Park Hill Flats, Sheffield.

If you have visited Sheffield, you will have seen the large geometric, concrete structure that overlooks the city. Like many other people, at one time, I thought the flats were an eyesore. However, over time, I have come to love the concrete Brutalist building.

I have to admit that, I am guilty of stereotyping. I was once very critical of all the post-war social housing in Sheffield. The once successful developments, were known as the ‘ghettos’ of the city. They gained a reputation of being places full of drugs and crime.

Park Hill was accompanied by Norfolk Park, Hyde Park, Kelvin, Woodside, Broomhall and Upperthorpe. Some have been partially demolished, and some have now completely gone.

Park Hill was built on the site of former back-to-back slums that were demolished in the 1930s due to crime and poor sanitation. Design work began on Park Hill in 1953. The architects responsible were, Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of J. L. Womersley, Sheffield Council’s City Architect. The flats were built between 1957 and 1961. Park Hill was inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation housing estate in Marseille and were called ‘Streets in the Sky’ due to the wider than normal corridors.

Unité d'habitation Marseille, France.jpg
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The idea behind the developments were to solve the need for more social housing. After the war, much of England was in ruin. To try and deal with the damage, overcrowding and poverty, Sheffield Council developed these new high-rise housing developments to attempt to solve the social problems of the time.

The developments had shared services such as pubs, healthcare facilities and schools. At first, all the developments were successful. However, it was not long before Park Hill became similar to the slum that it replaced. It was a familiar picture across Sheffield. The social high-rises of the 1960s, were now the cities ghettos. The Kelvin Flats, were demolished in 1995 and the Broomhall Flats in the late 1980s.

Park Hill was given a Grade II listing in 1998, making it the largest listed building in Europe. If it had not received this listing, chances are that it would have been torn down and today, the Sheffield skyline would look somewhat different. Thankfully, Urban Splash in partnership with English Heritage took on the renovation project, which commenced in 2009. The flats are being turned into upmarket apartments, student accommodation, business units and social housing. Phase 1 is already complete and Phase 2 is due to be completed by 2022.  

According to IMDB, Park Hill has being used as a filming location for the movies, ’71 (2014), The Earth Belongs to No One (2015), Lost in Transition (short) and Episode #1.3 of This Is England ’86 (2010).

Some of the apartments are on sale here.

My favourite part of the re-development are these stories from former residents set in stone on the exterior landscape.

https://www.urbansplash.co.uk/regeneration/projects/park-hill

Streets in the Sky – Hyde Park Flats 1988

https://municipaldreams.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/the-park-hill-estate-sheffield-streets-in-the-sky/

Abandoned Storr’s Bridge Works (Loxley, Sheffield)

WOW! What a place this is and I am really happy that I got to see it before it gets demolished, even though I know that I am a little late to the party. 28 Days Later and Derelict Places have lots of reports on this place, going back a few years, so you can take a look at how the place has deteriorated.

The footprint of this place is huge, the site was owned by Bovis Homes who bought the site back in 2006. They had planned to put 500 homes on the site. However, local opposition halted plans stating that the area could not sustain that many new homes, which I agree with 100%. I believe that discussions are underway once again to build on the site, but the plans have been scaled down. I personally think that the site should be made into some sort of nature reserve as it is located in a quiet valley surrounded by countryside.

The factory is known locally as the Storr’s Bridge Works. However, I believe that it has been occupied over the years by a few different companies, including Thomas Marshall and Co,  Hepworths and Carblox. The valley of Loxley supplied bricks to the Sheffield steel industry, beginning in the 1800s and ceasing in the 1990s. The area was rich in ganister which came from the Stannington pot clay seam. There were multiple mines in the area (I believe one may remain but I have yet to find it).

The factory closed when the demand for produce decreased alongside the decline of the steel industry in Sheffield.

There is hardly anything left of the factory today. Most of the interiors have been removed and what is left has been trashed. People have done a great deal of fly-tipping on the site also, which the council have failed to clean up.

The site is located along a public footpath and whilst there are some signs up that say “do not enter” the site is easily accessible due to the temporary fencing being removed in parts. There is some great graffiti (and some not so great) on the buildings. The most interesting part of the site was being able to walk through what I think are the old furnaces, but you will have to watch my video in order to see that :).

