All posts by Tim Marsh

The Rise and Fall of Walker and Hall of Sheffield Nick Duggan 4th October 2021

   Nick, a cur­ator at Kelham Island Museum for the Hawley  Collection, pre­vi­ously spoke to us in 2019, on Cutlery. This time his talk was on Walker and Hall, who came to be, argu­ably, the biggest and best cut­lery and silver plate man­u­fac­tur­ing firm in the world, at its peak.

   Their spe­cialty was elec­tro­plat­ing (known to us as EPNS). The pro­cess was dis­covered by Elkingtons of Birmingham from whom George Walker (1816 – 1881) acquired the know­ledge, and a licence, to set up his own com­pany, Walker and Co., in 1845, housed in the Electro Works on Howard St.

   William Robson provided the ini­tial cap­ital, but retired from the busi­ness in 1848. At this time, Henry Hall joined and put cap­ital into the com­pany which became Walker and Hall in 1853. Two of Henry Halls neph­ews also joined the com­pany in the 1850s —  Sir John Bingham, who was adept at pub­li­city and Charles Bingham who helped grow the man­u­fac­tur­ing side of the busi­ness.

   The com­pany registered their first silver hall­mark in 1862 and bought Henry Wilkinsons in 1892, and  from 60 work­ers in 1852, com­pris­ing men, boys, girls, and women, to 1000 work­ers in 1893, profits boomed, and George Walker retired a wealthy men in 1865. In 1889, Henry Hall retired to Abergavenny (I know it well).

   Sir John Bingham was Master Cutler in 1881 and 1884, and was very active in the com­munity, includ­ing being a Freemason, cam­paign­ing for smoke­free air, a col­onel in the local Volunteer Corps, donat­ing Bingham Park in 1911 and being a good employer intro­du­cing a pen­sion ser­vice. He died in 1915.

   Charles Bingham was Master Cutler in 1894 during the heyday for cut­lery, which was between 1890 and 1914.

   In 1901 Walker and Hall brought out an illus­trated sales cata­logue of 204 pages with > 5000 items that they were man­u­fac­tur­ing to sell world­wide. Nick took us through some of the amaz­ing vari­ety of ster­ling silver, cut­lery and elec­tro­plated items in the cata­logue.

   Albert Bingham, the son of John Bingham, also in the com­pany, was Master Cutler in 1918, but after that it went gradu­ally down­hill. There was less demand, less labour avail­able after WW1, and stain­less steel and chro­mium plate were com­pet­it­ors. When Albert died in 1945, stag­na­tion and decay set in, although they sub­sequently did pro­duce qual­ity items, such as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Trophy and other pres­ti­gi­ous items.

   In 1960, con­sult­ants were engaged and David Mellor was recruited, but all too late, even with a new fact­ory in Bolsover. Alas, with com­pet­i­tion from the Far East, the com­pany was sold to the Clore Group in 1963 and the Electro Works were demol­ished in 1965, with pro­duc­tion ceas­ing in 1971. enables you to trace any rel­at­ives who worked in the industry, and Geoffrey Tweedale has writ­ten copi­ous books on the sub­ject.

   A fas­cin­at­ing insight into Sheffield’s cut­lery man­u­fac­tur­ing of yes­teryear, expertly delivered.


Israel – Palestine – The Background by David Worth — 24th May 2021

David, a retired Nephrologist, Volunteer National Park Ranger, and Covid Vaccinator, is also Co-Clerk to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). This organ­isa­tion was foun­ded in 2002 by the World Council of Churches based in Geneva, in response to the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. It brings people from around the world (called Ecumenical Accompaniers) to the West Bank, to serve for 3 months as Human Rights Monitors. In the UK and Ireland, co-ordination is car­ried out by the Quakers.

Inspired by a talk given by Mark Steel in 2000 about the asym­met­ric over­whelm­ing force being used by Israel against the Palestinians during the 2nd Intifada, and with inform­a­tion from the International and Israeli Human Rights Groups, David decided to get involved. He has vis­ited Israel 3 times since 2008 and now gives talks on the back­ground to the dis­pute.

