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No. 2 : JULY 1986



The Heeley History Workshop has been going for about three years now meeting and recording local people’s memories of everyday life in the Heeley of the 1930's 1920's and earlier. It is organised by Heeley Adult Education out at is the older members of the group who are one experts because only they can tell the "youngsters" in the group about a way of life which by now has all but disappeared.

Earlier this year. we were invited to contribute to the Local History Fair at the Town Hall in March so we decided as an experiment to try producing a booklet from the hundreds of hours of memories we had collected the enormous work of going through the writing up extracts, and than trying to cut it down to some. thing short enough was all done by the regular members of the Workshop working together in teams.

The March 1986 booklet which resulted proved very popular, with copies left over after the Fair being rapidly snapped up by friends and neighbours. We have had tire kinds of comment iron people who have read it One is: "I need another three!" or "When's the next one coming out?" The other is: "That bit ‘s not right!" or "You've left cut such and such!"

Any new information that adds to what we've already got, or that corrects some-thing that somebody hasn’t remembered correctly, is very welcome because the most important thing is to get together a picture as accurate and as detailed as possible: while those who can remember are still around to tell us.

So, if you think you help, please don't keep it to yourself. Tell one of the regular members, or write to Heeley history Workshop at the address below, or, best of all, come along to Heeley Bank School any school - term Monday afternoon and join in our conversations about old heeley

We have disagreements in the friendliest of ways! - in our conversations too. It usually turns out in the end that both people’s memories were correct, but they were talking about different or sometimes slightly different places in Heeley. In the March booklet, the dates were generally left out in the rush to got it ready, so we apologies for any confusion caused!

We have tried to make the dates a bit clearer in this booklet. But if you can put us right on anything, or add to it, please do let us know.

We are now planning a Number Three, for October, with a few new topics plus further extracts on topics already begun in the first two booklets. If we get enough feed-back from readers, we may be able to include a "Comments Page". Finally, if you haven’t been able to get held of the March edition, we still have a few left.


Oliver Blensdorf, tel. 553586 c/o Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Sharrow Lane, Sheffield.



The First issue or "old heeley ended on a rather pessimistic note with the decline of Heeley Bottom mentioned as being shabby, dirty and poor (1986) with many shops boarded up. But Heeley did not present such a picture 70 years ago and Mr. Chapman who was born in 1902 has kindly offered his reminiscences of Heeley.

My grandmother lived in a big yard at the top of Heeley Green before you came to the centre of the many shops which abounded in Heeley. The big yard was between Alexandra Road. Cross Myrtle Road and Heeley Green. There was a big wall at the back of Moody’s then on to Cross Myrtle Road where South’s (previously Crowther's shop was on the corner. It finished there and then it started to up to Myrtle Road. The wall came right round the houses at the back round my grandmother's garden up to Myrtle Road. In. this yard there were about 10 houses . In Heeley Green there were 4, 2 above and 2 below the entrance - no gate but a big entrance not a passageway. 2 as you came up and then another 2 further up Heeley Green.

There was at another big yard above with a pump in it. There were about 5 house in the yard above. This goes to Myrtle Road and there was an opening. I have no idea when the houses were built. I can remember the pump, hut I can’t remember it being used. I supposed they had to fetch water from the pump to use in the kitchen. There was just those two yards.

Directly accross front grandma's yard was Wrights Row (no longer there), 4 corner shops, and the gennel that goes from Denmark Road to Derby Street and up to the Ball Inn. You had to turn down the steps and go up Denmark Road.

You go up Heeley Green to Derby Street. There at the corner of Derby Street were a family called Whithams. I think they were in the file cutting trade. I don’t know their christian names. There was a son, daughter and mother. I can remember Whithams being footballers. The daughter was the eldest and the son as old as me and in the same class at Heeley Bank. The house was banked up at the corner of Heeley Green and Derby Street. There is nothing there now.

