Monday, 12 July 2021

Air Raid Damage and Censorship - November 1940

 Over the years of posting material to the site I have on occasion been bedevilled by the effects of wartime censorship that occurred in both world wars. I have understood the need, that, at times certain pieces of information must be withheld on the grounds of national security and preserving the well-being of the population. But at the same time, it must be recognised that the public do need to know what is occurring both locally and nationally, and not kept in the dark. It is a difficult balancing act.

I believe that this joint communique was the result of the fact that London was always being mentioned in the reports whilst other towns and cities that were subject to intense air raids by the Luftwaffe were referred to by a generic title. Sheffield for instance was often referred to as a "north midlands town." It was this lack of recognition of blitzed communities that was effecting public morale.

This cutting is from the West London Observer dated Friday 8th November 1940 and it explains the government's position on censorship and the vital need for secrecy. 

The Smallpox Epidemic - Sheffield 1887 - an update

Last week a reader of the site whose interests lie in C19th medicine and disease contacted me with regard to an article I posted quite a few years ago. The article "The Smallpox Epidemic of 1887 in Sheffield" was based on a report that appeared in The Times dated 7th January 1888.

The reader added this information

" The disease remained prevalent in Sheffield until the early years of the 20th century. Forty seven cases occurred in the city in 1892, and was prevalent during the first half of 1891, before it gradually died out in September. The largest number of cases occurred during March and April 1892,  31 in March and 19 in April, during the whole year 102 cases occurred, of which 4 were fatal. Out of the 102 cases there was no evidence of vaccination in 17. 79 cases were male and 23 female. 35 of the cases had no fixed abode in the city, and were either struck down with the disease while travelling through Yorkshire, or had caught the disease in one of the common lodging houses in town, or as inmates of the workhouse.

In 1901 there were thirty cases of smallpox reported, compared with only two in 1902.  Four cases of the disease were reported during 1905, but none were fatal. There was only one case in 1906, which did not prove fatal.

The diseases which causes excessive death rates in Sheffield between 1895 and 1905, were diphtheria and enteric fever. The chief Medical Officers of Health during most of the period we are writing about were: Harvey Littlejohn, John Robertson, and Charles Scarfield.  Robertson resigned on 1st October 1903, and Charles Scarfield took over his duties on 1st January, 1904."


Monday, 21 June 2021

The Crookes and Cobden Branch of the Hallam Women's Conservation Association - 5th December 1932

This photo appeared in The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 6th December 1932 and shows a group photo of The Crookes and Cobden Branch of the Hallam Women's Conservation Association who were holding a "carnival dance" the previous night.  

The photograph came as a surprise because I never viewed Crookes and Cobden as a hotbed of Conservatism. In fact in the mid to late c19th the district of Cobden was viewed as being the rough area of Crookes. And I never associated Crookes and Cobden with having a carnival especially in December.

But the event seemed very well attended and even though it was in the midst of what was termed the Great Depression, they were all well turned out.

I am going to try and find out some more information on this association as I am rather interested in it.

The Painful Death of Arthur Gee - Upperthorpe, Sheffield February 1901

Rather like the last blog relating to Joseph Taylor, the death of Arthur Gee is also rather troubling.


The Upperthorpe Hotel, Sheffield  - the scene of Arthur's inquest - photo taken 2011

The following report is from The Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 28th February 1901 and relates to Arthur' death the previous day.  

It appears that Arthur had bought from the chemist that day "some medicine". The medicine was oxalic acid. Arthur must have ingested it and suffered. Oxalic acid is toxic because of its acidic and chelating properties. It can cause burns, nausea, severe gastroenteritis and vomiting, shock and convulsions. It is especially toxic when ingested. As little as 5 to 15 grams (71 mg/kg) may be fatal to humans.

But his depressed state was due entirely to religious melancholia. Again I have not come across this term but it may have had its origins in the aftermath of the English Reformation. But I would never have thought that it would have surfaced in C20th Upperthorpe which has never a god-fearing district of Sheffield.

