Wednesday 19 December 2012

Merry Xmas 2012

I have not received a Xmas card this year from the Liberal Democrats which is a shame as they normally show a seasonal winter scene in Sheffield. It may have something to do with a Liberal Democrat canvasser who I spoke to earlier this year!. The Liberal Democrat party can't seem to get their collective heads around the fact that millions of people regard their continuing support of the Tory Party as an affront to democracy, justice and fairness. 

One look at the result of the recent Rotherham by-election reveals the parlous state of the party

  • Sarah Champion (Labour) 9,866 (46.25%, +1.62%)
  • Jane Collins (UKIP) 4,648 (21.79%, +15.87%)
  • Marlene Guest (BNP) 1,804 (8.46%, -1.96%)
  • Yvonne Ridley (Respect) 1,778 (8.34%)
  • Simon Wilson (Conservative) 1,157 (5.42%, -11.32%)
  • David Wildgoose (English Democrat) 703 (3.30%)
  • Simon Copley (Independent) 582 (2.73%, -3.58%)
  • Michael Beckett (Liberal Democrat) 451 (2.11%, -13.87%)
  • Ralph Dyson (TUSC) 261 (1.22%)
  • Paul Dickson (Independent) 51 (0.24%)
  • Clint Bristow (Independent) 29 (0.14%)
  • Labour majority 5,218 (24.46%)
  • 7.13% swing Labour to UKIP
  • Turnout: 21,330 (33.63%, -25.37%)
It was the lowest vote ever recorded by a major party in a by-election. It surely shows that the British people have totally turned against "Cleggism" and its diminishing band of adherents.

And so here is an old Xmas card from the 1930's that seems particular applicable at the momnet to the Liberal Democrats and their policies

Merry Xmas  - I don't think so!


Monday 17 December 2012


I've got quite a backlog of material to sort through but came across the following photograph that was taken in July this year. At first it looks like an increasingly desperate attempt by our children to  aquire their inheritance.  But it is in fact a realtively new war memorial that was only commissioned in 2004

 This is from an "Rootsweb" article


A new Memorial is to be dedicated on the cliff top at Mundesley-on-Sea, Norfolk on Sunday 2nd May 2004 at 12.00 am. This is to honour all the men who lost their lives towards the end of the second world war and for a number of years afterwards whilst employed on mine clearance on the beaches of Norfolk. Mines had been laid at the early part of the war when there were fears of an invasion. Maps were made of the sites, but during the course of the war, some were lost. Obviously it was not safe to venture onto the beaches while the threat of u.x.b's was still there. So the brave men of the Royal Engineers came to the rescue. At least 26 of these men lost their lives on Norfolk soil.

where we have attempted to identify all the men using CWGC. A number of relatives of the men will be attending the dedication. Do you know of anyone who was involved with this work or relatives of the men? They obviously weren't all Norfolk men - Wales, Scotland, Ireland and many counties of England are mentioned in the Roll Call.

If you should happen to know anyone, please send the information direct to

For a further insight and "discussion" into this memorial see Flickr.


Monday 10 December 2012

The Death of Mr Aldi

I came across the following cutting (29th July 2010) the other day that made me wonder about the human condition. Greater riches than Croesus, and a miserable life!.

Theo Albrecht

Thursday 29 November 2012

The Basil Hicks Lecture

I went to The Basil Hicks Lecture last night which I believe was the 12th to be held since its inception

The First World War was the bloodiest, most destructive conflict in British history. The extremely costly campaigns waged on the Western Front and elsewhere led to the loss of unprecedented numbers of British lives and had a profound emotional impact on the civilian population. The Lecture will look at the mass bereavement caused across the British Empire as a result of the First World War and examine the initially controversial role played by the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission in responding to the needs of millions of British subjects in mourning. The work of the Commission in the 21st Century, as the organisation prepares for the centenaries of the milestones of the First World War, will also be explored in detail.

