For two hours after the "All-clear" on the 13th, the streets in the centre of the city were crowded with people making their way home.

No public service vehicles were running and pedestrians threaded their way between blazing buildings which threatened to collapse as they passed. They had to avoid burning tramcars and dodge the firemen who were still hard at work.

Most of them must have passed or stepped over unexploded bombs.

Apart from Fargate and one side of High Street the whole of the centre of the city seemed merged into one colossal blaze. At 4 a.m. there was not a building in Angel Street and King Street which was not demolished or on fire.

Photo of Walsh's Store
From the book - Sheffield at War - by Sheffield Star and Telegraph

The bombs wreaked havoc with the shopping centres of High Street and The Moor. Messrs. John Walsh (left) the well beloved store of all Sheffield families was razed to the ground as were many other shops and stores in the city centre area.

From Market Place at the top of Angel Street one could see the whole of Cockayne's shop as a mass of flames and crumbling masonry, with twisted steel girders just becoming visible in the glare.

H. L. Brown's the jewellers, and Dean and Dawson's booking agency next door had apparently been wiped out by a direct hit from a high explosive, and the tailor's shop between them and the bank on the corner of Angel Street and High Street was blazing furiously.

Further down Angel Street the whole block of property which included the Angel Hotel, Bortner's the jewellers, Bell's bread shop and the smaller shops between there and the recruiting office at the corner of Bank Street was flaming to heaven.

On the other side Crossley's, the drapers, was rapidly disintegrating in an uncontrollable fire which was running through the shops and offices up to Symington and Crofts at the corner of King Street.


King Street was an inferno. Every building in it was on fire or razed to the ground. Even the great block of the Norris Deakin Buildings was in danger of complete collapse and the Mecca Hotel on the corner of Haymarket was by then almost burned out.

Opposite was one of the biggest individual fires in the city. It involved the whole of the island block of property which housed C. and A. Modes, Burtons, the tailors, and billiard saloon above, the various provisions shops in King Street, and the tailors on the corner of High Street and Haymarket.

The whole of this enormous building was blazing, with sparks and burning brands of timber being hurled high into the air as though blown by a powerful blast furnace. The building was a shell in which every window was vividly lighted by the internal fire.

Across High Street, Marples corner was a ghastly sight. The fire was spreading rapidly and already thick funnels of smoke were whirling out of the windows of the King's Head Hotel, though there was still no tell-tale glow through the shattered glass to tell of uncontrollable fire. Later the
fire, which could not be checked, wrecked the whole of the interior of the hotel.

The Westminster Hotel had been ablaze for some time and was being reduced to rubble, and there was not much left of Staubers' and Burton's, below, but fantastically twisted steel girders.

Photo - King Street
From the book - Sheffield at War - by Sheffield Star and Telegraph

By a miracle Fargate escaped with scarcely a scratch—comparatively speaking. No building on either side of the road was directly hit, though one seemed to wade through waves of shattered glass as one walked towards the Town Hall.

The Town Hall, standing starkly in silhouette against the ruddy glow of the fires on the Moor, was intact. Some windows had gone and a high explosive had fallen in the middle of Surrey Street between the Halifax Building Society building and the Town Hall. The steep upward sweep of the blast had left unscathed the lower walls, but from the second storey upwards, the grimy solid stone was splattered with dirt.

Pinstone Street was all there, but as one walked past the Moor Head end of St. Paul's Garden one became uncomfortably aware of a thick and viscous layer of clay and trampled earth. A high explosive bomb had fallen in the garden and done no more damage than break a few windows in St. Paul's Parade and Pinstone Street, and liberally bedaub the road with mud.

The Moor from the Moor Head was a holocaust—no other word adequately describes it. The long straight road was one mass of flame on either side and at intervals, where there was some big store such as Atkinsons' or Roberts Brothers, the brighter, bigger glow of greater individual fire could be picked out.

Campbell's furniture store—half a mile of show-rooms all presumably well stocked—was still blazing furiously, though it was the first of the big fires to be started in the centre of the city.

The Empire Theatre adjoining was undamaged, but the sweet shop on the Union Street corner of the Empire Building had been razed by a high explosive.

Brook Shaw's motor showrooms on the corner of Charles Street and Union Street was on fire, and the Three Horse Shoes Hotel on the other corner of the road intersection was a complete ruin.

Photo of Atkinson's Department Store
This was Atkinson's Department Store on The Moor
From the book - Sheffield at War - by Sheffield Star and Telegraph

Regates the Moorhead
Redgates the Moor. From the book - Sheffield at War - by Sheffield Star and Telegraph

The Moorhead was ringed by blazing buildings and further down the Central Picture House was almost gutted, but still blazing. Back towards the centre of the city in Barker's Pool and along Leopold Street the damage, superficially, seemed negligible. The Regent stood apparently unharmed to any great extent, and the massive pile of the City Hall and the gaunt structure of the Grand Hotel were black in the night.

