Wednesday 23 March 2022

Shiregreen Cemetery Sheffield - March 2022

It has been widely reported in the media that Shiregreen Cemetery now has the largest headstone in the United Kingdom and has attracted world wide interest. It is the grave of Willy Collins and was erected by the family and many friends of the deceased.

It used over 37 tons of Italian marble and is reputed to have cost in excess of £200,000. 

When I first read the story I was amazed and bewildered. The cemetery is owned and administered by Sheffield City Council who have traditionally imposed strict guidelines on what is and what is not allowed in the 16 municipal cemeteries they control. In fact one of the first blogs I posted was in relation to the Wooden Crosses of Burngreave Cemetery 1930 which even today still leaves an unsavoury taste in the mouth. And since then there has been a constant stream of stories of Sheffield City Council imposing harsh and in many cases unnecessary regulation on the bereaved families.

Shiregreen Cemetery Sheffield

But all was revealed when Sheffield City Council announced that the family of Willy Collins had not approached them to ask for permission to erect such a grand memorial. The memorial contravened their regulations in every respect. At the time of writing Bereavement Services at the Council were looking into the matter and had summoned the relatives of the late Willy Collins for a meeting to discuss matters arising for want of a better term.

There is speculation in the press that thw whole memorial will have to be demolished and one erected that complies with the Council's stict rules. But that is just speculation.

The wider point is that Sheffield City Council claims to be ignorant of the erection of the memorial. It must have taken days if not weeks to erect such a grand memorial which seems to indicate that the Council do not know what is going on in their cemeteries. Bereavement Services proudly claim that they are responsible for Shiregreen Cemetery and so it is the Council who should ensure that their regulations are enforced. It appears not for the first time that the Council have been negligent in fullfilling their responsibilities to the people of Sheffield



The Crookesmoor Dam Mystery - Sheffield October 1899

I have just posted an article to the site titled The River Don Tragedy - October 1901 in which a two year old boy named Sydney Talbot was drowned near Hillfoot Bridge by his mother Susannah

At the subsequent inquest and criminal trial reference was made to the death of her brother EDWARD BISHOP two years earlier by drowning in Crookes Dam.

And so I decided to check the details out using the British Newspaper Archive

Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 01 November 1899


Yesterday afternoon the body of man was drawn from the Ralph Dam, Crookesmoor Rjad, Sheffield, It has not yet been identified, but the deceased was apparently between 40 and 50 years of age, and dressed a style indicating that he was of the part.of the labouring class. In the pocket of the man clothes was found a bill-head from F. Mills and Company. Hanover Works. 63, Division Street, and made out to E. Bishop. The body, which was much decomposed, was taken to the mortuary. 



At the City Mortuary to-day the City Coroner held an inquest upon the body of Edward Bishop, aged 31 table-blade cutter, of Burton Road. Sheffield whoso body was found in the Ralph Dam. Road. last Tuesday. The deceased, had been drinking heavily for some time, He left home on October 5th. and was not seen alive again. Potice-constable Tomllmson, of Broomhill Police, fouud 'the body floating in the Ralph Dam Crokesmoor Road last Tuesday, Judging from appearance it had been in the water for several weeks. The man was fully dressed. The wife said her husband had neglected his work on account of drinking

The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst temporarily insane, brought on by excessive drink"

The details given at the trial were not strictly correct. Edward Bishop was foung in Ralph Dam not Crookes Dam. The former was adjacent to Crookesmoor Road just up from the wonderfully named Misfortune Dam. And secondly The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst temporarily insane, brought on by excessive drink," which was also not mentioned in the trial. The reader was led to believe that the family had a history of mental health problems when in fact the narrative is rather different.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

The Despoiling of Walkley Garden Suburb by Sheffield Corporation - the destruction of "the worker's West End"

 This article appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Thursday 06 June 1912



Half a century ago Walkley was a place of gardens and fields, of trees and ferns, of hills and rocks; it was a place beautiful of situation. Its rows of unlovely cottages had not yet appeared, it had not been overrun by the despoiling jerry-builder. Few men know more of Walkley and its development than Mr. Charles Hobson, and he tells the interesting story in the latest issue of the Town Planning Review.” 

About the middle of last century effort was made by a number of social reformers in the district of Sheffield to help the artisan classes living near the works where they were employed, to migrate the suburbs for healthful and remunerative exercise and with the further object of their permanent residence there. Walkley was selected for this excellent scheme. The fields abutting on Upperthorpe, Langsett Road, and the old turnpike road. Lower Walkley, were the first be appropriated for the purpose. Others followed in quick succession until a dozen societies or more had been formed with about 3,000 holders. The land dealt with covered an area of about 292 acres. The plots varied from 300 to 1,200 yards and the price from Is. per square yard as a minimum to 2s. a maximum, plus the bonus for choice of plot—.ranging from £1 to £2—with cost of road making, management, legal and other charges, resulting usually in the plot becoming £60, and the £60 plot £l20. Scarcely had the plots been staked out before the owners were digging and delving, fencing building, in tho early morn and late at night, and soon the rough plots took the shape of beautiful gardens, and the little freeholder with his wife and family had been given a new inspiration in life. Soon detached houses were built on the plots, the hillside was studded with little villas, and Walkley became the workers’ West End. 

