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Modernist mural saved for new city centre park

Previously threatened with demolition, William Mitchell's 1972 work will now form the centrepiece of a new public space.

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William Mitchell's frieze on Burgess St. Photo by Tom Hunt. William Mitchell's frieze on Burgess St. Photo by Tom Hunt.

A major work by one of Britain's best postwar sculptors, described by Our Favourite Places as a "superb piece of abstract public art", will find a new permanent home in Sheffield city centre.

Until recently the untitled concrete frieze by William Mitchell was attached to the side of Barkers Pool House on Burgess Street, but the building is now being demolished to make way for a hotel.

The future of the frieze was uncertain after it was placed in storage, but the Council have now announced it will form the centrepiece of a new public park a few hundred metres from its original site.

Named after Sheffield’s first Chief Fire Officer, Pound's Park will be created on the location of a former fire station between Rockingham Street, Wellington Street and Carver Street.

Block g sketch scheme proposal jb

Plans for Pound's Park.

Sheffield City Council.

“Pound’s Park will be a beautifully designed public space of real quality – one of the most significant city centre parks in the country," said Cabinet Member for Business Mazher Iqbal.

"It will provide a new focal point for families, prioritise waking and cycling over cars, and help improve both the physical and mental wellbeing of city centre visitors, workers and residents.”

Offices, a hotel and a multi-storey car park were proposed for the site in 2018 but these plans have now been revised, seemingly in response to calls for more green space since the pandemic.

A large cycle parking hub is also planned for the south side of the park, as part of the Connecting Sheffield project to improve cycle infrastructure in the city centre.

The park will be partly funded by Sheffield's successful bid to the government's Transforming Cities Fund (TCF), which aims to improve public spaces and active travel infrastructure.

It's not known exactly how Mitchell's work will be displayed, but the Council say the new location will "help celebrate the frieze and allow for it to be enjoyed by more people."

Mitchell, who died last January at the age of 94, was one of the UK's most celebrated and successful modernist sculptors. Creating abstract, highly stylised designs out of poured concrete, he undertook a series of large public commissions in the sixties and seventies for councils, cathedrals and universities across the UK.

A public consultation on Pound’s Park will invite the public to contribute feedback before a planning application is submitted.

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