Tuesday 20 December 2011

The Hathersage Gravedigger

From The Sheffield Star dated Saturday 12th February 1983 - it appears that security at the Lodge Moor POW camp left a bit to be desired

The sad thing is that I had never heard of Sam until I came across this cutting. I am also left wondering who made up the "notorious Sheffield gang" - if they were resorting to nicking lead off church roofs I seem to think that they may have been in the "minor leagues"

Wednesday 7 December 2011

February 1939

I was reasearching an article about a murder of a bailiff in Greenhill when I cam across the following page from the Sheffield Star in February 1939. It provoked a wry smile - at a time when gas masks were being issued and Einstein's cousin was discovering Haydn's lost symphonies, the Sheffield Magistrates were pondering why Mrs Bertha Terry of Baslow Road Totley had parked her car the wrong way round outside the City Hall. They fearlessly upheld the law and the wishes of Sheffield's Chief Constable and fined Mrs Terry £1 plus costs

The Sheffield Magistrates also took a tough line with Stanley Burrows of Ripley Street who was found guilty "of exposing himself with intent to insult a female". He was bound over, placed on probabation and ordered to pay £3 costs. Mmmm

But at least the English Amateur Draughts Championship (Sheffield section) did not suffer the attentions of Mr Burrows!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

A Grave Concern - "digging up Uncle Charlie"

I had a wry smile at this report that appeared in the national press just over ten years ago in July 2001.Under the title


" THE Church of England is "seriously concerned" about an unprecedented rise in the number of people applying to exhume relatives' remains when they move house.
The Church says that "digging up Uncle Charlie" and reburying him near the new house has become "almost a fashion" over the past five years, with a sevenfold increase in exhumation requests in many parts of the country. The Ecclesiastical Judges Association, made up of diocesan chancellors who rule on local exhumation requests, said that there was a growing view that "exhumation on demand" was acceptable because burial had lost its "religious and moral significance" for many people.
Timothy Briden, the Chancellor of the Bath and Wells Diocese and the association's secretary, said: "We are very concerned about this trend. An alarming number of people seem to have lost the notion of the grave as the final resting place and see human remains as assets to be dug up and taken with them like any other possessions when they move house.
"This is a serious issue because, to the Anglican Church, interment is an important act that achieves finality, marking the end of the mortal life and the commitment of the soul to God."
Until as recently as five years ago, the number of exhumation requests from families was about "one or two cases per diocese", Mr Briden said. These were usually "highly exceptional cases" involving foreigners whose relatives wanted them reburied in their own country, or non-Christians whose families wanted a new funeral according to their faith.
In the past five years, however, the number of applications has risen to about 15 a year in many areas, with the biggest increases in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Chester and the Isle of Man. One application that was rejected recently came from a family who wanted a relative to be exhumed because she was next to the grave of a family they did not like.
The association has now drawn up guidelines reinforcing the Anglican view of burial and insisting that exhumation will not be allowed unless there is a strong case for it. If an exhumation is approved by the Diocesan Chancellor, a licence must then be sought from the Home Office. The grave is usually opened during the night. The coffin is disinfected and lime sprinkled around the grave to prevent the spread of disease.
Neil Cocking, the owner of Chelsea Funeral Directors, who has done several exhumations, said: "The original coffin is lifted out and put inside a larger coffin, which is sealed and transported by funeral directors to the new grave."
Clare Faulds, the Vicar-General on the Isle of Man, said that the rise was linked to increased mobility and a decline in religious faith. "People are not rooted to their local communities as much as they used to be. Far fewer people live and die in the same place, and that seems to have encouraged this sense that bodies can be moved around when people move house."

It appears that exhumations are on the increase much to the disapproval and chagrin of the Church of England. But the mere thought of increasing numbers of old corpses and cadavers being on the roads defies belief. Imagine if there was a delay, a breakdown or worse still an accident whilst the body was being transported to it's new "resting place." The consequences could be quite literally horrific!


Tuesday 29 November 2011

Welcome Home Hector

Surname      First name(s)      Spouse      District      Vol      Page
Marriages Jun 1936 
Hearn          Rosina M           Murdoch     Uxbridge     3a    257   
Murdoch     Hector W A        Hearn          Uxbridge     3a    257  

The marriage of Hector and Rosina led to one of the most famous photographs to have come out of the Second World War. And is certainly in my opinion one of the finest ever taken 

Gunner Hector Murdoch arrives at his new prefabricated house in Tulse Hill, London, — on his birthday no less - and is greeted by his wife Rosina and 9 year old son John. He has been away for four and a half years, three and a half years of which he was a prisoner of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942.

"They are virtually airborne with joy as they charge down the garden path to greet him".

There was nothing staged about this photograph which was taken by Harry Todd. Hector nearly died of cholera in Singapore. For 18 months, Rosina had no idea if he was alive or dead. Yet here, a new age dawns before them all, just as it did for a whole generation.

I wonder what happened to Hector, Rosina and John - the new prefabriacted house in Tulse Hill is no longer there. They were built to last for ten years but in some parts of the country a few have survived to this day. Ah the UK's post war housing policy!  