Basil Hicks and the Basil Hicks Lectures
basil hicksBasil Perrin Hicks

Basil Perrin Hicks, the man in whose memory the Basil Hicks Lectures are given, was the younger son of the University of Sheffield’s founding Vice-Chancellor, Professor William Mitchinson Hicks FRS, and his wife Ellen Perrin. He was educated at Rugby and studied at Hanover and Bonn before entering Trinity College, Cambridge: after graduating in 1914 he studied further in Paris before returning to England on the outbreak of war, joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and received his Commission in September 1914. He went to the Front on 7th August 1915 as a Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, and was shot and killed whilst leading his men against the German trenches on the morning of 15th September, the first day of the Battle of Loos. He was one of 380,000 men to fall in the three months of that battle, which moved the German lines back just 1,200 yards – albeit a considerable achievement in its context.
Basil Hicks is commemorated – and pictured – in the Great West Window of St Peter’s Church, Bushey Heath, the Outer London suburb which was home to his mother’s family, and by the Lecture series endowed by his parents. Professor and Mrs Hicks originally envisaged that each Lecture should “deal with some aspect of the Great War, either its origins, its conduct or its social and international consequences....”, though in practice a wide range of topics has been covered by the historians, politicians and military men who have given the Lectures since their time. This 2012 Lecture indeed addresses a direct consequence of the War, which by the unprecedented scale of the killing led to the creation of what is now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to honour the Fallen and to care for their remains.

Although I am fairly well-aquainted with the work of the CWGC, it was still an interesting and thought-provoking lecture. The speaker was both concise and lucid, and took the audience through the history and the work of the Commission. 

He was particularly thoughtful on the subject of "repatriation" which aroused fierce passions at the time and still does to this day. All in all a really good lecture.   

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Sheffield's Shocking Past 2

Our second book came out this month which portrays events in the first half of the twentieth century

This is a summary taken from our publisher's website

"Sheffield's Shocking Past - Part 2 [2012]
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself.
It was February 1934 and men were screaming for help as the Leppings Lane section of the bulging 72,860 Hillsborough crowd swayed forward and crushed them against iron railings. George Frederick Hill died from multiple fractures and shock.
Tragedy had also struck twenty years earlier when a retaining wall collapsed at the same ground. The match was suspended as scores of injured were rushed to Sheffield Infirmary.
Life-long Sheffielder and historian Chris Hobbs and local author Matthew Bell have once again delved into the archives - this time bringing you some of the most gruesome, grizzly and long-forgotten tragic episodes of 20th century Sheffield.
Sheffield's Shocking Past - Part II leaves no coroner's report unchecked as it uncovers the killer cat of Millhouses; death by chimneystack; one of the city's earliest fatal motor accidents and the story behind the charred remains of a male midget and his mechanical teddy bear female companion.
The events surrounding some incidents are hard to contemplate until you read the full facts: there's death by scalding at Heeley Baths; a Treeton man drowned looking for his chickens; a Low Edges resident who accidentally killed his wife, and the horrific aftermath of an American Air Force jet crashing into Lodge Moor Hospital in 1955.
One of the most tragic cases must be that of 22-year-old nurse Ada Bradley. She thought she was helping rehabilitate a former mental patient by inviting her into her home to live. Instead, "She was found dead with her head battered and her throat cut in the street near the asylum."
Sheffield's Shocking Past - Part II takes you from the time of the horse and carriage to the age of the jet plane, along the way unearthing some of the saddest and most remarkable incidents in the history of the city.

I am very pleased with the end result - as with any book of this nature you have to comprimise and at times be ruthless in the editing. But it hangs together pretty well and I hope that its many readers will find it both interesting and stimulating.

Pte G Sanby Yorks & Lancs Medals

I was researching another branch of the SANBY family when I came across the following

WW1 British War & Victory Medal & ribbons, Marked Pte G Sanby Yorks & Lancs

Sold Date: 05/19/2012
Channel: Online Auction  Source: eBay UK
Category: Militaria & Weapons
WWI British War Medal and Victory Medal with ribbons, marked with the name Pte G Sandy Yorks & Lancs, who I believe was a friend of my Grandmother.
Both medals and ribbons are original and came from her house. Any question please ask.
I've just remembered. my Grandmother said that the G was for George. As adding this note I've noticed that the name I've typed is wrong, it's Sanby not Sandy. 

I should mention that George Sanby was my gran's cousin, and is buried in Walkley Cemetery Sheffield

To say I was dumbstruck with this revelation would be an understatement. 

The seller did include a photograph of the medals which are pictured above.