There are 4 groups of people in the dis­puted areas :-

  1. Jewish cit­izens in Israel, which is a troubled lib­eral demo­cracy.
  2. The Palestinians within Israel. Formally given equal­ity, but now dis­pos­sessed and dis­crim­in­ated against.
  3. Palestinians in the Israeli Occupied West Bank, who are humi­li­ated, bru­tal­ised and have their lands taken over for Israeli set­tle­ments.
  4. The Palestinians in the Gaza strip, which is no more than an open-air prison, and because of the res­ist­ance of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is bombed every 3 or 4 years.

All areas are con­trolled by Israel with such asym­met­ric over­whelm­ing force towards the Palestinians, that the ‘’Human Rights Watch’’ have labelled it as apartheid. The evid­ence for this is in the way Israel has con­trolled, since 1948, the Palestinian people and their land, their free­dom of move­ment and their polit­ical involve­ment.

Before 1917, the ori­ginal Zionists bought land in Palestine with the inten­tion of form­ing a Jewish home­land, and giving every Jew around the world the oppor­tun­ity to return to Israel. This is referred to as ‘Aliyah’. In 1917, with the Ottomans defeated, Palestine came under a British Mandate.

Changes to Palestinian land since 1917

In 1948 Israel declared itself an inde­pend­ent state, after a war against the Palestinians. The Palestinians named the day of Israeli declar­a­tion of inde­pend­ence Naqba Day, when half the pop­u­la­tion, around ¾ of a mil­lion, became refugees, set­tling in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, includ­ing the West Bank and East Jerusalem (both Jordanian admin­istered) and the Gaza strip (admin­istered by the Egyptian mil­it­ary).

In 1967, after the 6-day war, Israel occu­pied (1) the West Bank as far as the River Jordan, (2) the Gaza strip and (3) East Jerusalem. A large area of land annexed from the West Bank, was added to East Jerusalem where Israeli Law was applied, in breach of International Law.

Since 1967, evic­tion of Palestinian fam­il­ies from their prop­er­ties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has been car­ried out in the Israeli courts under Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian or Israeli Law. The odds are stacked against the Palestinians, as, if there is any doubt, the prop­er­ties revert to the State. Owners are evicted and forced to demol­ish their own homes and are faced with large costs if the Israeli State has to do it for them.

Palestinian homes being demol­ished

In East Jerusalem, there are now 350,000 Palestinians who live in 28 vil­lages, along with 209,000 Israeli Settlers. 7500 struc­tures have been demol­ished since 2009, with 11500 people dis­placed. This is the cause of upris­ings and con­flict, and one of the reas­ons why rock­ets are launched from Gaza.

The West Bank

In 1995, under the Oslo Accord 2, Israel gave the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank dis­puted area was denoted by the Green Line, and areas des­ig­nated as 1, 2, or 3 :-

  1. Defined 165 sep­ar­ate islands of land which are admin­istered entirely by the Palestinian Authority (dark brown on the map)
  2. Defined parts which are admin­istered jointly (light brown on the map)
  3. Defined the remain­ing 60 % of the land, under full Israeli con­trol (blue on the map)

At the end of the 20th cen­tury, Israel had gone from con­trolling 6% of the land, to 100 %. Jews have full cit­izens rights in all areas, whereas Palestinians rights and status differ whether they live any­where in Israel, the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem 600,000 Jews have con­struc­ted factor­ies, farms, Universities and cities. The farms pro­duce dates, avo­ca­dos, salad vegs. and herbs which are some­times deceit­fully labelled as ‘’Made in Israel’’ instead of ‘’Produce of the West Bank’’, which some coun­tries, to whom they sell, insist on.

On the West Bank there 280 set­tle­ments or towns on expro­pri­ated land, with all mod. cons., and miles of set­tler only roads, in con­trast to the Palestinians who are lim­ited in the use of water, have their homes demol­ished and in area ‘C’ are pre­ven­ted from any con­struc­tion or devel­op­ment. They may have long detours through road blocks, and access to work in the Israeli Occupied parts is made dif­fi­cult. The Jewish set­tle­ments are per­man­ent, are a source of viol­ence, and under International Law are illegal and war crimes. The Israelis  are com­mit­ting gross and sys­tem­atic human rights viol­a­tions.

Settlers are sup­por­ted by the Israeli mil­it­ary forces, most of whom have served in the Israeli Defence Force. They have hugely more fire power than the Palestinians and they can turn a blind eye to viol­ence on the Palestinians, which can be extreme. This can include shoot­ings, burn­ing of homes, mosques and churches, attacks on crops and farm­ers and the pois­on­ing of water and live­stock. All this is an ongo­ing occur­rence in Area C and East Jerusalem, and is a major con­cern for the UN Special Coordinator of the UN Security Council for the Middle East Process as it is all illegal under inter­na­tional law.