Monday 28 November 2011

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Author of the Sherlock Holmes detective novels

I was not aware of the following information 

Whilst sudying medicine, Arthur Conan Doyle had a brief acquaintance with Burngreave in Sheffield. In 1878 he came to Sheffield to work as an assistant to Dr Charles Sydney Richardson on Spital Hill. This was in the building on the corner of Spital Hill and Hallcar Street, which is now the New Roots Café and Burngreave Ashram. It seems that Conan Doyle did not get along with Dr Richardson or Sheffield patients as he later wrote:

'These Sheffielders would rather be poisoned by a man with a beard than saved by a man without one"

It appears that he only lasted three weeks with Dr Richardson before moving at first to Shropshire working for a Dr Elliot and then to Birmingham where he was employed by a Dr Reginald Hoare
1882: Doyle set up as a Doctor in Plymouth with a fellow student from Edinburgh Dr George Budd but it was unsuccessful and the two did not get on. Doyle then set up in Elm Grove, Southsea near Portsmouth but had very few patients and therefore little money. He subsidised his income writing detective stories. His first story was accepted by Chambers Journal in Edinburgh.

Five years later he published the first of his Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet" in Becton's Christmas Annual and had enough money to give up medicine. Holmes was reputedly based on one of his medical school lecturers Doctor Joseph Bell.

It makes you think that if Conan Doyle had got on with Dr Richardson would Sherlock Holmes have had offices in Spital Hill Sheffield as opposed to Baker Street London mmm....

Doris Best 1896 - 1998 - Britain's First Girl Guide

Tuesday 15 November 2011

"Something Must be Done"

One of the best photos ever taken is that of the Duke of Windsor visiting South Wales in the 1930's and being introduced to unemployed Welsh miners. 

I can never understand why the miners look as though they are "on parade" and for the life of me, what are the row of wooden planks there for? It looks as though they have flattened t'tip especially for his visit. The other thing to note is that the Duke is the only person there wearing a hat. All the flat caps
belonging to the miners are held behind their backs. Very strange! Anyway after viewing the grinding poverty and hopelessness in the Valley,s the Duke was heard to say "Something must be done". Unfortunately he did not elaborate on this observation and in the light of that, nothing was done. 

However this lack of action must have bothered him. A few years after the visit, a now hatless Duke and his new wife were introduced to 

 There is no record of the Duke asking his host to "do something" but within two years "something" did happen and the Valleys returned to full employment. 

Thought for the Day

"Philosophers do not solve problems but create them in forms ever more difficult to solve, thus perpetuating philosophy. This is not unique; economists, sociologists and politicians behave in exactly the same way with corresponding consequences"

James William Longman Beament, entomologist and biophysicist (1921-2005)

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Ten Ancient Trees

I came across the following cutting and thought it may be an idea to visit all these trees sometime in the future. Anyway reviewing the list I was puzzled about the ninth tree listed - the Big Belly Oak in the Savernake Forest. Quite why anyone wants to summon the Devil up when we already have "Old Nick" Clegg is beyond me. But I suppose each to there own.

However when I did a bit of research I found that there is a bit more than just jigging about naked in front of an old oak tree. According to legend anyone wanting to summon Old Nick up has to

"to dance naked at midnight twelve times anticlockwise around the Big Belly or Decanter Oak in Savernake Forest. "

To compound one's difficulties, the tree is reached by a short walk down a busy and quite dangerous road, the A346.Mmmmm....

Private Harry Wilkinson of the 2/Lancashire Fusiliers

Private Harry Wilkinson of the 2/Lancashire Fusiliers. body was found in 2000, and he was reburied in 2001 with full honours.- the above cutting is from The Daily Telegraph

A cross commemorating Harry Wilkinson stands by the side of the road near to where his remains were found, 86 years after he died. This cross is not too far from Prowse Point Cemetery, and is located south of the St. Yvon craters. Private Harry Wilkinson was killed in action on the 10th of November 1914, and there is a faded picture of him next to the cross.
In the field behind this cross, the remains of three more British soldiers were found in March 2006. An identity disc was found with one, and he has been "identified" by the press as Private Richard Lancaster who, like Harry Wilkinson, served with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers and also died on the 10th of November 1914. Private Richard Lancaster was re-interred at Prowse Point Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on  Wednesday 4 July 2007.

 Harry's Grave at Prowse Point Cemetery with its memorial stone

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Notice To Quit - Sheffield 1958

In the BMD registers there is the following entry - Deaths Mar 1958
LIGHTBROWN     Margaret    Age 79     Sheffield    Volume  2d Page 160

Lightbrown is not a common name in Sheffield  - this is the entry in the 1911 Census for margaret
Name     Margaret Lightbrown
Relationship to Head of Household     Wife
Condition     Married
Gender     F
Age     30
Estimated Year of Birth     1881
Employed     N
Working at Home     N
Place of Birth     Lancashire Burnley
Enumerator Information
Address     206 Firth Park Road Sheffield
Parish     Sheffield
Town     Sheffield
Type of Building     Private House
Number of Rooms     6
Inhabited     Y
Reference     RG14PN27955 RG78PN1598 RD510 SD5 ED32 SN14
Administrative County     Yorkshire (West Riding)
Registration District     Sheffield Registration Sub District     West Brightside
Enumeration District     32

According to the census Margaret had been married less than a year to her husband James Edward Lightbrown, a 34 year old manager of a joiner's shop in a steelworks. Both originated from Lancashire, James from Accrington and Margaret from Burnley.
I know nothing else about their lives together after this point. But neither would have envisaged that Margaret would have ended her days in misery and turmoil.

