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

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?

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

Tupholme Abbey, Lincolnshire, England.

Tupholme Abbey was a Premonstratensian monastery, founded between 1155-65.  It was relatively small, of up to 12 canons and had limited endowments in the county of Lincolnshire. Along with other Lincolnshire monastic sites, Tupholme was involved in the wool export trade.

From the time of St Augustine’s mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597, to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.

The abbey was dissolved in 1536, after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. The property was granted to Sir Thomas Heneage of Hainton. Thereafter the site was occupied by a country house, demolished around the beginning of the 18th century and replaced in the 19th century by cottages and a farmhouse, which were also dismantled in 1986.

What remains today is a mixture of the abbey and the post-medieval buildings.

Barlings Abbey, Lincolnshire

Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire is the remains of a Premonstratensian Abbey. It was founded in around 1154 by a local landowner named Ralph de Haya, with the first canons coming from Newsham Abbey near Grimsby.

After the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536, the abbot and 6 of the canons were executed. The Lincolnshire Rising was a protest against Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries.  At the time, Barlings was classed as one of the greater abbeys as it had an income of over £200 and was one of the wealthiest houses in Lincolnshire.

The abbey was suppressed in 1537, lead was stripped from the roof and the Abbots books and other possessions were removed and sold.  The abbey fell into ruin with much of the stonework being used to build local farm houses.

Today, not much remains, below are a few images from my recent visit.

Broomhead Hall, Sheffield.

Copyright © Sheffield City Council.

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.[1]  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[2] 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[3], a carved oak sideboard dated 1601, and a long oak table dated 1588, all Wilson family heirlooms, that were shipped to America.[4] Some other items from the house are now on display at Bishops’ House in Norton Lees in Sheffield.[5]  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. [6] 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.

If you are interested, the ruins of Sutton Scardsale Hall and Errwood Hall can be seen up close.


[1] Booth, J., Bygones of Bradfield Volume 2, 1988. Sheffield: Hilltop Press, p 54.

[2] Booth, J., 1988,p 55.

[3] Branston, J., Pennine People & Places – Stocksbridge & District War Memorial History of Stocksbridge – Volume Two, 1980. N.P. PP25.         

[4] Branston, J., 1980.

[5] Bishops’ House. Available Online: https://www.bishopshouse.org.uk/

[6] Hunter, M., Preserving the past: the rise of heritage in modern Britain (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1996) p 99.