Monday 3 June 2024

Christopher Thompson (1799-1871) - A Sheffield Artist

 Until I discovered this old cutting in Sheffield's Grapevine Magazine I had never heard of  Christopher Thompson but the painting his ancestor pointed to is certainly familiar to me and others who are interested in Sheffield's historical past.

Here are a few details of Christopher's life that I have located on Ancestry. The first two are from the 1851 and 1861 censuses and the last entry for Christopher's burial is from Sheffield records Online.

1851 Census

Name Christopher Thomson Age 51

Estimated Birth Year abt 1799 Relation Head

Spouse's Name Hannah Thomson

Gender Male 

Where born Hull, Yorkshire, England

Civil parish Sheffield Ecclesiastical parish St James Town Sheffield CountyYorkshire Country England

Registration district Sheffield Sub-registration district West Sheffield ED, institution, or vessel 08

Household schedule number 211 Piece 2338 Folio 242 Page number 55

Household Members (Name) Age Relationship

Christopher Thomson 51 Head

Hannah Thomson 57 Wife

Frederick Thomson 23 Son 

James Thomson 10 Son

Sarah Thomson 16 Daughter

Mary Thomson 13 Daughter

Maria Simpson 14 Visitor

Frederick First 19 Lodger

1861 Census

Name Christopher S Thompson

Gender Male Age 61

Relation Father-in-law

Estimated Birth Year 1799

Spouse's Name Hannah Thompson

Where born Hull, Yorkshire, England

Civil parish Sheffield Ecclesiastical parish Carver Street Town Sheffield County Yorkshire

Registration district Sheffield Sub-registration district West Sheffield ED, institution, or vessel 16

Household schedule number 88 Piece 3478 Folio 99 Page number 16

Household Members (Name) Age Relationship

Wilfred Thos Dewsnap 36 Head

Rosina Dewsnap 35 Wife

Charles H Dewsnap 3 Son

Christopher Ths Dewsnap 1 Son

Christopher S Thompson 61 Father-in-law

Hannah Thompson 60 Mother-in-law

Sarah Thompson 27 Sister-in-law

Mary Ann Thompson 23 Sister-in-law


BIRTH 1799

DEATH 20 Jan 1871 (aged 71–72)

BURIAL Sheffield General Cemetery Sheffield, Metropolitan Borough of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

PLOT H2 91 MEMORIAL ID 220624277 · 

Age: 72, Occupation: Artist, Last Residence: 92 Devonshire Street, 22 Jan 1871 is the interment date

Thomas DEWSNAP Razor Smith, Hollis Croft age: 71, buried: 13 Apr 1856

Thomas Christopher DEWSNAP Son of Wilfred Thomas Dewsnap, Caster, 81 Division Street

age: 1y 10m, buried: 21 Dec 1856

Christopher THOMPSON Artist, 92 Devonshire Street age: 72, buried: 22 Jan 1871

Thomas Jarvis THOMSON Painter, 36 Orchard Street age: 29, buried: 10 Oct 1851

Hannah THOMSON Widow, 92 Devonshire Street age: 71, buried: 3 Feb 1871

burial no: 1600 grave no: H2 91

death date: 01 Feb 1871

burial date: 03 Feb 1871

name: Hannah Thomson age: 71 description: Widow residence: 92 Devonshire Street

minister: George Sandford

burial type: consecrated

burial no: 1576

grave no: H2 91

death date: 20 Jan 1871

burial date: 22 Jan 1871

name: Christopher Thompson age: 72

description: Artist residence: 92 Devonshire Street

minister: George Sandford

burial type: consecrated

Sarah THOMSON Spinster, 109 Victoria Street age: 76, buried: 10 Aug 1910

His wife Hannah died less than 2 weeks after Christopher after a lifetime of being "wearied by poverty" 

The End of a Bowling Green Prince of Wales Ecclesall Road South Sheffield - July 1939

For those readers who are not familiar with the Prince of Wales it is situated on the corner Carternowle Road and Ecclesall Road South in the Ecclesall district of Sheffield.

I have avoided calling it a public house as it is in effect a restaurant that happens to sell drinks as a side line. Its main function is to sell food to its customers pure and simple.

It has no architectural significance as the premises have been renovated several times in the last thirty or so years. The original name was the Prince of Wales and was named after the future King Edward V11. But in the late C20th the Prince of Wales name was ditched and it became firstly The Woodstock and then more bizarrely The Baltimore Diner. Unusual names to say the least!

But for most of its existence it was a large public house serving the local community. And it appears that it was also a hotel

And on 11th July 1939 this report appeared in the local press 

According to the report it had one of the oldest bowling greens in Sheffield that must have been laid down in 1752.

The car park is still there and when I drove past it last month, the entrance to the car park had a pot hole that was certainly up there with Sheffield's best!

