Friday, May 1, 2020

News: Firbeck Hall restoration continues


The restoration work continues at Firbeck Hall, a late-sixteenth century country house in Rotherham which has an interesting history.

Fresh plans were approved in 2018 for the Grade II listed building that has remained unoccupied since it closed as a hospital in 1990. Previous owners and developers have been unable to bring the hall, which was built in 1594 by William Best, back into use.

Owners and developers Ashley Wildsmith and Mike Gibbs took on the dilapidated property in 2015 and brought forward plans for restoration, reuse and redevelopment. A detailed planning application was submitted to Rotherham Council based around renovation parts of the estate to create apartments and demolishing more modern extensions to be replaced by dwellings.

Updated plans show that the developers have found that elements of the existing building need substantial repairs to enable the refurbishment to continue. Demolishing later editions at the hall uncovered that the deterioration of the building was worse than originally suspected.

The plans to make further alterations states: "The demolition of the 1960’s extensions to the rear of the hall exposed brickwork where it was expected to be stone as the rest of the building, the applicant has carefully supported the upper stone structure, removed the brickwork and rebuilt the walls in stone which was sourced from some of the demolished extensions."


Walls have been left in a bad state by the collapse of the existing roof, and during the refurbishment of the roof to the hall, the existing timbers were assessed as being unsuitable for retention due to excessive rot and fire damage.

In 1820 the property was let to the Peech family of the steelmakers Steel, Peech & Tozer of Templeborough in Rotherham. Further additional alterations occurred in 1935 when the hall was opened as a country club. At the outbreak of the Second World War the hall was used by Sheffield Royal Infirmary and the Royal Airforce.

It was later bought by the Miners Welfare Commission for use as a rehabilitation centre for injured miners and was last used as a rehabilitation centre for industrial injuries.

It is the period of ownership under Sheffield Stockbroker Cyril Nicholson that is of most interest. The Firbeck Hall Club opened in 1935 and was described as "one of its kind in the north of England."

An £80,000 revamp (a large sum at the time, around £5m in today’s money) included art deco interiors, billiards room, ballroom, cocktail bars, restaurant and wine cellars. There was also the 18 hole golf course, tennis and squash courts, a swimming pool, fishing, riding and even an aerodrome.

The club, managed and served by staff brought in from Savoy, Adelphi and Picadilly Hotels in London, once featured in Vogue magazine and reputedly attracted guests including the then Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson.



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