OLD HEELEY : A FEW NOTES
WRITTEN BY MEMBERS OF THE
"HEELEY'S HISTORY" WORKSHOP
No. 3: NOVEMBER 1986
ABOUT THESE BOOKLETS
The Heeleys History Workshop has been going for about three years now, collecting and recording local peoples memories of everyday life in the Heeley of the l930s, l920s, and even earlier. It is organised by Heeley Adult Education, but it is the older members of the group who are the experts, because only they can tell the "youngsters" in the group about a way of life which by now has all but disappeared.
Our first booklet was produced in March of this year, as an experimental contribution to the Local History Fair at Sheffield Town Hall. It proved so popular that a second booklet was brought out in July. With a readership already running into several hundred, we hope to produce further editions every two or three months.
Most of the material for these booklets comes from the hundreds of hours of memories we have collected, plus some additional information from books and other sources. The enormous work of going through it all, writing up extracts, and then trying to cut it down to something short enough, is all done by the regular members of the Workshop. (This time, we have also accepted an article from another group, the "Heeley Nats" campaign group, on page 6).
One vitally important part of producing these booklets is to make sure the Information we publish is correct and accurate. Disagreements between members of the Workshop frequently crop up, but it often turns out in the end that both peoples memories were correct, but they were talking about different dates, or even slightly different places.
Of course, we always have to leave out a lot of information, for lack of space, but can you spot anything thats genuinely wrong, or that gives a wrong impression of how things were in old heeley? Or can you provide us with extra detail, either from memories or from photographs, maps, letters, or other interesting old items you may still have at home? Do you know any one else who might be able to help? After all, the most important thing is to put together a picture as accurate and as detailed as possible, of life in old heeley, while those who remember are still around to tell us.
So if you think you can help, please dont keep it to yourself. Either tell one of our regular members, or write or telephone to Heeleys History Workshop at the address below. Or, best of all, come along to Heeley Bank School any Monday afternoon (except school holidays) and join in our conversations about old heeley. Youll be very welcome:
We made this appeal in the July booklet, and the response was very encouraging. Several new people came forward with new information for future editions, a few have become new regular attenders at our Monday afternoon sessions, and on page 5 of this booklet there is a brief report of two readers disagreements on a couple of points from the July article about Heeley Green.
Finally, for the dozens of readers who keep asking for back-numbers, or for extra copies of the current edition, copies are now on sale on Mondays, 10.00am-3.00pm, in the Community Snack-Bar, in the community rooms at Heeley Bank School, every week except school holidays. Happy reading:
Meetings: Heeley Bank School, Heeley Bank Road (at the junction with Myrtle Road), Sheffield 2. Every Monday, 145-3.45pm, except school holidays. All welcome.
Extra Copies: Community Snack-Bar, Heeley Bank School (see above).
Enquiries and Messages: Oliver Blensdorf, Tel. 553587 (apologies for the misprint in the July edition) or do Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Sharrow Lane, Sheffield, Sll 8AE.
Heeley Hall is a mystery to most of us. There seem to be very few references to it, it is now difficult to say exactly where it was. We have not met anyone who can remember seeing the remains of it as a child, but the following extract about it has been found from a history of the early years of Heeley Wesley Chapel and School, written by Mr. A. W. Booker in 1939.
Whilst Cavalier and Roundhead were striving for the mastery in the Civil War which ended so disastrously for King Charles the First, Heeley Hall was being built and was completed in 1643. The name of the Builders we do not know, but as, so we are told, a family of the name of Gill and their descendants lived in it for nearly two centuries, probably the founder would be a relative of Captain Gill, the Governor of Sheffield Castle after its surrender to the Parliamentary Forces in 1644, and whose family resided at Norton. This Gentleman evidently had an idea of strength and beauty of situation, for the walls of the Hall, what was left of them, were nearly two feet in thickness, and as for the situation, the Hall was built on rising ground near what is now the Shakespeare Inn. The inmates would have a glorious prospect of Hill and Dale, Woodland and Moorland; to the South, over Springwood, part of which reached down to the Hears Brook, to the Moors of Totley and the hills of the Peak, or over the belt of Oaks which later became "Oak Street", across the Abbey Dale to the heights beyond. The lest reference in relation to these trees was in 1854 when some of their stumps were used as points of vantage by the inhabitants to watch the soldiers march past on their way to the Crimean War. However, the last Tenants who resided at Heeley Hall were two brothers, who in the latter half of last century made part of the Hall into Cutlers Workshops. The greater part of the Hall was demolished many years ago, and when sea by the Writer, all that remained was a three storey building called the Chapel, altered later to a dwelling house, with oblong windows of the period, and some outbuildings and stables in which, one may say in passing, Mr. Wilson, who drove what was popularly known as "The Heeley Mail", stabled his donkeys. As for the inside of the main building nothing but bare walls and oak beams were to be seen, with the exception of the front room where remains of Mythological and Scroll plaster mouldings were still to be seen, one over the fireplace being that of a figure, part woman part dragon, playing a harp. To look around at the grinning faces and grotesque figures which bordered the ceiling one was struck by the peculiar idea of ornament possessed by the inmates.