Thursday 23 May 2024

Kate Dover and the death of Thomas Skinner - The Times 17th December 1881


The above is from the Times dated 17th December 1881. I have had this cutting for a while and was going to post an article to the site. However I found that there was was an excellent article on Wikipedia that covered not only the poisoning of Thomas Skinner but the trial and the aftermath

It is a fascinating case and one that caused controversy at the time. It did nothing to quieten "the poisoning panic that agitated the inhabitants" of Sheffield 

Wednesday 13 March 2024

The Suicide of Lawrence Sanderson - Sheffield 1922

 The following press cutting appeared in the Gloucester Chronicle dated Saturday 4th November 1922

There is a distinct lack of Information in the cutting apart from the fact that the inquest took place in Sheffield on Wednesday 3rd November 1922 and that the father was called Charles Sanderson.

But the report in the People (6th November 1922) the following day certainly was an eye-opener. It appears that Lawrence has shot himself by the roadside and that the first thing the parents knew was when it was flashed up on a cinema screen at the cinema they were visiting.

It is unbelievable that this could happen but happen it did.

Unusually I have been unable to find any information on the family. I do not know what an "asylum pensioner" was but I can only guess that the father Charles Sanderson was suffering from a long-term disability that restricted his ability to find work. This may have been as a result of injuries sustained in the Great War - why else would Charles Sanderson still have a revolver in his possession.   

Bray Street Darnall Sheffield

 I came across this photograph showing the backyard of a house in Bray Street Darnall

It was taken I believe in 1940 and shows an excellent Anderson Shelter and the proud owners. 

Bray Street was the home of my grandmothers aunt and uncle Joseph and Jane Sanby, In fact Joseph died at 48 Bray Street in April 1910, thirty years before this photograph was taken.

The second photograph shows Bray Street Darnall Sheffield in 1966 - the whole street was demolished soon after and is now just a meaningless cul-de-sac


Shiregreen Cemetery - Sheffield March 2024 - An update

 On 23rd March 2022 I posted a blog on the events that had taken place in Shiregreen Cemetery Sheffield.

A report on a newsfeed gave an update to the current state of affairs. I should add the newsfeed does tend to use over-emotive language to describe the current state of play but that unfortunately is the norm nowadays.  

" Outrage over a 37 ton marble gravestone, dedicated to the ‘King of Sheffield’ in Shiregreen Cemetery continues, almost two years after it was unveiled.

The grave marks the resting place of Willy Collins, known to some as the ‘King of Sheffield’. A spat between the council and traveller family began in March 2022 when Sheffield council confirmed that the grave was erected without planning permission. The monument is said to be made of a whopping 37 tons of solid Carrara marble and features a solar-powered jukebox which plays his favourite tunes, as well as flashing LED lights and a lifesize 6ft 2in statue of Willy himself.

Believed to have cost around £200,000, the tribute ‘fit for a king’ also features four flagpoles and a marble bench, as well as depictions of Jesus Christ and biblical scenes. The private plot, which is thought to be one of the largest graves in the UK, was unveiled in March 2022 after the 49-year-old died when he collapsed on holiday in Majorca in July 2020.

A month after his death, hundreds of people came out to attend the funeral of the bare knuckle boxer, who was very well known in the Darnall area of Sheffield. Despite its whopping cost and size, the imposing marble structure was branded an “eyesore” when it was unveiled, with some left questioning how the “monstrosity” was ever allowed to be built, while other mourners expressed their frustration after they were told they weren’t allowed to put up small picket fences around graves for their loved ones. 

The council currently has “no further updates” on the removal of the grave, despite saying in March 2022 that they were “considering” their “next steps” - which prompted Willy’s family to warn that there “would be war” if the memorial was touched. This saw the family hire a security guard to monitor the colossal shrine, with Willy's widow threatening "very bad riots" if the council touched it. 

But during Yorkshire Live’s visit to Shiregreen Cemetery in February 2024, the grave remains in its full form and could be spotted from far away, standing significantly taller than all of the graves.

A spokesperson for Sheffield City Council said: “We are currently trying to address this situation and there are no other updates to report at the moment.” The council confirmed that the grave was built "without permission" in March 2022, saying that it exceeds the maximum dimensions permitted for a grave site, and that they were “considering” their “next steps”.

Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for sustainable neighbourhoods, wellbeing, parks and leisure, said: "We are aware of a large memorial which has been erected in Shiregreen Cemetery. This memorial was built without permission and we are currently considering our next steps.

"Cemeteries are a place where people can come, pay their respects and visit loved ones who are no longer with us. We understand memorials are deeply personal, however we must have rules in place to ensure fairness."

People of Sheffield were quick to share their opinions on the Shiregreen Cemetery grave after it was unveiled, with some branding it an ‘eyesore’ and ‘monstrosity’ while other mourners shared their frustration that they’ve not even been able to have a picket fence put up around graves for their loved ones.

Sharon Jones wrote: “How has something this big been allowed when people aren't even allowed a little picket fence or similar around plots,” while Rosy Ashton said: “My son is buried in Wisewood cemetery and we were ordered to take down a small stone trim around his grave. One rule for some and another rule for others.”

Catherine Elizabeth also took to Facebook to say: “He's allowed THAT, but the rest can't even put a tiny border in front of a normal headstone!”

Jackie Wilson wrote: “So the Cemetery will now be invaded by sightseers. "I'm sure other mourners will appreciate it ! How insensitive and tacky.”

