As the lock down has now eased slightly, it is nice to be able to get out a little more. Many places are still closed, but there are a few places that are un-manned that you are free to walk around, maintaining social distancing of course. My trip out took me to Barnsley Main Colliery. In 1862, the colliery was producing 180,000 tons of coal. The pit closed in 1991, the site was cleared apart from the headgear and buildings, which were to be preserved as a memory of the history and heritage of the areas mining past. As well as a way to remember men that tragically lost their lives in the Oaks Colliery disaster.
The Oaks Colliery at Hoyle Mill suffered a series of explosions in December of 1866, where 361 people, including rescue workers were killed. However, researchers today suggest that number is closer to 380. It is still to this day the worst mining disaster in England.
The colliery is cared for by the Barnsley Main Heritage group. https://barnsleymainheritagegroup.com/ There is a small car park but it is not always open if there are no volunteers on site. I recommend parking at the nearby Abbey Lane car park and walking to the colliery from there.
My first post lockdown trip took me to Hoober Stand near Wentworth in Rotherham. I’ve driven past this many times and never looked into what it was until now. The tower is Grade II* listed and was built between 1746 and 1748 by English architect Henry Flitcroft. The purpose of the tower was to celebrate the role that Whig aristocrat Thomas Watson-Wentworth, Earl of Malton (later the 1st Marquess of Rockingham) played during the quashing of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. The tower’s name, Hoober Stand, comes from the nearby settlement of Hoober.
You can go up the tower, there is a small fee of £2.50 and it is open 2–5 pm on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays from the spring bank holiday weekend until the last Sunday in September.
Errwood Hall is located in the Goyt Valley near Buxton. From what I have read, the hall was built in around 1845, for a wealthy merchant from Manchester called Samuel Grimshawe.
The Grimshawes loved to travel and would bring back exotic plants which they would plant in the gardens of their home. As you walk up to where the hall once stood, you can imagine what these gardens used to be like even though they are now overgrown.
The last surviving family member, Mary Grimshawe-Gosselin died in 1930. The contents of the house were auctioned by auctioneers Turner and Son. The hall itself was purchased by the Stockport Water Corporation in connection with the construction of the nearby Fernilee Reservoir. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1934.
Below are a few images that I took whilst visiting, it was in the middle of the day so the light and shadows were a little harsh. The hall is a popular lunch stop for hikers, I have been on a weekend and there were lots of people sat around the ruins, so I went back on a week day to get some photos with no people in.
I remember as a child going on a walk around the Wilson Family estate at Broomhead near to our home in Sheffield. I recall very clearly seeing a stone outline visible though the grass where Broomhead Hall once stood. I also remember seeing what was left of the lavish gardens that once surrounded the house. I Recall feeling a sense of sadness that such a beautiful house had been demolished and an important part of local history removed.
There is not much information on Broomhead, what I managed to find, I got from Sheffield library, most of which has been written by local historians rather than academics. Not to say that it is not correct, but information about Broomhead does not seem to appear in any academic literature on the Lost Heritage of Britain, which there is a lot of.
Broomhead Hall was built in 1831, after the previous house had been destroyed by fire. The Broomhead estate was (and still is) the home of the Wilson family, however, the main hall was demolished in 1980. Prior to the hall being demolished, it was used to house farm workers and to store potatoes. It had then been an office for an insurance company as well as being requisitioned by the army during World War II as many other grand houses were. The rumour locally was that the entire house was shipped over to America. However, from my research I could only locate a staircase, a carved oak sideboard dated 1601, and a long oak table dated 1588, all Wilson family heirlooms, that were shipped to America. Some other items from the house are now on display at Bishops’ House in Norton Lees in Sheffield. As for the fate of the stone, that still remains a mystery, but local forums say that it was used locally.
Broomhead was not alone in it’s fate, over 1200 country houses have been demolished in England since the year 1900 and in the period between the two world wars, over five percent of country houses were demolished.  Looking back on this now, this is hard to believe. Imagine demolishing Chatswoth, it would be unthinkable. Prior to the 1960s, attitudes were different towards country houses and the aristocracy in general. The public felt little or no empathy for the struggles of the landed elite and the sales and demolishment of country houses was not of great public concern. I think now we generally feel very different towards country houses, regardless to attitudes towards the aristocracy, I think most can appreciate that country houses are an important part of the history and heritage of our nation.
