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Old Sharrow Vale Chapel Now At Forge Dam

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I have ancestors who were heavily involved in Sharrow Vale Wesleyan Reform Chapel on Sharrow Vale Road from the 1890's through to 1940's.

I am told by the current administrator that the original chapel was built in 1862 but that was taken down & replaced by a new Chapel opened in 1902 which is still operating under the name Crowded House.

They tell me they have been told the original chapel was rebuilt at Forge Dam. I have no idea what sort of buliding it was though - I suspect it was relatively small.

Does anybody know if this is correct & is it still there?


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I have ancestors who were heavily involved in Sharrow Vale Wesleyan Reform Chapel on Sharrow Vale Road from the 1890's through to 1940's.

I am told by the current administrator that the original chapel was built in 1862 but that was taken down & replaced by a new Chapel opened in 1902 which is still operating under the name Crowded House.

They tell me they have been told the original chapel was rebuilt at Forge Dam. I have no idea what sort of buliding it was though - I suspect it was relatively small.

Does anybody know if this is correct & is it still there?


The only building at Forge Dam that hasn't been there for a very long time is the cafe. Could that be the building in question?

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corrugated steel buildings became available in the 1850's and were very popular for churches up to the turn of the century so quite likely that the cafe at forge dam had ecclesastical origins. - no other type of buildings would be moveable at this time

Just in case you are interested - the attached paper gives lots of detail on such buildings - mainly detailing scottish examples but lots of general information.

Pephaps the finest example of a corrugated church in Sheffield dissapeared within the last ten years - it was on Chesterfield rd. on the left hand side as you go up the hill (opposite the retail park)

Sorry I cant work out how to post a pdf file - the whole text has dropped into the message - also the photo's have not attached - if anyone would like me to Email them the document please contact me - nick@hard-rock-mining.com

Journal of Architectural Conservation

No 1 March 2005 67

Corrugated-Iron Buildings:

An Endangered Resource

within the Built Heritage



This paper describes corrugated-iron-clad buildings, considers their history and

construction, and the need for conservation in the light of their cultural significance

to certain relatively remote areas. From a survey of 72 buildings carried

out in the Scottish Highlands and Islands it is clear that there is a risk that the

remaining stock of these buildings will disappear from the Scottish landscape,

since nearly half were in poor condition, empty and deteriorating, or ruinous,

and only five are currently protected by listing. This situation may be repeated



Over the years corrugated-iron-clad buildings have become a familiar

feature of the rural scene. Although they are sometimes perceived as

commonplace, in some circumstances they have contributed much to the

development of communities as well as playing an important role in our

aesthetic appreciation and historic understanding of the landscape. This

paper describes corrugated-iron buildings in general, their history, and

their construction. It evaluates their cultural significance and examines

the challenges they face, with particular reference to the Scottish

Highlands and Islands. It reports a preliminary assessment of the remaining

stock in that region and complements recent publications dealing

with England and Wales.



Journal of Architectural Conservation No 1 March 2005

Nick Thomson and Phil Banfill

Corrugated-iron buildings

History of corrugated iron

Corrugated iron is first mentioned in the 1820s, with Henry Robinson

Palmer patenting a process for applying corrugated metal plates to buildings

in 1829. The text of his patent implies, however, that the process of

corrugating the sheets was already well known, and his claim is just for

improvements to their method of use, employing the stiffness of such

sheets to minimize the need for a supporting framework. Richard Walker

founded an eponymous company in 1829 and his Patent Corrugated Iron

Factory in Bermondsey was listed in the 1833 Post Office London


3 Improvements to the durability of the protective coatings and

to the efficiency of the corrugating process followed.

The process of galvanizing with a layer of zinc was developed in Paris

by Stanislaw Sorel and patented in 1837. Henry Craufurd brought the

process to England the same year and set up the English Scotch and Irish

Galvanized Metals Company in London in 1838. In 1843, John Porter

of Southwark was the first to use galvanized corrugated sheeting on a roof.

By the 1840s several industrialists were trying to mechanize corrugatediron

production, in particular John Spencer, an agent for the Phoenix

Iron Works in West Bromwich who, in 1844, devised a technique for

passing iron sheets between grooved rollers to produce corrugations.