The Manchester Guardian dated 19th March 1958 reported

I have come across the coroner Mr Alan Lockwood before in connection with the deaths of the Derbyshire family in 1945 and I was not very impressed with his demeanour and attitude then, and this inquest has into Margaret's death merely confirms that impressison. He was correct in his assertion that the tennancy agreeement was not within the remit of the court, but his comments with regards to a possible "future" resolution, and Mrs Lightbrown's right to consult lawyers are both vacuous and meaningless. Margaret was 79 years of age when the notice of eviction was served - did she have the wherewithal, or more importantly from the lawyers perspective, the money to contest the notice - I very much doubt it.  

"It may well be that nearer the time (for the eviction) some arrangement  might have been come to for her to continue living there on suitable terms". By far the more likely scenerio given the greed and avarice inherent in private landlords, is that Margaret would have been turfed out of her home. She had received "Notice to Quit" end of story, a notice that led to her be terribly upset". So upset in fact that she killed herself in a tragic manner
As a final note for younger readers - prior to the 1960s most domestic gas supply in the United Kingdom was coal gas aka town gas, which in its unburned form contained high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning by intentionally inhaling coal gas was a common suicide method, accounting for nearly half of all suicides in the UK in the late 1950s. After the British government phased out coal gas in favor of natural gas (which lacks carbon monoxide) in the 1960s, the suicide rate in Britain fell by almost a third and has not risen since.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Lieutenant William John Clegg MC

And yet another mail I received this week but this time I was receiving information rather than researching it

"I came across your site on the Clegg family and your appeal for information. I have some information on William John Clegg as part of research into the Great War poarticipation of the former pupils of Hazelwood Prep school at Limpsfield in Surrey and thought you might like to see it, and if you would like to,  include it on your site
His entry is below and I hope you find it useful/interesting

(98) Clegg, William John Lieutenant MC
1/1st Yorkshire Dragoons (Queens’ Own) Yeomanry
He was born in September 1897 the son of Leonard Johnson Clegg JP, a solicitor, and his second wife, Kate M (nee Turton) Clegg of Whiteley Wood, Sheffield in Yorkshire. He left Hazelwood School in the summer of 1911 for Uppingham School where he was educated from September 1911 until April 1914.
On leaving school he was articled to the firm of L.J. Clegg, solicitors of Sheffield.
He was appointed as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Dragoons on the 12th of November 1915. He was later promoted to Lieutenant and served in France, Belgium and Germany from September 1916 to May 1919.
He was awarded the Military Cross which was announced in the London Gazette of the 4th of October 1919 and the citation read:-
"On 20th October 1918, south-west of Vichte, for conspicuous gallantry and good work whilst leading an advanced platoon. He continually came under very heavy machine-gun fire from his flank. He pressed forward, and succeeded in capturing seven field guns and over thirty prisoners. It was greatly owing to his fearless leadership that his company were able to advance about a mile and a half in front of the infantry."
After the war he returned to work as a solicitor.   
He married Audrey Ivy (nee MacLaren) at Hove Parish Church on the 2nd of September 1926 and they lived at Bay House, 1 Marine Parade, Budleigh Salterton.
During the Second World War he served with the War Claims Commission and he died in February 1969"

Needless to say I have posted this information to the site 

The Hendersons Were There After All

The other day I received the following e-mail which refered to an article that had been on the site for a few years The Hendersons Were Not There (neither was Mr Kite) - Sheffield 1848

"Found your site via google and was intrigued to read your article on John and Agnes Henderson at which I thoroughly enjoyed.

You mention that the history of John Henderson was detailed in 'King Pole' (not familiar to me) and I wondered if you had any information on his ancestry or place of birth. I am descended from a line of Hendersons from Dumfries in Scotland and would be interested in trying to trace John Hendersons ancestry if it is not already known".

Basically the article is based on the Beatles (John Lennon) song "For the Benefit of Mr Kite" which appears on the Sgt Pepper album. Pablo Fanques Fair did appear in Sheffield in 1848 but Mr Kite and the Hendersons did not.

