Thursday 31 December 2015

View From A Hill - 31st December 2015

This blog is the 50th I've posted in 2015 which is a lot less than in 2014. There a couple of reasons for this, but hopefully I may be able to to do a bit better next year. 

And so to sign off for 2015, a couple of images are published. The first one really amused my wife - I wonder why?

And the second is from a old copy of Viz 

And so all that remains is to wish my readers a Very Happy New Year!  

Friday 18 December 2015

Commodore J. Stuart Blackton's Sheffield Connection

This report appeared in the Telegraph and Independent dated 6th September 1939

I must admit that I did not now that J.Stuart Blackton was "one of the greatest figures in the motion picture industry" but a check revealed a plethora of articles relating to his life and career. A couple of them are linked here Denis Gifford  and Vitagraph.

I wanted to know a bit about the Sheffield connection, and all I knew was that he emigrated to the USA from Sheffield in 1886 when he was about 11 years of age. But I found out the main reason why he went to the US lay in the callous and cruel nature of his father towards his mother, the rogue Henry Blacktin 

At the time the case caused a local sensation and was reported in detail in the local press. The article is called The Dark Heart of Henry Blacktin  - Sheffield 1875 

Smallpox and Police Court Humour - Derbyshire 8th March 1924

I came across these two articles in the Derbyshire Times dated 8th March 1924. They were adjacent to each other in the column but offer two very different perspectives to life in 1920's Derbyshire.

Monday 7 December 2015

Thomas Hobbs Paddington London 1st April 1875

One of the curiousities of Family History research is that you never know what you will discover. On many occasions it will be a pleasant surprise but there are times when it brings you up short.

This report is from The Morning Post dated 1st April 1875 and refers to a court case in Westminster (London) - it is not was the family's greatest moments

Thomas Hobbs is supposed to be my great great grandfather but research has shown that this may not be the case. What we can say is that Thomas Hobbs was the person who brought my great grandfather James Hobbs up and employed him as a foreman in the Hobbs family business. The business was based in North Wharf Road Paddington London and by the mid-1870's was a sizable enterprise.

As you may have gathered.dust was a euphemism for a product that certainly was not dust. The "dust" the company collected from the streets of London was put on barges in Paddington Basin where it was shipped down river to Middlesex and put on "the fields to enrich the soil"

Of course this state of affairs could not last forever. But Thomas failed to heed the march of the internal combustion engine and by the early years of the twentieth century the business ceased to exist as a going concern. The fewer horses on the street, the less was the need for a "dust" contractor, simple as that. Thomas died in 1907 but left nothing in his will to my great grandfather James. 

Our side of the family entered into a era of  "reduced circumstances" which now seems entrenched - I think we are always waiting for the much vaunted "jam tomorrow" so beloved by successive UK governments.      

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Crookesmoor Vestry Hall - 80 Crookesmoor Road Sheffield

I passed Crookesmoor Vestry Hall yesterday and saw evidence that someone was actually on the premises

For those who are not familiar with the building, it is Grade 2 building that has been allowed to deteriorate over the years by various parties. From my understanding, property developers bought the building with the intention of converting it into student accommodation, but their planning application was rejected by Sheffield City Council. And it seems that the developers just left the building to fall into a chronic state of disrepair, no doubt in the hope that it would become a dangerous structure.

I took this photograph in 2010 of the Vestry Hall, and I can assure you that this marvelous building has markedly deteriorated since then.   

Various persons in subsequent years have attempted to force the issue but a successful conclusion has proved elusive. This is from the old Liberal Democrats magazine Focus who proposed "Action on Empty Buildings" in the Crookesmoor and Upperthorpe districts. Sadly their attempts to promote the building came to naught (rather like their 2015 General Election campaign) 

I hope this new activity that I witnessed is a precursor to renovating this rather pleasant building. Time will tell!


