Jefferson Sheard Memorial Talk – Bryan Jefferson
As part of Sheffield Design Week and in conjunction with the launch of the Modernist Guide to Sheffield, Tom Rhys Jones of Jefferson Sheard Architects will be giving a talk on the life and work of their founder and former RIBA President, Bryan Jefferson.
Jefferson was born in Sheffield in 1928 and, following the death of his father in the first blitz on the city, was sent to be educated at Lady Manners School, Bakewell before studying architecture at the University of Sheffield. Upon graduation he joined the new practice set up in Derby by the distinguished Irish architect Major Sam Morrison before being sent back home to open the practice’s Sheffield office. The Sheffield venture metamorphosed via Morrison Partners and Jefferson into Jefferson and Partners and, by 1957, with the arrival of Jefferson’s friend and fellow alumnus Gerald (Gerry) Sheard, into Jefferson Sheard and Partners.
Early commissions included a series of private houses in the Huddersfield area – something of a hotspot for progressive residential design at that time with Peter Womersley’s Farnley Heyhaving been recently completed – but Jefferson’s bigger opportunities arose back in Sheffield where post-war reconstruction and a radical remodelling of the city was gathering momentum.
Perhaps the most enduring – and, certainly, the most talked-about – of Jefferson’s major buildings was one of the first, the immaculately detailed Brutalist behemoth of an electricity substation commissioned by the CEGB in the early 60’s. Commended in the 1968 Financial Times Architectural Awards and statutorily Listed Grade II in 2013, this is one of Sheffield’s best-known landmarks, floodlit by the Council in 2010 and greatly loved or reviled despite a large part of the citizenry having no idea what goes on within! The switching-on of the floodlighting was the occasion of Jefferson’s last official visit to his home city and an abiding memory is of him signing copies of the artist Jonathan Wilkinson’s specially commissioned painting of the building whilst surrounded by a new generation of admirers eager to meet its creator.
No less starkly dramatic, but less visible, was another grittily utilitarian public work, the City Council’s Olive Grove depot, displaying a similarly skilful touch in its detailing, following which the practice embarked on a series of less muscular but still elegantly nonsense-free developments such as a Cinema and Entertainment complex on Pond Street (known to subsequent generations of Sheffielders as the “Fiesta”, “Roxy” or “O2”), offices for the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (now the AEU) and for Eagle Star and the Probation Service.”
-Excerpt from Bryan Jefferson’s obituary written by Tom Rhys Jones, published in the AJ and RIBA Journal in 2014.
Jefferson Sheard is a leading team of architects working out of offices in Sheffield, London, Peterborough and Manchester. With almost 60 years’ experience of working in sectors as diverse as retail, education, transport and healthcare, the practice puts creative ideas to great use where they improve space and the experience of space users, balancing form and function; technically excellent and design conscious in equal measure.
Tuesday 16th June, 6.00-7.00pm
Cantor Lecture Theatre, Sheffield Hallam University
Cantor Lecture Theatre. Cantor Building, Sheffield Hallam University 153 Arundel St, Sheffield, S1 2NT