The Fargate branch of WHSmith could face a lengthy closure, following severe structural damage to the building.
The newsagent shut without warning in mid-September, and scaffolding was quickly erected around the façade. However, the extent of the damage has remained mysterious — until now.
ShefNews can exclusively reveal that the roof of the building collapsed, with one inside source saying “it just caved in”.
“The top-half is having to be completely rebuilt; all being propped up on new supporting beams. It’s not a small job.”
WHSmith itself initially said the closure was due to mere “structural maintenance on the building”, but has, more recently, been silent about the problem.
It has failed to respond to numerous requests for comment, both from ShefNews and the Sheffield Star.
The adjacent New Look shop also closed its doors around the same time, but finally reopened a month later on 17 October.
The fashion chain issued a statement in which it confirmed their building was now safe, but did not comment on the reason for the closure.
It said: “There are no structural issues within the [Fargate] New Look store”, refusing to deny that there previously had been.
On the internet, theories have raged over the shop’s closure. One SheffieldForum user suggested it was to make the store’s second floor more easily accessible to disabled customers; another attributed it to the ‘Sheffield tunnels’.
There is still no official word over when the branch will reopen: WHSmith has again failed to respond to ShefNews’s latest inquiries.