Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Removal of Dust From Our Houses - The Plight of Dr Lennox Browne Portland Place London - January 1890

I came across this newspaper report the other week. It is from Lloyds Weekly News - London edition and is dated 19th January 1890. It concerns my great great grandfathers business Thomas Hobbs & Co who were based in North Wharf Road Padding ton London. They were "contractors to the council". I should add that the term "dust" used in this article is an euphemism for another four letter word ending in "t"

Dr Lennox Browne was clearly vexed that "dust" had not been collected from his premises for over 5 weeks. I am unsure how many people lived in the house but if it included servants it could be quite a few. And as we all know "dust" piles up. Thomas Hobbs' mitigation was that he and a "great number of his men" were suffering from influenza" and there was " great difficulty in supplying their places". Whilst influenza can be a debilitatating condition I think that is highly unlikely that the men would have been laid up for over five weeks. And I'm sure that as there was no social insurance, the men would want to return to work as soon as they could. And whilst I can imagine that collecting "dust" is not the most sought after occupation I am sure that they could have found some persons who would have undertaken the task.

But at least Dr Lennox Browne had some luck - it was the middle of winter and not the height of summer. It could have been a lot worse! 

Tuesday 29 March 2016

The Death of Eliza Ann Boldock - Friday 21st May 1897

I've just posted an article on the death of Eliza Ann Boldock  She died on the day that Queen Victoria made her one and only visit to Sheffield. She was just 11 years of age and the eldest child of Abner and Emma Boldock

Of course Eliza did not receive her medal 

Monday 21 March 2016

William Sterndale Bennett - A Sheffielder in Westminster Abbey

Adjacent to the article on the Roman Catholic Chapel in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery in the Sheffield Telegraph (17th March 2016) was one on William Sterndale Bennett.

His life and works are summarised in the article as is his musical legacy. But what is not mentioned in the article is the fact that he is the only person who was born in Sheffield who is buried in Westminster Abbey. In fact I am pretty sure that he is the only person with a "Sheffield connection" who is buried there.

I also did not know that he was honoured in Sheffield with a plaque on the wall of the Sheffield Novotel! I am not sure if that was a good idea

Roman Catholic Mortuary Chapel at City Road Cemetery, Sheffield

In August 2011 I posted this blog to the site concerning the Roman Catholic Mortuary Chapel at City Road Cemetery, Sheffield

I concluded the post by stating

"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?"

I was rather surprised when I came across this cutting in The Sheffield Telegraph dated Thursday 17th March 2016

I raised my concerns in my blog five years ago and it is self evident that nothing has happened in the interim. The chapel has been in a state of disrepair and dereliction for many years but it took "a member of the public" to raise to matter with Sheffield Council. The Council don't seem to be proactive on this matter! 

However if you read the article closely it appears that the Council's £100,000 fund is just for "essential repairs" to a number of buildings - the chapel is just one amongst many buildings that the Council have left to rot over the years.

You can almost hear the dragging of "coucil bosses" feet over the repairs to the chapel. And it should be noted that there is no memtion at all in the article of renovation.

If the Council can't or won't renovate the building, why don't they sell it to some third party who will? I await "the bosses" decision with interest  


Sunday 20 March 2016

Death on the Chapeltown & Thorncliffe Railway (Sheffield) 1939 - 1945

In March 2016 I received this mail -

"I submitted a post to the Sheffield Forum and a member told me that I should drop you a line with regards to my posted topic that I need help with. Please have a read over my post below and kindly inform me if you would be able to help with this research enquiry.

I am currently researching for a 'pilot' television programme and have been drawn to the fact that during the WW2 era in Sheffield, there was an accident that occurred between the old Chapeltown & Thorncliffe Railway (aka 'Chapeltown Central Railway') on White Lane in Chapeltown and the former Tank Factory on Warren Lane in Chapeltown which belonged to Newton, Chambers & Co.

As far as I am able to find out so far, two or more servicemen were killed in a bomb blast whilst on a train heading to the old Tank Factory, as well as a third person who was killed on the actual platform itself.

The incident would probably have been reported locally between the years 1939 and 1945 that the old Tank Factory was in existence.

I have made contact with the present owners of the now disused railway station and they have been extremely helpful in working with me to recreate this particular time period, but the only two parts of my research that I am yet to find out now are as follows;
The names / ranks / numbers of the servicemen who were killed, i.e. their identities.
The locomotive (and driver?) involved in that specific incident.
If there is anyone out there who knows anything about what went on during this incident, knows anyone else who would be able to provide some help with this, please be assured that you will receive full credit on the broadcast programme for your participation."

A very interesting mail  and so I had a check on the digital newspaper archives for the Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail via the University for the period 1939 - 1945 and found nothing at all. I realise that they may have been wartime restrictions and censorship but I expected at least the proverbial glimmer

I aso checked the CWGC site for service casualities who were buried in the local cemetery (Burncross/Ecclesfield) They were 4 WW2 casualities interred there but none fitted the bill.

I currectly have access to Find My Past and its excellent British Newspaper Digital Archive. I tried to find any relevant cuttings there but yet again there was nothing at all. Again a surprising outcome

I then tried this site which has helped me in the past and is quite comprehensive with regard to railway accidents
and also

but nothing again re the accident.

I replied to te reseacher

"that the only way forward in Sheffield is a trip to the Local Studies Library and a manual trawl through the local press(on microfiche). A very daunting prospect indeed due the the fact that no date is  given. I believe that the tank factory was involved in the production of Churchill tanks and that tank model did not come on stream until 1941. And so it may be better starting at 1945 and working backwards. Of course if the accident was censored (and I fear that this may be the case) it would not appear in any newspaper/newsreel.

I will put the information you supplied on my blog and ask for info if that is OK with you. If I get any response I will let you know. If you do get anywhere can you let me know - it looks a very interesting story"

He replied

Many thanks for your further kind assistance.

This is an extremely intriguing piece of research and one that I am determined to get to the bottom of.

I've heard that the servicemen who were killed in that bomb blast at the old Chapeltown railway still remain and haunt the area in a spiritual form, if you believe in that kind of thing, that their souls are trapped here.

With the amount of information seemingly non-reported or indeed 'covered up', as the case may be, it makes me ask myself why and what is so secret about all of this.

Please let me know if you happen to come across anything further that may help further this research."

And so of anyone reading this has any suggestions or better still information please let me know