There are also about 100 ad hoc set­tle­ment out­posts, again illegal under inter­na­tional human­it­arian law and built without offi­cial author­iz­a­tion, but nev­er­the­less encour­aged by some Israeli gov­ern­ment depart­ments. These out­posts con­trol Palestinian land, and with time, become per­man­ent.

The 320km long wall

The Armistice Line around the West Bank is 320 km. long, but the illegal wall sur­round­ing the West Bank, which is up to 8m high, meanders 700km., fur­ther divid­ing the West bank into stra­tegic pock­ets of Palestinian areas, increas­ing Israeli con­trol and the dif­fi­culties of life for the Palestinians.

The 2018 basic law of Israel, con­cern­ing land, dis­crim­in­ates against the 20% of Israelis who are Palestinians and are Muslim or Christian, and live in Israel. The devel­op­ment of 100’s of Jewish set­tle­ments is encour­aged with no hint of equal­ity accor­ded to this 20%, sac­ri­fi­cing any human rights con­sid­er­a­tions. No set­tle­ments for these Palestinians have been built and the Absentee Property Law allows for expro­pri­ation of Palestinian owned land, if not being used. The Jewish National Fund and Jewish Agency only give bene­fits to Jews. Bedouins are not recog­nised and are moved on.

The UK and Ireland train and send 20 Ecumenical Accompaniers each year, to sup­port the Palestinians who are affected by the situ­ation. They return to tell the world of the asym­met­ric force being used by Israel against the defence­less Palestinians. And the stor­ies are har­row­ing. Shootings, viol­ence, injur­ies, restric­tions of move­ment, humi­li­ation, dis­crim­in­a­tion, loss and depriva­tion of oppor­tun­it­ies for work, edu­ca­tion and med­ical care, which requires a permit to access ser­vices in Israel. The Palestinians are ruled under mil­it­ary law whereas the Israelis are under civil law. Any res­ist­ance by the Palestinians is met with dif­fer­en­tially harsh pun­ish­ment. There is par­tic­u­lar con­cern for the chil­dren who can be treated extremely harshly and in breach of UNCRC or the Geneva Conventions.

Palestinians require a permit to travel between the West Bank, Israel, Gaza and East Jerusalem. They also can be sub­jec­ted to unan­nounced road blocks. In con­trast, Jews have free­dom of move­ment within Israel and most of the West Bank, except area A and Gaza. International travel is easy for the Jews, but Tel Aviv air­port is closed to Palestinians, who have to fly from Jordan or Egypt, once they have got through the Israeli check­points at the bor­ders.

The pres­ence of the EAPPI has helped to make things better, high­light­ing the injustice and giving some com­fort to the Palestinians.

All Jews can vote and run for office. Israeli Palestinians can vote and run for office but their rights are con­stantly under attack. East Jerusalem Palestinian res­id­ents can vote only in the muni­cipal elec­tions. Gaza and West Bank Palestinians cannot par­ti­cip­ate in the polit­ical system that con­trols their lives.

Free speech has been cur­tailed with 2 new laws. Introduced by Israel they con­strain Jews or Palestinians from advoc­at­ing the cause of the Palestinians. (1) The Naqba Law which pre­vents anyone from mourn­ing the Naqba Day. This was tra­di­tion­ally done by Palestinians. (2) The boy­cott law which could impose pun­ish­ment on anyone who calls for a boy­cott of Israel. And in the West Bank there are restric­tions on demon­stra­tions, asso­ci­ations and polit­ical state­ments, all enforced by the mil­it­ary courts.

The Jewish Declaration on anti-semitism is defined as ‘’Discrimination, pre­ju­dice, hos­til­ity or viol­ence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish insti­tu­tions as Jewish)’’. Where this relates to Israel and Palestine can be seen on which gives examples which are anti-semitic, and some which are not.

This was a fas­cin­at­ing first hand insight into what is hap­pen­ing between the Israelis and Palestinians today, and was very well illus­trated. Although it is a very com­plex situ­ation, David, is obvi­ously pas­sion­ate about the sub­ject, and por­trayed a trouble­some scen­ario where we can all help, by advoc­at­ing change.

