Friday, 7 November 2014

A Walk through Crookes (Sheffield) - Friday 7th November 2014

Friday 7th November 2014, 1 to 3pm.  Meet outside the Grindstone pub (S10 1UA) and finish at the Walkley Cottage. A1.5 mile walk through Crookes exploring some of the remains of the areas earliest settlers, through to its transformation over the last century.  

Notes from the walk that became progressively wetter the nearer we got to the Walkley Cottage!

Crookes a word that may have been derived from the Norse word “Kokor” meaning a nook or secluded retreat was for many centuries dominated by agriculture and agrarian activity -  a collection of small hamlets and farms that relied almost exclusively on the traditional forms of land ownership and tenure. Cultivation was also traditional with medieval strip farming being super-ceded by the open field pattern of cultivation.

In AD 866 there was a large invasion by the Danes leading to the founding of settlements mostly on hill tops. These are easy to distinguish usually ending in ‘thorpe signifying a small farmstead. (Upperthorpe). Crookes and High Storrs would also be Danish settlements. The name Crookes derives from the Old Norse ‘Krkor”. meaning a nook or corner of land.

Crookes is situated alongside 'The Long Causey', a route dating from Roman times which runs from Buxton via Stanage, Redmires and Crosspool to Templeborough. Long after the Roman occupation the routes were still used for carrying goods across the Pennines.  Lydgate Lane (Hallam Gate) was, before the Glossop road turnpike was built in 1821, the main route to and from Lancashire. Millstones, lead, cloth, cheeses, metal goods, timber, grain and coal would be carried by wagon-team or pack animals.

Long Causeway or Long Causey was a medieval packhorse route in England, which ran between Sheffield in South Yorkshire and Hathersage in Derbyshire. In the past the route has been marked on maps as a Roman Road as it was believed it followed part of the route of Batham Gate between Templeborough and Buxton although in recent years some scholars have cast doubt on this.

In Medieval times, Long Causeway was the middle of three routes which left Sheffield to the west. It started in the Portobello area of the town beginning a seven mile journey with over 1100 feet of ascent to Stanedge Pole on the border between the manors of Sheffield and Hathersage. From Portobello the route continued by a series of rises and dips, climbing initially through Leavygreave and crossing the top of the Crookes valley and up Lydgate Lane (then called Hallam Gate) to reach which was then open moorland. The route then continued through present day Crosspool and followed the route along what is now Sandygate Road and Redmires Road, crossing the location of the present day Redmires Reservoirs before tackling the steepest ascent on the route up to Stanedge Pole. From the pole the route began its drop down to Hathersage

Although Long Causeway was never a Turnpike road, milestones were added in the 1730s due to the high volume of traffic. This was an exceptional happening as even the law of 1758 required milestones only to be added on Turnpike roads.

The route was used extensively in the Middle Ages by traders bringing salt to Yorkshire from the Cheshire salt mines by packhorse. By the 18th century carts had replaced many of the packhorses and were transporting many goods including, oil, hardware good, barrels of tar, hogsheads of treacle, glue from Manchester, lead (galena) and small grinding stones. Traffic on Long Causeway started to decline around 
1760 after the opening of an alternative route to the Hope Valley via Ringinglow.

The Domesday Book records Crookes in 1085 as one of a group of hamlets belonging to Waltheof, chieftain of Hallam, the area to the west of  Sheffield.

In Medieval times, Crookes became a part of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Ecclesfield.  There are a number of Medieval documents which mention people living in Crookes, usually in connection with the inheritance of land or fines.

1447 mention of Crookes from John de Crokes to Roger Myle regarding an inheritance.

1493, it is recorded that the hamlet of 'Crokes' consisted of a few scattered farms and villages,

1637 - John Harrison's survey of lands in the Sheffield area belonging to the seventh Earl of Shrewsbury, contains several references to Crookes -  the entries mostly describe tenanted pieces of land - arable, wood, or pasture (described as crofts)  - principal method of farming in Crookes was by the traditional open field system, where strips of land held by individuals were worked in the open field as part of a rotation system, with a fallow period for each field, when animals grazed and manured the land.
Harrison mentions numerous field names, include Little North Field, Raile Field, Stony Butts, Thruswell Field, Lidgate Field, 'a Shroggwood called rofts', Timber Field and Timber Lane (which seems to be on the site of Tinker Lane), Broomfield and Clow Field.  .
More land; pastures or crofts which were not a part of the open field system became more used Harrison describes the area now occupied by Toyne, Marston and Newbury Streets: Crookes was at this time surrounded by moor and common land; to the SE, Crookesmoor; to the South, Broomhill - as yet undeveloped and not considered as a separate location; to the South-West, Tapton Hill, which Harrison describes as a common, The Hagg to the West, also described as a common; and to the North, Peyham or Pegham Bank, where Walkley Bank now is.  Commonside to the North-East, has retained its old name,
Some farms in Harrison's Survey can be immediately identified, even today.  For example; 'Item a little croft lying between ye lands of William Wyles North and New Lane South'and Abutteth upon Crookes Street East.' New Lane was the old name for Newent Lane; thus Harrison must have been describing the farm which stood where the Co-op is now located.