Angel Island is located in the San Francisco Bay area, just across the water from it’ more famous neighbour, Alcatraz. There is a lot to see on Angel Island, and one day is definitely not enough time, especially if you are on foot.
Obviously you can not take your car on Angel Island, but you can take a bike, or hire one there. We were on foot but the next time I visit, I will definitely hire a bike as there is not enough time in a day to see everything if you are walking. There are also segway and tram tours that you can take https://angelisland.com/ .
Flora and Fauna
Angel Island has a lot to see and there are things for people with a variety of different interests. For starters, the scenery on the island is incredible, with views of the whole bay area. You can see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco on a clear day. As well as the beautiful scenery, Angel Island has an array of birds, Canadian Geese, hummingbirds, juncos and scooters to name but a few. There are also many other species of wildlife that inhabit the island, including, raccoons and deer. The island is also home to native and non-native plants. The military planted various trees and shrubs during their time on the island, including Monterey cypress and eucalyptus. Plants native to the island include; Coyote brush and elderberry.
In 1863, the federal government established Camp Reynolds (West Garrison, named after the first officer to fall at Gettysburg) on the island.
In 1899, a quarantine station was established at Fort McDowell in order to isolate troops who had been exposed to contagious diseases while serving overseas.
Angel Island was home to one of 19 immigration stations that were established in the early 20th century. Angel Island was the main station for immigrants arriving from the Pacific, mostly Asian, especially Chinese. However, some non-Asian immigrants did pass through (see my post on Ellis Island for immigration from the Atlantic).
Below are a few images that I took whilst on the island. You are free to walk around and have a look at most of the buildings. You cannot go inside a lot of them due to health and safety. There are some buildings that are used to house staff, signposting is not always clear and they tend to shout at people if they get too close. In my personal opinion, the interpretation could be greatly improved. There are interpretation boards dotted around but I think there could be loads more done in terms of telling the story of the island. There is a museum which tells you a lot about the island, but it would be nice for more of the buildings to be open for visitors to look around and to learn about what purpose they served.
I have visited the Owens Valley on Vacation a number of times. My first visit was back in 2012. However, it was not until 2017, that I finally visited Manzanar, after driving past it numerous times.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the U.S. government began making plans for the incarceration of Japanese-Americans. On the 19th of February, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers. The order resulted in over 100,000 Japanese-Americans being removed from their homes and placed in internment camps.
The camps were located in isolated areas where the weather could be burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. People had to leave behind their businesses and possessions, taking only what they could carry.
After my visit to Manzanar, I seemed to come across lots of information relating to the persecution of Japanese Americans during World War II. I think after visiting Manzanar and the emotional effect that it had on me, things just caught my eye more. For example, I was watching a documentary on art in San Francisco, and I learnt about the photographs that Dorothea Lange captured of Japanese-Americans, in the early 1940s. Then whilst doing some research for a paper that I was writing for my MA on the California Water Wars, I came across a fascinating book by Karen Piper called Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. In short, the book tells the story about how the people and environment of the Owens Valley have suffered since the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built to divert the course of the Owens River in 1913. The fugitive dust from the drying of the Owens Lake caused toxic dust storms in the valley where Manzanar is located, meaning Manzanar detainees were subject to this dust. The dust has been known to cause disease and death among the people that inhaled it. Not only were these poor people forcefully removed from their homes, but they were also subject to toxic dust, from which they could not escape (n.b. at the time Manzanar was in operation, no-one knew the dust was toxic).
By November of 1945, Manzanar was deserted, the war had ended and the Japanese-Americans returned home. However, some people had no home to go back to. It took another 44 years for the US government to apologise to those interned at Manzanar. Camp survivors were given $20,000 by president Ronald Reagan.
Prior to the drying of the Owens Lake, the area where Manzanar is located was full of beautiful fruit orchards. The Owens River provided ample irrigation for the growing of produce and the area was named after the Spanish word for apple, ‘manzana’.
After the war ended, Manzanar was razed. However, many of the buildings were sold to local residents of the Owens Valley. When Manzanar was preparing to be opened to the public, the NPS attempted to relocate the original buildings. However, they did not have much luck. They did manage to reclaim a building that was at Bishop airport, but many of the buildings that are there today are replicas.
I have wanted to visit Ellis Island since learning about immigration during my undergraduate degree. I finally got there in 2019, and I certainly was not disappointed.