Should you wish to seek fur­ther inform­a­tion, the fol­low­ing web­sites were referred to in the present­a­tion :-











11)–180212-israeli-minister-says-israel-to -stay-jewish-even-at-expenses-of-human-rights












Sheffields Ancient Woods and Trees – A surprising History and Heritage — 1st February 2021 — Prof Ian Rotherham

   This was the third visit (1st on Zoom) by Prof. Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University, who is an author, broad­caster and cam­paigner on envir­on­mental issues.

   With the pro­spect of the plant­ing of the Great Northern Forest, between Liverpool and Hull, extend­ing down into South Yorkshire, todays talk was very top­ical.

    To begin with, some defin­i­tions:-

Forest – a land­scape with a high dens­ity of trees.

Woodland or woods a low dens­ity forest, which arose nat­ur­ally, but then was man­aged, and may include clear­ings, shrubs, shade, and grassy areas.

Ancient Woodland – Woodland that has exis­ted at least since the 1600s.

Timber – The large size pieces used in e.g. con­struc­tion, mainly oak, as in cruck houses or box framed dwell­ings.

Wood — The smal­ler pieces e.g. small dia­meter poles cut from cop­pice and used for fuel and wattles etc.

Coppice – Trees cut down to ground level so that they regen­er­ate and ‘’spring’’ into regrowth. Hence in Sheffield, ‘’Ladies Spring Wood ‘’, ‘’New Field Spring Wood’’ and ‘’Parkwood Springs’’ where the cop­picing was used to make char­coal into the 1880s.

Pollard – Trees cut down for shap­ing or regen­er­a­tion, at a point above where an animal can get at it.

Shredding – har­vest­ing of fire­wood and animal fodder,

Herbage – leaves from when pol­lard­ing or cop­picing takes place. Preferred by cows, rather than grass.

Standards – Trees grown in the open with no man­age­ment.

Wavers – young stand­ards

    In 1992, there was a National Woodlands Conference instig­ated by the Peak National Park, between Ecologists, Foresters and Archaeologists to dis­cuss the his­tory, and to co-ordinate future pro­tec­tion, of our ancient wood­lands. The pro­ceed­ings were recor­ded as ‘’Ancient Woodlands – Their Archaeology and Ecology’’. Inspir­a­tion was drawn from pub­lic­a­tions by Prof. Oliver Rackham, our own Prof. Mel Jones. Also, from a 1600s pub­lic­a­tion by John Evelyn entitled ‘’SYLVA’’, which told how wood was pro­cessed, and a Welshman Thomas Pennant, in 1772, who wrote about how trees and local resources are used throughout the coun­try.


If we were to go back to medi­eval times we would find a very dif­fer­ent land­scape. Peoples lives were dom­in­ated by the nat­ural mater­i­als around them, and wood­lands were vital resources and busy places, where anim­als for­aged, people lived, and there were even paved tracks for pack­horses. The peoples names reflec­ted the trades and crafts that fed their life­style – Carter, Cartwright, Wood, Underwood, Croft, Fletcher, Warren etc.

There were char­coal makers, besom makers, bow and arrow makers, wheel­wrights etc, and all the build­ings were built using loc­ally sourced mater­i­als.  


Styles of con­struc­tion around the coun­try depended on the type of timber avail­able. Uplands had birch but in the fens with no timber they used mud, with­ies, turf, and reeds. Nothing went to waste. Clay, bracken, fungi, wattle and daub, and stone were used. (Wharncliffe was the biggest sup­plier of Quern stones for grind­ing in the Roman Empire). Bark was used for tan­ning, which was best in spring when the sap was rising, and timber was felled in winter after leaf fall, chosen by a master crafts­man. Structural tim­bers were felled when the tree was 50 – 150 years old. This was then box halved with cross saws in a saw pit, (hence top dog and under dog). Some large trees are thou­sands of years old and have been pol­lar­ded and har­ves­ted about every 15–20 years, but have to be retired even­tu­ally, due to old age. They can be cored to find out when they were last pol­lar­ded. They then develop their own eco­sys­tems and become status sym­bols. In Japan bamboo is used, and in North America log cabins abound, as timber was plen­ti­ful, and the pur­chase was fin­anced by potash sales.