Drawbacks and Disaster. 

But there were drawbacks to come. Some of the land societies met with disaster, but the chief agent responsible for the ending of the land society system in the Sheffield district was the exorbitant demands made the Sheffield's Corporation for road dedication. Take five typical cases. 

A 600 yards plot cost £90, Corporation charge for road dedication £45; 

600 yards plot cost £70, corner plot, road dedication £126 ; 

600 yards plot £70, comer plot, dedication £126; 

600 yards plot with three houses, dedication £126; 

600 yards plot, with two houses, dedication £126. 

So exorbitant were these demands that quite a number of holders had tried to rid themselves of their plots. They were not able to meet the liability. One holder offered his plot to the Corporation free if he could be rid of his liability; another sold for £26 what had cost him £l00, another for what had paid for; another got £l2 for what had cost him £50. This put end to many of the dreams of these industrious freeholders in Walkley's garden suburb. Some by the aid of friends have been able to retain their little plots and the houses upon them, but others have ridded themselves of their holdings, while still others are yet struggling with their burdens regretting that they ever became freeholders in the workers’ West End. 

It is necessary, concmdes Mr. Hobson, for confidence to restored an assurance of security before workmen can again be induced to invest their savings in land development schemes, and this might done were the local authority agree to take over roads when first made upon conditions which were reasonable and fair, and it might not be too much expect that the Local Government Board might grant facilities for acquiring land for such purpose in view of its great influence for good upon the working unity.”

For more information about Victorian Land Society's in Walkley there is an excellent blog on the Walkley Historians site that explains the development of Walkley in the Victorian era

The last letter of James Hall - Leeds Prison 14th May 1881

The following is a cutting from the North East Courant newspaper dated 21st May 1881 and in it is a transcript of a letter that James Hall sent to his son Abraham.

There is an account of the murder in Judge David Bentley's book "The Sheffield Murders 1865 - 1965" but the following is a brief summary of the crime that is taken from the British Executions website

"May 23rd 1881: James HALL (53)


A Sheffield cutler who killed his licentious wife, Polly, by splitting her head in two with an axe. Shortly before midnight on 26 March 1881, Hall's daughter and her boyfriend walked home from the pub and found they were unable to gain entry into the house. Looking through the window, she saw her father standing over her mother holding a hatchet. After repeatedly knocking on the window, Hall eventually opened the door and as the young couple entered, Hall struck his daughter in the face with the weapon. Her boyfriend managed to overpower Hall, while a neighbour who had been attracted by the commotion, called the police. 

Once in custody, Hall confessed to the murder and explained his motive. He claimed that three years earlier he had come home from work unexpectedly and found his wife with another man. He later forgave her but warned that if she was ever unfaithful again he would kill her. At 11pm on the night of the crime. he came home from the pub sooner than usual and found his wife on the sofa with a neighbour. William Londe. Mrs Hall grappled with her husband while the man made his escape. Then. in a violent, drunken rage. Hall picked up a hatchet and attacked her. His daughter denied that her mother was an adultress, as did Londe. who claimed he was nowhere near the house on the night in question. Sentenced to death at Leeds Assizes and hanged by Marwood.


The Defacement of the late Thomas Youdan's Monument - General Cemetery Sheffield 25th August 1879

I was going to write an article on Thomas Youdan and his connection to Sheffield back in 2016 but I never completed my research into what was a very colourful life. But thankfully last year The Totley Local History Group posted an article on Thomas Youdan to their excellent website.

It is very well researched and really portrays the man and the tims he lived in. But after he died there was a family dispute over his last will and testament that culminated in his brother John Youdan defacing his late brothers memorial in Sheffield's General Cemetery.

As Mr Hoole, one of the magistrates presiding over the case, notes that the whole affair was outrageous and that he had never come across anything like it in his life and he hope he wouldn't again. 

He imposed a fine of £10.00 and if John Youdan defaulted he would be sent to prison for two months.

The burial record is from the Sheffield Records Online database

burial no: 6125

grave no: G 72

death date: 28 Nov 1876

burial date: 01 Dec 1876

name: Thomas Youdan

sex: Male

age: 60

cause of death:

description: Gentleman Farmer

residence: Flotmanby House, Ganton, Filey

minister: Robert Mitford Taylor

burial type: consecrated 

All Saints School Pitsmoor Sheffield

I have just received an email from a researcher who had recently found a photo of an infant class at the  school taken in 1900. One of the pupils was her uncle Tommy who was six at the time. He is fifth from the left on the back row

I searched the British Newspaper Archive but there was surprisingly little reported on All Saints School in Pitsmoor. But a full list of admissions (1872 - 1940) can be found on the excellent Sheffield Indexers site.

Her uncle went to serve in the Great War and she kindly sent me a photo of Tommy with his two favourite horses Charlie and Bonnie. It was taken in France but the date is unknown. Tommy did return from the war but sadly his older brother Jack was killed in action 

If any reader of this blog can add any further information on All Saints School Pitsmoor Sheffield please contact me and I will pass it on