Ellis Island first opened it’s doors in 1892, and closed in 1954. At it’s peak, approximately 5,000-10,000 immigrants passed through Ellis Island every day. It is estimated that about 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island during the time of its operation.
Several laws and legislation were put in place to restrict immigration starting in 1882, with the Chinese Exclusion Act. This was followed in 1894, by the Immigration Restriction League and the Dillingham Commission in 1911. In 1917, literacy tests were introduced meaning that immigrants had to pass reading and writing tests in order to be granted entry to the US. This meant that many poorer immigrants, especially those from eastern Europe, with no education failed the tests and were denied entry. The Immigrant Quota Act of 1921, restricted immigrant numbers to 357,000 per year, and the National Origins Act of 1924, reduced immigration even further to 150,000 per year. A culmination of these resulted in Ellis Island becoming redundant and finally closing it’s doors in 1954.
On the 11th of May 1965, Ellis Island became part of the National Park Service and in 1976, Ellis Island opened to the public. In 1984, it was renovated with $160 million from donations made to The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the National Park Service. The project was completed in 1990, and Ellis Island reopened to the public.
Below are a few pictures that I took whilst visiting Ellis Island along with a video for a more in-depth look inside the buildings. I tried to include as much of the museum as I could on the video for those people who can not get there in person.
Located on the 1st Floor is the Baggage Room, Journeys: The Peopling of America 1550-1890, Journeys: New Eras of Immigration 1945- Present, and the American Family Immigration History Center. On the 2nd Floor there is the Registry Room (Great Hall), the Hearing Room, Theater 2, and two exhibit galleries: Through America’s Gate and Peak Immigration Years: 1880-1924. Finally, located on the 3rd floor there is the Bob Hope Memorial Library, Dormitory Room, and the exhibits: Ellis Island Chronicles, Treasures From Home, Silent Voices, and Restoring a Landmark.
I would definitely advise you to book an early security check (the ticket time is your security check time, not your ferry time). I arrived at 8.30 am (my ticket time was 9 am) and there was no line so I got straight through. By the time I returned from the island, just after lunch time the queue was huge.
There is a free audio guide also included in your ticket price. On both Liberty Island and Ellis Island there are cafe’s, but the food could definitely be improved, they only seemed to serve fast food. I was there in the morning and there were no breakfast options.
Ellis Island is open every day except the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving) and December 25.
More information on the history of Ellis Island can be found here and here.
The main reason that I visited the MET whist I was in New York was to look for a staircase that was once located inside Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire. I think I covered just about all of the museum but unfortunately, I could not seem to find the staircase anywhere.
The MET is gigantic and you need at least a day to look around the museum and if you want to read everything, probably a week. The museum is so big they have the whole facade of a building located in the American Wing, in the The Charles Engelhard Court (picture below).
I only took photographs on my phone so the quality is not great. There is also a short video at the end of the open storage, which I thought was a great idea as most museums do not let the public access their storage.
The MET first opened on February 20, 1872, at 681 Fifth Avenue. In 1871, the museum was granted land between the East Park Drive, Fifth Avenue, and the 79th and 85th Street in Central Park, which is where it resides today. The building has over 2,000,000 square feet of floor space and is 20 times the size of the original building.
Just a few things to note before you go. I got there at about 9.50 am, the museum opens at 10 am and there was a queue of people already waiting for the museum to open. Once the doors open, the queues went down pretty quickly. There are machines inside the main entrance where you can buy tickets, or you can buy them in advance online.
I was especially interested in the whole rooms that the MET had on display. Unfortunately, only one of the pictures came out on my phone.
I had planned on visiting Brodsworth Hall this weekend, but with the recent floods and some roads still being closed off, I decided to leave that trip for another time. It was a beautiful November morning and I didn’t feel like driving anywhere, so I picked up my camera and had a walk around Sheffield. This is something I have been meaning to do for a while but I have never got around to doing it. I suppose you take things from granted when they are on your doorstep and as I was walking around, I definitely felt a sense of regret that I had not done this years ago as there are many places that are long gone. I think I will do some more posts on Sheffield at a later date as there are many other places that I want to photograph. But for now, below are a few pictures that I took on Sunday, along with a bit of history about the content of the pictures. I welcome people to correct any errors I may have made, or add any information they may wish in the comments.