    Examples of local old pol­lar­ded trees are

Continue read­ing Sheffields Ancient Woods and Trees – A sur­pris­ing History and Heritage — 1st February 2021 — Prof Ian Rotherham

Magistrates – Judge and Jury? – Richard Gadsden – 21/9/20.

Richard spent 26 years at Sheffield Hallam University, teach­ing stat­ist­ics, becom­ing the Dean of the Faculty. Meanwhile, he spent 25 years as a Lay Magistrate in the Adult Law Courts, based in Sheffield, cov­er­ing South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Lay Magistrates was the topic for today’s present­a­tion.

Types of Magistrate :-

  • A Professional Magistrate, also called a District Judge, who is a sti­pen­di­ary Magistrate and sits on cases alone.
  • Lay Magistrates, who are mem­bers of the public, and sit in a court in groups of 2 or 3.

Types of Courts

  • Adult Courts. All Magistrates start in this court, which deals with any­thing from theft to murder.
  • Family Courts
  • Youth Courts, for people up to 17 years of age

Courts 2 and 3 above con­flic­ted with other interests which Richard had, so he never sat on them.

Who can be a Magistrate.

The Lord Chancellor picks Magistrates. Although he/she keeps an eye on a bal­ance of appoint­ments to reflect polit­ical per­sua­sion, eth­ni­city, sex,  etc., Magistrates can be anyone, unless there is a con­flict of interest, e.g. the police. They must be between 18 and 70 years of age and of ‘good char­ac­ter’. There are not many under 30 years of age. Most are 55 to 70, at which age you must retire. No train­ing in law is required as there is a legal adviser who assists. The main attrib­ute required for being a magis­trate is common sense and you have to be avail­able for at least 26 half days in a year, although it is expec­ted of you to do more.

What do Magistrates do?

All crim­inal cases start in the Magistrates court. Over 90% are dealt with in a   magistrate’s court and include cases on e.g. Council Tax, Education, Environmental Agencies, Fishing licences …….

The Magistrates

  • Hear bail applic­a­tions — They start with the assump­tion, that bail is per­miss­ible. Deciding whether the defend­ant should be free or kept in cus­tody then depends on con­sid­er­a­tions of safety to the public or whether the defend­ant might not come back for trial. So some­times, if bail is gran­ted, there are con­di­tions e.g. tags. Or ‘uncon­di­tional’ bail may be gran­ted but, with the con­di­tion that they turn up for trial.
  • Hear court cases – they listen to the cir­cum­stances of the offences, and decide the outcome/sentence, or whether it should be referred to the Crown Court. The types of cases are :-

- Summary Only – e.g. a driv­ing offence, which will be dealt with by the Magistrates court

- Each Way – for more ser­i­ous crimes. This could be heard in a Magistrates court or the Crown court. The defend­ant can always choose either the Magistrates court, or to be defen­ded by a judge and jury in the Crown court. Some defend­ants think that the Magistrates may be more leni­ent.

- Indictable only – e.g. murder, which is sent to the Crown court.

Magistrates can sen­tence up to 6 months in cus­tody and do it only once more to the same offender, making a max­imum of 12 months.

  • Approve war­rants. For example:-
  • For Statutory Declarations – e.g. those who go to a Magistrates court to alter their names. Permissible as long as they keep the same sur­name.
  • If summoned to court – e.g. because they have not paid a fine. If the defend­ant makes a declar­a­tion that they didn’t get the sum­mons letter, then the pro­cess starts again, until they pay up.
  • An entry war­rant – e.g. if any of the Statutory Undertakers want to enter a build­ing or res­taur­ant.
  • Search Warrant – e.g. if reques­ted by the police. Sometimes these are out-of-hours requests.

How Does the Court Work

  • 2 or 3 Lay Magistrates sit in a court, with the middle one called the ‘Presiding Judge’, and who is the only one who talks for the group and who con­trols any dis­turb­ances. The others, sit­ting to the side are called ‘Wingers’.
  • At the start of a case, the Presiding Judge out­lines the offence. The defend­ant is asked to make a plea. 90% of the time, there is a ‘Guilty’ plea. The Presiding Judge asks for a full report of the case and then decides whether to sen­tence, or to send the case to the Crown Court for sen­ten­cing.
  • If the plea is ‘Not Guilty’ the Prosecution speaks, then the Defense. The Presiding Judge then decides whether there is a case to answer and if there is, he sets a trial date.
  • If there is ‘No Plea’, which is rare, the defend­ant is asked why there is no plea. It may be e.g. that the defend­ant is wait­ing for more evid­ence on the cir­cum­stances of the offence. In this case, the prin­ciple of ‘Newtons Hearings’ is applied. This means that the cir­cum­stances of the offence are dealt with before the trial and the Magistrates decide which ver­sion of the events are to be accep­ted. If it is the defend­ants ver­sion which is accep­ted, then there is a plea of ‘Guilty’, but if the Magistrates decision is not accep­ted, it is still the ver­sion used at the trial in court, but it can be argued at the trial.