At the corner of Bowler Street and Alexandra Road there used to be a milk shop. They were called Jessops. They sold other things - general, but milk was the main thing. It was not in bottles, you had to go and get it loose. You went to the shop with a jug and bought either a pint or a gill of milk. They kept the milk in the shop - not in a hut or anything, there was not much of a backyard. They sold greengroceries and sweets but not tobacco.

There were quite a few file-cutters around here. There were some in Denmark Road who worked at home. Someone who lives up on Derby Street was telling me that some of them worked in the cellar, but I only knew about them working in the outbuildings. Same down Heeley Green there used to be buildings down back of the gardens at the ends where they cut files. The work came from file cutting firms such as Osborns and Bedfords and places like that. They brought the work on horse and dray mostly on Friday. They paid them for what they had already done at the same time as they brought them new work. If they finished some files for delivery earlier in the week, they wrapped them up in sack cloth, put them on their shoulder and took them to the warehouse.

Oppoisite corner to Gregory’s in Heeley Green there was Crofts - he used to have a flat bottomed cart and a horse, stabled on Bradwell Street, at the side of the house, at corner of Bowler Street and Bradwell Street. It was a big yard with a stable there was a double door in Bradwell Street and a double door in Bowler Street. He kept the horse on the property and did removals and general haulage he didn't sell anything. He could have used his horse and cart for the haulage of files. There was one girl, Minnie, and Charlie and I think there were two other lads altogether. Charlie was as old as me.

Skillington’s and Cuttles also had shops on Heeley Green. Cuttles were a strap shcp more than what Skillingtons were. Cuttles had their customers and Skillingtons had theirs. Customers kept to their own shop, and settled up their bills at the end of the week. On another corner was Spooners the chip shop. Then there was Smith’s paper shop. The Sheffield Independent was the favourite paper among working class people it no longer exists. My Mum and Dad did not have papers because they couldn’t afford them. We didn’t have Sunday papers either. They didn’t deliver Sunday papers, you had to go and fetch them. We never had any bills for papers or milk everything had to be paid for. My auntie used to buy a magazine called ‘Yes or No’. It was a lady’s magazine. I used to read it. It came out every week. It had short stories but not adverts and how to make yourself look pretty. Nothing like the glossies - just a plain reading book. Fore-runner of glossies as we know them - no pictures in or anything like that. We didn’t have comics, my Father wouldn’t let us have them because they were not educational. We used to get them second hand off other kids. We were not allowed to buy them. My Father would have been annoyed if he saw me looking at comics. At my grandmothers at weekends, my uncle Arthur - he used to get Boys Realm and Comic Cutts, Chips and Magnet - they used to be ½d and 1d. I used to go and could find a comic or ‘Yes or No’ to read. Because I was always wanting to read. We had no library books, we had Childrens newspaper edited by George Mee. More children didn’t buy comics than did.

On Cross Myrtle Road there was Souths barbers shop, a house window shop, Lawtons cobblers and Mrs. Crowther’s sweet shop. Kids used to go to Souths with a 1d to get their hair cut and he gave them ½d back. We used to take football bladders to Lawtons to get them blown up. The bladders were inside a leather case and laced up and we’d mend puncture or whatever, and he would blow them up for us. We had no bicycle to use pumps. I don’t know how he blew them up. Cobbler made a good living. Always a waiting list. Mrs. Crowther sold ever-lasting strip, Frys 5-boys chocolate, boiled sweets, marry-me quick, acid drops, fish mixtures but not liquerice root, that was herbalists in Gleadlese Road. Dungworths general store was at top of Jeffrey Street - I can’t remember name on other side of Jeffrey Street, but it was always called gossiping shop. There were two shops before we got to Heeley Green.