Morewood and Rogers displayed a variety of galvanized iron sheets at

the Great Exhibition in 1851, and their illustrated catalogue showed

prefabricated buildings ranging from cottages to warehouses. Charles

Young and Co. of Edinburgh also exhibited, and in the 1850s developed

to become a large company employing over 1,000 people, until bankruptcy

in 1858. Also at the exhibition were the firms of Tupper and Carr, and

Bellhouse’s Eagle Foundry, Manchester, the latter having developed a

business in exporting buildings to serve the gold rushes of California in

1849 and Australia in 1851; a gable-roofed cottage still stands in the

Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy.

4 Prince Albert ordered one of Bellhouse’s

buildings to be erected in 1851 as a ballroom on the Balmoral estate, the

earliest known corrugated-iron building in Scotland.

By the end of the 1850s corrugated iron was well established and

gaining in acceptance. Although steel was available from 1865, a process

for making light-gauge sheets suitable for corrugating was not developed

until the 1890s. Even then, wrought iron was preferred to steel because

of its greater corrosion resistance and its ease of alloying with zinc. Sheets

Journal of Architectural Conservation

No 1 March 2005 69

Corrugated-Iron Buildings: An Endangered Resource within the Built Heritage

were generally thicker (at 1.2 to 1.6 mm) than today (0.4 to 0.8 mm)

and pitches ranged from 25 to 250 mm (75 mm standard today), with

sheet sizes gradually increasing up to 1900, when 3.3

× 0.75 m was possible.

At this time about 250,000 tons were being produced per annum in

the United Kingdom, mostly for export.


Manufacturers of corrugated-iron buildings

While the early producers naturally concentrated on improving the

product and their methods of production, the potential of corrugated iron

to be manufactured into kit-form buildings was recognized quickly.

The pioneering firms of Walker, Morewood and Rogers, Tupper and

Carr, and Bellhouse have already been mentioned. Hemmings of Bristol

produced the first iron-clad churches in the 1850s and by the 1860s

Francis Morton and Co. of Liverpool had established a special department

for the design and manufacture of churches, chapels, and school

houses. Their ‘Patent railway and park fencing, galvanizing and corrugated

iron works’ produced St Mark’s in Birkenhead, a permanent iron

church consecrated in April 1867, designed to accommodate 500 people

at a cost of £2,000. Their catalogue of 1873 contained the enthusiastic

endorsement of the minister concerned and illustrated a range of other

building types.


Frederick Braby and Co.’s Eclipse Iron and Galvanizing Works in

Glasgow became the major metal-coating works in that city and grew to

cover 35 acres and employ 1,700 people, eventually closing in the 1960s.

The firm’s system of iron building was used in the construction of the

factory itself.

7 The Glasgow business directory noted that iron buildings

went to every quarter of the globe and for all purposes. Braby’s catalogue

included several church designs, and it is likely that they exported both

the German Lutheran Church of St Martin to Kimberley, South Africa,

in 1875, and the English Church at Barberton, South Africa, in 1887.


Isaac Dixon’s Windsor Iron Works, Liverpool, produced a catalogue

in 1879 that stated:


Our iron buildings are well adapted for erection in shooting quarters in the

Highlands etc in situations where carriage is difficult and costly and where it

is almost impossible to erect buildings of brick or stone etc. These houses

can be occupied the moment they are finished and are not liable to damp when

shut up. We have erected numerous houses in the Highlands, prices 5s 6d to

6s 6d per superficial foot of ground covered.


Journal of Architectural Conservation No 1 March 2005

Nick Thomson and Phil Banfill

F. Smith and Co., London, were one of the smaller manufacturers,

but also active in the export trade particularly to southern Africa at the

beginning of the twentieth century. Little documentary evidence has

survived, but their name plate appears on a few buildings in Scotland.

Speirs and Co. first appeared in the Glasgow Post Office Directory of

1893, listed for iron and steel churches, houses, and, as a weatherboard

buildings contractor, with a works at Port Dundas. They produced a significant

number of corrugated-iron churches, schools, and hospital buildings

in Scotland, and patented a system of cavity walls to give warmth

without draughts.