2/3rds usu­ally never occur. Because,

  • there can be a change of plea from ‘Not Guilty’ to ‘Guilty’.
  • Witnesses don’t turn up, or alter or with­draw their state­ments.

If there is a trial, both Prosecution and Defense are heard and wit­nesses can be ques­tioned.

Magistrates then decide on the guilt or oth­er­wise and must give a simple but clear reason for their decision.

If guilty, they are either sen­tenced there and then, or reports are reques­ted from e.g. the pro­ba­tion ser­vice. If the court feels unable to decide, the case can be sent to the Crown Court.


Only 20 years ago, guidelines were given to Magistrates and Crown Courts on sen­ten­cing.

Nothing, how­ever, is ever typ­ical, and all cir­cum­stances are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

For example :-

  • If it is their first offence. Sentence is less than the guideline
  • Plea of ‘Not Guilty’ but found ‘Guilty’. Sentence pos­sibly more than the guideline
  • Assault where incite­ment was involved and there was only one punch. Sentence is less than the guideline.
  • Assault where there were lots of punches, with a record of viol­ence. Sentence more than the guideline.

Some people ask to go to prison, to give struc­ture to their lives or to help them to over­come an addic­tion.

Richard fin­ished his present­a­tion illus­trat­ing the pro­cess of sen­ten­cing with a his­tor­ical car crash case, where the 2 equally bad drivers approached their court cases in a dif­fer­ent way, and were given dif­fer­ent sen­tences.

An absorb­ing and very inter­est­ing talk which was enjoyed by all.



A Brief History of Knickers – Janet Stain – 27th January 2020

      Janet is a his­tor­ian on Victorian cos­tumes and under­wear, and gives talks Nationally.

      Besides having been a guide at Eyam Hall and Renishaw Hall for many years, she sal­vages second hand underwear, medical equip­ment, spec­tacles. etc, and sends 40 con­tainer loads to the Gambia. (To donate or help phone 0114 230 2916)

      Todays talk con­cen­trated on knick­ers, with many samples from down the ages, amply exhib­ited.

      Before the 1500s, women were generally knick­er­less, but Catherine de Medici intro­duced under­wear from Italy to France in the 1500s, and there is ref­er­ence to under­wear in Elizabethan times. Some upper-class ladies who rode their horses side-saddle, wore silk under­wear.

      In the 1700s, some silk dresses worn by middle and upper-class ladies were up to 8 wide, so knick­ers were born to keep them warm. These ori­gin­ally came in two sep­ar­ate legs down to the knee or ankle, (hence the name - a pair of knick­ers) and christened draw­ers as they were drawnon.

      After the French Revolution, silk dresses went out of fash­ion. Costumes changed to a closer fit­ting Greek peas­ant look, with more white trans­par­ent muslin and open necks, pink stock­ings and no pet­ti­coat. Shoes were flat san­dals, and knick­ers, worn by these middle and upper-class ladies, were now joined into one piece, with a divide for access to the WC, and referred to as ‘pan­talettes’. They had a big space at the back for their bottoms, to prevent them riding up when they sat down. This fea­ture, con­tin­ued until the 1920s.

      Josephine Bonaparte exempli­fied this fash­ion at court in the early 1800s.

      The poor, how­ever, were still knick­er­less, but Muslim women, in full gear, adopted knickers, because if they got wet, their clothes would cling to them, and reveal their body shape.

      In the mid 1800s, ladies owned many pairs, which were numbered, labelled to avoid loss during laun­der­ing, and used in rotation. They cost 3s 6d to 5s 6d for a pair and were adorned with frills and ribbon. For example, made in twill, they were adorned with black ribbon whilst in mourn­ing, which lasted for 2 years for ladies.

