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Sheffield History

Fitzalan Square

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FITZALAN SQUARE

LOCATION

HISTORY

This area of the city had been the market quarter since the Medieval era and the modern square takes its name from the Fitzalan Market Hall, which stood near the site from 1786 to 1930. The Fitzalans were a lesser branch of the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk and the major local landowners at that time.

The square is located in the city centre at 53�22′58″N, 1�27′53″W; to the south of the eastern end of High Street. It is rectangular in shape, formed by the staggered intersections of Flat Street and Haymarket with High Street from the south and north respectively. Commercial Street and Bakers Hill leave the square to the east. Norfolk Street used to intersect with Flat Street at the south-western corner of the square, but it was cut off from the square when Arundel Gate was constructed in 1968.

Fitzalan Square was created in 1881 when Market Street and its buildings were demolished, the early square had a substantial cab stand and clock. However, this was demolished in 1913 to make way for a bronze statue of King Edward VII by Alfred Drury (1857-1944)[1]. This was unveiled by the Duke of Norfolk on 27 October 1913, and stands to this day.

Sheffield's Head Post Office operated in the square for almost ninety years. Built in 1910 as an addition to the 1897 post office building on Flat Street, it closed in 1999, with the main post office moving to new premises within the Co-op store on Angel Street. The Grade II listed[2] Post Office building was up for sale for a considerable time before finally been sold for development in early 2006. On the west side of the square is the Grade II listed White Building.

Built in 1908 by Gibbs and Flockton, it is faced in faience, which was intended to resist the soot that blackened many of Sheffield's buildings at the time. The early square also had the Electra Palace Cinema, which opened February 1911 and became the Classic Cinema in 1962. It closed in 1982, and the building was destroyed by a fire in 1984.

The site is now occupied by an amusement arcade. Next door to the cinema was the Bell Hotel public house, which is now a gift shop. Another public house, the Elephant Inn, stood on the corner where Norfolk Street entered the square, this closed in the 1960s, it later became a branch of Halfords and then a charity shop. The well known Sheffield company of Wigfalls also had a shop in the square for many years, this is now a betting shop. However, the best-known structure in Fitzalan Square is the �Marples� building.

The Marples tragedy

The building at the corner of the square as it joins High Street was first occupied by a hotel in 1870, John Marples became the proprietor in 1886 and named the establishment the London Mart however it was always known locally as �The Marples�.

On the night of Thursday 12 December 1940, 300 German bombers attacked Sheffield in what has become known as the Sheffield Blitz, their target was the steel works producing armaments in the east end of the city, however a mistake in navigation caused the city centre to become the main target. Fire bombs caused widespread panic and many people took shelter in the Marples� extensive cellars, believing they were safe under the robust seven storey building.

At 11.44 p.m. the Marples building took a direct hit from a bomb which plunged through the building and detonated just above the cellars killing approximately 70 people and reducing the building to a fifteen foot high pile of rubble. The next day seven men were dug out of the rubble, as a small section of cellar roof had amazingly withstood the impact.

The Marples site stood derelict until 1959 when the brewing company John Smith opened a new public house on the site, this time officially called �The Marples�. The pub closed in 2002 and is now occupied by the Hein Gericke motorcycle clothing and accessory outlet.

Fitzalan Square received a facelift during the summer of 2003. The Edward VII statue was cleaned, protected from pigeons, and lights added to illuminate it at night. New sandstone paving and steel benches were installed, the trees were pruned back and improved street lighting put in.

In addition to the motorcycle accessory shop, amusement arcade and gift shop, the square contains two betting shops from national chains, a few insurance companies and a small newsagents. In the inner part of the square there is also a fast food hut and a small police cabin.

PICTURES

More Fitazalan Square Pictures - http://www.ronsandersoncollection.com/disp...4&gallery=2

Info coming soon...

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This is a picture of "The Marples" the day after the blitz

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And about 70 people squished underneath it all..

Direct hit that one - and wiped out lots of people (strangely enough a lot of them lived in the city not far away ?)

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Picture of Fitzalan Square taken from a tram stopping opposite the Marples to pick passengers up (who queued up in the middle of the road as cars went past !)

Note Barclays Bank on the corner and the cinema next door putting a bit of colour into the grimy and gloomy looking city..

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Picture of Fitzalan Square taken from a tram stopping opposite the Marples to pick passengers up (who queued up in the middle of the road as cars went past !)

Note Barclays Bank on the corner and the cinema next door putting a bit of colour into the grimy and gloomy looking city..

I only ever remember the cinema being called the "Classic" yet on the picture the first two letters are CA so what was it called then???

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Here's one of the earliest I've seen - it's from a 1913 postcard

Shows on the left some buildings not mentioned on here before

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Good question - you mean the ones bang outside the big post office ?

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Good question - you mean the ones bang outside the big post office ?

Yes in the corner between what was Wigfalls and The GPO building

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I think they are yeah

I've not been there for a few months though

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Just to confirm that the stonesteps are still there (2 flights) and the metal handrail which lead down to Bakers Hill. I've always been curious what's behind the big metal door at the bottom of the steps?

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Good question - it's amazing the things in Sheffield that you see when out and about that stick in your mind..

That being one of them

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Just to confirm that the stonesteps are still there (2 flights) and the metal handrail which lead down to Bakers Hill. I've always been curious what's behind the big metal door at the bottom of the steps?

Are these the green slatted doors or the metal roller door on the RH side of Bakers Hill?

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Regards the door, from what I remember its just a sheet metal door built into the wall at the very top of the hill (under Fitzalan Square). Also I'm almost sure that Bakers Hill still has its cobbles.

I will get you a photo this weekend, parked cars permitting.

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I was thinking about an electricity substation, but as I have not been down that way since 1986ish memory may be ndiosgpi :(

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On the 21st May 1984 a fire destroyed Wigfalls in Fitzalan Square. They were a well-known chain of electrical stores. Throughout most of the twentieth century they were the biggest retailer in their field. Every suburb had its Wigfalls (or Wiggies as it was commonly known). I was out walking my dog on Wadsley Common when I saw the smoke so I raced into the city to get a few shots. Here is one of them.

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Great picture JR (as always !)

Looks like the guy under the no entry sign is selling souvenir embers to passing tourists

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On the 21st May 1984 a fire destroyed Wigfalls in Fitzalan Square. They were a well-known chain of electrical stores. Throughout most of the twentieth century they were the biggest retailer in their field. Every suburb had its Wigfalls (or Wiggies as it was commonly known). I was out walking my dog on Wadsley Common when I saw the smoke so I raced into the city to get a few shots. Here is one of them.

Wiggies sold everything from furniture, as you said electrical items though to children's larger toys (swings and slides) to bicycles. IIRC they had bike upstairs in the building in your photo.

Great photo thanks for sharing

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Dont have an exact date on this one but the Cinema is still the Electra Palace.

Also look at the fashions of the two women.

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