There were a number of other manufacturers producing prefabricated

buildings in the late nineteenth century, including Boulton and Paul of

Norwich, and William Cooper of London. Cooper’s catalogue (probably

early twentieth century) is typical, illustrating numerous churches,

chapels, mission rooms, hospitals, club houses, residences, houses,

cottages, and bungalows, together with details of materials to be used. It

includes specifications for brick or stone foundations, framework, floor

boarding, lining, ventilation/draughtproofing, and finishes, and makes

the following comment on the iron:

Sheets of standard Birmingham gauge [bWG 16–22 correspond to 0.71 to

1.65 mm thickness] only are used, truly and evenly corrugated, thickly coated

with pure Silesian spelter, true and even in temper, and free from flaws and

cracks. They are fixed on a principle that admits of their being easily released

without damage to the structure. At the apex of the roof plain galvanised

capping is provided.

Church number 565, 40 by 70 feet, was priced at £435 erected complete

or £305 ex-works for delivery by rail or sea. In the latter case the kit was

supplied ready for erection, all parts carefully lettered and numbered, and

complete with a drawing, and it was claimed that putting the sections

together required no technical skill.

A. J. Main and Co.’s advertisement in the Country Gentlemen’s

Catalogue of 1894 shows that curved roofs were becoming a feature of

the more prosperous farming areas. Their Clydesdale Iron Works, at

Possilpark, Glasgow, was producing iron roofs, shedding, and buildings,

and a covered cattle yard with a wide curved roof is shown, together

with an open-sided hay shed. This company also advertised galvanized

iron shooting lodges.

Journal of Architectural Conservation

No 1 March 2005 71

Corrugated-Iron Buildings: An Endangered Resource within the Built Heritage

This history has necessarily been brief, but shows that many manufacturers

were active up to the early twentieth century. As the following

sections will show, it is clear that there remain buildings by at least five

manufacturers in the Scottish Highlands and Islands: Bellhouse, Braby,

Dixon, Smith, and Speirs.

Architectural and technological features

The buildings were generally constructed on a framework of timber, often

prefabricated in sections for ease of erection, and usually built on a foundation

of brickwork, though sometimes on tarred timbers laid directly on

the ground. The wall linings frequently consisted of tongued and grooved

match boarding, while the floors were typically finished with timber

boards. The corrugated sheets themselves were fixed with spikes to timber

purlins or bolted to iron. Sheet thicknesses of 16 to 22 Birmingham Wire

Gauge were generally used in the United Kingdom, galvanized and

finished with an oil-paint coating, while thinner sheets of 24 and 26 gauge

were exported to the colonies.

Decorative elements could be applied at openings, gables, and ridges.

Ventilators in the roof and a layer of felt in the walls made the buildings

comfortable. The absence of wet trades, the speedy erection in a wet

climate, and the avoidance of fire risks were all advertised as positive advantages.

While plans cannot be shown within the limits of this paper, the

main features are visible in the Scottish examples shown in Figures 2–5.

The cultural significance of corrugated-iron buildings

Cultural significance means the aesthetic, historic, scientific, or spiritual

value of a place for the past, present, and future.

10 The significance

of corrugated-iron buildings must be evaluated in terms of these perceived

values to society, and for their intrinsic merit as well as for the insight

they shed on the development of society in remote areas such as the

Scottish Highlands and Islands. This section considers their significance

in general terms, while the situation in Scotland is discussed later.

Architecture and landscape

In some parts of the world, corrugated iron has defined a distinct architectural

style. In Australia, where it first appeared at the time of the

Victoria gold rush in the early 1850s, it is seen as an expression of simple

thrifty survival in the bush and as an important element in the Australian


Journal of Architectural Conservation No 1 March 2005

Nick Thomson and Phil Banfill

landscape – a paradigm of the Australian character.

11 Likewise, in South

Africa, Kimberley, Barberton, and Johannesburg were literally towns of

corrugated iron, brought overland by train and ox wagon from the coast.

For these pioneer towns, demountability and portability were key requirements.


In the Scottish Highlands and Islands corrugated iron represents

an aspect of regional character in terms of aesthetic quality, design

innovation, social history, industrial development, associations with

particular foundries, and the preservation of structures that would otherwise

have been lost.

The colour and texture of corrugated iron forms an interesting and

complementary counterpoint to the colour and form of the natural

landscape. Naismith argues that the rich rusty red on ageing is not

inappropriate and suggests that conservationists would wish to see this

form of sheeting retained as a foreign, but naturalized, element of building.


