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Thread: Old Courthouse, Sheffield

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Default Old Courthouse, Sheffield


    “So who have you bought before the court today Mr Pissmore-Quickly”?

    “No 1 on the list m’lud – defendant goes by the name of Genna8”

    “And the reason he is brought before me today”?

    “He was seen exiting the old courthouse in Sheffield m’lud which as you know is designated as private property”

    “Indeed it is – Pissmore-Quickly –so what was he doing”? “Stealing hmmm was he caught stealing”? “looks a shifty blighter”.

    “Ah no m’lud he wasn’t found to have been stealing anything”

    “Well the place has suffered lots of damage in recent months – was he responsible for any of it”?

    “Er no m’lud there is no evidence to suggest the defendant had caused any wilful damage”

    “Well it’s known that there are squatters living in the building did he assault any of them?

    “Er no m’lud there was nothing to suggest he had assaulted anyone – in fact the police said he was very polite and cooperative”.

    “Well if he isn’t charged with theft, criminal damage or assault then why on earth is he before me today ”?

    “Wandering m’lud”


    “With a camera sir”?

    “A camera”?

    “For taking pictures Sir”

    “I know what a bloody camera is for Pissmore Quickly – do I look like an idiot”? You do realise that wasting the courts time is an offence don’t you ”?

    “Indeed sir”

    “Then I would advise you to think on that in the future, now if you don’t mind I have to dash up to the Youth Court there are a couple of young boys there who ah… need my attention”.


    It is the late 90’s since trials have taken place at the old Courthouse – nowadays summary offences take place at the magistrates court which can be seen from the back of the old courthouse, while indictable (more serious) offences are tried at the new crown court on West Bar - since then it has been left abandoned.

    On visiting recently to do a quick recce I couldn’t see how on earth previous explorers had got into the building – a second visit some weeks later proved more successful when I discovered two possible entrances – one which I guessed would involve lots of struggling/heaving/scraping followed by a rapid descent into oblivion and another entrance providing quick and easy access for anyone fortunate enough to be less than 18 inches high and weighing about the same as a small round of cheese.

    So it was that Snotrocket and myself found ourselves outside the old courthouse on a pleasant, warm and sunny day in October. We were armed to the teeth with all manner of aids that we thought would help us gain access only to find that squatters (I assume) had made entry somewhat easier than we had expected. Yay! With that we entered this splendid old building, fortified ourselves with a Snickers bar and promptly went ass over tit on the first stairway we came to due to a gaping hole and a rotting section of floor – watch that if you go in – there are more of them!

    Our starting place - outside Court No 1

    We had a general wander to begin with just to get a feel of the place and see what sort of condition it was in. It is quite remarkable and genuinely awe-inspiring to stand in the midst of this grade II listed building, steeped in years of history and reflect on the cases that were heard here e.g. the trial of solicitor (ironic) Ian Wood who murdered his mistress and her two children and Sheffield born thief and murderer Charlie Peace once had a ‘room’ here at her majesty’s pleasure!

    I did not wish to wander around this building looking like a packhorse so to begin with hid some of my unnecessary gear behind a stack of shelving just outside court No 1. Unfortunately as I pulled it back to put my stuff behind the whole lot almost collapsed on top of me. Two mirrors also came loose and fell onto the floor with a resounding crash – fortunately they didn’t break but it shows how easy it is to do damage if you’re not careful (and to increase the risk of a charge of breaking and entering)

    The Old Courthouse certainly attracts some notable visitors!

    A more structured explore revealed that this place has gotten into quite a state. Much of it is to be expected in an abandoned building i.e. the usual; fallen plaster, peeling paint, various assortments of litter e.g. beer and drinks cans, crisp packets etc, rubble, areas where the celling has collapsed, dodgy floors and stairways (watch the one on the spiral case that leads up to the roof) and sizeable areas of rot where water has leaked in (or where water has leaked out in the case of people who couldn’t be arsed to find a toilet).

    The courts themselves vary from virtually pitch black to brightly lit and from reasonable condition to an atrocious mess. The wood panelling – a major feature of courtrooms – which is usually kept in a glossy and pristine condition is now reeking with decay and looking really shabby throughout – the tops of tables, benches and desks are all now covered with a thick coating of dust and grime which has not been lost on previous visitors who have put it to constructive use by adding; tags, usernames, graffiti etc. There can also be found an interesting range of comments from some of the more less imaginative visitors. On a somewhat more sinister note one small courtroom – which has been stripped of all but the bench where the judge would have sat - we found a message scrawled in the grime which seems to be warning explorers that they are not welcome (See photos). It also appears that the power is still on - evidenced by a strip light that had been left on and, what I assume, was the light from a burglar alarm (or something similar) We also found evidence of drug use by way of bags used for sniffing glue and canisters of Nitrous Oxide (or laughing gas).