And so it looks as though the medals are now in the hands of a collector and not the family.
I have also just accessed George's World War 1 Service record. It notes that the medals were sent to THORNHILL UNWIN, George's father in law, who was his next of kin after the death of his wife Maud. I can only assume that the grandmother the seller identifies as the previous owner of the medals must have been either the daughter or grand-daughter of Thornhill Unwin.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Gran Worked for Uncle

I've just posted an new article to the website, the first for nearly three months. It is not as though I have been slacking though - a second book has just been completed this week and sent to the publishers and I've actually managed to do some research as well. More about that in future blogs.

The article "Gran Worked for Uncle" ties in with the family history side of things, and fills yet another gap in my gran's life. Of course I would be delighted to get any photos of the premises where my gran lived and worked. They were demolished many years ago, and I doubt if there are any available  

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Off The Shelf Festival - Sheffield 2012

Old Dog and New Tricks spring to mind. When our book was launched in April, our publisher asked if we would be interested in giving talk(s) on the said book. We agreed and it was arranged that we would do three talks in the Autumn at Sheffield's Off The Shelf Festival 

After quite a bit of thought and research during the summer I brought together a presentation that I thought would illustrate the main themes in the book, as well as engage those people who attended the talks.

Now rather foolishly I anticipated that not many people would be interested in C19th Sheffield history and even less so in the ramblings of a middle-aged man in such matters. Hope wrong can you be. The first talk at Firth Park library on a Monday afternoon in mid October attracted around 60 people, none of whom walked out. And the second took place at Sheffield's Central Library last night and attracted over 100!. 

Now for someone who has spent his life avoiding public speaking and the like, I should have found the prospect daunting and nerve-racking but the opposite was the case. Even when the PA system packed up last night half way through the talk I just carried on as though nothing had happened.  

The presentation was well received and we did receive some favourable comments about the talk and its contents afterwards.   

I am certainly glad that I agreed to do the talks but I honestly thought that they would only attract a few people at best. I have one other at Crystal Peaks library on Thursday 8th November 2012 at 2.00 and I must say that I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

English Mother Dies on Son's Grave - DEATH THROUGH GRIEF

From the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated September 1925

Came across the following newspaper cutting purely by chance - it certainly makes you stop and think!

I managed to find one of her sons through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database -

Rank: Lieutenant
Date of Death:     27/03/1918 - Age:     35
Regiment/Service: East Yorkshire Regiment  11th Bn.

Additional Information:  - Son of Frederick John and Alice Augustine James, late of Seaview, Isle of Wight.

Childen's Train on the Air - 1946

Whilst I was researching a murder case the other day, I came across the following article in the Sheffield Telegraph from 1946.

Nowadays, a day's outing to Cleethorpes would be looked upon with disdain but for the 500 children who went on the train in the summer of 1946 it must have been a wonderful if not magical experience.

You tend to forget the hardship and at times the fear that the children must have suffered in the preceding six years whilst the country was at war. For many it would have been their first glimpse of a beach and the sea.
It's importance in showing "that life was getting back to normal" was demonstrated by the fact that the BBC were covering and recording the event. I wonder if the footage still exists?

The other praiseworthy note in the article is that they were accompanied on their trip by volunteer teachers. 

Of course such trips would not be possible today - 500 children on a train would give our franchised rail network a severe case of the "health and safety's". And imagine the paperwork the teachers would have to do to comply with current practices and regulations - they would be too exhausted to accompany the children by the time they had completed all the forms and assessments

Monday 1 October 2012

Monday 10 September 2012

Wardsend Cemetery - Sheffield

I went to Wardsend Cemetery on Saturday morning to find a murderer's grave. It is a number of years since I was last down that part of Sheffield and so it was interesting to see if any developments had been made.

Apart from a new bridge that crosses the River Don at Livesey Street (the old one was destroyed in the floods of June 2007) very little really had changed. The Cemetery has been closed since 1988 but the last interments there were in 1977, thirty five years ago.

The cemetery is the last resting place of over 30,000 Sheffielders but has remained neglected and abandoned for many years. I was expecting to find a wilderness but thanks to the efforts of volunteers and supporters most of the main pathways are now clear and you can now have a pleasant stroll around what is quite an historic cemetery. 