Saturday 14 November 2015

Arthur James Walkden 1896 - 1948

I've just posted an article to the site regarding the life and death of Arthur James Walkden. Arthur had an "interesting" life for want of a better phrase but it ended on Monday 6th December 1948 at Sheffield's Nunnery Colliery. I am trying at the moment to find out the circumstances surrounding his death but it is proving to be difficult

Nunnery Colliery also appears on the site in a different guise. I posted an article many years ago on a tragedy that occurred on 3rd December 1923 at the colliery when seven men lost their lives

Friday 23 October 2015

The Walkley Bells - St Marys Church South Road Sheffield

This cutting is dated 15th May 1900.

South Road Walkley Sheffield 1940

But until I read the following article I had no idea that the bells had been damaged in the second world war and had not been rung for over 60years

Sunday 11 October 2015

The Plaque of Thomas Boulsover - May 1984

Thomas Boulsover was a eighteenth century cutler and the inventor of Sheffield Plate. There is quite a bit of information on Thomas and his activities both in print and on-line and so he does not feature as an article on my website. There is a brief reference to him in an article I posted a few years ago on St Paul's Church in Sheffield. Thomas and his wife were buried there but their grave has long disappeared together with the church


His home and works have also disappeared but in May 1984 a plaque was erected at near Wire Mill Dam. Here is a cutting from The Morning Telegraph dated 25th May 1984 describing the unveiling on the plaque


Child's Body Found in an Ashpit - Woodgrove Lane, Sheffield - 28th February 1901

I came across this cutting in The Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 28th February 1901. The report shields the reader from the full horror of what occurred. The young child was found at two o'clock in the morning by Henry Hudson whilst emptying an ashpit. An ashpit is a euphemism for a cesspit and the Hudsons were employed to take away "night-soil." and other human waste. The child was basically dumped in a toilet, and left for the rats!

The scene is really the subject of nightmares and yet this occurred in twentieth-century Sheffield.    

Woodgrove Lane was off Penistone Road and was demolished many years ago. 

Wednesday 23 September 2015

The Last of 631 Fatalities - Sheffield 20th October 1941

Just posted an article on the last two victims to be killed in Sheffield as a result of enemy action in World War 2. Enemy action is not quite correct inasmuch as there were no recorded Luftwaffe attacks in the Sheffield area that Monday evening. And they actually died from an anti-aircraft shell that fell in Clarkhouse Road Sheffield. The report in the Telegraph and Independent dated Wednesday 22nd October 1941 stated that it "fell" but a smaller report in The Lincolnshire Echo states that it "exploded" in the road.

.The young son that George was returning home to see was to become a noted poet and novelist.


Tuesday 22 September 2015

Aunty May's Tree - Wisewood Cemetery, Sheffield

Our dear Aunty May lived to be 80 years of age but sadly died on 29th January 2003 at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield from complications following a cerebral infarction. She was buried on Monday 10th February 2003 at Wisewood Cemetery Sheffield, the same resting place as her parents. May was the first member of the family to have a woodland burial.

Aunty May is on the left in the green jacket 

To mark May's last resting place we planted a silver birch sapling. (2004) which is directly behind the staked tree. This photo was taken in March 2010

 Astounded when we visited the same place on Thursday, 4th June 2015. The tree was tremendous and the setting marvelous. I think Aunt May would have be pleased!  

Sunday 20 September 2015

Doris Laura Hill (1927 - 1929)

I've just posted an article on the site which probably is the most tragic article I've posted - as I said in the article "every parents worst nightmare"

From The Yorkshire Post dated 9th October 1929 - I left the following paragraph attached - the other young girl had a much more eventful life.! 

A Vanished Dale Village Castle Hill Middleton Dale Derbyshire

This cutting is from the Telegraph and Independent dated 14th October 1942

 This report was adjacent to one that recorded a Luftwaffe attack on Ellesmere Road Pitsmoor Sheffield that was to lead to eight fatalities.

One of those fatalities Mr Horace Middleton who was badly injured in the blast died from his injuries seven days later - as far as I'm aware he was the last person to be killed by a German bomb in Sheffield during the Second World War   

Wednesday 9 September 2015

The trials of William Herbert Wallace - Liverpool 1931

The trial of William Herbert Wallace for the murder of his wife Julia in 1931is one of the most notable British trials of the twentieth century. For those readers who are not familiar with the case, there is an excellent account albeit lengthy on this blog.