    The unofficial signing in book it would seem containing everything from notable explorers & graffiti artists to piss takers and the linguistically challenged!

    I'm guessing this is not meant to be a legal version of a welcome mat?

    "No one is going to make a mug out of me!"

    Moi - disguised of course.

    Snot rocket - that's not Gaussian blur covering the face he really looks like this!

    On the plus side we also discovered lots of artefacts from the days when the building was active that gave a rich insight into the people who worked here – keys to the prison cells, legal paraphernalia such as papers, reports, tattered journals etc, telephones, signs on doors indicating appropriate personnel such as press, solicitors etc, cleaning equipment – brushes, brooms etc, blotting pads, cups and saucers. For some reason there is also a tattered sheet of Winnie the Pooh wrapping paper and a Christmas Gnome!

    Essential legal paraphernalia - Winnie the Pooh wrapping paper and a Christmas gnome!

    Access to the roof is basically straightforward though the spiral case that leads up to it is a bit of a squeeze. There are also a couple of missing steps with only a single spar remaining but this is more of a psychological issue than a practical one in that we found it easily supported our weight. Looking down between these missing steps though reveals a more economic route to the floors below for the unwary explorer so care is needed.

    Be careful near the roof!

    Watch that missing step! The staircase is also a bit of a squeeze!

    Nothing to see here but great if you fancy running round in circles.

    The spiral staircase opens up into a kind of attic area which – like most attics – has been used for the storage of various artefacts. It’s possible to walk around the perimeter of this area though again care is needed as much of it is rotten. To the right of the staircase there is also a shaft which seems to go all the way to the bottom of the courthouse. It’s protected by a very solid looking barrier but it’s also in a very poorly lit area. Out on the roof all seems quite safe – no evidence of any areas that were rotting or in a state of the views are quite spectacular – I think this is because workers have made repairs to the roof in order to prevent it collapsing. Some great views of Sheffield and – given the clear (ish) sky and bright sunlight some great opportunities for silhouette photos (some of which have been included with this report). It was so peaceful up here that I made a mental note to return and have my lunch up here!

    To complete out visit we ventured from the roof to the basement to see the cells. We had visited these earlier but went back for a decent look. This was a bugger to be honest – when we first entered we found the cells almost immediately but for some reasons they eluded us now. En-route we found ourselves in a room where we could see the pavement outside the courtroom and views of people walking (or at least as far as their knees! We also came across a large area we hadn't seen before where squatters are clearly in residence - food well inside the sell by date (or should that be cell by date!?), clothes hanging up to dry and the television turned on! We eventually found the cells close to court No 1. Seemed to be in quite a decent state - though quite eerie to look at - and even more so to sit inside for a few minutes and get the feel of being in the nick back in the day.

    Even down here you still can't escape the hard cell!

    Keys to the cells I presume.

    Squatters seem to have occupied a living space covering about three main rooms

    The area at the back of the cells

    The closest I will ever get to having a crown over my head.

    All in all an interesting visit - though not quite as exciting as I thought - apart from the size one court soon starts to look pretty much like another. Would go back again though - if only to take a few more photos.

    Thanks for looking!

  2. Thanks given by: brickworx, Catmandoo, cunningplan, DirtyJigsaw, flyboys90, GPSJim, HughieD, jmcjnr, Jodee1kenobi, kevdyas, krela, Mikeymutt, mockingbird, skankypants, snotrocket, The Wombat, UE-OMJ, UrbanX
  4. #2
    Join Date
    October 2013


    I really loved this place when I went not so long back �� and you have done it proud with this report
    I like to go where others fear to tread.

  5. #3
    Join Date
    June 2014


    Nice work - lots of pics and nicely shot they are too. Cheers
    'Covert Exploration Ops'

  6. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013


    Great report - Thanks. Snot Rocket - is he the STIG? Guilty as charged. 3 penalty points and £60 fine with costs. NEXT!!

  7. #5
    Join Date
    March 2012


    Now thats what I call a top report... Plenty of info, and also great words of advice in terms of safety (in those circumstances anyway) nice! :)

  8. #6
    Join Date
    January 2013
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.

  9. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    The Centre of England or near enough


    Great report and photos,Thanks for sharing.

  10. #8
    Join Date
    April 2007


    Great write up and photo's, really informative!
    Thanks for sharing :)
    "We're not giving you a quote for your stupid forum signature"
    - Essex Police

  11. #9
    Join Date
    August 2014


    Snotrocket is a less talented and worse looking version of The Stig.

  12. #10
    Join Date
    August 2014


    We also took advantage of our great diligence by forgetting to visit the clock tower.

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