But at the back of my mind all the time I was there was the question as to why did the Church of England allow one of their cemeteries to deteriorate to such an extent that it became a dangerous and hostile environment. I realise that the church that served the cemetery was demolished many years ago, but surely just because the church no longer existed, it did not mean that it absolved the church from its responsibilities and duties towards the cemetery.

From what I can ascertain the Church has done a "Pontias" over the cemetery and it no longer wants anything to do with it. The council took over the cemetery in 2010 but it is very much on a care and maintenance basis. It is a shame but I suppose that the council have far more pressing matters nowadays.  

Monday 3 September 2012

A Headline That Will Not Appear Again

Whilst I was researching some material the other day at the Local Studies library I came across the following headline in The Sheffield Star which provoked a wry smile.

 Many years ago I had the misfortune to read the book, a task that I will thankfully never have to repeat.
It is an incoherent and chaotic mis-mash of "ideas" that make for turgid reading. The wry smile came about whn I looked at the date of the paper - September 1939 - I wonder if the people of Sheffield were getting genned up on the Nazis prior to their threatened invasion of this "sceptred isle"

The other point that made me smile was that it knocked Stanley Gibbons Stamp catalogue off the top spot. Personally I'd have Stanley Gibbons any day 

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Grade 11 Listed Rubbish

We went for a walk on Sunday, and decided to amble around Sheffield's General Cemetery. Apart from the obligatory shower of rain, it was an interesting walk. But what really hacked me off was this. Bearing in mind that the entrance to the Cemetery is Grade 2 listed, and a marvellous example of early Victorian architecture, Shefffield City Council decided to place a bin at the entrance

 Not ideal I must admit, but if they are going to do it the least they can do is empty it!. As you can see it was literally overflowing with rubbish falling out all over the place. It is no good pointing this disgrace out to the Council, as you will get the familiar litany of government cuts, and savings that need to be made.

It is even more annoying when the self same council keep badgering the people of Sheffield about the need to re-cycle rubbish and enhance the environment. They ought to set an example

Wednesday 8 August 2012

John Henry Yeardley 1894 - 1919

No blogs for over a month and then two come along together!

It was a workday last Saturday for the Friends of Walkley Cemetery last Saturday 4th August 2012. After an early "sharp" downpour that ensured I spent the next couple of hours in damp clothing I discovered an excellent memorial that was covered in thick undergrowth. After a bit of clearing I found it was the grave of the YEARDLEY family and the first inscription on the headstone refered to the loss the family experienced when their son JOHN HENRY died whilst on active service in January 1919 in Mons. The Great War had finished in November 1918 but tens of thousands were still awaiting demobilisation - John was obviously one of them but he never returned home 

Rank: Private
Service No: T/254813
Date of Death: 30/01/1919
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: Royal Army Service Corps
 "Y" Siege Park Workshops
Grave Reference  X. B. 3.
Additional Information: Son of Alfred Yeardley, of 86. Waller Rd., Walkley, Sheffield.

1911 Census Record
Name     John Henry Yeardley
Relationship to Head of Household     Son
Condition     Single Gender     Male
Age     17 Estimated Year of Birth     1894
Occupation     Grinder Pen Blade
Employed     Y Working at Home     N
Industry     Cutlery Manuf
Place of Birth     Sheffield Yorks
Enumerator Information Address     57 Newcastle St Parish     Sheffield Type of Building     Private House
Number of Rooms     4  Inhabited     Y
Reference     RG14PN27852 RG78PN1594 RD510 SD1 ED4 SN25
Administrative County     Yorkshire (West Riding) Registration District     Sheffield Registration Sub District     South Sheffield Enumeration District     4
Reference Information Folio     55 Page     1 Piece     27852
RD number     510
SD number     1
ED number     4
Schedule     25

The First Week of War - Sheffield September 1939

It is over a month since I've posted any materail, thoughts etc to the blog but that does not mean I've been out in the garden sunbathing and just generally idling about. Far from it!

I'm  endeavouring at the moment to finalise material for a second book that hoopefully will come out in the autumn. This has necessitated a few trips to the excellent Local Studies Library in Sheffield and whilst I was there I came across a couple of newspaper reports relating to the events of September 1939.