1750 onwards century the traditional open-field system had become mainly obsolete and was often supplanted by enclosed fields with individual cultivation, as in modern times.  There was much pressure from those who wanted to buy land in order to 'develop' it, for residential or industrial purposes, as well as farming.  The Parliamentary Enclosure Act affecting Hallam was first proposed in 1787, but due to pubic opposition it was postponed and taken up again in 1791 when the field Enclosure Act was passed.  The pressure in favour of enclosure threatened the common land which, after the Act, could be divided up and owned by individuals to the detriment of those who owned no land using the commons to graze their cattle.  Parliamentary enclosure put an end to rights of commonage and almost all land became privately owned with the exception of pinfolds, public stone quarries, ring places and workhouses. 

1780 To assist in organising this massive transfer of land and ownership, surveys had to be made - sketch-maps drawn up by William Fairbanks the surveyor in the 1780s give us such a good picture of the lay-out of Crookes - 0, Crookes consisted of a small group of cottages on the one street, (Crookes).The road continued northward into Dark Lane (now Northfield Road) led into Heavygate Road towards Walkley Hall. Most of the houses on Crookes itself lay between the present Mulehouse Road and Bolehill Lane, but there was another group at the bottom of Lydgate Lane. The few dwellings larger than a cottage would be unpretentious houses, such as Crookes House.

Although the medieval strips had in many cases been enclosed by then, the old open field patterns were still in a remarkable state of preservation.  This can be clearly seen in Fairbanks' surveys.  The shape of traditional strips of arable land survived on both sides of Crookes street, and the broad shapes of the open fields were still obvious. ie of the old field names survive in street names, Truswell, Headland, Longfield, Northfield, Netherfield, Midfield.  Other  names, now fallen out of use, were perhaps named after the people farmed them - Lockwood Field and Laughton Steads.

At the north, west and south-east field boundaries, the lanes opened into drift-way outlets where stock may have spread on to the restricted common land beyond, where the inhabitants had ancient rights of grazing, which did not survive the Enclosures.. The field boundaries and drift-way outlets are matched by the course of the Crookes Road and School Road junction, and on a smaller scale at the Cocked Hat road fork overlooking Rivelin Valley. (Cocked Hat gets were so named because the shape of the land on which they were

St. Anthony's Well, (this is no longer woodland, but on the site of houses in St. Anthony Road).  The well was believed to have medicinal properties.  St. Anthony was the patron saint of swineherds, and the neighbourhood, with its predominantly oak forests, was ideal for feeding pigs.  It is said that there was a custom that one pig from each litter was vowed to the saint.

The land at Crookes was not altogether ideal, but by perseverance and hard work, the local population made farming reasonably rewarding.  The Directory of Sheffield of 1774 says: 'The land in the parish is not reckoned in general to be naturally good for the plough.  But through the vast quantities of manure which are laid upon it, (on account of its vicinity to so large a town), it is very fertile.'

Crookes stands on Upper Carboniferous rocks, 300 million years old.  Crookes, with its highest point at Mount Zion (Lydgate Lane) of 806 feet (245 metres), is situated on an almost shelf at 700 feet (213 metres) with the ground falling steeply away to the north and west and more gently southwards.  The landscape of stony uplands with, further down the slopes, abundant springs from the sandstone, provided fuel and water power for the cutlery along the valley bottoms.  The sandstone quarries scattered at Crookes not only provided an ideal building material, but grindstones for the cutlery industry.  COAL

Though there are no rivers or even streams of any size in Crookes long cast and south facing slope of Crookesmoor, rising from 450 feet (137 metres) at Conduit Road bottom to over 700 feet (213 metres). Bole Hills was, before development, a bare moorland with many sources springing from its roughly mile-square water-table.  On maps, there are wells, springs and troughs marked, and it was these that provided Crookes people with their water supply.  The wells had a habit of drying up, and then water had to be fetched in stoneware from Steel Bank lower down the hill

There were no mine workings on the Bole Hills, but there was quite a lot of quarrying for stone. The lead wasn't mined there, it was brought there from Derbyshire as ground-up galena along the packhorse routes. In J. H. Stainton's "The Making of Sheffield I865-1914" there is a mention that the council authorised the purchase of the Bole Hills in Sepember 1899

The Bole Hills are at the end of Rivelin Valley which funnels the wind making it stronger than it otherwise would be. The name “Bole Hill” derives from the practice of smelting iron ore. Bole Hills were always in exposed places because wind was needed to fan the furnaces.


In the spring of 1887AD not far away from Cocked Hat Cottages at the highest part of the hill was found a baked cinerary urn containing human bones, a small cup and a damaged bronze knife. They were not covered by a mound, and they lay from six to eight inches below the natural surface of the ground. The record says, “The remains lay within two feet of an old lane called Tinker Lane or Cocked hat Lane leading at right angles from the top of the village Street at Crookes and pointing towards the Rivelin valley.” The position of this burial site at the side of the road is worthy of note. In Sweden and Denmark, according to Vigfusson. monumental stones called “bautasteinar” (road-side monuments) These used to be placed along the high road, like sepulchral monuments of old Rome. Amongst the Romans, says Becker in his “Gallus”, “whoever could afford it selected a spot outside the city in the most frequented situation, as on the high-ways, and here a family sepulchre was erected.” Tinker Lane is an old highway and the urn is in Western Park Museum, it can be compared with many other urns of the same kind discovered in Derbyshire.(possibly welsh/celtic in origin)


The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent February 1876

The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent May 1887

Crookes A History of a Sheffield Village - 1982


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