Over the years I have read a number of books and articles on the murder and its aftermath, but to date I have not reached any definitive solution to the events that occurred that January night in Wolverton Street, Liverpool

But I always keep my eye out so to speak for any additional information and so I was surprised by the following two newspaper articles

The first is an account of Julia's funeral at Anfield Cemetery (Liverpool) on Saturday 24th January 1931

Yorkshire Post 26th January 1931

There were only four mourners at the funeral one of which was her husband William Herbert Wallace. There were no women present. Strange and rather sad

The second cutting is from The Evening Telegraph dated 28th April 1931

 And this is bordering on the macabre - "scores of people made applications to rent Wallace's house at 29 Wolverton Street Richmond Park Liverpool where the murder was committed." Strange and very sad



Robert Dunbar's taxi-drive - Sunday 3rd September 1939

I have just posted another cutting from the Yorkshire Post dated 4th September 1939 which carries a report of a taxi-drive Robert Dunbar took the previous morning.(Sunday 3rd September 1939)

Robert was a former pupil of Hunters Bar school in Sheffield

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Herbert Fretwell 1882 - 1941 One of the Best

Just posted an article on Herbert Fretwell who was killed in an accident at work in July 1941

This is from the Telegraph and Independent dated Thursday 10th July 1941. Herbert was killed three days earlier

But to date I have found no record of his time spent with Doncaster Rovers

Monday 3 August 2015

The Meersbrook Sheffield

I was considering reseaching an article on The Meersbrook based on this article in The Sheffield Star dated Thursday 10th February 1957

Wkipedia gives a brief description of the significance of the Brook
"The Meers Brook is a stream in Sheffield, England and one of the main tributaries of the River Sheaf. The 
Meers Brook originates in Gleadless and flows downhill through Gleadless Valley and Meersbrook then, 
tunnelled, continues underneath Meersbrook to pour into the River Sheaf near Saxon Road and Clyde Road in Lowfield.

Historically the stream formed a boundary between the ancient kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, later 
and up until the mid 20th century the stream formed the boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire".

But there is far greater detail on this excellent blog that details the Brook's history in particular and Sheffield's heritage in general. So much so that I have decided to abort any further research into its fascinating history 

A Bygone Era - Wigan Lancashire January 1957

This report is from the Sheffield Star dated January 1957. Different world!!

The Death of David Ingle (Darnall,Sheffield) - September 1962

In June this year I received this mail from a person who had read the site

I am wondering if you could possibly help me, please? I have been told by my dad that his cousin was attacked at a fairground in 1962, most probably in Sheffield. He was aged just 24, and he died of a head injury sustained during the attack, but his attacker was never caught. I don't have a death certificate for him, but I know his name was David Ingle.

I responded and said that I would try and help.The first place I checked was Free BMD and found
the following entries for David
Deaths Sep 1962  INGLE David 24 Sheffield 2d 62

Births Mar 1938  INGLE David Boldock Sheffield 9c 583

This information narrowed the time of death to roughly May - September 1962. The local archives have copies on microfiche of the local newspapers but these are not indexed. This of course means that in the absence of an exact date of death you would have to search through approx 4 months of newspapers

I went to the local studies library on Thursday 25th June and went through 4 months editions of the Sheffield Telegraph for the period June to September 1962 but could not find any record of David and his death. That does not mean that there wass no report - it just means that I could not locate it..

I used the Sheffield Telegraph as it is more a paper of record as opposed to the Sheffield Star.

So after my visit I received this information -

The death certificate for David has now arrived, and the causes of death are shown as Intraventricular
Haemorrhage and Ruptured Congenital Aneurysm.
The date of death was 2nd Sept 1962 and David's address was 40 Swale Road, Sheffield, which I believe was in Darnall. David was a waterworks labourer.
His father is shown as Arthur F.Ingle, of 74 Rudyard Road.