But a bomb of useful calibre had fallen neatly in the centre of one of the big emergency water tanks nestling against the War Memorial and had blown it to smithereens.

One lump of twisted steel sheeting had crashed into the wall of the Regent high up, and another had been planted down in the forecourt of the Grand Hotel. Down towards the Cathedral the new undamaged Telephone Building gleamed white, but in Church Street the corner block of the Royal Insurance Company building was blazing and had been given up as a complete loss.

Here was a little island of horrid and depressing devastation. A bomb of very heavy calibre had scored a direct hit on the office of the Council of Social Service near to the Royal Insurance building in St. James' Street. It was old property, and in a way all the more pitiable. The building, and those on either side and behind, had crumbled into dusty rubble.

Down Vicar Lane all the old property of the Sheffield of centuries ago was in ruins. The Church Army Home at the bottom of Vicar Lane was Old Sheffield simply a pile of stone. When the bomb fell which demolished it, a Church Army officer in charge of a mobile canteen was outside the building replenishing the stores of his canteen. Miraculously he escaped and, with a tram conductor—another of the hundreds of modest heroes whose fame can never be sung—he dug unceasingly until he had extricated the people who had been sheltering in the cellar of the home. There was no fatality in the building.

The lodging house round in Campo Lane and the shops adjoining had vanished as if by magic. To get up Campo Lane towards Townhead Street one had to clamber over a pile of bricks and stone. The buildings seemed to have been blasted right across the road. That anyone could have come out of them alive seemed impossible. On the corner of Hawley Street the end of the block of Corporation flats had been shattered by high explosive, and further down in West Bar a big bomb had dropped in the roadway, damaged some tram cars, burst a water main and turned the district into chaos.

Walking round along Bridge Street one noticed almost casually that the shops at the bottom of Snig Hill had mysteriously gone, that the Blue Boar Hotel was just about burned out, and that something pretty big had fallen in the congested property behind Tennants' Brewery.

The Old Town Hall—the police courts—were on fire and one wondered anxiously what had happened to the main control of the city's A.R.P. which was housed deep in the rock beneath the building. The staff was in a bomb-proof hole but what of fire and suffocation?

Actually, the lights in the control had failed and the emergency lighting was in operation. The emergency ventilating plant had been put out of operation and there was serious danger that the staff would be entombed beneath the burning debris. Firemen did a great job of work and the control was saved.

Then, on passing this area, one became aware of another huge fire. It was the Brightside and Carbrook central store in Exchange Street—a solid wall of flame.

Photo of Burning Trams
From the book - Sheffield at War - by Sheffield Star and Telegraph

And so it was that when daylight dawned on that grim December morning it was found that havoc by fire and bomb had changed the appearance of the heart of Sheffield to a degree that came as a shock to the thousands of suburban residents who, having taken refuge in shelters, were aware of the more or as less serious damage in their neighbourhood but did not foresee the extent of the havoc wrought until they wandered into the city next morning.

Every tramway route was marked with abandoned trams and buses, some intact, many with smashed windows and scorched bodies, and several completely burned out.

Private buildings suffered more than those belonging to the Municipality.  The half-million pound City Hall experienced nothing worse than the tearing up of the main steps and the damaging of the entrance hall, while the Town Hall, the Central Library and Art Gallery came through the bombardment without structural damage. The West Bar office of the Public. Assistance Department—later the Social Welfare Department—home of the old Sheffield Board of Guardians, was demolished, and other Corporation property affected was the "old Town Hall"—the building in which the police courts were held—and Nether Edge Hospital, which was badly involved, five patients being killed and one dying from injuries.

Three voluntary hospitals were hit, without, happily, causing any loss of life.

The Jessop Hospital for Women was so severely damaged that the old part had to be vacated, while the Royal Hospital and the Royal Infirmary were also slightly affected.

Craters—there were 200 in all in roads in the city—damaged tracks and wrecked trolley wires, kept the tram service at a standstill, and until these could be restored, the Corporation, with the aid of vehicles lent by other local authorities, maintained a really excellent bus service to all suburbs normally relying on trams.

Whilst official records show that 496 people were recorded as being killed on the first raid of 12-13th Dec, only approximately 126 were recorded as dying in the city centre. Districts mainly to the south of the city were also badly hit with the most notable being the record of 32 people being killed on St Mary's Road. Bombs also fell on Grove Street, and Rock Street Pitsmoor killing 12 and 15 people respectively.

Among several 600 lb. time bombs which failed to explode was one that fell in the Royal Hospital. One of the curios of the raid was a piece of shrapnel weighing several cwt. (part of a 600 lb. bomb) that was blown a distance of half a mile.