I have a BA honours degree in American Studies and I have just completed an MA in Public History and Heritage. My blog is an escape from my boring office job. It gives me a little creative outlet. I also have a YouTube channel.
Amongst many other sectors, the heritage sector, especially small independent museums have suffered greatly due to COVID, so it is nice to be able to try and support as many as possible now they are re-opening.
The South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum is quite hidden away at the back of the popular Lakeside area of Doncaster. The buildings once formed part of RAF Doncaster, which the museum took over when they were vacated by Yorkshire Water.
There is loads to see and some great displays. They don’t just have aircraft, they also have lots of other history on the military.
It is definitely worth a visit. Parking is free, there is plenty of space for social distancing and they have put one way systems in place.
Below are a few pictures from my visit. Thanks for reading.
Ecclesall Woods are one of my favourite jogging routes. One day I decided to take a different path through the woods, that I thought may be a little quieter. To my surprise, I came across a Colliers Pond and headstone. I did not have any prior knowledge about the woods so when I got home, I did a little research.
Ecclesall woods are thousands of years old, dated by Human traces in the form of Neolithic rock art. During the 14th century, the woods were a deer park owned by Sir Ralph de Ecclesall.
From 1600 until the early 1800s, the woods were used to source charcoal to supply Sheffield’s growing industries. Charcoal was used for smelting iron and coal was for smelting lead.
The headstone reads “In memory of George Yardley, Wood Collier. He was burnt to death in his Cabbin on this place Octr. 11th 1786. William Brookes, Salesman; David Glossop, Gamekeeper; Thos. Smith, Besom maker; Sampn. Brookshaw, Innkeeper.” According to Historic England, the monument is unusual in that it records not only the occupation of the deceased, but those of the subscribers to his memorial.
The point on the map shows the approximate location of the pond and monument.
Whilst reading Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey it occurred to me that I had not visited Elsecar Heritage Centre since I was a kid. I could only vaguely remember what it was like and so decided to take a trip over one sunny Friday afternoon.
As it was Friday, I assumed that it would be quiet. When I arrived, however, I was greeted by two almost full car parks. I can only imagine how busy it gets on a weekend. When I entered the heritage centre however, it was not overly busy. I assume most of the cars were people walking the Trans Pennine Trail.
Elsecar is a great example of a multi-use heritage site. It has a combination of shops, restaurants, a railway and visitor centre, all contained within the refurbished industrial buildings.
Elseacr was built by the 4th Earl of Fitzwilliam of the nearby Wentworth Estate. I do highly recommencement the book Black Diamonds if you are interested in finding out more about Wentworth, the Fitzwilliams and coal mining in the area.
The colliery at Elsecar was sunk in 1975. Ironstone was also mined nearby. A Beam Engine was built in order to extract water from the mine to allow deeper exploration. The Engine ran from 1795 to 1923, when it was replaced with electric pumps.
The workshops were built in 1850. After the nationalisation of the coal mines, the coal board took over the workshops in 1947. As the need for coal reduced and the pits were closed, there was also no requirement for the workshops and Beam Engine. The Department of Environment listed most of the buildings in 1986, as they were seen to be of special architectural or historic interest. In 1988 the Newcomen Beam Engine House and the workshops were purchased bu Barnsley Council who restored the buildings.
I grew up not too far away from Boot’s Folly (also known as Strines Tower or Sugworth Tower). The tower was built in 1927 by Charles Boot of the construction company Henry Boot & Sons. Charles Boot resided at the nearby Sugworth Hall, a Grade II Listed country house. The hall was up for sale recently for £1.5 million pounds.
There are a few theories as to why the tower was built. One theory was that, Charles Boot constructed it so that he could see his wife’s grave in Bradfield churchyard across the valley. However, multiple sources state that the tower was built as a job-creation scheme for workers from Sugworth Hall during the depression.
The folly stands at 315 meters high and was constructed from leftover stone used to build the nearby Bents House. Today the structure is Grade II Listed. There used to be a wooden staircase inside the tower, but that was allegedly removed in the 1970s, after a cow got stuck at the top.
Thanks for reading. Please also watch my video below for a look inside the tower.
Hi, welcome to my blog if you are new here. If you are returning, welcome back.
