. Indeed, development of that corner of the city centre has only really started to come to fruition in recent years. No grand open space, no imposing civic building ...
... but it is called "Heart of the City II"

There would be a massive bus station opposite an enlarged college ...
... which did materialise, although in a somewhat different form.
The splendid area surrounding the magnificent Corn Exchange building ...
... was thwarted when it caught fire in 1947 and was eventually demolished. Its replacement ...
... Park Square traffic jam and tram junction is somewhat less architecturally endearing!

Had the whole plan been completed promptly, Sheffield's centre would have been truly magnificent by the 1960s - but it didn't and it wasn't.

But the part of the plan that was, eventually, completed was the rebuild of Angel Street and Market Place, the creation of the new Arundel Gate, all centred on Castle Square.
This route runs from bottom right to to left in the picture above. And it was planned to be a square Square!

It is how this junction has affected public transport in the City of Steel that will emerge in tomorrow's blog.

A Personal P S
Today is the fbb's youngest son's birthday. He is 40!
May 1980
It does make the old folks realise that they are old!

 Next Castles blog : Wednesday 6th May 

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Kleissner5 May 2020 at 07:08

    I’m glad that you’ve commented on the Sheffield Blitz, as we so often hear about the raids on Coventry and London but much less often about those on other places. My wife comes from Clydebank which was comprehensively bombed on two nights in March 1941 with an even higher loss of life and destruction than Sheffield, yet this rarely seems to get mentioned either. Of course the London raids continued over a much longer period which must have been appalling and demoralising. And let’s not forget the Allied raids on Germany, some of which (Hamburg and Dresden) caused far more damage and loss of life than any of the German ones on Britain.