One concerne the exploits of a Robert Dunbar, an ex-Hunters Bar pupil who declared war on Nazi Germany. And the other was the forgotten death of John Hall who I believe may have been Sheffield's first casualty of World War 2  

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Book-Signing - Waterstones Orchard Square Sheffield 7th July 2012

After posting the article on Ernest Hemingway and the Sheffield Connection, I must mention  a book-signing event this Saturday at Waterstones 7th July 2012 Orchard Square Sheffield

Although the estate of Ernest Hemingway will not be present, myself and co-author Matthew will be, to promote our recently published book Sheffield's Shocking Past  

It has been arranged by our publisher and not having done one before, I am not sure what to expect. But our publisher Neil has managed to get the event publicised in The Sheffield Star dated 28th June 2012


Papa Hemingway and the Sheffield Connection

Just posted an article to the site that I've been meaning to do for sometime. It has turned a lot better than I anticipated but the surprise was that Hemingway's grandfather ERNEST HALL (Hemingway was named after him) appears as a one year old child in the 1841 UK Census living at Brook Hill Sheffield of all places.

Perhaps a plaque on Brook Hill Roundabout would be appropiate with a Hemingway quote

"Never confuse movement with action"

Monday 2 July 2012

On Yer Bike!

I came across this certificate yesterday which I had not seen for years.

I remember the test quite well which is surprsising to say the least. But what I had forgotten is the date I took the test. The certificate was signed - 18th July 1966, twelve days before England's last major success in an international football tournament.

And so I must have took the test during the World Cup campaign of 1966.

No immediate gain ensued for the test, but it did put me in a good position during the 1980's when Thatcher's goverment was telling everyone who did not have a job to "get on their bikes."!! 

Monday 25 June 2012

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the New Roots Cafe

Last week whilst I was in Burngreave I took the opportunity to photograph the New Roots cafe which is at the corner of Spital Hill and Hallcar Street. I've been meaning to do this for a few years as it is the place where Arthur Conan Doyle practised in 1878

 An archived site explains
"Arthur Conan Doyle had a brief acquaintance with Burngreave. 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.'

In fact he stayed there for just three weeks before moving on. He was just 19 years of age.

When I saw the building I thought in looked newer than 1878, and so I checked on Picture Sheffield and found the following photograph that had the caption

"Nos 70-86, Spital Hill from Burngreave Road. Hallcar Street, left Sheffield_Burngreave 1900-1919

And so it was the buiding that Conan Doyle practised in, rather unsuccessfully it must be said

Monday 18 June 2012

The New Heeley Voice - June 2012

Our recently published book "Sheffield's Shocking Past" has appeared in "The New Heeley Voice" for June 2012  

I am really pleased that it has been featured as the book contains three chapters that relate to Heeley.

The host website is also very impressive - in fact it is one of the best community sites I have come across!

Pitsmoor, a Peek into the Past. A Snapshot of Life and Times in Victorian Pitsmoor

I was invited to the following on Saturday

I'm writing on behalf of Burngreave Local History Group to invite you to the launch of their first local history book: - Pitsmoor, a Peek into the Past. A Snapshot of Life and Times in Victorian Pitsmoor

The Burngreave Local History Group was started in 2009 by the Burngreave Messenger. With the help of Local History Tutor Suzanne Bingham, the amazing resources available at Sheffield Local Studies Library and Sheffield Archives, and after months of research, local residents have put together a collection of articles about the streets, buildings and people of Pitsmoor in the Victorian Era. 

Please come along to Burngreave Library, on Saturday 16th June, 11am-2pm, to help us celebrate the completion of Pitsmoor, a Peek into the Past. You will be able to enjoy looking at the book and our local history exhibition. There will also be light refreshments.

Books will be available on the day for £7, and in Burngreave Library after the launch
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience with a excellent display of material. Needless to say I purchased the book and was amazed at the amount of effort and research that had gone into the production of the book. They can all be very proud of their achievements 

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The Trials of Selina Mannifield

Just posted an article to the site that has it's roots in the 1891 Census for Spring Hill.It relates to the Mannifield family and is rather sobering one to say the least!

