The Past in the Present — Howard Smith — 13th August 2018

Howard, a reg­u­lar speaker at our Probus, explained that today’s’ illus­trated talk was aimed at encour­aging us to observe and under­stand the remain­ing vis­ible signs of Sheffield’s past, some of which we don’t nor­mally notice or appre­ci­ate.

These ranged from pre-Roman and Anglo Saxon times to the Viking and Norman influ­ence, through to  times when the area was a col­lec­tion of small vil­lages exist­ing on pas­toral farm­land with feudal land­lords and on to the devel­op­ment of the steel and cut­lery indus­tries in the Industrial Revolution, when the pop­u­la­tion expan­ded, and Sheffield was at the fore­front of world events.

Howard had pho­to­graphed relics around the Sheffield area, some of which are listed below, along with his explan­a­tion:-

Street names – Pinfold St., denot­ing a stray animal pen, always at the edge of town.

  • Lydgate Lane – a gate to stop cattle or sheep but not people, when Crookes was a sep­ar­ate vil­lage
  • Racker Way (Nr. Malin Bridge) a Viking word for a pack­horse.
  • Psalter Lane – actu­ally it was a salt pack­horse road, but it was mis-spelled in a cler­ical error and the name stuck
  • Ridgeways – they are ancient routes along water­sheds, as they are drier, clearer, safer etc
  • Parkhead – a set­tle­ment at the head of a deer park
  • Long Line in Dore – ori­gin­ally Long Lane drawn as a bound­ary on a map, which changed its name when the Sheffield bound­ary moved from the Limb Brook to the Burbage Brook.
  • Whirlow — a bound­ary (whir) on a hill or mound (low or HALW)
  • Stumperlowe — a stump on a mound.
  • Cotton Mill Rd (offCorporation St)– Near Kelham Island which (sur­prise, sur­prise) sig­ni­fied a cotton mill, which became a silk mill then West Bar Workhouse, now all long gone.
  • Scarsdale Rd. – sig­ni­fy­ing the owner of the land, who altered the name from Green Lane when he bought the land.
  • Stanley Rd. – Was this because of the man who found Livingstone?
  • Lismore Rd. – used to be Livingstone Rd. but it was changed when the bound­ary was moved as they already had a Livingstone Rd. in the new area.

Other fea­tures brought to our atten­tion included the fol­low­ing :-

-          Ancient hol­lo­ways – these were old unsur­faced roads which wore down into a hollow shape below the level of the sur­round­ing area e.g. Whirlow brook to Whirlow Hall farm

  • Typical unmetalled old roads which got filthy and muddy, so ‘’cau­seys’’ were built, which were raised flag­stone paths for ped­es­tri­ans along­side the road e.g. Bents Green to Whiteley Wood Farm or Cottage Rd. to Forge Dam
  • Pomona St. school – the trees out­side were planted to com­mem­or­ate WW1 vic­tims
  • The Cricketers Arms on Bramall Lane – a reminder of where ini­tially, cricket was played more ser­i­ously than foot­ball, but cricket was scrapped in 1972 and it is now the home of Sheffield United. The pub is gone.
  • The newly built Ranulph Court., Millhouses – named after the Lord who put up the money to build Beauchief Abbey. This area was also a hold­ing area for trams that had car­ried pleas­ure seekers to Millhouses park
  • Roads with setts (cubes of gran­ite) and cobbles (roun­ded)
  • The elab­or­ate Gas Light built by the Duke of Norfolk out­side his park – obvi­ously not built by the Council!
  • The Georgian ‘Bankers House’ in Campo Lane which was on the out­skirts of the town when built in 1728 and was a sign of the start of an edu­cated middle class and the demise of the feudal lords system.
  • Red Post Boxes – (Cannon Iron Works Falkirk is writ­ten on each one) – The 1st iron works in Scotland was set up by John Roebuck from Meersbrook House (built by a banker), when the Meers Brook was the county bound­ary. Roebuck was a chem­ist & whose part­ner was James Watt. James Watt even­tu­ally joined up with Matthew Bolton to make the steam engine.
  • Two gate­keep­ers lodges (look­ing like toll houses) for the gated com­munity of Collegiate Crescent.
  • A pack­horse bridge near Rails Rd. in the Rivelin Valley.
  • In Savile St – there is a sign on a post with the insignia ‘’Court 12 o’clock’’. This was the site of a public clock which was always broken, so it was fixed to read 12 o’clock at all times.
  • Devonshire Green – The former site of Wolstenholme’s IXL cut­lery. The owner was respons­ible for the treelined aven­ues of Nether Edge after seeing them in Boston USA
  • A depot for Sheffield horse-drawn trams, but 1899 saw the 1st Electric tram. It sub­sequently became a depot for the bin lor­ries, then apart­ments. We used to build our own trams & rails!!
  • The Pub ‘The Tramway’ built to com­mem­or­ate the tram, now gone.
  • The Steps on London Rd. near Homebase were installed in 1902 – This was the tram ter­minus, but it soon moved fur­ther out to Abbey Rd/Graves Park area, leav­ing the steps little used.
  • Meadowhead was ori­gin­ally at the junc­tion of Abbey Lane & Chesterfield Rd. as the mead­ows star­ted here. These mead­ows were sub­sequently built on, so the present Meadowhead moved, to reflect the new pos­i­tion of the open mead­ows.

The last slide was a reminder of the fant­astic coun­tryside on our door­step.

A walk around the Sheffield area won’t be the same again.

A most enjoy­able morn­ing.