The birth of Vestry Hall

Story and photo by Farhaan Warsame

The Vestry Hall was built in 1864 as parish offices for the township of Burngreave, which was outside of the Sheffield boundary in those days.

Since then the Vestry Hall has held a central position in community life. It has been used as a registry office, soup kitchen, learning centre, Sunday school, and youth club, as well as a venue for performances, wedding receptions, councillor’s surgeries, and there was even a planned hosting of the international figure, Picasso.

The Vestry Hall was renovated in 2006-07 as part of the ‘Burngreave New Deal for Communities’ regeneration programme. The main hall is one of the few large spaces available for community use and the building is home to several projects, such as Somali education group IT-CSS, Thames Homecare Services and Springboard social cafe.

At the moment the council thinks the cost of maintaining the building and the running costs are too high because Burngreave communities do not use it enough and have looked into selling it. Friends of Burngreave Vestry Hall group have developed a business plan to retain its community ethos and heritage. Their vision is to work with local and citywide partners to deliver services and create a centre for all nations. John Mellor, chair of the Friends group said, “Vestry Hall could be more available for community use, such as conferences”.