A load of bollards

As you head in towards Kelham Island Museum from Alma Street you pass a set of 25 bollards along the side of the road. These were installed in this location around nine years ago when Kelham Riverside apartments were built and the streetscape was tidied up. But the bollards have been around much longer than that having been moved to this location. But when you look at these bollards you’ll see there’s two different types and so where did they come from?

First the easy ones, as I remember these in their original location…

Kelham Island bollards

Bollard on Kelham Island designed to commemorate the World Student Games. Photo credit: © Anders Hanson (CC-BY-SA/4.0)

In 1991 Sheffield hosted the World Student Games, a brilliant event that brought 3,346 athletes from 101 different countries that brought the city to life for eleven days, gave it some top class sports facilities, but also saddled the council with £658 million of debt. I won’t go in to the politics of it, but as part of getting the city ready for the event the council turned Tudor Street and Tudor Way, along with a pay and display car park, in to what is now Tudor Square. This also involved installing the bollards which you can see in the foreground of this picture of the cultural festival that accompanied the games. When Tudor Square was refurbished in 2010 to coincide with the renovation of the Crucible Theatre they needed a new home and that was how they ended up in Kelham Island. Although simple in design the bollards are of two types – one incorporates the city coat of arms and the other (as above) has the 91 logo that was used for the World Student Games as a reminder of when they were held in Sheffield.

Now for the more difficult one. I say one, but actually there’s two slightly different designs as you can see below.

Kelham Island bollards

Bollards on Kelham Island from approx 1875. Photo credit: © Anders Hanson (CC-BY-SA/4.0)

Finding the definitive background to these has proved slightly elusive however there is a clue in that they aren’t the only ones in the city. If you venture on to the backstreets near Bramall Lane football ground you’ll find the Edmund Road Drill Hall and in front of it is an identical set of bollards just without the white paint.

Bollards by Edmund Road Drill Hall, Sheffield

Grade II listed bollards by Edmund Road Drill Hall, Sheffield. Photo credit: © Warofdreams https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Warofdreams (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Helpfully the bollards on Edmund Road are also grade II listed and their official listing tells us that they are cast iron and they date from 1878. And whilst it also mentions the HN monogram and coronet it offers no clue as to what that means. However I then stumbled on a discussion on the online Sheffield History forum about the very same bollards and someone decided to contact the council who provided the following information:

The bollards were donated by Henry Fitzalan-Howard, the 15th Duke of Norfolk and first Lord Mayor of Sheffield. His statue is in the Town Hall. He was born in 1847, succeeded to the title in 1886 and died in 1917. The HN on the bollards are the monogram of Henry Norfolk. These were originally mainly in the Park Hill area but when that area was redeveloped they were saved and either reused around Park Hill and Norfolk Park or redeployed in the city centre.

Whilst that information isn’t quite right, he became Duke of Norfolk in 1860 not 1886, it does provide a plausible explanation. But it doesn’t explain why some of them have an added C incorporated in to the monogram. Using his biography there are some possible explanations behind the bollards. If the date is wrong then he could have provided them to commemorate his time as Mayor and then Lord Mayor of Sheffield from 1895-7 during which time he arranged the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee which might explain the coronet. But there’s no national events in 1878 that explains how they came about and why some have the C. He did however marry his first wife in 1877, the year before, which could provide an explanation that these were part of him sharing this happy event with the people of Sheffield where he was one of its biggest landowners and philanthropists. I had wondered if his wife may have the initial C but sadly as Lady Flora Hastings she didn’t. So the mystery continues.

If you can help explain why he provided the bollards, and what the significance is of the two designs then do get in touch.

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