Anyway I decided to check the UK censuses to see if I could help the correspondent out but found out that John Henderson was born in Lambeth London and not Scotland. The ODNB gives the following information

"Henderson, John (1822–1867), circus performer and proprietor, was born in London, the son of John Henderson, an actor. He was advertised as a rider with Price and Powell's circus at Bristol in 1842. After a spell with Pablo Fanque in Lancashire, he was with Powell's circus at Hammersmith in 1843, performing as a trampolinist, clown, vaulter, and somersault thrower. He married Agnes Selina (c.1825–1879), the fifth daughter of Henry Michael Hengler, the circus rope-dancer, on 2 October 1843, at Canterbury. Their only child, a daughter, died at the age of twenty-one. In 1844 Charles Hengler (Mrs Henderson's brother) took over Powell's company; Henderson and William Powell were joint ringmasters in 1845. Henderson appeared as a leaper at Astley's Amphitheatre, London, in 1847, in William Batty's time, and returned in 1850 to perform on the iron wire. He continued with Hengler's company for many years, a brilliant all-round artiste, although he occasionally appeared in other arenas.

In October 1858 Henderson left Hengler to fulfil engagements in Moscow and St Petersburg, first selling his black mare Bess. By 1859 he had become involved in circus management, probably for Hengler, ostensibly of Frowde's Cirque Modele, at Sheffield, while at the same time appearing on the slack wire. The company was then transformed into Henderson's Grand Cirque, at Chester. Although he was always associated with Hengler, Henderson always strove towards success in his own right. During 1860 his circus toured England. For the next seven years he alternated between Hengler's, other circuses, and his own temporary companies. He was manager of the Christmas circus at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, London, for three seasons from 1863 to 1864, and ran the winter 1866–7 circus at the London Music Hall, Manchester. Henderson died of pleurisy on 10 May 1867 while his circus was at Ipswich, and was buried on 13 May in Ipswich cemetery. He was a fine tall man with curly hair and a bushy moustache.
John M. Turner
J. M. Turner, ‘The excitement and romance of circus history’, King Pole, 71 (June 1986), 4ff. · T. McDonald Rendle, Swings and roundabouts (1919) · G. Van Hare, Fifty years of a showman's life, or, The life and travels of Van Hare, new edn (1893) · Boase, Mod. Eng. biog. · The Era (19 May 1867) · Suffolk Mercury (11 May 1867) · Suffolk Mercury (18 May 1867) · m. cert.

But whilst researching this information I came across the following entry from the 1861 Census

"From the 1861 UK Census
Name Agnes Henderson Age 33 Estimated Year of Birth 1828 Relationship to Head of Household Lodger Occupation ...artist Address Sidney Street District Sheffield, South Sheffield Parish Sheffield Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding) Birth Place Canterbury Birth County Kent

Staying with Agnes was her 15 year old daughter Jane.

The word that was missing was "equestrian" Agnes was an equestrian artist and the wife of John Henderson. She was lodging with her daughter (Martha) Jane in Sydney Street in 1861, Her husband John was lodging in Soho mmmm Name John Henderson Age 37 Estimated Year of Birth 1824 Relationship to Head of Household Lodger Occupation Equestian Address 5, Spur Street District Strand, St Anne Soho Parish St Anne Administrative County London, Middlesex Birth Place London Birth County Middlesex

The Hendersons were of course "immortalised" in the Beatles (John Lennon) song "For the Benefit of Mr KIte" which appears on the Sgt Pepper album. Sadly their daughter died at the age of 21 and is buried with her father John in London's Highgate Cemetery. His body was exhumed from Ipswich Cemetery where he was first laid to rest in May 1867. His wife Agnes died on 10th October 1879, in Liverpool. She was buried in Toxteth Cemetery, Smithdown Road, with no surviving children



Frederick Nodder - A Child Murderer from Sheffield

The other day I received the following e-mail about an article that I had written quite a few years ago cocerning the abduction and murder of Mona Tinsley in Nottinghamshire
 "I have just read your excellent article on the murder of Mona Tilsley but I am unable to agree with your opening statement that ‘Frederick Nodder’s case is a rarity in British legal history because he was convicted on separate charges, at two trials, in different towns of the SAME offence’

He was firstly convicted of ‘child stealing’ under S.56 of the OAP 1961 then, following the discovery of Mona Tilsleys body, murder at common law. Clearly, these are two separate offences though both convictions resulted from his actions!"
Initially I was sceptical but after reviewing the article and sentence I agreed with the writer and replied
"Having reviewed the sentence and the wording I can see where you are coming from - they were indeed two offences. I have altered the wording to reflect this."
But I also got around to thinking that I knew very little about Nodder's early life. I tried to find material when I posted the article but was unsuccessful. The newspaper reports did not give much background but they all stated that Nodder was 45 years of age at the time of his execution. and so I based my checks on this fact but to no avail. But I should have checked the BMD register. Free BMD gives the following information
Deaths December 1937
Nodder     Frederick     Age 50     Lincoln    Volume 7a Page    603
Nodder was 50 years old when he was hung and not 45 as stated in the press. Based on this new information there is a corresponding entry for his birth
Births September 1887 Nodder     Frederick           Sheffield     Volume 9c    Page 440.
After that I was up and running and had enough material to post a supplement to the main article - my research did show that Nodder and his family were from Sheffield and that they lived for quite some time in the Crookes/Walkley area. But given the horrendous nature of his crime it is not something that is likely to be publicised  

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Elijah Moor (1867- 1961) - Over 60 years with Millwall FC

I came across the following cutting which was in the ever growing "to do" pile. The cutting relates to my family history.

