Market Tavern: Sheffield City Council admit historic pub was demolished and did not collapse by itself - with internal investigation to be held

Sheffield City Council has been accused of not telling the truth over what really happened to the Market Tavern pub as it turns out the building had not “spontaneously” fallen down by itself – but was demolished.

Now Then Magazine has revealed new videos and a timeline of events in a new article that sheds light on the removal of an iconic building in Sheffield city centre.

Initially, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (as well as the public and other outlets) was told that following concerns raised at a meeting on January 9 by local heritage campaigners from Hallamshire Historic Buildings (HHB) about the ongoing demolition of the Market Tavern building, the council had agreed to halt work until midday the next day so a second opinion could be sought.

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But then (January 10), the turret structure fell back into the building due to its fragility – at least according to the council.

Market Tavern, SheffieldMarket Tavern, Sheffield
Market Tavern, Sheffield

But according to the video clips obtained – and verified – by Now Then, demolition was well underway at 12.44pm on January 10.

A photo also shows that the next morning (January 11) the whole of the second storey was gone.

Following the magazine’s request for comments, the council published an update on their Sheffnews website.

The council claimed that a mistake – and error – happened.

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The post said: “Our initial belief was that the top turret on the building had collapsed under its own weight on the morning of January 10.

“New information has since come to light which shows the demolition company were instructed in error at 11:53am to continue with demolition.

“As a result of this order, our understanding is the turrets fell because of the recommenced demolition works.”

In a statement, Cllr Ben Miskell, chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Committee, said an internal investigation would take place “in due course”.

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He said: “The demolition of the Market Tavern wasn’t a decision we took lightly, however, given the condition of the building I am advised we were left with no choice.

“As an organisation transparency is vital to us and we are sharing this update with our residents and stakeholders as soon as it has come to light.

“Throughout the process, I have been keen that partners are kept fully informed. I am disappointed that this does not appear to have been the case and people have been provided with inaccurate information.

“We will be writing to partners to apologise and will be launching an internal investigation to understand exactly what went wrong.”

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HHB, the group involved in this case to save the pub, has approached the Local Democracy Reporting Service with a statement as well.

It said it was “naturally” difficult to believe that the building “spontaneously began to fall down by itself”.

A spokesperson said: “Now, and only now, after the release of videos obtained by Now Then magazine, the council has changed its line. Now we are told that someone in the council gave the order to begin demolition before the midday deadline that HHB was offered, and an ‘internal investigation’ will proceed ‘in due course’.

“HHB will continue to try and engage with Sheffield Council to help protect Sheffield’s heritage but at the moment we are left with many unanswered questions.

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“Very clearly, Sheffield Council should take a hard look at its practices and priorities.

“The offer of help from SAVE Britain’s Heritage (a fully funded assessment of the building) could have been a catalyst for the transformation of Castlegate, building on what was good about the area.

“Instead another opportunity has been squandered. More of Sheffield’s precious heritage has been lost, and the preference still seems strong amongst our decision-makers to preside over a pile of rubble rather than quality architecture.”

The Market Tavern in Sheffield city centre first opened its gates in 1797 and was rebuilt a couple of times before the existing version in 1914 was finished.

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The building (under the council’s ownership) has deteriorated over the last 15 years, and just before Christmas it was revealed that the council would remove it for good as they found the building “unsafe”.