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

Monk Bretton Priory

August 2020

Monk Bretton has been closed since March due to COVID. Although it is a free site, sadly in the past, the ruin has been damaged by vandals and so the site can not remain open at all times. Despite the site being free entry, the gates get locked every day at 3pm and re-open at 10am.

It is unfortunate that Monk Bretton does not get the same protection as other English Heritage sites. Roche Abbey is similar in size and yet that is a staffed site. During my visit I witnessed an incredibly ignorant individual who was climbing up the ruin (I have made a video with a little more information and a picture of said individual below). As Monk Bretton is un-staffed, English Heritage rely on people using common sense and being respectful, clearly they cannot rely on this. I do think they need more signs that say ‘DO NOT CLIMB ON THE RUIN’. If this fails, I personally think that the gates should remain locked and only opened maybe once a month when it can be staffed.

From what I can gather, the volunteers of this site take care of it, rather than English Heritage that doesn’t seem to care much. The gatekeepers are volunteers, which makes it more upsetting when you see litter, graffiti and idiots climbing the ruins.

Monk Bretton was founded in about 1154, by a local landowner called Adam Fitzswaine. The priory served as a daughter house to the rich Cluniac priory at Pontefract. After 50 years of disagreements, Monk Bretton seceded from Cluniac Order in 1281 and became a Benedictine house.

The priory was quite substantial as it owned properties across South Yorkshire, with rights over five parish churches. It is also said that Monk Bretton worked coal and ironstone in the Barnsley area. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, Monk Bretton was closed and materials from the priory were used elsewhere.

The priory passed into the ownership of the Blithman family and then in 1589 the estate was bought by William Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. He converted the west range of the cloister into a country house for his son Henry.

Today, the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and now in the care of English Heritage/ volunteers.

Thanks for reading.

South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster.

https://www.southyorkshireaircraftmuseum.org.uk/

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.

Hawker BAE
Westland Seaking HAS.6 XV677
A few aircraft on display outside.
Hangar displays
Hangar displays
Wartime Store

As of 2020, admissions were:

Adult £6.50

Children (5-16) £3

Senior Citizen £5.50

Family £15

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

Elsecar Heritage Centre

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

Read More

www.elsecar-heritage.com

www.wentworthwoodhouse.co.uk

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

Thurgoland Tunnels

Barnsley, England, July 5th 2020.

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 tunnels are along the Upper Don Trail
The tunnels are along the Upper Don Trail
The second tunnel
The second tunnel

Catcliffe Glass Kiln, Rotherham, England.

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.

Sorry for the dull picture, the weather was terrible when I visited.

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.

Sources:

New Scientist, 4 Jul 1974.

http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/graphics/Visiting/Family%2BAttractions/EDSCatcliffeGlassCone.htm

Conservation and Restoration of Glass, Sandra Davison, R.G. Newton

Tea Party at Boston Castle, Rotherham, England.

Visit date – 3rd July 2020.

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.

Thanks for reading.

http://bostoncastle-rotherham.co.uk/index.html