This location has been on my to visit list for a while, but I never knew much history about it until I started doing research for this post. It is another one of the forgotten historically important places of Sheffield, that the council choose not to acknowledge.
There isn’t much left of the camp, as you can see from the pictures below, it is very overgrown and only foundations remain. The former camp is located in some public woodland off Redmires Road in Lodge Moor. The woodland gets a lot of foot traffic from walkers, runners and cyclists. If you did not know what these ruins were beforehand, there is no way of knowing as there is absolutely no interpretation or memorials on the site.
According to the book, Sheffield’s Great War and Beyond: 1916-1918 by Peter Warr, Redmires was initially used to accommodate the Sheffield City Battalion (Sheffield PALS), I believe from December 1914 until May of 1915. After this it was used for the the Royal Engineers until 1918. In 1918, it was opened as a prisoner of war camp, housing German prisoners until 1919. Peter also notes that the camp was used in 1920 by parties of school children, this would make sense as on some old maps the area near the camp is labelled “Redmires Special School”.
Sometime between 1918 and 1919, Hitlers chosen successor, Karl Dönitz was held at Redmires. When Dönitz was released from the camp and returned to Germany, he was made commander of the German U-boats, before becoming head of the German Navy. Eventually succeeding Hitler to become president of the German Reich.
The camp was also used in the Second World War, firstly for Italian prisoners, who were put to work on local farms and then after D-Day, it was used to house Germans. It is said that the camp housed between 10,000 to 12,000 inmates at its peak.
In 2019, archaeology students from the University of Sheffield excavated the site. Their report can be found here.
The former Lodge Moor hospital next to the camp, now apartments was once used as a fever isolation hospital. From what I have read online, during the First World War, there was an air landing strip next to the camp that was used to defend Sheffield against Zeppelin raids. However it was only used until 1916. In his book, Redmires – Tales From the Ridge, Keith Baker notes that the airfield was ceased due to protests that it would disturb patients at the hospital.
During the Victorian times, there was also a racecourse near to the site. However it was not in operation long, possibly due to it’s remote location from the city centre.
If you have anymore information, or anything I have written is incorrect, please leave me a note in the comments as some of the information that I have read has been contradictory.
If you intend to visit, there is parking on the road or there is a car park next to the recreation ground just past the Sportsman pub. Just be careful If you are walking, running, cycling or riding a horse, it seems to be a place frequented by quad bikers and off road motorcyclists.
Thank you for reading. Watch my video below for a more in depth look.
After doing some searching online for unusual free things in my area, I came across the Thurgoland Tunnels.
The 924ft long tunnels are located along the Trans Pennine Trail, a walking/ cycling path which runs along the old Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Manchester railway line. The line opened in 1845 but closed in 1983.
Only one of the two tunnels is open, the other is blocked off. If you clap your hands or make sound whilst in the tunnel, you will hear an unusual reverberating sound due to the acoustics in the tunnel.
If you intend just to visit the tunnel, I would suggest parking under the bridge on Cote Lane if you travel by car. The entrance to the trail is marked and is located at the side of the bridge.
The Grade I Listed Catcliffe Glass Cone in Rotherham was built in about 1740 and is the oldest remaining structure of its kind in Western Europe. It is one of 4 similar structures that remain in the UK.
The cone formed part of Catcliffe glass works, which was established by William Fenney in the eighteenth century. The works passed into the possession of Henry Blunn (date unknown) before being closed sometime between 1884 and 1887.
It is said that prisoners of war were housed here during the First World War and during the 1926 industrial disputes, the cone was used as a canteen for feeding children.
Glass making is an ancient craft and can be dated back to ancient Egypt. The industry increased in Western Europe around the 16th century when Industrialisation was on the increase.
At the beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of glass cones in the industrial areas of England. The unusual cone shaped buildings were developed due to shortages of timber fuels and so glass factories had to use coal to power their furnaces. The buildings would have a furnace in the centre and an underground flue. Fumes would be expelled through the apex of the tapering shell. The structure and the underground flue system was to increase the draft.
Glass cones fell into disuse when the Pilkingtons factory in St Helens, with it’s modern production techniques concentrated the industry, becoming the centre of the glass industry in Britain.
