OLD HEELEY : A FEW NOTES
WRITTEN BY MEMBERS OF THE
"HEELEY'S HISTORY" WORKSHOP
No. 6: MAY 1987
In this edition we feature two choice items we have been saving up for a long time. One is Mr. Eddie Chapmans crystal clear memories of a typical Whit week around 1912 (when he was about ten). The other is the first of what we hope will be a series of extracts from a fascinating account of childhood memories from Mr. Don Ross. Mr. Ross has produced dozens of pages of extremely readable memories on all kinds of topics mainly of his childhood days in Albert Road. And we owe him a great deal of thanks for loaning them to the Heeley History Workshop to "feel free to use them as you think fit." Our only regret is that we have not been able to find space to do them justice in earlier editions. So here is a bumper edition to make up for lost time!
For the benefit of new readers, much of our material comes from the hundred-plus hours of memories collected at the meetings of the "Heeley's History Workshop." This is organised by Heeley Adult Education and has weekly meetings at Heeley Bank School every Monday afternoon newcomers especially welcome.
We are always very concerned to see that the information we publish is as correct and accurate as possible. As can be expected when different people are recalling memories from 50 or even 30 years ago, differences of recollection are bound to crop up from time to time. Usually it turns out that both peoples memories were correct on most points, but that they were talking about different or slightly different places.
We are always on the look out for anything you can add to what we print. So please keep the new information flooding in dont keep it to yourself while youre still around to tell us! Either tell one of our regular members, or write or telephone to Heeleys History Workshop at the address below. Best of all, cone along to Heeley Bank (see below) and join our conversations about old heeley. Youll be very welcome.
HOW TO FIND US AND OUR BOOKLETS
Meetings: Heeley Bank School, Heeley Bank Road (at the junction with Myrtle Road), Sheffield 2. Every Monday, 1.45-3.45pm, except school holidays.
Open to anyone - newcomers especially welcome.
Extra copies: Community Snack Bar, Heeley Bank School, Mondays, 10.00am-3.00pm, every week except school holidays.
Holidays: Please note that there are no meetings on the 25th May and 1st June, nor for 20th July to 31st August. First Autumn meeting: 7th September.
Enquiries and Messages: Oliver Blensdorf, Tel. 553587 or c/o Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Sharrow Lane, Sheffield, S11 8AE.
WHIT WEEK - From Mr. Eddie Chapman
Whit week in 1912. (Im 11 years old). Going for my new suit, going for my Whitsuntide suit, excited because of my Whitsuntide suit. But before I go, I go to my grandmothers. This is a job I do every Saturday. I go to my grandmothers, I clean side board, polish sideboard, and it is always done with Ye Olde Oak furniture polish, made by Adams. They has a place on the end of Valley Road. On the Saturday morning the regular thing was she baked, and it was always oven bottom cakes, and currant fat cakes. When she were making currant fat cakes, she used to cut a lump of paste off the bread paste and roll it out, spread it wit fat and then currants, fold it over again, spread it with fat again and currants, and then it was rolled out and finally put in the oven. Of course those were all put on the window sill, as you mow, to cool, and the funny thing about it as then and today the cakes never rose, they ware always flat, an inch. And there were nobodys currant fat cakes like my grandmothers, of course.
Then I went home to my dinner, then it were off to Binns in the town for my suit. Binns in Cambridge Street. They mostly used to shove a whistle in the pocket, and it used to be the first thing I used to do, when I were trying the suit on, were to feel if there were a whistle in the pocket. Of course the suit that I would get would be breeches just below the knee, Norfolk jacket, Eton collar which were made of celluloid. I cant remember anything about costs. It was a bit of advertising like, because they knew it were something that kids liked, and it was a case of can we go to Binns Dad for my suit? Of course mostly they were blue surge, because it were really the only fast colour at that time, and you didnt see much, other than grey, black and blue. You see, if you got other colours then they would run, when they got wet.