Elijah was my second cousin's Barbara's great grandfather or to put it another way, Elijah's daughter Agnes was my grandfather's sister in law. Elijah can be see on the team photo of Millwall FC that was taken in the 1905 - 06 season. He is on the back row wearing a flat cap
I also have a photo of Elijah that was taken with my great grandmother Elizabeth Hobbs that was from an old photograph album that my gran had. The photo may have been taken in New Cross London in the late 1930's


Wednesday 12 October 2011

"Hold on Blanche, we are in for it here"

On the useful FreeBMD site there are the following entries for the following people who were from Walkley in Sheffield

Surname      First name(s)      Mother      District  Vol  Page

Births Dec 1915
Mountain     Blanche     Egginton     Ecclesall B     9c    830
Births Dec 1912 
Glossop     Frederick W     Green     Ecclesall B.  9c    813     
Deaths Dec 1932 
Glossop     Frederick W     20     Ecclesall B.       9c    343

And this cutting from The Manchester Guardian dated 23rd November 1932 reports on how it ended

Unusually the report does not state where the accident took place. 

But three years later the same FreeBMD has the following entry for Blanche
Marriages Sep 1935 
Burton     Joseph C     Mountain     Sheffield     9c    1151
Mountain     Blanche     Burton     Sheffield       9c    1151

and then these two entries

Births Sep 1937 
Burton     Brian J     Mountain     Sheffield     9c    694
Births Mar 1939  
Burton     Beatrice RMountain     Sheffield     9c    542

And so with at least two children to bring up Blanche had over 30 years of married life to Joseph before she too died

Name     Blanche Burton
Year of Registration     1967
Quarter of Registration     Jan-Feb-Mar
Registration District     Sheffield Registration County     Yorkshire
Age at Death:     51 Volume Number     2D Volume Page     202

I wonder if she ever thought of Fred Glossop or told her children of what happened in November 1932?

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Getting Worried

When I woke up this morning, I turned the radio on and started listening to "Wake Up to Money" on Radio 5 Live. Anyway I was shocked and dismayed. They were interviewing a man about the UK economy and what he would like the Coalition government to do in the future. He managed to get through the whole interview without any mention of the working classes which is de-rigeur amongst politicians nowadays, and espoused a series of measures that would in effect pander to the "haves". But the shock I experienced was when he started making references on more than one occassion to the "broad sunlit uplands". 

Taking his cue from Churchill's "Finest Hour" speech in 1940, he inferred that if the Coalition government take heed of his advice in the coming years then the "sunlit uplands" beckon. Unfortunately there was nothing in his advice that would advance the standard of living for the working classes - in fact most of it was actively hostile to them and would ensure that they remained forever in the "narrow dark valleys". 

Anyway after the interview finished I was told that this "Churchillian rhetoric" was uttered by John Longworth the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce speaking from the 2011 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. When these leaders of industry and defenders of the banks start using the language of 1940 you know you are in deep deep trouble. 

His fellow traveller David Cameron has also made references to the "uplands" in the past when he stated that a better world that awaits us on the other side of our current fiscal ordeal. When this will happen he is not saying at the moment which is just very worrying. 

It would be far better if they just told the truth but that would be even more worrying!

As a final point Churchill did refer to the likes of David Cameron and John Longworth in one of his quotes

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."  


Letter of the Day

Just came across this newspaper cutting I had saved from an "Agony Aunt" dated July 2007. It was sent from a Mrs B in Essex

Tuesday 20 September 2011

George Arthur Buckley 1889 - 1935

In the 1911 Census there is the following entry for a elementary school teaching assistant

Name     George Arthur Buckley
Relationship to Head of Household     Son
Condition     Single Gender     Male
Age     22 Estimated Year of Birth     1889
Occupation     Elementary School Teacher Assistant
Employed  Yes Working at Home     No
Place of Birth     Nottinghamshire Meden Bank
Enumerator Information Address     65 Church St Elsecar Near Barnsley Town     Elsecar Near Barnsley
Type of Building     Private House Number of Rooms     5 Rooms   
Reference     RG14PN27625 RG78PN1579 RD507 SD3 ED23 SN217
Administrative County     Yorkshire (West Riding) Registration District     Barnsley
Registration Sub District     Darfield Enumeration District     23
Fast forward 24 years and this entry appeared in The Guardian dated 2nd December 1935
It seems as though did extremely well for himself in the period after 1911 - a headmaster,captain of Sheffield United CC,director of Sheffield United FC but it all ended at a church service. I am not sure about Mrs Buckley's request that "the service must go on" - I am sure that the congregation would not have be able to focus on the Communion Service. The church in the Norton Less district of Sheffield is still there but is much changed in the interior   

Monday 19 September 2011

Sgt Graham Leslie PARISH RAFVR

I've just posted this artcle to the site. George was awarded the George Cross posthumously for his actions at Khartoum airfield in 1942. His father Stephen was killed in Alexandria in Egypt on 4th November 1918 (seven days before the war ended) However it is a strange co-incidence that both father and son died for their country in separate wars and yet are buried on the same continent. Their graves are separated by nearly 1,100 miles.

