Downfall of the Door

Against all odds, the principles once symbolised by these buildings (and their distinctive doors) live on despite the inevitable urban evolution.

Built between 1874 and 1894, the Sheffield Technical School was an example of Victorian prosperity. At the time, this city was known for its steel manufacturing, particularly for its production of high grade silverplated flatware and cutlery (made by a process called Sheffield plate). In fact, by the end of the nineteenth century, Sheffield cutlery could be found across the globe. You can still find it… stamped with Sheffield makers marks and etched on the blades of those old knives with bone handles like those I recently blogged about. But, I digress….

Silver Fork and Knife

The Technical School was set up primarily as a science school to train young men in the skills (pattern making, brick laying, engineering, foundry work, etc.) that would support the city’s manufacturing businesses. The architectural style of the building is described as English Renaissance Revivalist. It is the second building in Britain (the first being Parliament) to have an extensive internal system for heating, ventilation and air purification. The door, an impressive portal to the science school, reflects this ornate style.


The school was extended on one side between 1894 and 1899 to include a Central School, a public school for young children. Being in the middle of an industrial city, just behind City Hall, the school’s playground was located on the flat roof, two floors above. The main entrance was impressive, although not as elaborate as the Science School.


Additionally, both girls and boys each had entrances, flanking either side of the main entrance.


These once proud doors – portals of learning – with their elaborate stone carving are blackened from more than a century of industrial soot. They are now back doors of bars, restaurants and a hotel – businesses that face the square on the other side of the building. They provide areas to park rubbish, act as fire doors and exits, and back doorways leading to multiple office spaces above.

The Central School closed in the 1930s and for a while served as a grammar school and then the headquarters of the city’s education offices before being developed for commercial use. By then, numerous state schools were flourishing around the city – the legacy of that Victorian Central School. And the Science School? In concept, it became part of Sheffield University. So, the ethos of these schools live on elsewhere in the city, but these doors remain as testament to their origins.

Against all the odds: The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challange

Also check out: Norm’s Thursday Doors.


  1. I’m sitting reading your post and watching reports about bushfires near Canberra and also in NZ. Against the odds some homes are saved. It’s good to see these old buildings repurposed, reinvented and reinvigorated


    • I’ve also been reading about your bushfires. It’s horrendous to think that your home could we wiped out in the conflagration. British news is also stressing wildlife succumbing to the high heat as well as the fires. I agree, it is good to see old buildings repurposed rather than knocked down. You lose so much history.


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