       In the 1850s the SINGER Co. brought out the sewing machine. This reduced the price of knick­ers which were either home-made, or sold in dozens, so that more ladies wore them. Amelia Bloomer began extolling Ladies Rights by giving talks, which included advoc­at­ing sens­ible dress, Bloomers.

       Crinoline hoops were in fash­ion, encour­aging the use of knick­ers, to keep warm. There was the risk of a trip with this design, revealing all!!

       Dancing the Polka, cro­quet, and sport, such as golf, was now becom­ing pop­u­lar with women, which tended to reveal a sen­su­ous ankle or two, so boots were worn for decorum. Even climb­ing the Eiger was pos­sible for ladies, with a sur­repti­tious change of clothes, before actu­allyclimb­ing.

        Queen Victorias knick­ers (includ­ing tartan ones) some­times come up for sale. A recent dis­cov­ery, numbered VR7, was sold with VR12, a night dress, for £4500. They can sell for as much as £25000 in the USA.

       There were no public toi­lets in Victorian times for women. You kept off the beer and mead if you were out for any length of time!Otherwise!

       With the devel­op­ment of chem­ical dyes, knick­ers became col­our­ful. Red flan­nel was pop­u­lar.

       In the late 1800s, knicker design for work­ing women and middle and upper-class ladies went into over­drive, with all dif­fer­ent sizes and capa­cit­ies. They were wool, leather, chamois leather, silk, aertex, flan­nel, and flaps with holes at the front for sus­pend­ers tocon­nect to cor­sets, and with stock­ings con­nec­ted to the lower end.Lingerie, as it was referred to, became pretty, although silk was deemed dec­ad­ent, and several pairs of knick­ers were worn at once to keep warm.

       60% of all girls went into ser­vice and had to prove that they could mend knick­ers, before get­ting a job.       The poor were still knick­er­less, or acquired them from the rag and bone man or pawn­broker.

       Around the 1900s, few pic­tures appeared in cata­logues, and they were sold in a corner of a shop, not easily seen, as the whole sub­ject was not openly discussed, and was taboo for men.

       From the 1920s, with the varieties of mater­ials avail­able, knick­ers became uni­ver­sally used, and demand enabled a pleth­ora of new designs, sizes and shapes, to be man­u­fac­tured for any occa­sion. With for­eign fash­ion influ­ence making knickers shorter, skimpier, thin­ner, flightier, flesh col­oured, and with man-made fab­rics, such as rayon and nylon, the range was extens­ive. Janet showed us lots of dif­fer­ent ones, with an insight into who wore them and their nick­names.

       During WW2, para­chute mater­ial was used for their man­u­fac­ture, and could be bought with 4 coupons. Elastic was in short supply, so but­tons had to be well attached, or embarrassment ensued.

        (An aside John Smedleys, near Cromford, made under­wear, to start their busi­ness.)

       Paper knick­ers intro­duced in the 1960s, never became pop­u­lar, as they didnt last long and disinteg­rated when soak­ing wet, although they are used in hos­pit­als today.

       Janet, finally, showed us her com­mis­sioned pic­ture of a row of knick­ers, in ever decreas­ing size, from big draw­ers in the 1700s, to todays skimpy ones. The dif­fer­ences, she pro­claimed, was the out­come of global warm­ing!

        An excel­lent insight into the subject, expertly and con­fid­ently delivered, enjoyed by all.


The Truth about Charlie Peace (1832–1879) – by Dr. Alan Caunt — 18th Nov 2019

Charlie Peace was Sheffield’s most notori­ous Victorian mur­derer who was born in grim sur­round­ings at Angel Court, Nursery St., Sheffield, in 1832. This is now the site of ‘The Big Gun’ pub.

His father, John, was a cob­bler, pic­ture framer, and sub­sequently trav­elled with the Wombwell Menagerie as a one legged lion tamer.

Charlie star­ted school in Pitsmoor, then, at Paradise Square for his middle school classes. He got employ­ment at Millsands Works as an appren­tice tin smith, then as a foundry worker at Kelham Island, where at the age of 14, he acci­dent­ally had a red hot iron bar through his leg. 18 months in the Sheffield Infirmary ensued, where he had his left knee­cap removed, but he learnt to play the violin. After dis­charge and a spell with a lock­smith, learn­ing how to make and pick locks, at 17 years of age he was not only an accom­plished viol­in­ist play­ing Paganini at The Prince of Wales pub on Ecclesall Road, but had acquired good house­break­ing skills.  He was short, with a limp, 2 fin­gers miss­ing from a fire­arms incid­ent, prob­ably had suffered with rick­ets and could dis­lo­cate his jaw at will. What a pic­ture!