George's grave is in the immaculately kept Khartoum's Military Cemetery in the Sudan - a country that I'm unlikely to visit in the forseeable future

Wifrid Steel 1882 - 1915

Just posted an article to the website that came about purely by chance. I was trying to find information about the anti-German riots in Sheffield in May 1915 (after the sinking of the Lusitania) when I came across the obituary for Wilfrid in The Sheffield Daily Telegraph. A fellow researcher sent me a photo of Wilfrid 

I would like to find out what happened to his widow Evelyn and their four children.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Up For The Cup!

Following on from the previous blog there is a classic photo from the 1959-60 season showing Abbeydale Boys Grammar School Under 14 football team. It may give you an indication as to why the fortunes of the two Sheffield clubs have been so abject  over the years. Still I'd like to see Chris Morgan in those boots the team are wearing - they would literally be banned!

Down In The Old Schoolyard

Just posted some photos and recollections of a former inmate at Abbeydale Boys Grammar School who was sent down in 1958  

I probably did not stress it enough on the pages when I posted them, but the views I give are very much personal ones and in part are based on that wonderful commodity hindsight.

What really started me off were the articles in The Guardian which portrayed ABGS in the 1960's has some sort of educational idyll - an idyll that was destroyed by the imposition of comprehensive education. Well I certainly did not find ABGS idyllic,far from it. For many years I could not place my finger on why I was unhappy there but when you are a parent yourself you get a different perspective.

I came to the conclusion that it was not me that was at fault (you were always made to feel you were) but the system that existed. There were just too many teachers who should never have been let near a classroom in the sixties, they were just "unfit for purpose".

Maybe I am too critical of the school but for seven years they dominated my
life and the end product was not something they could have been proud of.
Perhaps I failed them but they certainly failed me.

Since I posted the pages quite a few years back - there was a paucity of material on ABGS online - quite a number of "old lags" have contacted me. Some have disagreed strongly with my views and said their time at the school was the best days of their lives, and even intimated that I was ungrateful for the opportunity I had been given. One even suggested that if I had found God all these troubles would have gone away!! . Well yes for certain people ABGS did work and provided them with a sound basis for their future careers and life.The majority to be fair have ambivalent feelings towards the school - yes there were faults but it could have been worse is the general line. But what has suprised me is the sizeable minority who demonstrate a real and lasting hatred for the place 40+ years on.

To quote

" Lousy, patronising bastards weren't they ,those tossers who pretended to teach us ? Not fit to look after my dog let alone children."

As for me I have no respect or fondness for ABGS as an institution at all, which is not how it should be. My children had a pleasant time at school and remember it
fondly and so perhaps things are improving in one sense.

Final thought a photograph of the teaching and secretarial staff from the summer of 1959 - spot the odd two out

Thursday 11 August 2011

The strange death of Margaret Davies - December 2002

This cutting is from the Daily Telegraph dated 11th December 2002 - I never knew places like this existed in the British Isles but apparently they do. The link above is to a Guardian report dated 18th December 2002 which I have only just found. I firmly believe that her death was due more to mis-judgement and isolation rather than other causes that were touted about at the time

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Kenneth Steel (1906-1970) Sheffield Artist

I've just posted an article to the site about another artist, Kenneth Steele who lived in Crookes for a time (Conduit Road), and whose works are now being sought after by collectors. To say that he had an "interesting" life is an understatement.  

 One of Kenneth's BR poster from the 1950's

"Painter in watercolour, engraver & lithographer of landscapes & street scenes; poster designer. Born Sheffield 9/7/1906, son of G.T.Steel, an artist and silver engraver. Studied at Sheffield College of Art under Anthony Betts. Represented in several public collections. Achieved a prolific output of artwork for the railways. Based in Crookes, Sheffield for years. Produced artwork for LNER Post-War, LMR Railway Architecture, Scottish Region series".

Roman Catholic Mortuary Chapel at City Road Cemetery, Sheffield

A week last Monday, I spent a couple of hours at City Road Cemetery like you do when you are on holiday. It had been a couple of years since I last went there and I was pleasantly surprised about the general condition of the Cemetery. It looks as though it is being cared for once again

However there was one exception to this general state of well-being and that is the Roman Catholic Mortuary Chapel which is situated inside the Cemetery. It is now in a state of severe disrepair and surrounded with security fencing that is in places toppling over.

Whhen I got home I checked it up and found that it had been listed as a grade 2 building in 1995. How it was allowed to get in this state is just beyond me. From what I can gather from the Sheffield City Council website it was last used in 1980 and since then it has been to deteriorating in an alarming fashion. As the photos show the Chapel is now totally derelict and neglected. In fact it can now be termed a dangerous strucure. It is a disgrace that such a striking and historic building should have been allowed to reach such a state. Sheffield is not over-endowed with Grade 2 listed buildings and so why was this chapel allowed to get in this state?