Bishops’ House is a Grade II Listed farmhouse located in Meersbrook Park. It is open to the public on weekends only from 10am until 4pm. The house was built in around 1500 and was the home of the Blyth family until 1753.
There isn’t a great deal of information on the internet about Meersbrook Hall and unfortunately I don’t have the time to do more detailed research as my Masters dissertation is looming. TheFriends of Meersbrook Hallhave a great website though, with lots of information and history about the hall. The date of construction seems to be unknown but the website states that, “the earliest documentary evidence of a building at Meersbrook Hall are the notes of William Fairbank, of alterations he made to an existing building in 1759″. A plan of the estate in 1770 shows a single building on the site and in 1819, an extension was added. Meersbrook Hall housed the Ruskin Collection from 1890 to 1953.
Pinder Brothers have been in operation since 1877, and the company has been run by seven successive generations of the Pinder family for over 140 years. They moved to the above location at Sheaf Plate Works on the corner of Arundel Street and Matilda Street in 1939. There is a more detailed history on their website. I think it’s wonderful that they are still a thriving business and I love that the building probably looks much the same as it did in 1939. The building is also home to other craftsmen and women, who rent out spaces for their trades. There is an article that the Star newspaper did back in 2017, which you can read by clicking here.
Sadly, this building looks like it’s derelict. I can’t find a lot of information on Biggins Bros. but the sign on the building states they were established in 1856 and were Electro Platers. From what I can gather, they went out of business in the year 2000.
Butcher Works is a former cutlery works located on Arundel Street. The works were originally founded by William and Samuel Butcher, who began manufacturing steel in 1819. Today, the buildings are Grade II listed for their architectural and historical significance within the city of Sheffield. The buildings were refurbished as flats and workshops partly due to a £1.2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There is a nice cafe located in the works called Fusion Organic Cafe.
I wish Heeley still had a station as it’s just down the road from my house, I believe that this building is now a scrap yard. The station originally opened in 1870, serving the Midland Railway’s line between Chesterfield and Sheffield. It closed on the 10th of June in 1968.
This Grade II Listed Police Box is located outside the Town Hall and was installed in 1928, as part of 120 police boxes in Sheffield. It is the only one that remains in Sheffield. More information can be found by clicking here.
I think this is one of those buildings, like Park Hill Flats that you either love or hate. This may not be the most attractive of buildings, but personally i’m glad it’s still here as much of the old Sheffield is disappearing. In the 1980s and 90s, the Roxy was the biggest club in Sheffield. I remember as a kid seeing the glowing red sign on the side of the building. I’ve not been able to find a lot of history on the building itself, but at one time it was owned by a guy called Barry Noble, who advertised the club with the catchphrase “is that alright fyuzs”. Noble owned other amusement arcades and nightclubs, including the Astoria in Nottingham. He allegedly died in 1985, but there seems to be some ambiguity surrounding his death. The Roxy attracted performers such as Kyle Minogue, Jason Donovan and New Order, who played there in 1987. It was also the location of the TV show, Hitman and Her from 1988 until 1992. The Roxy remained a club until 1998-1999 (I can’t find the exact date). Later in it’s life, the building was home to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church before it became the Carling Academy in 2008, and then the O2 Academy when Telefónica Europe became the new sponsor of all Academy venues.
James Montgomery was born in Scotland in 1771, but moved to Sheffield in 1792. He made his name as a poet and achieved some fame with The Wanderer of Switzerland, which he wrote in 1806. He died aged 82 in 1854. I have to admit, I had never heard of him until I took this photograph. If you want more information on James, you can find it by clicking here.
I always associate Paradise Square with solicitors offices (most of the buildings are office spaces today), but at one time it a place where people came to hear preachers speak or for public meetings. The Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information formed here in 1791 and it was said to be the only square where all major political meetings of all types were held. More information can be found by clicking here and here.
The West Bar Station was built in 1900, and was home to the police, fire and ambulance services. Today, the building is home to theNational Emergency Services Museum. I will do a separate post on this museum sometime in the future.
I’ve seen this building many times as you can’t miss the striking signs located on the side, but I have never looked into what it was. From what I have found, Woollen & Co Ltd was established by sign-writer, James Woollen and lithographic printer, Frederick Ibbotson in 1883. The company moved from this location in 2005, and ceased trading in 2008. I have found a Sheffield company that are trading under the name Woollen Group (website here). Their website states they are formerly Woollen Signs Ltd, but were only established in 2007 so i’m unsure as to if they are the same company. Personally, I think it would be great for this building to be refurbished, keeping the wonderful signage on the front in respect of the past.
