Sheffield Tower Blocks and High rise Apartments of the 20th Century

Sheffield has an interesting history of high rise living which stretches back quite a long way. In this selection I intend to present the remaining tower blocks and apartments which remain from the 20th century. Unfortunately there are only a small number left on the ground today.

I like to call these tower blocks Sheffield's Twin Towers. Because like the famous, destroyed Minoru Yamasaki 110 floor, New York World trade centre towers these much smaller 13 storey residential tower over their host city with an iconic brooding presence.

Apparently, when there were three towers up there, many locals called them "the three sisters". The third one was demolished in 1995 and 1996, it was distinctive in that it had a large blue water tank on top.

Now interestingly, these towers were designed and built in 1959 and it was the first attempt at a post war tower block in the city. Just 14 years after the conclusion of world war II, 5 years after the end of rationing and the country was still in recovery. No local construction company at that time had the confidence to take on the project of building these ( originally three towers ) because they were so enormously high for the region, and thus a company based in London undertook the project. However local companies were keeping a close eye on the site and the main local construction companies were soon to take on similar projects across the city.

By 1998 these blocks were refurbished and clad in the colourful cladding you see here. The balconies were enclosed with windows at this time to provide extra living space. The blocks appear to have had similar treatment as the blocks at upperthorpe, which were wrapped in rockwool provided by Sheffield Insulations, and clad with an external Aluminium rain proof cassette system.

This system of flats, which originally looked identical to the callow mount 1 bedroom flats, had poor insulation properties and were designed in an era of cheap fuel. Hence residents in the 1990s found it hard to keep warm, suffered with expensive fuel bills and problems like damp which often led to health problems. The council had to either demolish or improve blocks like this otherwise housing problems would get worse.

Apart from the general insulation problems, a design fault was apparent in blocks of this style, called "Cold Bridging". Each floor sat on a large cast concrete floor slab which was exposed all the way around the building conducting the heat out of each apartment and into the sky like a heat sink. The concrete slabs had to be insulated on the outside to solve this. To read more about this style of refurbishment follow this link.

 

 

The original third tower was located to the west of Queen Anne Court at the end of Raeburn Place. Research shows that it was named 200-294 Raeburn Place. I'm not sure if this indicates that the other towers had similar Raeburn Place titles as their original names which were changed later during the refurbishment in the 1990s or that for some reason they couldn't think of another queen's name at the time of building in 1959. The position of this lost tower is just a square of hardstanding at the blank end of Raeburn Place now.


In June 2010 Paul johnson Contacted the webmaster with update pictures for these pages, here follows a selection with grateful thanks.

 

 

Here is a place for feedback for anyone who remembers any useful additions to this area.

Happyhippy ( 14th Sept 2007 )

I can't remember the original names of the blocks, but they were definitely renamed when refurbished. I lived in the demolished block. I think the original names might have been Morland, Leighton and Raeburn.

The middle one was built on a fault too, which is why the lift engineers were always about.

Plaintalker ( 2nd Oct 2007 )

Happy hippy is correct about the names of the three blocks at herdings, and you are correct that the addresses were all Raeburn Place(if my memory serves me well).  I can't remember which way round it was but 2 blocks were even- and one block was odd-numbered, or vice versa. the architecture of these flats, before the refurb to "st Elizabeth court" was identical to the one bedroomed flats at Callow.  the three blocks were one-bedroomed flats only.