Steel City Urbex: 10 Abandoned Places in Sheffield

abandoned-sheffield-ski-village (Image: Jim Dee; the abandoned Sheffield Ski Village)

The grand old man of the north, Sheffield is the stuff of legend. Destroyed by an atom bomb in the 1980s BBC drama Threads, eulogized for its Steel City past, home of the Full Monty and famously rebranded by Jarvis Cocker as ‘Sex City’, it’s one of the most dynamic cities in England. And this dynamism includes its many urban ruins from times gone by. Sheffield is home to numerous once-elegant abandoned buildings and decaying industrial complexes that echo the city’s proud history. This article delves into the history of those abandoned Sheffield buildings.

Firth Brown Steels’ Abandoned Underground Medical Centre

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abandoned-sheffield-firth-brown-steels-medical-4 (Images: Paul-Powers.com; Firth Brown Steels’ abandoned subterranean medical centre)

Formed in 1902 from a local merger, Firth Brown Steels was long one of Sheffield’s most-important companies. Employing thousands upon thousands of workers in its heyday, the steelmaker kept the local economy turning over far into the 20th century. As such a vast business, it was deemed necessary for F&B to have a medical centre on site. And it’s this ruined old medical centre that we’re interested in today.

Hidden away underground, far from any natural sources of light, the abandoned medical facility today looks like the location for a horror film. Tiles crack off the walls to join the debris on the floor. Doors have been torn from their frames, and a lone bed lies amid the carnage, gathering mould. It’s an eerie, haunting place, but also one that’s strangely beautiful. Only down here, in these cracked and grimy rooms, can you really appreciate how much life has changed in 100 years.

Abandoned Sheffield Ski Village

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abandoned-sheffield-ski-village-tank (Images: Jim Dee; the abandoned Sheffield Ski Village, plus APC)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Sheffield’s now abandoned Ski Village was intended to be one of British sport’s most-enduring legacies. The training site for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, it originally opened its doors in time for the 1991 World Student Games. And it would have kept them open for many decades to come, had it not been for a spate of arson attacks.

Hit by fire three times in 2012, once in 2013, and once again in 2015, the Ski Village is now utterly devastated. Where once pristine dry slopes ran down to cafes and public terraces, there is now little more than debris. So derelict are the runs and so frequent the fires that not even the grass has grown back this time – perhaps thinking it simply wasn’t worth the effort. The whole place looks like a war zone, and there’s even an ex-British Army FV432 armoured personnel carrier amid the devastation and decay.

In the years since, there have been many proposals to reopen the ill-fated park. However, the former owner claims it was under-used even in its lifetime. There’s now a chance the abandoned Sheffield Ski Village may be demolished entirely despite a campaign to reinstate it.

Abandoned Hallam Tower Hotel

abandoned-sheffield-hallam-tower-hotel-derelict (Image: Rich (Rich_B1982); Sheffield’s abandoned Hallam Tower Hotel)

Once a grand modernist icon, Sheffield’s now-abandoned Hallam Tower Hotel was thrown up in 1965 as a perfect example of a city on the move. An imposing 11 storey edifice, for years it dominated the Steel City’s skyline, tempting visitors into its decadent interiors with a gigantic neon sign that could be seen for miles. As one of the first luxury hotels built since World War Two, it was meant to be a metaphor for a newly-triumphant Britain.

From the viewpoint of a post-Recession UK, there’s something ironically apt in seeing that metaphor fall apart. Abandoned in 2004 after a long decline, the Hallam Tower is now considered an eyesore. Its interiors have suffered badly, damaged by water leaking and vandals, its once- panelled corridors now lost behind a sprawl of graffiti. Sold off in 2013, the future of this abandoned Sheffield icon on the city’s skyline remains uncertain.

Stanley Tools

abandoned-sheffield-stanley-tools (Images: scrappy nw)

A grand old factory on the outskirts of Sheffield abandoned in 2008, the Stanley Tools site covers an impressive 3.7 acres of decayed industrial buildings. For the past few years, an airsoft company has even been running zombie survival games in its ruins.

But even without the shambling undead, the old Stanley Tools building remains a place with a uniquely powerful atmosphere. Old maps still hang on the walls, and office equipment remains stacked in forlorn piles around puddles of water. Paint cracks and peels from the walls and forgotten paperwork lies abandoned on dusty desks. The zombie crew have even thought to daub fake blood over some of the surfaces, adding to the general sense of unease in this abandoned Sheffield landmark.

Abandoned Adelphi Cinema

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abandoned-sheffield-adelphi-cinema-attercliffe-5 (Images: Nick; Adam Slater)

Throughout its life, the Grade II listed Adelphi cinema always seemed on the verge of catastrophe. Opened in 1920, it was briefly closed in the 1930s, hit by a bomb during World War Two, renovated in 1946 and then closed again in the 1970s. It became a bingo hall and then a nightclub, but never quite held it together longer than a generation in any of its guises. Finally, in 2006 it shut its once elegant doors for good. They never reopened.

This is a great shame, as the Adelphi itself is a wonderful building. A place of angular lines, Art Nouveau ornamentation, and porthole windows, it was at once faded and strangely grand. Although many of the original features were destroyed in the multiple transitions it made (not least when a powerful German bomb hit it), a few touches still remain intact today. Neglected and unloved, the Adelphi is certainly an abandoned Sheffield landmark worth saving.

