Sunday 21 April 2013

Water Transport Miners Pub? [2]

So who was he, this imposing gent?
Lord Hambleden was born William Frederick Danvers Smith, only surviving son of the W.H. Smith who with his father, also W.H. Smith, founded the famous firm of newsagents. The second W.H.Smith bought the Manor of North Bovey and Moretonhampstead from the Courtenay Earl of Devon in 1890, and died shortly after, so his son was Lord of the Manor from 1891.

W.H. Smith (II) was important as a business man, as a philanthropist with a particular interest in hospitals, and as a highly respected politician. When he died he was First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons. As a tribute to him, Queen Victoria created his widow Viscountess Hambleden, and this title passed to her son on her death in 1913. When he first became Lord of the Manor, however, he was just the Honourable W.F.D. Smith, although we remember him as Lord Hambleden.

In the 1920s, W H Smith (the company) built a wholesale warehouse on Exchange Street (Sheffield),  to which newsagents, book sellers and stationers could come, view and purchase the wide selection of goods available.
In memory of the family title it was named Hambleden House.
By the time this pic (above) was taken on a gloomy drizzly day in the 60s, this rather splendid art deco structure had seen better days.
The W H Smith distribution system was revised and thus, in 1969, these premises were bought to form the new headquarters for Sheffield Transport Department. And, you guessed it, in an expression of yet more civic pride, the Department produced a commemorative brochure ...
... naturally using the cream and blue colours from the bus livery.

The refurbishment was duly recorded ...
... and the brochure contrasted the old (see yesterday's blog - read again) with the bright and breezy new.  Gone were the candles and quill pens (!!) and in was a bright and breezy Traffic Office ... 

... with a few faces fbb remembers of old! Difficult to spot because they all appear (?) to be toiling with a heightened level of feverish industry. Who says that "spin" is a modern invention?

Financial matters were handled in the "Comptometer Room" ...
... with, of course, not a computer in sight.

The most telling page of the brochure, however, is the introduction penned by Councillor Roy Thwaites ...
Civic pride par excellence!

All of this "hype" does, however, pose a question. South Yorkshire PTE, who inherited the premises from the department in 1973, moved out into something even more impressive ...
... with more offices, more opulence and, one would hope, far less staff replaced by lots of lovely confusers. But the Passenger Transport Executive doesn't run any buses; they've all been "privatised". So what exactly goes on in SYPTE Towers? And why are the council tax payers of South Yorkshire paying for it all, whatever it is?

fbb remembers the occasional visit to the former Hambleden House; just ask the man on reception ...
... who quickly assures fbb, "John? Yes, I've just seen 'im; 'eez up there! Y'know the way."

Now you have to sign in, wear a badge which usually drops to bits, then await a minion to escort you. Can't be too careful, you might accidentally glimpse the team producing incorrect leaflet ...

... or you might see someone actually working!

The Exchange Street premises still stand, awaiting redevelopment of the whole rather tatty area.
Thanks to the dearth of heavy industry in the city, the building looks cleaner than it ever has done since the day it was built. fbb thinks that the PTE still owns it and is awaiting the chance to make a fat wedge, having applied to demolish it. But there have been, so far, a couple of attempts top get the "beautiful building" (?) listed and thus preserved.

A new headquarters for a revived First South Yorkshire? Perhaps not.

Nearly forgot the Miners. The Division Street premises were, for a while, offices for the National Union of Mineworkers before succumbing to the wonders of the Wetherspoon.

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 22nd April 


  1. In case anyone thinks that SYPTE's offices are stuffed with idle bureaucrats, spare a thought for the 18% of its staff who have lost their jobs, or will shortly do so.

  2. I agree with Dennis - I think your latter comments are more than a little hurtful to those that work very hard for SYPTE and the 60 posts that have been removed. Are you querying the work of ALL the PTEs or just South Yorkshire? I have visited the offices many times and my badge has never 'fallen apart' and if you visited any major office site these days (particularly a publicly funded one) there is no way you would be allowed to wander about without someone to take you - are you untouched by crime or very real the threat of terrorism? It's a shame that what was an interesting blog subject is once again blighted by your desire to have a snipe for no apparent reason.

  3. No intention to offend. Several of my chums "work" hard for their PTE but are highly dissatisfied with the unproductive and erroneous work they are asked to do. There should be some concern, in today's financially strapped economy, about the horrendous amounts of money that taxpayers shell out for "umbrella" organisations to the detriment of front-line necessitous work. Similar concerns apply the the levels of "management" in the NHS. I am sorry of my levity offended anyone, but the intended humorous remark was based on, at least, some real (but, sadly, unattributable) fact.
    Anonymous also refers to my comments on access. Sadly, again, the fear of crime and paranoia about possible terrorism are statistically misplaced; very occasional horrors (e.g. the awful tragedy in Boston) and a negligible crime threat need not be a corporate excuse for treating everybody - including hose that you have known for years, with restrictive suspicion.