There was a place that used to sell wood, a timber yard at the top of Alexandra Road. It sold all sorts of waste wood from Blacks timber merchant on Queens Road, and some new wood for people to do own repairs. Kept it all in his yard last house in Alexandra Road before you came to gennel that went down to where the hairdresser is now, he sold just wood. Between Bowler Street and Heeley Green there was the little house window shop - Levesleys two steps going up to the shop. Hair nets, safety pins, haberdasheries. My auntie, who lived with my grandmother, used to send me to Levesleys for a hair net and two pads, mid-brown. Pads used to be put in the hair at the side to make them look as though they had got a lot of hair on.

Top side of Heeley Green. On Wrights Row there was a corner shop, sweet shop and then a butchers shop on Denmark Road at the bottom of gennel where the railings are that go up to Derby Street (on the left hand side before gennel). My grandfather (on Mother’s side) had the corner shop on Wrights Row - Ibbersons's. Grandma used to sell sweets in the shop. Grandad had a horse and cart and used to go out selling vegetables and fruit. I can remember going with him once with horse and cart round Park district. He used to go as far as Maltravers Road selling greengroceries.

On Derby Street there was one shop on the corner at the top of Penns Mill in Derby Street, a general, selling everything. Down to bottom of Edwin Road there were 2 shops, one on each corner, one a beer-off that sold beer and groceries and one sweet shop. Down Penns Road there was a chip shop and then on the corner there was a greengrocer’s shop. Then on the other corner there was Furniss’ general - ice cream, sweets, groceries. Up the hill to the Cuckoo (Prospect View Hotel) there was Hattersleys what had last shop on the right. At the side of the Cuckoo there were some houses - there were 4 besides the Cuckoo all back-to-backs. Two at each side of the Cuckoo.

Just to mention one thing which may interest some people - the golfing family - Lees, lived in the house below the Cuckoo - one of those little ones. There was Billy, one of the brothers went to school with me - I can’t remember his name but they all used to go on Hillocky fields playing at golf. They used to hit the ball from the top of one of the Hillocky fields on to top of the other Hillocky field - what was the Hillocky field? - Some called them Weighscale fields - not Wilkinson hold or Daisy field. There was a path divided Hillocky fields from Wilkinson fields. Lees lived in the house against Cuckoo so of course it was natural for them because they used to go caddying up at the Lees Hall Golf Links. Of course this was my generation - it was the following generation who became famous. But that was the first start of it as far as Lees was concerned.

Thea come down to Upper Heeley Club. It used to be Abney House, when it was a house, with an orchard where the Club car park is now. It was owned by Smiths who used to have the paper shop in Heeley Green before Dodds took it over.


We have many more of Mr. Chapman’s memories still to come, about the shops and people in the Heeley Green area of 70 years ago. Look out for the next instalment in the Autumn Term.



Memories of the cutlery trade, the main source of livelihood for Heeley people, come from days when jobs were easy to get and also from times of unemployment and hardship.

Some local men shared rented workshops and worked as ‘little mesters', doing outwork for city firms. "Children took dad’s dinner to t’shop in a basin where it was heated up on t’tortoise (stove)."

In the late 1800s and early l900s cutlers were in great demand. With strong beer at eight pints to the shilling, some preferred drinking to working and bosses sometimes had to round up workmen from the pubs.

"When they got back to work in the majority of cases they were skint and first thing they would ask for would be a sub, (an advance on the payment for a job) and if they didn’t give a sub, he would say, ‘Well, what work am I to start on?’ And of course the boss would give him a job out and he would sour that (he would draw on it straight away) if he possibly could. If a boss would let him he would draw it straight away before he started to work on it as a matter of fact."

On Monday, locally "St. Monday", ‘sours’ i.e. work paid for but not completed, were done in the morning, the afternoon being spent in the pub. Bosses might forget the sours, often never finished and hidden or thrown in the river.

Memories from between the wars are of cutlery as "a mean trade, a very mean trade. Bosses were mean and they laid themselves open for anybody to get at them". 'Cuckoos', i.e. blades accounted for in the total of work done but returned for more satisfactory processing, wore often purloined by the workmen and sold ‘on the side’.