Alfred Beckett & Sons Ltd were established in 1839, and were a saw file and tool manufacturers located at Brooklyn Works on Green Lane. In 1967, Alfred Beckett & Sons was purchased by Tempered Spring Company Ltd. Tempered Spring was founded in 1895, as a subsidiary of Laycocks. It seems that they dissolved in 2015.
Wharncliffe Works was built in c1861 for Steel & Garland, manufacturers of stoves, grates and fenders. If you want to read more, click here.
George Barnsley & Sons were founded in 1836. They moved to Cornish Works (pictured above) in 1849. Their main focus was the manufacture of files and cutting tools for leather workers and associated industries. Today, they are still in operation, however, they have moved from Cornish Works to Mowbray Street and are a subsidiary of Mowbray Manufacturing Co Ltd. When I walked past Cornish Works it looks like the building is currently being refurbished. I hope they keep the old signage. There are some amazing pictures on the websiteBehind Closed Doorsof the inside the building.
All that remains of Don Brewery is this sign. A H Smith & Co. Ltd were founded in 1828. They were acquired by Tennant Brothers Ltd of Exchange Brewery in 1915. A H Smith closed in 1917 and their buildings were sadly demolished in 1994. Tennant Brothers Ltd were Acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in 1961. However, they closed the brewery in 1993. The Exchange Brewery buildings remain, but have been mostly converted to offices.
W.W. Laycock & Sons Ltd. were silversmiths and suppliers to the metal finishing trade. From what I can gather,they are still operational, but I don’t think they are still in Sheffield. The building above on Suffolk Road is now the premises of Student Roost. There are some great images of what the building looked like before it was refurbished here.
Thomas Boulsover (1705 – 1788) was a Sheffield Cutler who famously stumbled upon a process that became known as Old Sheffield Plate in 1743. He served an apprentice as a cutler until 1726, and in around 1740, set up his own workshop on the corner of Tudor Street and Surrey Street. There is another memorial to Thomas at Whiteley Woods on the hillside between Wire Mill Dam.
Thanks for reading. Please add any more information, or correct any errors that I may have made in the comments :).
Conisbrough Castle is located just outside Rotherham in South Yorkshire and is managed by English Heritage. The original Castle was built by William De Warenne, the 1st Earl of Surrey who was the son-in-law of William the 1st (William the Conqueror) sometime in the 11th century . The castle passed to Isabel De Warenne in 1147, and the keep was built by her husband, Hamelin Plantagenet in the late 1170s or 1180s. The castle inspired Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe, published in 1819.
I did not visit, but the nearby Anglican Church of St Peter has stood in Conisborough since the 8th century, and is the oldest standing building in South Yorkshire.
Personally, I always prefer English Heritage places over National Trust, I think it’s because I find ruins more fascinating. I really enjoyed Conisbrough Castle. However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you plan on visiting. Firstly, the parking. I usually look in advance before I travel on what the situation is with parking, but this time I did not. When I arrived at the castle the signposts send you into a privately run car park. I parked up and got my little pot of car park change from my glove box that I keep for such situations. I went to find the machine, but there was not one in sight. The car park requires you to either download an app, or to call and pay by card. Bear in mind that parking is 50p an hour. I thought this seemed like a lot of faff for 50p. I tried scanning the QR code, like the sign said, but nothing happened, so I drove out of the car park and parked on a nearby street. I don’t usually like parking in residential areas as I’ve had bad experiences with people who don’t like you parking in front of their houses, even though you can park where you like as long as there are no parking restrictions, or you aren’t blocking anyone ones access, etc. But, often people get real funny about parking. Anyway, there is plenty of free on street parking, that isn’t outside anyone’s house, if you don’t mind a short walk to the castle. If the car park was English Heritage, I would have paid the money, but as it was a private company, I did not bother. I think this is a bad call from English Heritage. If people don’t have a mobile with them, I know my parents don’t always take their mobile phone out with them, how are you meant to pay? Or if you don’t take your bank card out with you, you can’t pay as there is no machine.
The other thing to consider at Conisbrough is that there are narrow stone stairs in the castle with no lift. If you are disabled or have push chairs, you might not be able to access the castle, but I would double check with English Heritage before you go.