At 19 he had 1 year in prison after house break­ing with his sister, using a hinged ladder which looked like a pole, when folded. Graham Wardley, a rag and bone man of the Salt Box Houses on Psalter Lane was sus­pec­ted to be the ‘fence’ for his stolen goods. There is a plaque and poem about Wardley at the remains of these houses, even today.

At 22 he was back in Wakefield prison for burg­lary, for 4 years, during which time he tried to escape.

On his release, he mar­ried Hannah Ward, who already had a son. They had 2 fur­ther chil­dren and lived in Kenyon Alley, near Netherthorpe. He still went burg­ling and was soon arres­ted in Manchester where he gave a false name of George Parker. This time he had 6 years hard labour, in Gibraltar.

2 years after his release, in 1866, and at the age of 34, he was caught burg­ling again and sent to prison for 7 years. On his release in 1873, he still went thiev­ing, and even­tu­ally settled in Darnall in 1875, and lived near to a couple called Dyson. He had an affair with Mrs. Dyson, and threatened to kill Mr. Dyson (a Civil Engineer). He was tem­por­ar­ily scared off, and moved to Hull, but when in Manchester whilst burg­ling, armed with a gun, he shot and killed P.C. Cock who had tried to arrest him. Two local broth­ers named Habron were wrongly con­victed of the murder, as they had pre­vi­ously pub­licly threatened to kill the P.C. There is a museum in Preston where P.C. Cock is buried.

Following the murder, Charlie Peace went back to Sheffield to Banner Cross (959 Ecclesall Rd. – which is now a Barbers) where the Dysons then lived. He slandered Mrs. Dyson and got into an argu­ment with Mr. Dyson, whom he shot dead. This was on 29/11/1876.

Charlie went on the run, and there was a big man­hunt.

Meanwhile, he took a girl­friend as a maid to Peckham where he changed his name to John Thompson, (one of many ali­ases he used through­out his life) had a horse and cart, became a respect­able member of the com­munity and had a good life, whilst at the same time, con­tinu­ing his thiev­ing, becom­ing a one-man crime­wave.

He was finally caught by P.C. Robinson, whom he attemp­ted to shoot. He was con­victed of attemp­ted murder and burg­lary. He con­fessed to being Charlie Peace, which wasn’t at first believed, but was con­firmed by his wife and Mrs. Dyson. His family sold up as he was sen­tenced to hard labour in Pentonville prison, for life, so he decided he wanted to die. He came up to Sheffield by train and drew a plan of the Bannercross scene of the murder of Mr. Dyson, which con­vinced the author­it­ies of his guilt of Mr. Dysons murder. On the second trip by train to Sheffield for the com­mit­tal pro­ceed­ings, he jumped out of the train window whilst hand­cuffed to an officer. He was injured in the ensu­ing ker­fuffle, but, reach­ing Sheffield, he was tried in a cor­ridor in the Sheffield Courts.

It took 10 minutes, by a non-white judge, to sen­tence him to be hanged at Armley Gaol by chief hang­man William Marwood, the ‘’long drop’’ pion­eer. The year was 1879. He was buried in a coffin in uncon­sec­rated ground.

There is a recon­struc­tion of the hanging scene in Madame Tussauds.

Before his death he con­fessed to the murder of P.C. Cock, so the Habron broth­ers were exon­er­ated.

In his will he left everything to his wife in her chip shop at Darnall.

A man whose per­son­al­ity changed, after a trau­matic acci­dent in his youth, with a com­pul­sion to burgle, he spent 50% of his life in gaol, and has a sep­ar­ate sec­tion for his thiev­ing arte­facts, at Scotland Yard.

Would he today be dia­gnosed with a treat­able con­di­tion?

Dr. Caunt, a retired anaes­thet­ist, and reg­u­lar S10 Probus speaker, amazed us again with his depth of research into this com­plex and vil­lain­ous char­ac­ter, about whom there have been numer­ous books, films, pho­to­graphs, museum exhib­its and talks.

All agreed it was a most enjoy­able and enlight­en­ing hour.