As we go to press, we have just received some notes from Mrs. Jones, formerly Lily Grayson, who lived in Oak Street as a child in the early 1900s, and who hopes to have some information for our next issue.
If have found nay references to Heeley Hall or can remember any recollections about it made by a parent, grandparent or other elderly relative, we shall be very pleased to hear about it. Either phone Oliver Blensdorf on 553587, or come along to any Workshop meeting at Heeley Bank any Monday afternoon.
OUT AND ABOUT: PART ONE
These notes are taken from the information collected during the discussions and conversations at the Heeleys History Workshop meetings. Most of the memories are from the l92Os and l930s.
ON THE STREETS
In the depression after the first World War people made a living as best they could. People collected rags and bones for use in the shoddy, paper and bone meal trades. Their hand carts and cries of "Donkey stone: Balloons for rags!" were familiar in Heeley.
Priscilla, who may have been a rag and bone woman, came from Little London. "Once my mother found her sitting on our dustbin singing at the top of her voice, and she said she had the most glorious voice, absolutely wonderful voice, and she was dead drunk". Priscilla had been in prison. She liked the third landing there "because they have cocoa".
"There was one rag and bone woman had a little donkey that lived on Cliffe Field Road practically opposite Walkers wood yard. Mrs. Stirren, she lived there, and she had a little donkey and they always said it had just learnt how to go without food when it died. Of course it only got what other people gave it to eat, you know.
There were street singers. "They would sing in the streets, then they would knock at the door and hope you would give them a copper". One ex-sailor who sang, "Come, come to me Thora", was well remembered.
Buying a small amount of goods, such as a box of kippers, for sale on the street, might bring in a little money. "Anybody could go and buy newspapers to sell. Only made about a penny on a dozen. You got 13 to the dozen".
Newspaper sellers were always about. "Well, if you didnt have a newspaper you didnt hear a lot of news, did you? I mean, they used to sell Early Bird, and then it was 1.30 race, 2.30 race, they used to come round selling papers for each race. And anything spectacular they would publish a special edition straight away. Special News Edition. So and so has happened:" For the local Saturday sports paper "there used to be queues, didnt there? Waiting for the Green Un coming, standing in the shop door waiting for the Green Un. It was very, very popular. I know there were times when I never got my Green Un and we would go into the town to get Green Un in Fitzallan Square, because we knew we could get one up to about midnight. We had the Green Un sellers outside all the picture queues".
The local bobbies were always on the lookout for men who, popularly but illegally, took bets on the streets. One bookie "used to stand at the corner of the Green. Next door to us was the shop and there was an advert for Heeley Green Pictures fastened to the wall you know - they used to have them little wooden things - and he used to slip it in there (i.e. the betting slip) or else they used to leave their lavatory open and he would shove it behind the cistern, because if they got caught with the betting slips on them they got done. If they had no betting slips they had no evidence and they used to scoot up all the roads".
The owner of the local tripe shop on Gleadless Road (where Talbots pork butchers is now), was a bookmaker. "I remember him when I think it was Furious won. I think nearly everybody what gambled in Heeley had backed it, and the queue stretched from out of his back for far enough, and he opened the window and he said, "Get off home, you will get me pinched". He said, "Youll get paid out. Youve no need to worry", but he said "get away from here before the coppers come".
Traditionally grinders did not work on a Monday ("St Monday") afternoon. "They locked the gates at Tyzacks on Valley Road to stop grinders going out, so they all dropped through the window of the grinding wheel and dropped into the river (Meersbrook), and ran down Albert Road to get out".
One enterprising woman took a basket of penny pieces of cake and pastry into Tyzacks. "We werent supposed to have anything from starting work until dinner at dinner time (8.30am-1.00pm), but we used to sneak out and mash a pint pot of tea, put a paper over the top, and pass it round. When the boss went downstairs we would have a piece of cake; somebody would be looking out over the top to see if he was coming".
A box on wheels type of handcart was used to fetch small quantities of coal from small local coal yards or from the coal outcrops in the local woods.