I also updated the Walkley Cemetery page in the light of the information that I obtained on the work day last Saturday (9th June 2012)

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The Hampton by Hilton Hotel formerly known as West Bar Nick

On 8th March 2011 the BBC reported that

"It is the end of an era for Sheffield's main police station, which opens its doors for the final time on Friday.
West Bar police station opened on 16 July in 1965 under the City of Sheffield Police Force.

Now the crumbling building, which once towered over the city's skyline and served the force for over 45 years, is closing for a new state-of-the-art building.

Chief Superintendant Andy Barr told BBC Sheffield: "It's a day of sadness, a lot of the cops have loved working there over the years. There are some fond memories and some great stories."

The five-storey building has been sold to a development company which plan to demolish the former headquarters to make room for a new hotel and restaurant establishment.

"Instead of housing prisoners it will be housing some of Sheffield's many visitors."

Mr Barr added: "We're closing it because it's past its sell by date.
"The boiler and lifts kept breaking down. It's very cold and officers need somewhere better to work. We've also had a rat infestation problem too.

"We accessed the costs and they really would be too much for the police to continue working there and update the building."

Officers and staff will be relocated over the weekend to the new headquarters at Snig Hill. The police will remain to operate a 24-hour public enquiry desk which was available at West Bar".

Bearing in mind that the building is "crumbling" (a common condition that afflicts many public buildings that were built in the 1960's) and that it was "passed it sell-by date", I was not surprised to see that the building was to be demolished and be replaced by a new hotel on the site.

But I was taken aback when it was reported last week that this crumbling obsolete building was NOT going to be demolished but was going to be converted into a 142 bed city centre hotel. 
The Sheffield Telegaph dated 7th June 2012 report

 It seems perverse to me that a building that is deemed fit for demolition and has no architectural and/or historical significance whatsoever should be renovated at a cost of £9 million. And to call it one of Sheffield's "high profile buildings" is just plain rubbish - it is a building that was flawed when it was built and always has been.

But what is even more disconcerting is that the same newspaper carried a report which stated that

 I feel as though I'm missing something here!

Monday 11 June 2012

Deals Worth Celebrating??

" Nisa on Barber Road in Crookesmoor, now Costcutter, has been found on several occasions to sell dangerous, illegal alcohol to students. The illicit substances were tested and it was found the vodka was in fact industrial alcohol and contained a chemical commonly used in bleach, as well as xylene and toluene – two compounds found in paint stripper and dangerous for human consumption.
Despite this, the council renewed the store’s alcohol licence on Tuesday morning, on the condition that the premises supervisor was removed from his post...

(Forge Today - May 2012)

Does the decision by the Council condone the sale of industrial alcohol to students and other members of the public?  

Monday 14 May 2012

Taking a view on Sheffield and its shocking history

 Well they say that there is a first time for everything but I never thought I would appear in the "lifestyle" section of a newspaper!. The article was a means of promoting the new book that was published last month

I must admit I enjoyed writing the article - my remit was to write about 800 words and not mention the Winter Gardens or the Millenium Gallery - there was no danger of that as I'm not that impressed with either. 

Anyway here are a few of my favourite things!  