Other glass kilns in the UK are: Alloa in Scotland, Leamington and Stourbridge.
Thanks for reading. Have a look at my video below for a look inside.
Hidden away in the Moss Valley lies the remains of Seldom Seen Engine House. The engine house was once part of Plumbley Colliery. According to the publication North Derbyshire Collieries, Plumbley Colliery was sunk in about 1860 and closed in 1901.
There are two theories about how the engine house got it’s name. One is that the engine house was so hidden away it was ‘seldom seen’. The other theory is that the engine house was haunted and the ghost was seldom seen. I think the first is the more logical explanation as Plumbley Colliery was also known as the Seldom Seen Colliery. However, I prefer the latter.
Today the engine house is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as it is an unusually large and rare example of an engine house. There isn’t much left of the interior, it looks like the council have just used the inside to dump old signs, which is a shame. Some interpretation would be nice, it’s another one of Sheffield’s forgotten places sadly.
On the 16th of March in 1895, Percey Riley, 9, Esther Ann Riley, 11, and Rebecca Godson, 9, were playing on a cooling pond belonging to the colliery that had frozen over. The ice broke and the children fell into the freezing water. A 24-year-old engine man Alfred Williamson heard the children screaming and jumped into the pond to rescue them. Alfred and the children sadly drowned as they were unable to swim. Alfred’s headstone, which is also engraved with the names of the children resides in Eckington Churchyard.
At the time of the children’s death, their families could not afford headstones. In 2020, a local fundraising campaign by Natural Eckington raised enough money to place a headstone for each child in Eckington churchyard, there was also a service to remember the children and Alfred.
There doesn’t appear to be much more information about the colliery online, if you have any more info, please leave a note in the comments.
In a Sheffield suburb, on some common land lies a Victorian bath house called Birley Spa. The building dates back to 1842-3, when 2nd Earl of Manvers, Charles Herbert Pierrepoint opened the spa house.
A spring high in mineral content feeds the bath house, what locals have been bathing in for years, looking to benefit from the healing properties of the water.
The building is Grade II listed and is complete with plunge pool inside. It is the last remaining Victorian bath house still set in its original grounds in South Yorkshire.
In 1998, the spa received money from the National Lottery Heritage fund to restore the building. Typical of Sheffield Council, they attempted to sell the building and in 2018, putting it up for auction without any public consultation. Fortunately, the sale was postponed after local opposition. I believe that further talks with the community are ongoing. At the moment, the future of the bath house is still unknown.
The bath house is accessible down a small lane, there isn’t much to see and you cannot go inside or see inside of the building. Fingers crossed the building can be saved and some more interpretation can be added as it is a great local asset.
If you would like to help save the bath house, the Friends of Birley Spa welcome donations and support.
As I write this post it is the 4th of July so happy Independence Day.
I think the only positive outcome of the COVID-19 lockdown, for me anyway is that I have discovered many places in my local area that I never knew existed. As my educational background is in American studies, I was super excited when I discovered Boston Castle and the connection that it has with America.
The castle is not a castle as such, it was built as a hunting lodge for Thomas Howard, the 3rd Earl of Effingham in the late eighteenth century.
The castle got its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when colonists protested against the British crown for unfair taxation, throwing cases of tea into the sea.
Thomas served in the Coldstream Guards (the oldest continuously serving regiment in the British Army) and supported protests by the colonists in the USA. When Thomas’s regiment was ordered to America on active service, he resigned rather than support something that he did not believe in.
The castle today is managed by Rotherham Council, according to boards at the castle, they are looking for volunteers. I will link the website for the castle below should anyone be interested in helping out. I don’t want to put anyone off, but whilst I was doing my MA, I offered to volunteer with Rotherham Council heritage services as they were advertising for help and It was a requirement for my degree. They completely messed me about and I also found them to be incredibly unprofessional. However, considering that Rotherham council are one of the worst local authorities in the country, I should not have been so surprised.
The council also run tours of the castle (subject to change due to COVID).
There has been an ugly extension built on the side of the castle, I assume this was due to tight budgets not allowing something more in keeping with the original architecture.
There is a lovely view from the castle towards Sheffield and the grounds of Boston Park are nice to take a walk around.