Rats might be seen on the streets. Local rat-runs were known in Artisan View, Albert Road and near a corn merchants in Broadfield Road. One doctor remembered treating a child bitten by a rat in a cottage. As late as 1954 rats had to be cleared from Artisan View.
Some of the "gangs" in Heeley were well-known. "We used to have them running about in the pony and traps up Heeley. You know it was mostly the local "wide boys" that used to do it. You could see Bucks Hunter as they called him and Big Charley riding about in the horse and trap. They were two of the local ones. But you werent afraid of them like todays gangs".
Look out for "Out And About Part 2"!
Heeley Green 70 Years Ago
We are very pleased to have been contacted by two extremely senior lifelong residents in Heeley, Mrs. Cook (aged 98), and her sister Mrs. Lawson (aged 94), through their daughter and niece Mrs. Fouldes. They kindly agreed to one of us calling round, and gave their comments on the following points on Mr. Chapmans information about Heeley Green 70 years ago.
1. "Mrs. Crowthers sweet shop on Cross Myrtle Road":- Mr. Chapman said that after Mrs. Crowther it became Souths shop. Mrs. Cook points out that, as she remembers it, it wasnt Souths, it was Shaws. Mr. Chapman has accepted this correction, and has now explained that in his recollection it was called Souths, even although it was known to be Shaws, because the two families were so closely related.
2. Timber yards:- Mr. Chapman mentioned a timber yard at the top of Alexandra Road, selling both waste wood from Blacks timber merchant on Queens Road, and also some new wood. All three - Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Lawson and Mrs. Fouldes felt sure that the timber yard wasnt on Alexandra Road, but at the far end of Denmark Road. This one on Denmark was Mrs. Lawsons husband Jack Lawsons waste-wood yard. However, the answer seems to be that there was a timber-yard at the top of Alexandra Road, because Ernest Mills knows that when he lived on the opposite side of Alexandra Road he used to keep his motorcycle in the timber yard. But the yard was tucked away behind where the hairdressers is now, so probably Mrs. Cooks family didnt realise it was there.
Finally, Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Lawson also told us some very interesting things about Empire Day, the Boer War, and Strawberry growing in Heeley, which we hope to include in the next issue.
HEELEY NATIONAL SCHOOL
Do you remember the Heeley Nats, on Gleadless Road just above Heeley Green? If you do, you will know that it was the Heeley National School, for it served as a place of learning for hundreds of Heeley children for almost 150 years.
As a result of the passing of an Act In 1791 for the enclosure of open common land, more farms were developed in the Heeley area and the population increased so that a school was felt to be necessary.
In 1801 the National School was built with an endowment of about £14 per annum, the chief benefactor being a Mr. Thomas Chapman who died on 19th June, 1801, at the age of 81 years. Canon Odom gave an explanatory resume of Heeley National School In "Fifty Years of Church Life". In 1833, the school was enlarged by subscriptions from trustees who, in 1838, numbered eleven, including several well known Heeley names. A further extension and a house for the headmaster was built in 1868.
Since closing in the thirties, the school has been an annex for another school, a storage place for school furniture, an ARP centre arid gas mask distribution centre during World War II, a polling station at elections and a meeting hall.
Now it is standing empty, derelict and, with its windows boarded-up, it is likely to deteriorate rapidly.
Some of the local Heeley residents would like to see this building made available and suitable for use by the community in Heeley. They also feel that as one of the oldest buildings left in the district, it is worth preserving.
If you have any memories or photographs of activities in Heeley National School, or can remember what your parents or your grandparents told you of the school, please let us know.
For instance, Florence Sharman, now 92 and called Mrs. Royston, remembers the Headmaster, Mr. Robinson, around the year 1900, and teachers Miss Twist and Miss Backhouse, and fellow pupils including Billy Daniels and Alfred Roebuck. Her son-in-law, George who left Heeley Nets in 1934, remembers infant teacher Miss Ball, Miss Tofield and headmaster, Mr. Booth. Other teachers remembered include Miss Clements, Mr. Godfrey and Miss Saunders. Miss Bevan was transferred to Heeley Nats from Carfield School, she later became Mrs. Stanley Young.
Another George, George Rowley, who started there about 1918, remembers a dark-haired teacher called Miss Wright - his only other memory. is that he had two good hidings' on his first day at school. This is just a selection of the information we have on the school. There is also more detail in the March 1986 booklet.
Your support may help us to save the building and bring the old school "back to life". Please contact Heeley Advice Centre (at Heeley Day Nursery) telephone 588731 (Tuesday p.m. only), or Heeley Adult Education Tel. 553587, for details of what is planned to save the Heeley Nats building.