On the basis of the certificate I ruled out murder/manslaughter but there may be have been an assault that led to David's death. Now that I had a precise date of death I returned to the Local Studies Library

Attached is the entry from The Sheffield Star dated 4th September 1962 - Births Marriages Deaths

The family notice states that he died in hospital after a short illness.I did check the 3 weeks preceding his death but could find no mention of an assault

I think that this entry cleared the mystery up - he may have been assaulted prior to his death but it had nothing at all to do with his actual death, at least officially. He died in hospital after a short illness

My take on the family lore mentioned in the initial mail would be "David never got over that fight he had that day at the fairground - never the same again et al " but that is just pure conjectureon on my part.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Buried Alive - Cpl George Webber - France 1918

Everyone's worst nightmare - buried alive and eaten by rats.

This article is from The Daily Telegraph dated 22nd October 2000

There is a rather pedantic discussion about what cap-badge George was wearing at the time he was being bayoneted and buried alive on the excellent Great War Forum. But apart from that there is very little information about George.

The irony is that George was eventually killed by a prescription asthma spray in 1949.It looks as though his asthma was caused by the inhalation of mustard gas that destroyed parts of his lower lung. They got him in the end!

A remarkable man to say the least 

Alan Lowndes and Bill Brandt - Sheffield

I've just posted an article to the site on the artist Alan Lowndes (1921 - 1978)

In one of the articles there is a reference to the auction of a photograph from Sheffield 1937. The auction took place in November 2006

The black and white photograph that was auctioned was by the noted photographer Bill Brandt. In 1937 Bill visited Sheffield and took some of the most iconic photos of the inter-war period. But no-one knows who the toddlers where and where the photographs were taken.

The children must have been relatively well off - at least they had shoes!!

The Sheffield Star dated Tuesday 7 November 2006 carried this report

Mystery toddler stars in auction

ONE of the most valuable photographs ever taken in Sheffield is expected to fetch up to £2,000 when it is auctioned next week.

The 10x8 inch black and white photograph, simply titled 'Sheffield', was taken in 1937 and is valuable because it is by one of Britain's greatest photographers, Bill Brandt.

It shows a toddler in a Sheffield back yard, with clothes on a washing line in the background.

The only mystery is the identity of the toddler, who would now be in her 70s, but who was never named.

Bill Brandt's photographs are now much sought-after and sometimes sell for extraordinary sums. One of his views of London, taken in 1952, was sold at Christie's in Paris last year for a staggering 53,608,a new world record for a Brandt photograph. The Sheffield picture will be auctioned at Sotheby's in London on November 14.

Brandt's fans include the Yorkshire-born artist, David Hockney, who says: "Bill Brandt made pictures of the north of England around the time I was born.

"They are carefully composed and seem to me very real. I say he made pictures, rather than took them, because he regarded the image as the important thing, rather than the purity of execution.

"His techniques understands the power of images. It's that, for me, that gives them their strength in a time when a photograph as documentary evidence is fading fast. They survive and enter the memory because they were constructed by an artist."

In their book, 'Brandt: The Photography of Bill Brandt', authors Bill Jay and Nigel Warburton say: "During the 1930s and 1940s, Brandt was at the centre of the thriving photo-journalistic industry, doing a series of important stories for photographic magazines such as Liliput and Picture Post.

Sunday 5 July 2015

473 - 481 Crookesmoor Road, Sheffield

In November 2014 I received this e-mail from someone who is seeking information on the following

"I have just been on your excellent website. Regarding the Crookes area I was wondering if you have any photos of the buildings next to the Unity church on Crookesmoor Road when the shops were there.My grandfather & father owned a shop there after the war up until 1968.I would be grateful if you have anything as I have been searching for many years"

The only photo I can find is on Picture Sheffield which was taken on 17th November 1966 from a vantage point high up Conduit Lane


The buildings in question are 473 - 481 Crookesmoor Road, Sheffield. None of the buildings are shops now - they all seem to be multiple-lets

Photographs taken 18th June 2015

If any reader can supple me with any additional information about this row of properties especially photographs, please contact me. 

The Last VC in Crookes (Sheffield) - July 1962

Quite a few years ago I posted as series of articles on people that had been awarded the Victoria Cross and also had "a Sheffield connection"

One of the seven listed was James Welch VC who was awarded his Victoria Cross for his actions on the Western Front in April1917.

