Breathing new life into a set of Sheffield’s most famous buildings
When Mr Innocent, the city architect, designed the new Board School on Burton Street, Hillsborough in 1879 he could have no idea what the future would hold.
The sturdy set of Victorian buildings were to serve as Langsett Road School for almost 100 years. Many thousands of Sheffield children learned their 3 R’s. Two world wars (the school was on Hitler’s bombing list) and a century that saw a social and technological revolution passed. Until, in 1976, the school bell rang for the last time.
The site was put to other uses, finally ending its days as Langsett Music School before it was declared redundant and scheduled for demolition in 1995.
That was when the local community stepped in with a campaign to save the site. Judging it was easier to ask forgiveness, than ask permission, the old school was occupied and its new life as a community centre began.
The Langsett Foundation (now The Burton Street Foundation) held its first Annual General Meeting in 1998 and soon Langsett Road School was full of life once more.
Over the next few years, the site got even busier, but it would be two important decisions that would secure the future.
The first was to begin working with adults with learning and physical difficulties, something for which Burton Street now has a national reputation, and the second was to purchase the buildings from Sheffield City Council at a generous discount in 2004.
But the buildings were in a very poor state of repair. In 2008 a survey suggested that £3 million would be needed to sort out all of the problems.
The Trustees, Staff Members, Tenants and an army or friends and volunteers, all supported by Adventure Capital Fund and South Yorkshire Key Fund, secured £1.3 million in grants and loans from the Community Builders Fund and a further loan from Charity Bank. Work started in March 2010 and was completed at the end of June 2011.
So, what has been achieved? Well, a great set of well loved and architecturally important buildings have been saved and given a sustainable future, but then, there is so much more.
Over 180 adults and older children with learning and physical difficulties enjoy Burton Street’s services and activities every week. Fifty jobs have been safeguarded and the organisation continues to expand. Over 20 small businesses and voluntary organisations have workspaces or offices on site. Over 1,500 people use Burton Street’s facilities every week, to dance, to play music, sports, learn a new skill or just socialise and, of course, over £1 million pounds has been invested in Sheffield’s economy, providing jobs in construction and supporting local business.
Why not come down and try the Café, the Gym, the Beauty Salon, the Hairdresser? Book a party or function, visit the Restaurant, join a Sports Club, play some music, dance? There really is something for everyone because Burton Street believes that everyone has a part to play.