Sheffield Street Names — David Templeman — 6th November 2017.

Our Speaker this week, David Templeman, has given us sev­eral most inter­est­ing talks on the local his­tory of our city and this was to be no excep­tion.  His present­a­tion was to cover a broader pic­ture than its title.  As we were to dis­cover, Sheffield’s street names encap­su­late and bring us into touch with so much of our city’s his­tory.

If you click here a map of Sheffield in 1771 will appear on a sep­ar­ate tab and you will be able to flip to and from the map using your tabs at the top of your browser.

David began his talk by sketch­ing out the ori­gins of our street names.  In many instances these are obscure but are thought to be adap­tions of earlier names.  While Sheffield does not share (with example, York) Roman influ­ences or a defin­ing sur­round­ing wall it did share Viking (eg ‘thorpe’ and ‘toft’ Danish names for farm­stead and out­build­ings), Norman and medi­eval aspects includ­ing a castle (at four acres the fourth largest site in England), narrow streets and over­hanging build­ings.   Some his­tor­i­ans think there must at some time been set­tle­ment from the Celtic fringes as some street names have Gallic deriv­a­tion includ­ing Fargate (Fuaran) and Balm Green (Beum).   In common with many towns, Sheffield has its fair share of names derived from local prom­in­ent people (Eyre, Fitzwilliam, Matilda, Norfolk, Howard) from its sur­round­ing coun­tryside and agri­cul­ture products (green, field, mill, pond, pool, nurs­ery, orch­ards, hay, milk, peas, sheaf) all fea­ture.  The cur­rent con­tro­versy over remov­ing trees reminded us that Sheffield has a his­tory of parks and tree lined streets planted to beau­tify, to combat pol­lu­tion and to com­mem­or­ate the fallen in wars (eg Western Road). Did we know that off the High Street there were once tree lined ‘crofts’ sur­round­ing fine houses? While there is no lime street (the most common street tree (eg Rivelin Valley Road has a two mile avenue) our arboreal friends are rep­res­en­ted by the humble holly, syca­more, fig and mul­berry.

Our speaker moved on to take us on a tour of “old” pre 1700 Sheffield. This was a com­pact area bounded by the Don and castle on the north-east, the Sheaf and ponds to the east, Moorhead to the south, the (now demol­ished) cross at the junc­tion of Townhead and Church Streets to the west and West Bar to the north. The town was to soon out­grow this area with the pop­u­la­tion rising from around 1500 people in 1600 over 500,000 by 1900 with most of the growth after 1850 as the steel industry (now ser­viced by rail­ways and steam power) expan­ded from the con­fined (water powered) val­leys to the flat East End.

We com­menced our tour at Barker’s pool, a reser­voir fed by one of the many fresh water springs to be found in cent­ral Sheffield.  This facil­ity, much safer than a pol­luted well, provided drink­ing water and a supply in the event of fire. Every quarter, water was released to flush the streets clear of animal drop­pings and detritus. The depos­its were flushed down the hill formed by what is now the High Street (the best area to live) via the Castle and into the Don near Lady’s Bridge-the poorest area.  We were shown photos of some of the narrow streets nearby includ­ing Balm Green with small cot­tages still in place as late as 1900.  We then moved along Coal Pit Lane ( since 1857 named Cambridge street after a Crimean War General). Coal was once dug to a depth of 60 feet in this loc­a­tion.  Progressing via Holly Street where there was graz­ing, Pinfold Street (animal com­pound), Trippet Lane (with another water source named after a local family) to Paradise Square  (mean­ing ‘enclosed place’) the home to a pros­per­ous, pro­fes­sional com­munity with access to fresh air. We looked at pic­tures of old Fig Lane, narrow as today, Hartshead with its deer hunt­ing con­nec­tions and Sheffield from Kelham Island show­ing orch­ards in the fore­ground and bucolic  hedge-rowed coun­tryside behind now covered by hous­ing around Manor.

The Wicker (Viking Viker) area, once much more the centre of grav­ity than today, Waingate and site of Castle market were the next points of interest.  Apparently there has been a cross­ing at Lady’s Bridge since 1486 (named after the chapel of Our Lady demol­ished in 1760) the bridge being widened in that year and 1864 and 1909. The ori­ginal bridge is still there.  This was also the site of a duck­ing stool for unruly women as well as a bear bait­ing pit. Moving past the site of Sheffield Castle (also demol­ished in 1760) and Market (demol­ished 2015) we traced the now under­ground River Sheaf to Ponds Forge where the was another bridge across a fre­quently flooded area (now Midland Station) lead­ing up to avenue of walnut trees towards what became Norfolk Park.

The Duke of Norfolk was to become, and remains, the largest landowner in the Sheffield area having been gran­ted land rights by James Ist in 1617. His suc­cessors  began develop the area (known as Allsopp’s fields) to the south east of what is now the Moor from 1771 onwards, set­ting the grid pat­tern of streets we see today and bequeath­ing many street and pub names.  We returned to the city centre via the romantic sound­ing Truelove’s Gutter (now Castle street) Tudor Square and Chapel Walk.  Our last port of call was Cutlers’ Hall of which there have been three, the cur­rent build­ing dating from 1852. The Cathedral, oppos­ite, deserves a talk in its own right.

In con­clu­sion, our Chairman warmly thanked David Templeman for another fas­cin­at­ing present­a­tion leav­ing us much better informed on our city’s his­tory and nomen­clature.  What better way for work­ing up an appet­ite for our annual lunch which was to follow!