I have added additional material to James's article in the interim but whilst I was in the Sheffield Local Studies Library the week before last I came across his name in the Sheffield Telegraph dated Tuesday 17th July 1962. James (74) who was described as "Sheffield's only living VC" had been invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and then a banquet at the Mansion House in London. Attending these events would be over 200 holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.

But rather sadly the next day's edition of the Sheffield Telegraph carried a rather sad report that George was not able to attended the events due to continuing ill-health.

The report mentioned that James lived at Western Road, Crookes. A look at the Kelly's Directory for 1962 gave the entry "188 Western Road - Jas Welch"

I passed the house today "Sunday 5th July 2015" and from my observations the house is a buy-to-let/ student property, and of course there is no mention that this was the home of Sheffield's last living Victoria Cross holder

Monday 22 June 2015

Edgar Lidster 1885 - 1915

I've just posted an article to the site on Edgar. He was killed in France in September 1915, leaving a wife Emma and three young children. Edgar has no known grave and is remembered on the Loos Memorial

He is also remembered on this grave in Sheffield's Intake Cemetery where his widow Emma is buried.

In 1901 Edgar was living with his parents Joseph and Jane at 28 Stanhope Road, Intake,Sheffield a road I know well. It appears as my address on our marriage certificate

Joe Cocker Lydgate Lane School Sheffield July 2005

From the Sheffield Telegraph dated 14th July 2005

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Every Picture Tells A Story - Agnes Bland's Kidneys Sheffield 1907

This advertisement is from the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 26th February 1907. It refers to the problems Agnes Bland was having with her kidneys, and the measures she took to lessen her troubles. I believe that Agnes was my gran's Aunt. And of course she was a cousin to George Sanby who also had troubles with his kidneys (see previous post)

 According to the "Sheffield Evidence," Agnes troubles arouse from her working conditions and progressively got worse. But Doan's Pills came to her rescue.

Of course the mystery is why both George and Agnes feature in the advertisements seven years apart. And did they get remuneration for their testimonials?

Saturday 13 June 2015

Every Picture Tells A Story - George Sanby's Kidneys Sheffield 1914

This advertisement is from the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 26th March 1914. It refers to the problems George Sanby was having with his kidneys, and the measures he took to lessen his troubles. I believe that George was the cousin of my great grandfather Edwin Sanby.

Midland Road Heeley Sheffield no longer exists. And as a side note George lived to be 66 years old before he passed away in 1947  

Thursday 28 May 2015

Alan Woodward 1946 - 2015

Very sad to hear about the death of Alan Woodward whilst I was on holiday. But what was really strange was that when I returned I started sorting some of my old Blades programmes. The first one I picked up was United against Watford, a Division One game that took place on Saturday, 13th January 2001. And in this programme was the following article on Alan

To much of a co-incidence. And the game against Preston NE that Alan saw when he was back in Sheffield ended up in a 3-2 victory for the Blades 

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Barber Nook Crookesmoor Sheffield

From the Sheffield Telegraph dated 1st June 2007

It appears it must be one if not the oldest houses in the district dating back to 1732.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Pte Hugh Dronfield - 1st Grenadier Guards

The following is from The Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 8th November 1915

The recipient of the wound Hugh Dronfield lived in the house next to ours one hundred years ago. He did recover from the wounds he received and returned to the Western Front. Less than a year later the same photograph appeared in the local newspaper (14th October 1916) - Hugh had been wounded for a second time!

He must have recovered from these wounds and was sent back yet again to the Front.  His medal card details read Grenadier Guards Regiment No. 17958, Private, Royal Engineers WR/273095,Royal Engineers 276042 both Sapper.It gives his medal details RE/102 B36 Page 4002 (twice) and Star (15) RE159 page 197. He entered France on 16.3.1915.

It is believed that Hugh transferred to the RE in mid 1916 - first to the Waterways/ Railways section of the RE and then to the Light Railways section shortly afterwards which may account for the two RE numbers less than three thousand apart. It was, however, definitely before February 1917.

Hugh was born in Sheffield on 9.February.1892. He was home on furlough on 18.8.1918 when he got married.