Former Court House and Old Town Hall

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abandoned-sheffield-court-old-town-hall-4 (Images: Trevor Bishenden (Trevbish Photography); Sheffield’s abandoned court)

Once an elegant and beloved local landmark, the fate of the Old Town Hall can seem remarkably cruel. A wonderful Victorian brick design with an imposing tower, the hall was abandoned in 1997 when the courts moved to more modern facilities. Strangely, it has remained abandoned ever since.

As a result, Sheffield’s abandoned Old Town Hall is now considered one of the most-endangered Victorian structures in Britain. Which is a real pity, as it certainly has pedigree. Meant to reflect the booming Sheffield economy in the 1860s, the Town Hall was a marvel of the Industrial Revolution.

Today, its empty rooms and dusty chambers are more-likely to trigger feelings of sadness and melancholy than awe. In the old courts, benches are still laid out, waiting for visitors who will never come – for juries who will never sit. Despite its perfectly preserved exterior, this is a building deeply in need of some TLC.

Wharncliffe Works

abandoned-sheffield-wharncliffe-works (Image: DncnH; underclassrising.net; the abandoned Wharncliffe Works)

Once home to the old Anarchist Centre on Green Lane, Wharncliffe Works is a Grade II listed building that’s fallen on incredibly hard times. Containing a factory that operated until close to the end of the 20th century, it was subsequently abandoned and left in such a state of neglect that it’s now considered at risk.

From within, the old Works appears utterly derelict. Almost everything of value is gone, swept away as if by some celestial broom. In its place lies empty floors strewn with debris and dirt, the odd abandoned desk being the only sign of former life in this expansive space. In back rooms, a few boxes of files still remain, rotting away beneath cracked and crumbling walls. In short, this is abandonment on an epic scale which somewhat symbolises the decline of mass steel production in Sheffield.

Disused Brightside Railway Station

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brightside-station-abandoned-sheffield-railway (Images: David Lally; Dave Bevis; Nigel Thompson; abandoned Brightside station)

On the outskirts of Sheffield, toward Rotherham, sits a lonely railway station. Brightside came into being back in the faded autumn of 1838, less than six months after Queen Victoria began her long and arduous reign. Incredibly, it survived long after the monarch had passed away. As late as 1995, you could still catch a train from there, huddled under one of the two utilitarian bus shelters that graced the gloomy platform.

Today, even that meagre bit of decoration is gone. Brightside has been officially abandoned for just over 20 years, and there are no signs that anyone will ever think to reopen it again. The abandoned platforms themselves are otherwise untouched, and the footbridge remains in remarkably good lick – even if access is now strictly forbidden. Locals can content themselves with looking over the bridge at the wasteland below. A sad end for an abandoned Sheffield station that survived six monarchs and nearly 160 years.

Derelict Anglican Chapel, Sheffield General Cemetery

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abandoned-sheffield-general-cemetery-anglican-chapel-4 (Images: Postcard Cafe; Sheffield General Cemetery’s abandoned Anglican chapel)

Deep in Sheffield’s Victorian General Cemetery sits an unusual structure. A small Anglican chapel with a distinct Gothic air about it, it was built in 1848 with a deliberately oversized steeple so it could be seen from miles around. Seen today, it still looks oddly disproportionate, like the architect slipped while holding a pen. But even this grand edifice has nothing on the abandoned interior.

Bricked up in 1978, the chapel was completely abandoned for a very long time. As a result, it became a kind of strange time capsule of the graffiti of the era, its insides filled with slogans of support for old punk bands who have now disappeared from popular memory. In 2012, it briefly became open again, after a hole was broken through the cinder blocks and the old oak door forced open. The vandals inadvertently revealed a cavernous interior almost overwhelming in its understated majesty. Meanwhile, a local photographer managed to snap some images before it was sealed off again.

Abandoned Sheffield Victoria Railway Station 

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abandoned-sheffield-victoria-railway-station-3 (Images: loose grip 99; Whatlep; Nigel Thompson; Bing Maps; disused Sheffield Victoria station)

For a long time, Sheffield Victoria Station was where you went when you wanted to feel like the world had just ended. Its spectacular ruins were the stuff of legend in the early 1980s, a station so broken and seemingly bombed-out that you could be forgiven for thinking the plot of Threads had really happened.

Incredibly, trains still ran through here at this time. Pictures from the era show tracks torn up, the iron skeleton of the roof partially collapsed and debris scattered across the platforms. Seeing this on your morning commute must have felt like a hideous metaphor for the way the decline of the north in general during that period, and Sheffield in particular.

Today, the destruction has abated somewhat. The structures are more or less gone, leaving only the spectral outlines of the desolate platforms, waiting for trains that will never arrive. A single goods line still passes the site, and there’s even been talk about reviving the station, but at this point, it seems unlikely that the abandoned Sheffield Victoria (or other disused local railway stations) will ever reopen – and certainly not to its former glory.

Related – 10 Intriguing Offbeat Places in Sheffield, Yorkshire

 
 


 
 
 

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