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.