Arthur was buried the following day in Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery

GEE, Arthur (Baker, age 23). Died at 44 Upperthorpe R.; Buried on March 1, 1901 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 30, Section O3 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Officiating Minister, S Brook.



The Fatal Shave of Joseph Taylor - Scarborough, Yorkshire - August 1924

 I was going to post an article to the site concerning the unusual death of Joseph Taylor purely on the grounds that I had never come across this particular cause of death before

The report is from The Manchester Guardian dated 10th September 1924 and relates to an adjourned inquest into the death of Joseph Taylor in Scarborough the previous month. The cause of death was deemed to be anthrax that was contracted whilst shaving with a safety razor.

The Manchester Guardian 10th September 1924 

I checked this on-line and there were a number of articles that explained how anthrax was transferred from a shaving brush and the history behind it. It was a lot more widespread than what I thought it would be. And the above article in Live Science (apologies re the advertising) ominously notes

"Although the risk of contracting anthrax today from an animal-hair shaving brush is extremely low, the report "serves to remind those interested in a return to 'natural grooming' that use of untreated hair from horses, pigs, badgers, or other animals" poses a potential risk of getting anthrax spores into openings on the skin,"  

We have been warned! 


Friday, 18 June 2021

Was Arabella Elizabeth Tetley alive when she was interred? - Leeds Yorkshire 5th March 1888

The following report is from the regional press and relates to an inquest that was held on Monday 5th March 1988 in Leeds. It concerned the burial of a Mrs Arabella Elizabeth Tetley at Woodhouse Cemetery the previous month. The gravedigger a Mr Posey contended that whilst he was backfilling the grave he heard the "sound of knocking underneath his feet" and summoned his colleagues from other sections of the cemetery. But by the time of their arrival no further sounds were heard.

The matter was brought to the attention of the Home Secretary who asked the Leeds Borough Coroner to investigate the whole matter. 

A classic case of Victorian Gothic!

Joseph Senior of Crookes, Sheffield (1880 - 1914)

 Last month I received an email from a reader that stated

"I wonder if you can help. We have found this small metal plaque in our garden. It reads j. Senior. 70 st thomas road crookes. Do you know what it could be?"

and attached a scan of the plaque

I replied that it was an interesting find - my immediate thought was that it was related to "The Bard of Crookes" Joseph Senior, I posted an article to the site quite a few years ago

Joseph Senior was well known in the district for his works and poetry. But on reflection I was uneasy about the address - 70 St Thomas Road. The addresses I had from the UK Census all pointed to 30 Crookes and Crookesmoor not St Thomas Road

After some thought I decided to check if there was a grave in either Crookes Churchyard or Crookes Cemetery. There was no entry in the former but a check on the excellent Sheffield Indexers site revealed that a Joseph Senior was buried in Crookes Cemetery along with 3 others

SENIOR, Joseph (Farmer, age 34).
     Died at 70 St Thomas Road; Buried on January 29, 1914 in Unconsecrated ground;
     Grave Number 2639, Section D of Crookes Cemetery, Sheffield.

Armed with this information it was easy to find Joseph in the 1911 UK census, Th transcript is below 

NAME: Joseph Senior
AGE IN 1911: 31
STREET ADDRESS: 70 St Thomas Road Crookes Sheffield
Name Age
Annie Elizabeth Senior 32
Joseph Senior 31
Maurie Staniforth 19

I cannot be totally sure but on the balance of probabilities I would say it was either a house no. or it could be some form of marker/stamp, Joseph was after all a cowkeeper/ farmer by occupation and so it may have been used in this context

If any reader can add anything about the plaque please let me know


Thursday, 17 June 2021

The Murder of Nurse Ada Bradley - April 1923 Sheffield

The following report is from the Illustrated Police News dated Thursday 19th April 1923 - the same edition as the one mentioned in the previous two blogs.

