Just where Ecclesall Road has the suffix ‘South’ added to it you can’t miss the pretty Free Gothic Revival style Banner Cross Methodist Church. It was designed by famous Sheffield architect W J Hale in 1929 and was probably his last work as he sadly passed away in that very same year. What you may not know is that to the rear stands its own Sunday School which started life as a church in 1907.
Designed by George Baines & Son of London and built by Charles Ward of Sheffield it is in the Arts and Craft style and listed in its own right. Unfortunately the roof is now leaking badly and worse still it has a dwindling band of attendees. In the 1950s and 60s it was unusual not to go to Sunday School, but regretfully the reverse now applies.
Consequently the church has decided to put the building to a better use and a scheme has been submitted to convert it into 3 residential units. For a building of this size this constitutes severe overdevelopment and the Conservation Advisory Group felt that this was more than the building is capable of holding. Whilst the Group accepted that some form of alterative use for the Sunday School was necessary, it felt that two units would be much more suitable and that is what it suggested.
Another concern was that alterations to a large Art Nouveau stained glass window were unacceptable as it was designed by an important stained-glass designer (whose name escapes us). It was proposed to replace the lower sections of the window with clear glass to create more light, but as the design is symmetrical this effect would be ruined by such drastic alterations.
The Diocese of Sheffield has a problem at the moment as to what to do with redundant properties and we refer to a reply we received from the Bishop of Sheffield on another matter. In it he states, “it is a very significant difficulty to know what best to do with property we have inherited from the past. Often they are simply not fit for purpose; they can be liabilities rather than assets”. Hmm, that’s as maybe, but thoughtful disposal is still an imperative course to take.