Published on Friday 11 May 2012 09:00
What Chris Hobbs started as a hobby 13 years ago to trace his ancestors became a website of Sheffield’s murky past with 30,000 page views a month. Now he has teamed up with Sheffield author Matthew Bell for a book, Sheffield’s Shocking Past, which records bizarre and disturbing episodes from Victorian times. You won’t find the Sheffield Flood of 1864 or the murderous deeds of Charlie Peace - “they’ve been done to death and I can’t add anything new”. Instead there are tales of multiple murders, strange and untimely deaths, hideous accidents and a factory explosion. Chris Hobbs lives in Crookes with his wife of 31 years and has two grown up children.
lSheffield’s Shocking History is published by ACM Retro and available from The Star Shop and local book shops at £12.95. Visit
Central Library
A marvellous building where I’ve spent many hours over the years researching both my family tree and articles for the website. The Local Studies section on the first floor is a particular favourite. The staff are knowledgeable and are always helpful if you have a query. And after spending a few hours researching material, there is an excellent cafe on the third floor.
In researching my family history, I have found that several cemeteries in the city are the last resting places of many of my ancestors. Naturally I have tried over the years to locate their graves and in quite a few cases I have been successful. The search can be both puzzling and time-consuming - many of the cemeteries seem to me at least to follow no logical plan or order. But it does add to a sense of achievement in locating a grave. On the whole, I find the cemeteries restful and peaceful places where you can get lost in your thoughts. Being a resident of Crookes, my particular favourite is Crookes Cemetery, which has tremendous views out towards Loxley, Rivelin and the surrounding moors. I am also a Friend of Walkley Cemetery, which is in a peaceful and tranquil setting above the Rivelin Valley. It relies heavily on the efforts of volunteers and supporters, but it is a fascinating place that reflects the district’s varied past. The Friends run tours throughout the summer, and I can thoroughly recommend them. Stout shoes are advisable, though!
When I was young, it was a real treat to go for a day out in Millhouses Park. I can still remember the open air swimming pool, which was replaced sometime in the mid-1960s by a modern lido. At the time, I never quite understood why they called it a lido. I’m now informed that lido is the Italian for beach. But Millhouses Beach just does not have the right ring to it somehow. Of course the whole area fell into a state of terrible disrepair and neglect in the 1980s, which was tragic. By that time I had a young family and it was difficult to explain to them that only a few years earlier that area of badly fenced off derelict wasteland was one of the best swimming pools in Sheffield. But at least the park is back on its feet now which is great to see, but it is sad that my children never experienced the joys of the Millhouses lido!
Just a few hundred yards further on towards Totley are Beauchief Gardens, which were donated to the city by the Graves Trust in 1935. Like Millhouses Park they were also allowed to decline in the 1980s but thanks mainly to the efforts of volunteers, they are now in a more healthy state and are an excellent place to eat a sandwich, and have a flask, especially in the summer.
Bramall Lane
It was 50 years ago when I first went to the Lane to see United play Burnley in the FA Cup. They lost 1 - 0. But over the years I have had some fantastic experiences watching the Blades, and also some downright miserable ones. With regard to the latter, the events of May 2 1981 (relegation to the old Division Four) are still vivid in the memory! But hope springs eternal, as they say.
Sheffield beer
I’m not averse to the odd pint or two with the proviso that it must taste like beer. Like many industries, brewing in Sheffield has undergone many changes and there have been some very dark times. But thankfully things seem to be on the up, and there are some really good local beers now available in all sorts of outlets. And by drinking them, you support local businesses rather than international conglomerates, which can’t be bad.
And the best ...
There is no doubt about it, my favourite thing about Sheffield are the views you get of the city from the surrounding hills. A few years ago I was treated to a helicopter flight over the dams at Ladybower and Howden. Whilst the perspective you get of the dams in awesome, the most surprising feature of the flight is the real beauty and variety within the boundaries of Sheffield. I saw it on a bright and clear summer’s day, but I feel it would still be jaw dropping on a cold winter’s day.
And it must not be forgotten that you can get some tremendous views from the hills within the city.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Local Elections - May 2011

At 20.40pm last night I was sat watching the "match of the season" between the two Manchester sides at home. The scores were level when there was a knock on the front door. I got up and was greeted by the local Green Party candidate in the forthcoming election. As this was the first candidate from ANY party to knock on the door since the early 1980's I took the opportunity to "bend his ear" on a number of local matters that were and still are vexing me.

I did of course caution him about the dangers of "coalition politics" and he gave me his assurances that if elected the Green Party would pursue an independent course, and not "cosy" up to any particular party.

The fact that he took the trouble to knock on my door has impressed me. What was less impressive is that I missed seeing Sir Alex's face when the City scored. My wife used the phrase "taciturn". And so as the choruses of "Blue Moon" echoed around the Etihad Stadium, the song seemed to reflect the chances of the Green Party achieving electoral success in Sheffield.

But you never know!

Update - He lost to New Labour by about 200 votes but he ran into a fine second, and secured a lot more votes than the Liberal Democrats whose vote collapsed. I wonder why?. The Conservative party put up there normal lamentable show 

Morgan Stanley and the Great Britons of 2007

I just came across this from The Daily Telegraph - October 2007. Needless to say a wry smile crossed my face
"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."

It is just a shame that Lehman Brothers weren't hosting the award 

And four years later

How the feckless have fallen!