Dore to Sheffield Railway Widening – 1890 to 1904 – Part 1 (Dore to Heeley)- Ian Howard- 4th November 2013.

This was part 1 of a double presentation showing the changes that took place along the Sheaf valley during the widening of the lines by the Midland Railway in the short period around 1900. Part 1 covered the stations and facilities from Dore and Totley, through Beauchief and Millhouses to Heeley. Each location was illustrated by a large number of contemporary photographs, some dating between 1890 and 1900 before the widening and others after the work had been completed. Almost all the photographs used were from the Midland Railway period itself, i.e. before 1923. For several of the locations, maps and aerial photographs helped to put the photographs into perspective.

The work from Dore to Heeley was divided into three contracts which were coordinated by one engineering manager, and were completed over a period of about three years. One fact which stood out was that the contracts were put out to tender and all the contracts completed for less than the original tender prices: something, which I am sure, is unheard of today. Another interesting fact is that the section from Dore and Totley was well illustrated with photographs; not so many for the Beauchief and Millhouses section, and even less for the Heeley section. The reason for this was that photography was in its infancy and was expensive and could only be afforded by the more affluent residents that lived in the developing suburbs.

Although some of the work was done by steam shovels, most of the work was done by gangs of navies who were each capable of digging and removing sixteen tons of spoil a day. The navies were like foremen who had laborers working for them and they ate and drank heartily, because of the enormous energy they used each day.

The talk was very well presented and we look forward to part 2 which will take us to the centre of Sheffield in the near future.