Friday 27 May 2022

Images of the Sheffield Flood - March 1864

I have never written about the Sheffield  Flood of March 1864 on the grounds that the tragedy was well covered both in print and on-line and there was nothing really I could add to the narrative. Two of my wife's ancestors had their businesses and property damaged and made successful claims but so did many others.

However quite a few years ago a neighbour gave me the following photocards of the disaster. He had had them in his possession for some years and seemed to believe that they were taken initially from lantern slides taken at the time of the disaster.  

Images of the Sheffield Flood - March 1864

Sheffield Whitsuntide Fair - May 1869

This is a report from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 19th May 1869 and refers to the annual Sheffield Whitsuntide Fair that was held 153 years ago this week

Sadly the print and image quality is poor and so this is a transcription of the report - apologies for any errors. The other amusing part of the report is the jaded recollections of the reporter who was sent to view the affair. Apart from the Queens Menagerie from Wombwell he was not at all impressed by the event!


The Sheffield Whitsuntide fair of 1869 is precisely similar to that of last year, and to those of twenty years previous. There are same novelties to attract not only the attention of youth but even children of larger growth. There is food for the body and food for the mind. You "simply pay your money and take your choice." 

Should you feel hungry and wish to dine economically score of portly purveyors are at your service, and having replenished the inner man the vulgarities of the " noble art of self defence" claim your patronage. In their saloon, for the trifling charge one penny, the human face divine can be beaten to a pulp with the gratifying knowledge that it has been accomplished by the renowned Ben Caunt, —the world famed Molyneaux, or the ever-to-be remembered rival of Tom Sayers. 

Next you have the Hottentot Venus, a peculiar specimen of humanity weighing sixty stones, more or less, who might have been considered " a beauty had not itinerant showmen recently introduced to the British public the French Giantess whose colossal dimensions we should be afraid to describe. 

Tbe man who rejoices in the possession of three legs and thirty toes should not be permitted to pass his days in solitude. So his keepers are of opinion, and during the time he is " on view " may be safely computed that it is £2 per hour to their advantage. 

But the most attractive feature in the whole fair is the Queen's Menagerie, Wombwells Royal No 1. This noble collection has been several times exhibited in Sheffield, and on each occasion has received well-deserve patronage. is one of the largest in Europe, and comprises lions from South Africa and Barbary, tigers from the haunts of India, leopards from the Cape, the ocelot from Chile and Mexico, tibetan sun bear and the polar bear, the Tasmanian devil from Van Dieinan's Land, wolves from Egypt and Lapland, elephants from the southern part of India, and host of other wild and tame animate and birds, which to the student of natural history as well as to the public at large, must prove interesting and instructive. 

The quantity of provisions necessary for the animals in this establishment is very large. The carnivorous or flesh eating animals require about 2 cwt. of meat daily, and it composed generally of bullock's shins, hearts, and heads; lion requires about 121bs. of solid flesh; tiger about the same, a leopard 51bs.; bears are fed almost exclusively on bread and sop; monkeys on rice, bread, sop, and fruits; and the herbivorous animals are fed much the same as horses. As a proof of the excellence of the menagerie it may be stated that it has been patronised by Royalty on four separate occasions. 

There are other attractions "too numerous to mention," all of which, no doubt, will have sight-seers galore. The horse fair was not nearly so well attended as previous years, nor were the animals offered for sale much value. They were mostly cart horses, but the demand was very limited. The cheese fair was an equal failure. There was not one fifth of the usual quantity exhibited, and of little not more than half was sold. Cheshire thicks realised from 80s. to 95s and Derby cheeses from 80s. to 90s.

The Death of William Blackshaw, Sheffield Union Workhouse December 1882

 In Sheffield's City Road Cemetery there is a public grave (Grave Number 11933, Section X) that houses 14 bodies. Most of them died at their own addresses in Sheffield but all were so poor they could not afford to pay for a grave. One of the persons in the grave is William Blackshaw and this is his burial record

Blackshaw, William (Cutler, age 40). Died at Union Workhouse; Buried on December 13, 1882 in Consecrated ground;  Grave Number 11933, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

He died in The Sheffield Union Workhouse but the manner of his death caused a great deal of consternation at the subsequent inquest.

This is the report from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated December 19th 1882. As a footnote opium tincture or laudanum was widely used in the 19th century as a pain killer or sleeping aid; it was highly addictive, leading to many of its users forming a drug addiction.

 Nurse Thompson was censured for her neglect which was self evident from the report but for the Coroner to threaten her with a charge of manslaughter was a over the top but he obviously thought it was warranted