If anyone reading this worked at the factory, please comment and share your memories as I would love to hear them.

If lockers could talk. I bet these have heard some stories.

Sheffield General Cemetery

October 31st 2020.

https://www.gencem.org/

Halloween is one of my favourite times of year. However, Halloween 2020 was a little different. I did not decorate this year as I did not want to encourage trick or treaters. I still wanted to do something for Halloween so I decided to take a walk to Sheffield General Cemetery. A little odd? Maybe, but the cemetery is actually a Grade II listed park, Conservation Area, Local Nature Reserve and Area of Natural History Interest..

The cemetery opened 1836 and was the principal burial ground in Victorian Sheffield containing the graves of 87,000 people. It was one of the earliest commercial cemeteries in Britain. Today, it contains the largest collection of listed buildings and monuments in Sheffield, ten in total including Grade II listed catacombs, an Anglican Chapel, with the Gatehouse, Non-conformist Chapel and the Egyptian Gateway, each listed at Grade II*.

The Cemetery was closed for burial in the late 1970s. Sheffield City Council removed many of the gravestones in the Anglican area to create more green space near to the city centre. The remains of those buried were not disturbed.

Cemetery residents include:

  • George Bassett (1818–1886). Founder of The Bassett Company—the company that invented Liquorice Allsorts. Mayor of Sheffield (1876).
  • George Bennett (1774–1841). Founder of the Sheffield Sunday School movement. The memorial to him (c.1850) is Grade II listed.
  • John, Thomas, and Skelton Cole. Founders of Sheffield’s Cole Brothers department store in 1847—now part of the John Lewis Partnership.
  • Francis Dickinson (1830–1898). One of the soldiers who fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean war.
  • William Dronfield (1824–1891). Founder of the United Kingdom Alliance of Organised Trades, which inspired the creation of the Trades Union Congress.
  • Mark Firth (25 April 1819–28 November 1880). Steel manufacturer, Master Cutler (1867), Mayor of Sheffield (1874), and founder of Firth College in 1870 (later University of Sheffield). The monument to Mark Firth is Grade II listed, the railings that surround it were made at Firth’s Norfolk Works.
  • William Flockton, architect.
  • John Gunson (1809–1886). Chief engineer of the Sheffield Water Company at the time of the collapse of Dale Dyke Dam on 11 March 1864, which resulted in the Great Sheffield Flood. Samuel Harrison, who documented the flood, and 77 of the flood’s victims are also buried in the cemetery.
  • Samuel Holberry (1816–1842). A leading figure in the Chartist movement.
  • Isaac Ironside (1808–1870). Chartist and local politician.
  • James Montgomery (1771–1854). Poet/Publisher. The grave and Grade II listed monument to James Montgomery, were moved to the grounds of Sheffield Cathedral in 1971.
  • James Nicholson (died 1909). Prominent Sheffield industrialist. The memorial that he commissioned for himself and his family c.1872 is Grade II listed.
  • William Parker, merchant. The monument to William Parker, erected in 1837 by the merchants and manufacturers of Sheffield, is Grade II listed.
  • William Prest (died 1885). Cricketer and footballer born in York, who lived most of his life in Sheffield. Co-founder of Sheffield Football club.

(source Wikipedia)

Shiregreen Working Mens Club, Home of the Full Monty.

A post came up on my Instagram feed by Heritage Sheffield which stated that, the Shiregreen Working Men’s Club, where the penultimate strip scene from the 2007 movie, the Full Monty was filmed, is to be demolished. Horrified, I immediately picked up my camera and ventured across the city to take some pictures of the club whilst it was still there. Local petitions temporary halted demolition plans. However, since then Eyre Investments, who own the land, have been granted permission from Sheffield Council to demolish the club and build on the land.

In my opinion, Sheffield Council were always going to grant permission for the demolition of the club. Sheffield Council is one of the most corrupt local councils in the country. I am sure I need to say no more. Like many other important Sheffield landmarks, it is to be lost forever. We have lost our industry, we have lost Don Valley, the Cooling Towers, The Hole in the Road, and we are soon to lose the Shops on Division Street. As a native of Sheffield, I feel that Sheffield is losing its identity.

The Shiregreen WMC opened in 1919 on Shiregreen Lane and moved to its current location in 1928. The club closed in 2018, after 99 years of operation.