I posted an article about the murder to my website 13 years ago and have added to it over the years.

I had not seen this report before but the case was well reported in the local and national press which is not surprising given the savage nature of the attack.


The tragic death of John Biggar at Macclesfield - Thursday 19th April 1923.

 The following report is from the Illustrated Police News dated Thursday 19th April 1923 - the same edition as the one mentioned in the previous blog. 

Illustrated Police News dated Thursday 19th April 1923. 

It is inferred at the inquest that this was the Biggar family's attempt to keep themselves together as a family - in the workhouse, all families were separated on arrival. After eviction from their house for the non-payment of rent they had "tried to live" in a bell-tent in a field. Sadly their son John fell into a nearby lime-pit whilst chasing ducks and met a terrible death. 

That the case is a "very pathetic one" is an understatement - it was and still is a disgraceful one.


The removal of lead from Messrs. Tarbuck's, Warren Mews London - Thursday 19th April 1923

The following report is from the Illustrated Police New dated Thursday 19th April 1923. 

Whilst I realise that the theft of metal was and still is a serious offence against property, I cannot help but smile when I came to the section when the miscreants realised that they had stolen a lead shell with a body in it, and then they ran away "at top speed." 

And the two police officers who had the task of returning the body to the mortuary.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

The Queen and Prince Philip's Visit to Sheffield - Thursday 18th November 2010

As the nation enters into its seventh day of mourning following the death of Prince Philip last Friday, I thought it would be fitting to remember a previous visit to Sheffield by the Royal Couple on Thursday 18th November 2010. 

The Sheffield Star dated Wednesday17th November 2010 carried a report on the following days agenda which was centred around the University of Sheffield. The report was accompanied by a photograph of the Queen that was taken in 1954 the last time a reigning monarch had visited the University.

It was not the last time they visited Sheffield. The last time Queen Elizabeth II visited Sheffield was on Thursday 2nd April 2015 for the Royal Maundy service where she honoured 89 men and 89 women in recognition for their service to the church and local community.

It appears that thousands of people awaited the Queen's arrival outside the Cathedral. The Cathedral Choir was joined with Her Majesty's Chapel Royal Choir to accompany the Queen while she distributed two pouches of specially minted Maundy money to each recipient.

Remarkably this was the first time the Royal Maundy had been distributed in Sheffield since it's inception in the seventeenth century. 


Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Annie Shimlisky (1904-1922) Shoreditch London "Amazing Letters of Girl Suicide"

The third and final post today and again it concerns poison. Carbolic acid is still widely in use today in the manufacture of industrial products, and as an anti-bacterial measure.   

The cutting is from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 22nd January 1922 and refers to an inquest that had taken place the previous day in Shoreditch London.

The victim was 17 year old Annie Shimlisky not Shimnlisky as in the report. The sentiments expressed in the letter have a modern ring to them, and I am sorry to say a certain amount of truth. There is no doubt that Annie was sane in the legal sense when she made the decision to end her life and that the verdict recorded by the Coroner was an incorrect one. Annie did not act on a fit of "impulse" and she was "responsible" at the time. A verdict of suicide due to chronic or acute depression may have been more appropriate verdict than the one delivered by the Shoreditch coroner. 

Messrs, J.T. Leaper, Ltd of Crookes Sheffield - Dispensers of Strychnine - 11th July 1939

 This is from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 11th July 1939 and relates to the sale of a "medicine" by a chemist in Crookes Sheffield

Messrs, J.T. Leaper, Ltd of Crookes Sheffield were a wholesale as well as a retail chemist and I was amazed that strychnine was dispensed and sold in such a fashion.