Then after that I would go back to my grandmothers, to stay there the evening. Then she would go down to Gregorys grocers shop to pay the bill. Of course I always wanted to be there, because when she had paid the bill there was always a bag of fish mixtures (sweets) for me. She must have been a good customer because there was always that bag of sweets there. And you know when you went in the shop there were cheeses on the floor, not put on shelves or anything like that, and you always thought to yourself, when you were having the cheese, you always wondered whether the dogs had done anything. it worn the same in most grocers shops. They were door stoppers in a way really you know, cheese were shoved up just at side of the door, inside the shop.
After Saturday was over of course it were Sunday, Whit Sunday, but previous to that my two sisters they would have been going backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards to Miss Marriotts who used to be one of the dressmakers for the neighbourhood. There were Mrs. Robinson and Miss Marriott, and most of the girls of the neighbourhood didnt go to town for their dresses, they would have these local dressmakers, and it was always a race whether she would get them done for the Saturday night. But eventually they used to get them, and as we went off to Sunday School following morning they would have their straw bonnets on, and white dresses, black button shoes, white stockings. They put their hair in rags or paper on the Saturday night and it hung in ringlets, then they took the paper out on Sunday morning and tied their hair up in ribbons. After service we would go round the Streets with the Boys Brigade, band playing, the banner flying and all the scholars marching behind. Then after the walk round the streets, finally back to church, then home, bread and butter perhaps brawn or haslet, anything like that just for dinner, then tea time it would be jelly, one jam or lemon tart and then off to bed, so that your mother and father could go to church at night.
Monday morning you would be up early and off to church, into the classes and sing outside the church, and then go round the streets. Band leading off up Gleadless Road, singing outside the Newfield pub, people putting the money into collecting bags as we march on down Denmark Road, singing again outside the shops at the corner of Heeley Green and Denmark Road, Cutlers Beer Of f, Skillingtons Beer Off,
£1.77½ a week in todays money. Many is the time we were hungry, and I can toll you, it hurts I remember Dad coning home once with some samples of powdered soup, given to him by a friend who was a grocery traveler. "We had beano." As I said, people on the dole had to work for their dole money. One project was the digging out and raking of the tennis courts in Meersbrook Park when they were above the bowling green. Another was the- making of Abbey Lane from Woodseats to Abbydale Road. They called it "relief work."
Before water toilets, we had "middens". I suppose thats why they were always a long way from the: houses. The Council midden men cane during the night with their horse and cart and emptied them every so often. Next day everybody in the yard would be out swilling away the residue.
In some of these toilets there were two seats, one for adults and a smaller one for children. You can imagine there were one or two contagious diseases about at that time. Two of my boyhood friends, a boy and his sister lost both their parents with T.B. and they themselves died of the same disease in their early teens.
My youngest brother aged 3½ years - and by this time I had four died - of Diphtheria. At the time the whole family had swabs taken every day, which Dad had to take to the University for testing. Eventually three of us finished up in Lodge Moore Isolation Hospital for Contagious Diseases, It sure was isolated, the nearest you could get by tram car was Nether Green terminus, then walk up Tom Lane to Redmires Road about two miles of walking. The place had been built to cater for a Smallpox epidemic, way out on the bleak Lodge Moor, in 1887. I was eventually moved into an isolation ward having contracted Scarlet Fever as well as Diphtheria and Rheumatic Fever from the poisons of the other two. I was in for four months. Each patient had a number and the numbers were printed in the "Star" every night under the headings Dangerously Ill, Very I11, Ill but making satisfactory progress, and Improving. This was how family and friends could follow your progress. When your number ceased to appear you well on the way to recovery.
Visiting was Sundays only 2pm to 4pm. All doors and windows were locked and conversation had to take place through the window. Each ward had a covered veranda for visitors.