As I stated in the first blog there has been a constant stream of stories over the years of Sheffield City Council imposing harsh and in many cases unnecessary regulation on the bereaved families.

Yesterday I located this article dated 13th October 1996 which demonstrates the alacrity with which Sheffield City Council deal with transgressions in its municipal cemeteries.   

Sadly this alacrity seems to have deserted the council in the matter of Willy Collins last resting place. Two years on there are no further updates but Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for sustainable neighbourhoods, wellbeing, parks and leisure, did confirm that the Council are aware of a large memorial which has been erected in Shiregreen Cemetery. "This memorial was built without permission and we are currently considering our next steps". "Cemeteries are a place where people can come, pay their respects and visit loved ones who are no longer with us. We understand memorials are deeply personal, however we must have rules in place to ensure fairness."

Well I can honestly say that I cannot see any evidence of fairness at all. Sheffield City Council have not taken any meaningful action in nearly two years which is so unlike their normal stance when it comes to enforcing sanctions against miscreants. I wonder why this is? 

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Tom Robinson - Walkley Cemetery Sheffield 1908

 I have just come across this receipt that appeared on an auction site. It dates from 1908 and relates to the purchase of a grave at Sheffield's Walkley Cemetery,

The purchaser of the grave is one Tom Robinson of 161 Howard Road Walkley who paid the sexton J Bingham £3.12s.0d for the plot. Mr Bingham appears in an article I posted to the site in April 2022 and was regarded at the time of his death in 1917 as being one of the most respected men in Walkley.

The price Tom Robinson paid in 1908 is roughly the equivalent of £300 in today's money.

Section G is at the bottom of the main path in the cemetery and is is where my great grandparents and other family members are buried.

Joseph Jonas - Paul Gutheinz - An update

In March 2021 I was contacted by a writer who was authoring a book on Paul Gutheinz (1875 – 1941), He was related to Paul Mauser in Oberndorf / Germany, who had worked (as a bookkeeper) for Joseph Jonas in the years 1892 to 1897.

The writer had come across my article on Sir Joseph Jonas who had what could be called an "interesting life" and was a leading figure in late C19th and early C20th century Sheffield

The author has just contacted me and said the book has now been published (including English translation). Here are the details.

This is the front cover  of the book and full information can be found at a dedicated website 

The book costs 29 EUR + 17 EUR for shipping, in total 46 EUR, which would be around 39 GBP.


Monday 26 February 2024

Defacing Walls - Sheffield July 1909

The following cutting is from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 27th July 1909 and it appears in the Letters section of the paper.

I must admit I had a wry smile when I came across it - I wonder what he would have thought of todays "graffiti artists" and "taggers"!   

It appears that boys and youths were in the habit of using chalk on public buildings in Sheffield and this had raised concerns amongst the papers readership about the disfigurement of the said walls..

However NEMO the writer of the letter has upped the concern by referring to another form of "mural decoration" that of spitting. He adds that the main target is Sheffield Town Hall which was only opened 12 years earlier and raised fears that the newly constructed Post Office in Fitzalan Square will suffer a similar fate.

His solution - warning notices, the installation of spittoons and a dedicated striking for matches is admirable but I feel would have had little impact given that humans are creatures of habit. 

Friday 23 February 2024

Thirty-four Years On - The Grand Hotel Sheffield March 1950

This cutting is from the Sheffield Telegraph dated 13th March 1950.  

The print is not the best but the phrase "but looking at you the years drop away, and I remember you as you were" is a very apt caption. 

Mr James Henderson F.C.A. - A Sheffield Philanthropist

I came across this article in The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Friday 17th October 1930 that appeared under the "Who's Who in Sheffield" section.

Well, I have never heard of him but when you read the narrative you wonder why you never did. 

His family connection is also interesting - his brother in law Sir Harry Johnston has an interesting entry in Wikipedia

"Explorer, colonial administrator and artist Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston studied painting at the Royal Academy Schools from 1876. From 1879, he travelled through Africa as a painter, natural history collector and journalist, journeying through Tunis, Angola and along the Congo River. He joining the consular service in 1885 and spent three years administering a British protectorate in eastern Nigeria. He later obtained treaties on which the UK based claims to Nyasaland (Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). He later became the first British Commissioner in Malawi and published some 40 books on African subjects. Knighted in 1896, he was Consul General in Tunis for two years and then Special Commissioner in Uganda from 1899 to 1901".

Tuesday 2 January 2024

View From A Hill - Tuesday 2nd January 2024 - Sheffield

This blog is now over thirteen years old - the first blog was posted on Wednesday 17th November 2010. And this is the 657th blog in that period. A rough calculation means that on average I post about fifty blogs a year, or one a week  

Last year 2023 I posted thirty-four blogs which was below average but that has been the case in five of the last six years. It was only in 2020 that I posted in excess of fifty and that was the year I was put under house imprisonment by the UK government. 

I still enjoy posting material that catches my eye and so I have no intentions of retiring even though I am well past retirement age. 

And so a big thanks to the many readers who have contacted me in the last year, I have been able to update a few of the earlier articles on my website with new information and that is always a pleasurable and rewarding experience.  

And so all that remains is to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year