A basic outline of the Guards Division can be found here:

1911 Census

First name(s)     Hugh
Last name     Dronfield
Relationship to household head     Son
Marital condition     Single Gender     Male
Age     19  Birth year     1892
Birth place     Yorkshire Sheffield
Occupation     Shaping And Planning Machine Hand
Address     103 School Road Sheffield
Parish     Ecclesall County     Yorkshire, Yorkshire (West Riding) Country     England
Registration district     Bierlow
Registration district number     509
Subdistrict     Ecclesall West Central Subdistrict number     2
Enumeration district     17 Piece number     27737 Piece Number Suffix     -
Schedule number     200 Schedule Suffix     -
Census reference     RG14PN27737 RG78PN1588 RD509 SD2 ED17 SN200
Record set     1911 Census for England & Wales
Category     Census, land & surveys
Subcategory     Census
Collections from     Great Britain

His next door nieghbour in Spring Hill Billie Thomas did not return from the war. He was killed on 7thOctober 1916 and is honoured on the Thiepval Memorial

Charnwood Hotel Sharrow Sheffield

I remember going to a couple of wedding receptions in the Hotel quite a few years back but did not know that the building and adjoining coach house had listed building status

And it is now over ten years since the hotel closed down. The following is from The Sheffield Telegraph dated 9th December 2004

Friday 8 May 2015

A Refusal to Obey Orders - Sheffield December 1916

It has been a rough week on the Hill. On Wednesday it was the funeral of my dear mother in law Mary who sadly passed away on 23rd April 2015 at the age of 87. Mary was the last of the Simpson family to die and so her passing represents the end of an era. We will miss her.

And then yesterday the Hill witnessed another dreadful second half display by the Blades in the League One Play-Offs. And then to cap it all the Party of the Toffs, despite all predictions, are set to govern my life for the next five years.

And then when you think things could not get worse I find out that my Great Uncle Albert was prosecuted for failing to do his duty in World War 1

The following is from the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 14th December 1916

He was brought in front of Sir William Clegg in the Sheffield Munitions Court for refusing to obey orders. Refusing to obey orders however unreasonable was deemed to be a dereliction of duty to one's country.

Sir William obviously took a dim view of the workers conduct and fined them the equivalent of £185 in today's money which seems rather punitive to say the least. But on the plus side at least Albert was not in France serving in the British Army. If he had refused orders there he would have in all probability been court-martialed and then executed

This has not been the best week in my life! 


Thursday 2 April 2015

The Final Edition of the Sheffield Green'Un - 20th July 2013

I was clearing out some old newspapers today and came across this article about the final print edition of the Sheffield Green 'Un

I came as a surprise as I did not know that it had ceased publication as a print edition. 106 years is a fine achievement but given the changes that have occurred in the way that people access news, I guess closure of the newspaper was inevitable. In fact when I checked to see if it had actually closed, I was informed that the Sheffield Green 'Un was one of the last Saturday sports papers in existence.

I am  also unaware of the new on-line digital edition. I find the websites associated with Johnson Press to be rather cluttered for want of a better phrase, and I very much doubt that they will carry as many reports of local sports as the old print edition did. Time to find out!

Good Friday in Sheffield - 20th April 1889

As Good Friday approaches, here is a report of what happened in Sheffield 126 years ago. It is from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent


Wednesday 25 March 2015

Herbert William Thomas died 7th October 1916

A few years ago I posted an article to the site about Herbert William Thomas who lived in our house along with his parents John and Gertrude and older sisters Ellen and Marion one hundred years ago. I also wrote about the terrible fate that awaited Herbert

Last week I found this small notice that was placed in the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 19th October 1916. 

The only and dearly loved son of John and Gertrude was known as Billie. Billie has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial - Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 11 C and 12 A. 

Monday 23 March 2015

The Bell Hagg Crosspool Sheffield

The following cutting is from the Sheffield Telegraph and dates back to the early 1980's
 and it explains the rather unusual origins of the building. It ceased to be a public house in 2005 and was derelict for a number of years. It was eventually purchased from the receivers by a private buyer and is in the process of being converted into a private residence.