Traditionally, WMC’s were to provide recreation and education for the working-class communities, mostly in the industrial north of England. However, they were mostly recreational, with their peak being in the 1970s. Normally, clubs required membership with thousands more waiting on the lists to become members of their local club.

Slowly, WMC’s started to decline in the 1980s. The pits closed and so did the steelworks. Changing social patterns, Sky TV, and cheap supermarket alcohol hit the WMC’s hard. The 2007 smoking ban also caused further decline for the clubs. Traditionally, the WMC’s were smoke-filled buildings, bad for your health, sure. However, it was just part of their identity.

Within a few miles of the Shiregreen Club, there are several other WMC’s still operational. However, it makes you wonder, how long can these clubs stay open? The area that surrounds Shiregreen WMC is already a deprived area. WMC’s served as community hubs, whilst as a nation, we are losing our sense of community. Rather than thinking about lining their pockets, I think Sheffield Council should consider its people and communities a little more.

Thanks for reading.

I’m not sure if it is too late, but please sign the petition below:

http://chng.it/4ss2pKf9Yq

Charcoal Burner’s Memorial in Ecclesall Woods.

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.

Grade II Listed Headstone.

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.

I also have a YouTube channel, I would really appreciate if you could like my video and subscribe to my channel 🙂

The point on the map shows the approximate location of the pond and monument.

Sources:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1271384

Boot’s Folly, Sheffield.

Hello, welcome to my blog.

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.

Sources and further reading:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1203769

The Remains of Britain’s Largest Prisoner of War Camp.

Lodge Moor, Sheffield, July 05 2020.

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.

This is the only sign that references the camp.
Sheffield’s only Prisoner of War camp, once known as “Redmires” or the Lodge Moor Camp.

Sources and further reading:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-48869080

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lodge-moor-pow-camp-ruins

https://darkyorkshire.wordpress.com/tag/redmires/

Sheffield’s Great War and Beyond: 1916-1918 by Peter Warr

Hitler’s Hangmen: The Secret German Plot to Kill Churchill December 1944 by Brian Lett

Seldom Seen Engine House in Sheffield, England.

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.

Thanks for reading.

Grade I listed St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Eckington
War memorial

Sources and further reading:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1017746

https://www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/news/people/forgotten-children-who-died-eckington-colliery-accident-be-remembered-125-years-later-1887992

Birley Spa Bath House, Sheffield, England.

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.

https://www.friendsofbirleyspa.org/

https://www.birleyspa.co.uk/

This is the only interpretation board near the bath house, surely the council could replace it with a new one?

RAF Norton Aerodrome

This site is very overgrown, there is a lot of rubbish; an old van, broken caravan and litter. It looks like people have used it as a dumping ground. There are some buildings left but they are pretty trashed and are covered in graffiti. I do not know what the future of the site is. Earlier this year the Sheffield Star published as story which stated that the buildings are to be demolished. However, the future of the site is currently unknown.

It would be nice if the council converted into a park as the site is huge and there are some lovely wildflowers. However, it is prime real estate and I would have thought that Sheffield Council will put houses on it, or sell it for housing eventually. It is in a Green Belt area so maybe that will have some say on what the site will be used for in the future.

There is not a great deal of information online about the site. I assume that the local archive will have more, but with COVID, it is currently closed. The air base began as the No 16 Balloon Training Centre in 1939, and was the home of three squadrons of barrage balloons to fend off attacks.

In 1943, the balloons were transferred to London and Norton was used as a station in the in the Royal Auxiliary Air force Signals Group, concerned mainly with radar & radio equipment, becoming the n°3 Ground Radio Servicing Squadron. This continued until 1965, when under an RAF reorganisation the Squadron was moved to Rutland. RAF Norton officially closed in January 1965.

In the 1970s, the site was owned by the NHS. There were plans to build a third big hospital for Sheffield on the site. However, for whatever reason, this did not happen. I remember learning to drive here as a teenager, I think it was £5 and parents used to take their kids there to practice along the runways. That was in the early 2000s. I believe this ceased as the council felt there were too many health and safety issues. However, as you can see from the pictures, the site is very easily accessible and there were a lot of people milling around, some people on quad bikes, motorbikes, etc. I think it is more of a health and safety hazard now than when it was used as learner driver training.

Thanks for reading.