Thursday 21 July 2011


And talking of graves I have also posted an update on Horatio Bright and the Mausoleum at Moscar Sheffield. Horatio Bright was was of the first people I researched for the site as he lived "on the Hill" in 1861. He lived next door to our house, before moving on to Townend Street and then to Lydgate Hall in Crosspool. He led what can only be called "an interesting life" but the circumstances of his death (his funeral was positively gothic) and internment have also attracted a good deal of attention over the years

Joseph Haslam Hawksworth and Joseph Senior

Just posted one article and updated another article to my website that concern past residents of Crookes and Crookesmoor. In both cases I suppose you could say that they were the greatest artist and poet respectively that Crookes ever produced but in both cases there was very little about either of them on-line or in print.

The artist Joseph Haslam Hawksworth was unusual inasmuch as that he supported himself and  his family throughout his life on his earnings from being an artist-painter..He was according to critics "a highly accomplished English landscape painter" of the period

Joseph Senior on the other hand was a pen blade forger by trade and his poetry was purely for pleasure.Nevertheless he was widely known and respected in the district and in Sheffield  - see the list of subscribers to his book "Smithy Rhymes and Stithy Chimes: Or the Short and Simple Annals of the Poor, Spelt by the Unlettered Muse of Your Humble Bard" .

My next task in to try  and locate the graves of the two Joseph's and see if any mention is made of their talents

Monday 11 July 2011

"Which Britons make our country truly great?"

Whilst all the media and politicians are getting lathered up about a phone hacking "scandal" that was initiated by staff at the now defunct "News of the World" I thought readers of this Blog might enjoy this litle gem from the Daily Telegraph dated October 2007. In a way it speaks even greater volumes about the parlous state of the press in this country,

"Britishness and the state of the union dominate the political agenda. But which Britons make our country truly great? Here Telegraph writers choose their favourites from this year across seven categories as the search begins for the Morgan Stanley Great Britons of 2007
Our candidates in the business category have successfully flown the flag for Britain in the global economy, from banking to retailing and engineering to telecoms.
Sir Fred Goodwin is the leading British banker of his generation, having transformed Royal Bank of Scotland from a mid-sized provincial player into the world's fifth largest bank.
Seven years ago, he steered the bank through a successful £21billion hostile takeover of NatWest, a bank three times its size.
This year he surpassed that as Royal Bank led a consortium of Belgium's Fortis and Spain's Santander, beating competition from Barclays to buy Dutch bank ABN Amro for £49billion in the largest takeover in banking history."

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Nick Clegg - A Man for All Sports

I am starting to wonder if Nick Clegg is hankering after sporting greatness. I caught a glimpse of him at the Champions League Final in May sitting in the best seats next to Mugabe's dear friend Sepp Blatter. And then blow me whilst Prime Minister Cameron was preparing to do his bit in Helmand province (Afghanistan), his deputy and wife were presiding over Centre Court at Wimledon for the Men's semi-finals. They were naturally in some of the best seats! In fact he is starting to look imperious, and aloof, something that the people of his constituency are starting to find vexing but I'm sure that he was at these venues "fighting for Britain"

You can see how far he has travelled in the last 18 months by reading the contents of this letter

I wonder where he and his family was lucky in obtaining tickets for the 2012 Olympics - many British people did not get any even though they are funding it! 

A Crookes Artist - Joseph Haslam Hawksworth (1827-1908)

Just posted an article to the website that I have been working on in the last couple of days. It is the first time that I've posted an article that pertains to the arts but I have just stuck to the facts of Joseph's life. No opinions, criticisms etc on his painting and art as I feel that I am not qualified in that respect. The only point I did make and this really applies to a lot of Victorian Art, is that it is not my "cup of tea"

Nevertheless Joseph spent his whole life as an artist and he certainly had some status and success in such circles. But oddly enough he moved very few times in his life. In fact during the last fifty years of his life he remained firmly in the Crookes/Crookesmoor area of Sheffield and so I suppose he could be called Crookes' Greatest Artist! 

Thursday 30 June 2011

Herbert W Thomas (1895 - 1916) - A Soldier from Spring Hill Sheffield

I've just posted the first new article to the website for nearly two months. In the interim I have been updating earlier articles and content with information from the 1911 Census.

I came across Herbert and his family through the Census - the family were living on "the Hill" one hundred years ago and continued to do so until the mid 1950's and possibly longer. I am now determined to find out all I can about the family and so if anyone can add anything I would be grateful

Wednesday 29 June 2011

The Diary of Corporal John William Ballinger

Having access to the 1911 Census is proving to be a great asset. For instance I have had this newspaper cutting from the Daily Telegraph since 2007 but have never been able to incorporate it into the website
I came across it again when I was compiling the article on Walter Hutchinson and his diary and have now found John in 1911
(click on image to read text)
Name     John William Ballinger
Condition     Single
Gender Male   
Age 21 Estimated Year of Birth 1890
Occupation Nil
Employed No
Working at Home No
Place of Birth     Forest Gate Essex
Military Rank     Private 1st Bn Manchester Regiment
Enumerator Information
Address     Kamptee Town     Kamptee Inhabited     Y
Reference     RG14PN34980 RD641 SD5 ED1 SN9999 Administrative County     Overseas Military
Enumeration District     1 