For those readers who are not familiar with properties of strychnine these are its effects

" it can fatal to humans and other animals and can occur by inhalation, swallowing or absorption through eyes or mouth. It produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction, making it quite noticeable and a common choice for assassinations and poison attacks. For this reason, strychnine poisoning is often portrayed in literature and film, such as the murder mysteries written by Agatha Christie

Ten to twenty minutes after exposure, the body's muscles begin to spasm, starting with the head and neck in the form of trismus and risus sardonicus. The spasms then spread to every muscle in the body, with nearly continuous convulsions, and get worse at the slightest stimulus. The convulsions progress, increasing in intensity and frequency until the backbone arches continually. Convulsions lead to lactic acidosis, hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis. These are followed by postictal depression. Death comes from asphyxiation caused by paralysis of the neural pathways that control breathing, or by exhaustion from the convulsions. The subject usually dies within 2–3 hours after exposure."

From Wikipedia

The fact is that Mr Leaper was not prosecuted for selling the preparation but was prosecuted for not being present when the drug was sold over the counter. It was considered at the time a tonic but if taken to excess it "produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction"

Needless to say, strychnine is now longer on sale in Crookes!  


Private Richard Lancaster (1882 - 1914) No 8372 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd 12 Bde 4 Div

I came across this article from The Metro newspaper dated 05th July 2007 concerning the delated funeral of Private Richard Lancaster (1882 - 1914) 8372 who served with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd 12 Bde 4 Div and was killed in action on 10th November 1914, aged 32.

Richard's body remained buried undiscovered for 90 years before it was unearthed. He was identified by his identity disc and regimental cap badge. Two other soldiers from the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers were found nearby but they were not identified. All three received military funerals

Further details can be found on the Burnley in the Great War website


Monday, 22 February 2021

The Few - July 1939

On the front page of the Sheffield Star & Telegraph was this small article featuring the views of Flight Lieutenant C E Reynolds, the Officer Commanding the North East area. He was responding to reports that recruitment to the R.A.F. had halved in recent weeks, and that the current figures were nearly the lowest in the last twelve months.

The Officer Commanding the North East area was not alarmed though and referred to a number of factors that caused the drop in recruitment such as paid holidays etc. 

What Flight Lieutenant C E Reynolds did not know at the time is that this report appeared on the 11th July 1939 and in 7 weeks time the country would be at war with Germany. I wonder if he was alarmed then!

Mr Thomas Wardley receives an intimation - Clun Street Pitsmoor Sheffield - October 1906

The following cutting is from the Yorkshire Telegraph dated 6th October 1906 and refers to death in service of a 16 year old signalman Leonard Wardley. Leonard was drowned off Portland when the HMS Landrail capsized.

I was contemplating posting a full article on the circumstances of Leonard's but whilst researching content I came across this information on a Dorset diving site. It appears that Leonard was the only casualty of the incident and that it was not possible to recover his body.

As for Thomas he is buried alongside 19 others in a public grave in Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery. He died in 1912 in the Sheffield Union Workhouse. Also in the grave are his wife Elizabeth (52) who is referred to in the article and three of their children who died in childhood. They were certainly no strangers to tragedy,

WARDLEY, Agnes (Dau of S. Wardley, age 14). Died at 43 Clun Street; Buried on October 5, 1898 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 90, Section K1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. 40277 Attending Minister: Arthur Sykes.

WARDLEY, Albert (Dau of Thos Wardley, age 5 months). Died at Clun Street; Buried on November 5, 1886 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 90, Section K1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.

WARDLEY, Beatrice (Dau of Thos Wardley, age 4).Died at Clun Street; Buried on November 5, 1886 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 90, Section K1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.

WARDLEY, Elizabeth (wife of E Wardley, age 52).Died at 43 Clun Street; Buried on September 18, 1906 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 90, Section K1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Officiating Minister, Edw D Dannatt.

WARDLEY, Thomas (Night Watchman, age 60). Died at Sheffield Union; Buried on June 27, 1912 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 90, Section K1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Officiating Minister, Thos Torrens : Removed from St Cuthberts.