Often the forms of corrugated-iron buildings express a vernacular

simplicity, and when left to rust the reflectivity is removed and interesting

colours are created.

Polychromy adds value to the rural or urban landscape and the oilpaint

coatings of blue, red, green, grey, white, yellow, or cream had never

previously appeared in the built environment. Corrugated-iron buildings,

particularly those of the late Victorian period, could be embellished to

evoke picturesque references, by such features as ornamental bargeboards

and finials, complex roof forms, dormers, bellcotes, spires, and decorative

ventilators. The majority of manufacturers produced churches in the

Gothic style, such as the church at Syre, Sutherland (Figure 3), but some

also took to ‘Gothicizing’ openings even when the building was not for

ecclesiastical use.

14 A number of churches retain ornamental ridge

cappings (brattishing) and battlemented embellishments.

Overall assessment

The production of corrugated iron is part of the industrialization of the

building industry in the mid-nineteenth century. It made possible new

directions in building and must be regarded as the first important metalcladding

material, and as a precursor of the steel houses of the mid-twentieth

century and of aluminium and asbestos cement sheeting.

15 The kit

buildings supplied by a number of manufacturers satisfied the needs of a

changing society, helped stimulate development, and provided accommodation

economically, speedily, and in the absence of a skilled


Journal of Architectural Conservation

Edited by SteveHB

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According to the current proprietors of Forge Dam Cafe : "The current building reportedly used to be Walkley Methodist Hall and after dismantling, was brought down to Forge Dam on a horse and cart in the 1930s" - from:


I'm sure that the Wycliffe Chapel on Hickmott Road used to be corrugated iron, but as I remember more like a Nissen hut. It may be later, I know it received permission for marriages in 1946, maybe not long after it was put up. Hickmott Road dates from about 1899.

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Forge dam had become a boating lake and an attraction before 1900. If the present cafe arrived in 1930, and the building John's asking about was taken down around 1902, then it might well have been moved to Forge Dam. Graves Trust bought the Dam and remaining buildings in 1939, which included the remains of the forge and the cottages. The present cafe is on the site of the forge, but I've a postcard postmarked 1903 which shows what looks like a corrugated steel building between the site of the present cafe and the path up to the dam. Could this be John's building?

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From the 1851 Census of Religious Worship:

2230 Sharrow Vale Wesleyan Chapel (Expelled Wesleyan Methodists [Reformers]) . Erected 1845. Separate ExW (Used exclusively as a place of worship, excluding Sunday School). Sittings Free All; Free Space only Room for 70 persons. On 30 March: Morning nil Afternoon GC (General Congregation) 60 Evening

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Thanks to everyone for responses. I have taken up the suggestion & written to Sheffield Council to check if they know the origin of the Forge Dam cafe.

Edmund - I have looked at the 1881 Independant Religious census & in that Sharrow Vale WR had 24 in the morning & 46 in the evening giving a total of 70 but it also shows that it can seat 180 in total. I wonder if it had been extended between 1851 & 1881?

The currugated building Bayleaf shows looks quite small - could 180 be squeezed into it?

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John - the nature of the building is a kit of parts, it would be a fairly simple job to tailor the building to it's new site if the size was not right

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just a thought,

Are you confusing the chapel at "crowded house " with the Wycliffe chapel (independent) which was on the corner of Hickmott Road and Eastwood road,


That was a "tin" chapel until it was replaced about twenty+ years ago, with the modern building that can be seen in the above link.

This is the sign above the entrance to "Crowded house" which confirms what Johnm says about it being rebuilt in 1902:-


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The info that the original Sharrow Vale WR chapel was originally put up in 1862 & that it was moved to Forge Dam when the new chapel was built in 1902 comes from the Crowded House administrator. I think they must have done the background work when it was agreed they effectively took over resposnsibility for the chapel from the Wesleyan Reform Union a few years ago. They did not say it was a Tin chapel although the fact that it could be moved elsewhere suggestst that was the case.

I emailed the council but they say they cannot help & have passed the query to Sheffield Archives. Will see if they can help.

Thanks everyone for your interest in thas topic ; it seems both my gt grandad , his twin brother (an ordained Wesleyan Reform Minister & Union Evangelist) & his son all moved to Sharrow Vale from Ebenezer Bramall Lane WR chapel to arrange the building at Sharrow Vale . Hence my interest.

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