Like Walter Hutchinson, John's diary makes for sobering reading

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Page Woodcocks Wind Pills - "this most excellent medicine"

This appeared in The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Friday, June 23, 1899; pg. 7; Issue 13920 as an advertisement. And it started me wondering why these pills are no longer available because they seem to be a cure for those scourges of modern day life - wind, indigestion, liver complaints and biliousness

Sadly  a Google search revealed that Page Woodcock was in fact a purveyor of quack medicine but if that was the case why were his wind pills so successful over many years. Surely if they failed to resolve the symptoms, the patient/user would know about it 

Thursday 23 June 2011

Are You Happy With The Way Things Are In Britain Today?

A letter from Nick Clegg that was sent to me just over a year ago when he was just the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. If there is a reason why people have no confidence in politicians in general and Nick Clegg in particular this letter surely shows you why 

"Rich bankers, millionaires and polluters will all finally be made to pay their fair share" is just breathtaking in its naivety. Rich bankers, millionaires and polluters have never paid their fair share and never will - it is a fact of life and the sooner Nick Clegg grasps hold of this the sooner he and his party can "move" on.

PS I'm still paying tax on my first £10,000 I earn Nick - as it is at the heart of your plans, can you ensure that I don't otherwise you and your party will be seen as heartless!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Cameron - The Supreme Commander

"David Cameron criticises comments over Libya mission

The prime minister has criticised military chiefs who have spoken out in public about the UK's role in Libya.
It comes after the RAF's second-in-command said "huge" demands were being placed on equipment and personnel.
David Cameron said: "There are moments when I wake up and read the newspapers and think: 'I tell you what, you do the fighting and I'll do the talking'."
He said military leaders were "absolutely clear" the mission could be kept going for as long as necessary.
"Time is on our side, not on Gaddafi's side," he said in a news conference.
Last week, the First Sea Lord, Sir Mark Stanhope, warned that continuing operations in Libya beyond September would mean taking ships away from other tasks".

I know all British Prime Ministers see themselves as re-incarnations of Churchill, the most noticeable examples being Thatcher and Blair, and I think that Cameron and his deputy Clegg are heading that way.
Still if the military do become over-stretched in Libya and are unable to fulfill their "fighting" role, Cameron does have a back-up strategy - "he'll do the talking." Gaddafi you have been warned!!  

The War Graves Photographic Project

As readers of the blog have noticed the last couple of months I have been occupied with "grave matters" and more specifically WW1 graves. Whilst researching articles I came across the following site-The War Graves Photographic Project 
and to quote
"The aim of The War Graves Photographic Project is to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, MoD grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day and make these available within a searchable database.
Now working as a joint venture with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this will enable families, scholars and researchers to obtain, via the CWGC or TWGPP websites, a copy of the photograph of a grave or memorial which for many is impossible to visit due to the location".

But if you want a photograph of a grave or memorial that has been taken by a VOLUNTEER you have to make a donation of AT LEAST £3.00 for an e-mailed print or AT LEAST £5.00 for a 7x5" photograph. The Projects justification for the charges can be found on this link

Two things spring to mind - one is that I think the charges are very excessive especially for the e-mail print. A volunteer takes the photo at his own time and expense, sends the photo to the project who promply claim copyright, and then they sell it on to third parties.
And secondly all the photos on the site are watermarked and copyrighted - to quote
"Small print - Copyright remains with the CWGC/TWGPP/Donor. Those wishing to use photographs for publishing purposes should contact TWGPP for appropriate permission"

This site is a commercial venture that will undoubtedly make livelihood(s) and profits for those that run it.But it leaves a slightly bittter taste in my mouth for some reason. In the introduction they state
"make these available within a searchable database". when they should say "make these available at a cost to the user within a searchable database".

I find content and material from my website all over the place - sometimes people place an acknowledgement and sometimes they don't.But the one thing I will never do on my site is start charging for content and material.(not that anyone would pay me!)  If I did that I would be on par with Rupert Murdoch and that would be hard to stomach  

The Sad Death of Nellie Murfin

The cutting is from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated 20th October 1899. It looks as though Nellie age 3 went on her own to the shop to buy a shuttlecock and on the way back was killed by a dray carrying mineral water.

The two elements of the report that are surprising from a modern day point of view is that young Nellie went to the shop on her own. If that happened nowadays the parents and/or guardians would be prosecuted for severe child neglect as an absolute minimum, and quite possibly manslaughter. And the second element is the mineral water dray. Attercliffe and district in the late C19th could hardly be described as "spa destinations." and so bottling and distributing the local spring water is a non -starter. It is far more likely that the district had to import water given that the local supplies would be heavily polluted by industry  

As for young Nellie she was buried six days later in Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery

MURFIN, Nellie (Daughter of A Murfin, age 3). Died at 15-4 Attercliffe Road; Buried on October 25, 1889 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 15, Section K2 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.

The grave contains 12 other bodies