Women worked in the cutlery trade as well, some as burnishers. "You see, a burnisher could work at home because they didn’t need machinery. But that was a woman’s job; wasn’t man’s job, burnishing. And no girl could go into a factory, you know, where they did plates, silver plate and that sort of thing, no girl could go into that factory unless she said she wouldn’t do any rough work at home. She wouldn’t black lead, wouldn’t wash pots, wouldn’t do any scrubbing or anything like that, because her hands had to be so smooth, her skin had to be so smooth that it didn’t scratch the metal work. So quite a lot of the girls used to like it beoause it meant they had no work to do at home. Can’t ask me to do the stair rods or black the Stove or anything like that because I’ve got to have my hands soft for work."

Up to the second World War many Heeley girls worked at buffing the heavy, dirty job of smoothing cutlery blanks on a buffing wheel. Rough girls, renowned through Sheffield, "they were a breed of their own, they were a marvellous breed, you know, buffers." During the war buffers were put on munition work and few went back to buffing.

In the l930s a firm’s mark was etched on goods, exacting work involving the use of acid. At Viner's women got a shilling a gross for etching teaspoons and sevenpence for three dozen best dessert spoons. At Tyzack’s women were expected to etch heavy six-foot cross-saws.

"It was killing. We were nearly collapsing with the weight of them, and you know they are big teeth and you have sot to be very careful as well……… Well, it wasn’t so bad if we could mix ours with some other work, but one day we had earned one shilling and sixpence between two of us, and you can imagine picking these six foot things up with the heavy pieces on each end that the handles used to fit in, so we struck, and we went down to the boss and we told him we were either leaving, or we were not doing this, there were only two of us. We lost the job and they bought a rubber stamp that did it, but we had earned a shilling and sixpence between us."


Before 1914 there wore some areas of Heeley where people were cn the breadline and going barefoot. Children had to stay away from school for lack of shoes. Some school breakfasts were provided dripping or jam slapped on hunks of bread by the caretaker. One Heeley Bank teacher recalled children in the breakfast queue crying because the stone flags were cold to their bare feet.

At that time there was no money to pay a doctor. Once, when Mr. Chapman’s grandparents were ill, "she couldn’t pay the bill. In settling the bill, Dr. Fordham took her most treasured possession, which was an etching on copper, on the Battle of Trafalgar. That was what happened they had to give what they had."

The worst health hazard to cutlers, which had been even worse in the 18th century was the sand and dust from abrasive and polishing powders used in the cutlery trade. It affected their lungs, and coughing was general, persistant and tiring. Dr. McCallum, whose surgery was in Spencer Road, recalled the grinder’s disease prevalent between the wars. Sometimes he put men off work suffering from exhaustion.

Dr. McCallum found Heeley people hardy, self-reliant and neighbourly: In these days men worked and women were at home, and Heeley was a great place for getting help. When a baby was born all helped, along with the rest of the family with cooking and washing. Mr. Chapman’s grandmother lived in Heeley Green. She lived in a big yard and there was eight or nine houses and if anybody was sick there was always someone there to fetch the doctor or look after them, if someone was really poor someone would say, ‘I’ve got so - and - so left. Would you like it?’ They would make an excuse there to help them, and they did help one another at birth or death."

Over-work shortened some dcctors lives too. In the flu epidemic in 1957 Dr. McCallum had to work alone. "Besides the routine visits I had five hundred cases of flu between Monday and Friday. They were living around the surgery. It would be open from eight in the morning to midnight."

Being ‘thrown on t’panel’ i.e. being off work with a doctor’s note, one could claim a small weekly state payment. To supplement this local "Sick and Divide" clubs to which members contributed 3d or 6d a week paid out small sums in times of sickness or death, any surplus money being divided between members at the year end.

Disabled people made the best of their condition. Well-known were the man born without legs who propelled himself at 15 or 20 mph on a home-made wooden platform between bike wheels using wooden blocks fastened to his hands, and a one-armed man who worked an allotment garden and built a greenhouse on his own.

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