Mum and Dad did that journey every Sunday for about seven months, and to add to their difficulties, at one period when three of us were in at once. We were in different wards, one with Diphtheria one with Scarlet and me in isolation. Eventually we were all discharged, and home about a week, when our next-door neighbours started. Three of their family contracted Scarlet Fever.
By now all sorts of investigations were going no by the Health Authorities. They found a blockage in our drains, which they said was the cause of it all. All this happened in 1929, I was sixteen years old. We had only had water closets about three years.
Another health scare I remember when I was much younger was of a family further up Albert Road having Smallpox, another killer diseases. All the family were taken away, the house boarded up, and a red cross painted on the door. I had to pass this house a my way to and from school. I used to run past on the other side of the road, holding my breath until well past. They all recovered and came back to live in the same house.
In 1935 the Sheffield Fire Brigade organised the burning of the wooden-built wards to destroy all trace of infectious diseases, and brick wards were built.
THE COAL STRIKE
The coal strike in the 20's brings back memories of collecting wood in Cat Lane and Lees Hall Woods. We took a couple of sacks and our "four-wheelers" and came back loaded.
Another substitute for coal, which we could not get or more often than act could not afford, were "brickets" or "ovoides" made from burnt coal ash, cement, coal dust and water. You could but buy these from the Refuse Department at the bottom of Albert Road for a few pence a bag. We fetched many a four-wheeler full for neighbours, often ½d or a piece of parkin for our trouble.
Around this tine I remember hearing grown ups talking about riots and mounted police charges taking places outside the Corn Exchange building opposite the "Rag and Tag" market . The Labour Exchange was held in the Corn Exchange. There were over 60,000 men unemployed at the time, so large numbers were reporting daily to "sign on". The City council spent thousands of pound on relief schemes, building new roads, to keep men doing worthwhile jobs, and so out of mischief.
"PITCH AND TOSS"
One of the most frightening moments of my young days was when Dad and I were out walking. The whole family used to go on picnics on a Sunday up through Lees Hall Wood, down Lightwood Lane to Povey Bottom or to Troway. One day we went through Rolly wood which led up to the Herdings, then a farm. Just inside the wood were two men sat on a stile. Dad said to me, "dont say anything until I tell you, just keep walking and dont turn around". The men said, "How do?" and we passed on. At a fair distance from them, Dad repeated his warning. Further still into the wood in a clearing there was a group of about 40 or 50 men. Oh boy! was I scared. I kept walking alright, and Dad kept whispering, "Dont turn round". Eventually we came across two more men at the other side of the wood. Not until we were about 2 fields further on did Dad tell me, who they were. It was a tossing ring (Pitch and Toss) an illegal gambling ring. There were one or two around Sheffield. The main ring being at Sky Edge. The men on the stiles were look-outs know as "ponters". The man in the ring was the "toller".
The "tosser" he tossed three coins in the air and bets were placed on how they would fall, heads or tails. This happened in 1924 and it was in 1925 that a man named Plummer was murdered. Two brothers were hanged for it. One man got seven years jail and another ten years. It is said, it all started over who was to control Sky Edge ring. These were the days of the gang wars the Mooney and the Garvins. The famous Flying Squad was formed to break up these gangs.
1925 was the year Sheffield United won the FA Cup beating Cardiff City 1-0. This brings to mind the time I got a clout round the earole for telling the truth. I have been a keen football fan as long as I can remember especially favouring United. I ran errands in the week for 1d or ½d, so I could go to the match, it was 4d on the Cop. I used to run it, there and back, down Albert Road, up Plantation and Well Head, down Gleadless Road, Sheaf Bank, along Cutler Walk into Gurnsey Road and into Bramhall Lane.
This particular match United beat Cardiff City 11 against 1. Well! I could not go home fast enough, and as I turned the corner into Well Head Road a man said, "Howve thi gone on kid?". "Won 11 1", I said. "Garraway you cheeky young B*******" and he scuft me rount earole.
