Way back in 1958 our founding partners, Bryan Jefferson and Gerry Sheard, formalised their partnership and established Jefferson Sheard and Partners, setting up the Sheffield office. In those days, most of our early work was on smaller commissions, but it wasn't long before the practice started to attract significant projects, such as the Grade II Listed Moore Street Substation and the massive ‘Roxy' building on Pond Street - still iconic landmarks in Sheffield today.
In 1964, we opened a London office. We continued to grow from strength to strength and by the late 60s we'd become well known as one of the north's most influential practices. By the 70s, our reputation was international and we were undertaking projects as far afield as the Middle East. In 1979, our reputation was cemented as Bryan Jefferson became President of RIBA.
Project 01 – Pond Street Development (a.k.a The Roxy / The Fiesta / The 02) (1965)
One of the practice’s first major commissions was the entertainment complex at Pond Street, Sheffield. The unfussy, functional design, would become Jefferson Sheard’s trademark style for decades to come. The £1m cinema and entertainment complex became a cult venue in the late 70s and 80s when it housed the Roxy nightclub. It has since been rebranded as the 02 Academy, but its legacy continues.
Project 02 – Moore Street Substation, Sheffield (1968)
Perhaps the most enduring – and, certainly, the most talked-about - of Jefferson Sheard’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.
“This was one of a group of major high profile buildings undertaken by the practice in the mid-1960s in Sheffield when post-war regeneration began to take off. It is great that whilst I have friends whose buildings are being knocked down, mine are being floodlit – this is a very proud moment for me.”
Bryan Jefferson CB CBE PPRIBA
Project 03 – Peterborough Software Headquarters
We were commissioned by Peterborough Software to design their new headquarters. The controversial development was to be situated within the grounds of the famous Grade I listed Thorpe Hall, arguably the most significant Commonwealth period house in England. We worked closely with the Royal Fine Arts Commission a design was produced which sought to respect the materials and formal planning of the Hall and its gardens whilst meeting the requirements of a leading business. Planning permission was secured following a Public Inquiry and construction took place in two phases. Jefferson Sheard’s design received its ultimate endorsement when, upon completion, the Chairman of the Action Group which co-ordinated objections to the planning application, wrote to formally withdraw those objections and to commend the project.
The 80s, 90s and 2000s
After opening a Peterborough office in the early ‘80s we rode the waves of the recession, lost Bryan Jefferson as our leader to his new role as Director General of Design Services at the government's Property Services Agency, and emerged on the other side to pick up, from heavy competition, exciting new projects for clients such as South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Merseytravel.
We soon found ourselves growing again and by Millennium year had opened a Manchester office to service a major project for Manchester Airport with Tom Rhys Jones as our new Managing Director and John Hyams and Mark Fannon as Board Directors.
Today we are a thriving team of 40 delivering exciting schemes across four UK offices.
Project 004: Manchester Airport GTI (2001)
In 2000 we landed one of our biggest schemes yet –the Ground Transport Interchange for Manchester Airport.
This complicated project included a bus station, baggage handling facility, heavy rail, metrolink and taxi drop off area known as the ‘hub’ building. The BREEAM Excellent six storey office block sits above the transport interchange and this scheme was since used as a ‘benchmark’ project by Manchester Airport for all future design and build developments.
Not only was this a scheme that would help position us as being at the fore of the Transport sector, it was also the beginning of our thriving Manchester office which we established to service this scheme.
The Man of Concrete
Bryan Jefferson 1928 – 2014
Bryan Jefferson was a true master of his profession and one of the most respected figures in the world of architecture, design and construction as well as in the public life of this country. Having graduated from the University of his native Sheffield, Bryan established his practice in the city in 1957 before entering into partnership with his good friend and fellow alumnus, Gerry Sheard. Jefferson Sheard and Partners thrived in Sheffield, London and overseas before a third office was opened in Peterborough in 1984. The practice’s reputation grew, based upon the quality of both its output and its leadership and, between 1979 and 1981, Bryan Jefferson served his term as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, showing all the erudition which led him seamlessly into a new career as Director General of Design Services at the Property Services Agency, Architectural Adviser to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Chairman of PSA Projects and Architectural Adviser to the Department of National Heritage.
If this part of Bryan’s career was more recent, his output as a practitioner is no less remembered and many of Sheffield’s landmark buildings remain as his manifest tribute to his birthplace, continuing to make headlines half a century after they were built. Bryan was rightly proud that his iconic Moore Street substation was Listed in 2013 – he was characteristically and cheekily amused that “my buildings are being listed whilst those of my contemporaries are demolished!” – and no less delighted when he was invited to switch on the floodlighting of that building in October 2010.
That was the occasion of Bryan’s last visit to us, bravely and determinedly made in the face of illness but full of the fun that always attended him. It is our privilege to have known Bryan and to carry forward the name and the practice of this great man who contributed so much, so sagely, to so many.
-Tom Rhys Jones, 2014