Then there was the time one Saturday morning when I was feeling very miserable, because I could not go to the match. I hadnt enough money. How we got our milk from Dungworths who kept the farm at the top of Meersbrook Road (long since demolished). Various members of their family delivered the milk. On this particular Saturday morning one of the sons, I cant remember his name, but he was a sailor home on leave, and helping out. He poured our milk then said, "Whats up wi im this morning?". My mum said, "He cant go to the match, hes only 4d". It was the third round of the FA Cup and United were playing the famous Corinthians, an all amateur side. They had put the price up to 12d (5 pence). "Oh!", he said, "well have to do summat about that" and tossed a shilling (12d) on the table, "there get thi sen off" he said. He was my hero for evermore, and I have never forgotten that kindness. The Corinthians disbanded shortly afterwards.
If the weather was too bad or there was no match we would go to the matinee at Heeley Green or Heeley Palace to see "Elmo the Mighty" starring Pearl White. It was 2d to get in.
We spent a lot of time in Meersbrook Park playing ball games. We even had a couple of golf clubs which we used in the park. Other games played mainly in the street were kick can, deleyo, peg top, peggy, cig card skimming and marbles. Indoors we had the usual board games, ludo, blow football, table tennis and shove halfpenny. We evolved our own indoor cricket, on a strip of old stair carpet in our front room, which was unfurnished at that time. We stuck three match sticks in a comb for wickets. Carved a bat about four inches long from a piece of fire-wood and used a white marble for a ball. These types of marbles were called "stonks" and were not valued as much as the "blood allies."
Other pastimes we had collecting and pressing different types of leaves and grasses and of course cigarette card collecting and swapping.
Making "touch burners" was another pastime, made from clay gathered from the "Docker" they were box like containers molded by hand and left to harden. They burnt old rags to start them then "touch wood" gathers from dead trees. They burnt very slowly and were rather smelly, so you were not allowed to take them home, only perhaps in the molding stage, when you were perhaps allowed to put them in the oven to speed up the drying out. So we usually kept them in safe hide-outs on the Docker. Then there was kite flying. This we did at the top of Meersbrook Park.
In the winter of course there was sledging on the half mile track starting at Norton Lees Church and finishing at the bottom of Meersbrook Road. If you wanted an extra thrill you went down Upper Albert Road. Of course we had no problems with traffic in those days. Conkers was another favorite, and in Meersbrook Park there are many Chestnut trees.
The coming of electric light was a great thrill. Gas mantles had been the order of the day up to then, and if they spluttered out, it was candles. With candles definitely upstairs or in the cellar. You could tell which road had electric cables laid, because of the strip of new pavement from the road to the house. My school pals dad worked at the Neepsend Power Station and as far as I can remember they were the first people in Meersbrook to have electric light. On a Sunday there would be a procession of people walk past their house, just to see a house with electric light.
When we had it installed in our house on Albert Road, it was with the wires in "capping and casing" with brass switches and lamp holders, all to be condemned in later years as unsafe. Ill never know how the two-way switches on our stairs stood up to the hammering we gave them on the first day, and there was no problem as to who fetched the coal up from the cellar, just to be able to switch the light on . What a thrilling time that was!
THE "RAG AND TAG" MARKET
Talking of the "Rag and Tag Market". I loved to go there on a Saturday night, to listen to the quack doctor "Amoid", the potman Edwards (his sons are still in business). He used to break the pots if he could not sell them. Then there was the "curtain man", a real comedian. The whole scene had a fascination all its own. The stall holder spiel, and the naphthalene flares for illumination. I suppose it was a substitute for theater, which we could not afford.
HEELEY BOTTOM, AROUND 1920
- then a busy shopping center - as remembered by Mrs. Mary Chapman (born Glaves), when she lived at 446 London Road
NOT TO SCALE.
The numbers are for the key - they are not the house numbers.