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No. 9: MARCH 1988

  1. HEELEY DUFF'EM.........................................................................................p.1
  2. A STROLL TROUGH HEELEY (1870s-80s).....................................................p.1
  3. HEELEY PARISH CHURCH............................................................................p.2
  4. EARLY PUBLIC TRANSPORT.........................................................................p.5
  5. ELEPHANTS ON THE LOOSE IN WOODSEATS..............................................p.5
  6. DON ROSS'S MEMORIES OF THE 1920s (PART 2)........................................p.6
  7. CHILDHOOD MEMORIES FROM EARNEST MILLS..........................................p.7
  8. MRS. COOK'S AND MRS. LAWSON'S MEMORIES..........................................p.8
  9. HEELEY RESIDENTS, 1865-95....................................................................p.8



After all the work on the Meersbrook Park Centenary booklet produced in the Autumn, and the bumper edition in December devoted entirely to Christmas memories, we have accumulated quite a backlog of contributions on other topics as well. So for this edition we are concentrating on publishing as much of this backlog as possible. Most of this is the fascinating range of material unearthed in Sheffield’s Local Studies Library by our member Alan Montgomery, and we are very pleased to be able to include a second selection of Don Ross’s memories of his childhood in the Albert Road area in the l920s.

PLEASE NOTE THAT, FOR THE EXTRA MEMORIES, PHOTOS, ETC. OF MEERSBROOK PARK THAT PEOPLE ARE STILL GIVING US, WE ARE SETTING A DEADLINE OF MONDAY 23RD MAY. This material will then be used in a special edition either in June/July, or for a "101st Anniversary" booklet in September.

By the way, we still have a few copies of the special Meersbrook Park Centenary booklet (price 50 pence), if you haven’t got your copy yet (they'll be collector's items in a few years time!). We also have back-numbers of most of the "Old Heeley" booklets (10 pence each).

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 80 years ago, differences of recollection are bound to crop up from time to time. Usually it turns out that both people's memories were correct on most points, but that they were talking about different dates, or slightly different places.

We are also always on the look-out for anything you can add to what we print. So please keep the new information flooding in - don’t keep it to yourself while you're still around to tell us! Either tell one of our regular members, or write or telephone to Heeley’s History Workshop at the address below. Best of all, come along to Heeley Bank (see below) and join our conversations about old Heeley. You’ll be very welcome.


Meetings: Heeley Bank School, Heeley Bank Road (at the junction with Myrtle Road), Sheffield 2. Every Monday, 1.15-3.15pm, except school holidays. PLEASE NOTE NEW STARTING AND FINISHING TIMES. 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 the last meeting before Easter was on 21st March. First meeting after Easter: Monday 11th April.

Enquiries and Messages: Oliver Blensdorf, Tel. 553587 or c/o Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Sharrow Lane, SHEFFIELD S1l 8AE.

(By Alan Montgomery)

As a child I wondered why HEELEY was often referred as HEELEY DFF'EM (Duffham was one of several alternative spellings). When I eventually plucked up courage to ask what "DUFF'EM" meant, I was shocked to learn that it meant, in the words of my informant, anxious to air his knowledge of local affairs, "Refusing to pay money ‘WHAT’ you owed" - dodging debts in other words.

My parents never owed a penny, and as neighbours seemed to be honest enough, after all they always paid you back in kind if they borrowed a bag of sugar, a loaf, or any other item. I thought it grossly unfair to give such a nickname to what I considered to be one of Sheffield's more select suburbs. Why not Ecclesall Duff’em, Attercliffe Duff’em, or dare I say it, Fulwood or Ranmoor Duff'em. Was it because their residents were more honest?

Various suggestions have been offered to explain the reason for the unenviable name of Heeley Duff’em. It didn’t sound right - Heeley-on-the-Sheaf would have been acceptable, but HEELEY DUFF'EM - never!

According to most people, the district acquired its 'notoriety' as follows;

Apparently, as soon as the debt collector or bailiff appeared on the scene, the message would be passed along a row of terraced houses that he was on his way. A tap on the neighbour’s kitchen wall would be passed on to the end of the row. When the unfortunate bailiff or debt collector knocked on his victim’s door, there would be no answer. "Gone away again I expect", would gasp the frustrated man. I was told that one silly woman, in her excitement to give the impression that nobody was at home, foolishly shouted out, "We’re not in".

Perhaps here is the trust at last:

The Meersbrook divided Yorkshire and Derbyshire which meant that HEELEY was a border district. The spot close to HEELEY TOLL BAR was nearest to Derbyshire. Sheffield County Court Bailiffs had no authority to serve summons for debt on people in Derbyshire, so it was easy for defaulters to slip across the border before the bailiff could catch them. Naturally HEELEY was a good place to live, as Derbyshire people could cross into Yorkshire to give the slip to Derbyshire bailiffs.

However, all good things come to an end. The passing of a County Court jurisdiction into Derbyshire as far as NORTON and GREENHILL, which meant that HEELEY lost its popularity, as a safe haven for both Yorkshire and Derbyshire debt dodgers. Sadly or happily, whichever way you look at it, HEELEY is still called HEELEY DUF'EM by those in the know, and its with a certain amount of pride that they’ll tell a stranger the ‘true’ story.


A contemporary account from a Sheffield newspaper at about the 1870s, kept at Sheffield Local Studies Library. Copied out by Alan Montgomery.

"A few minutes sufficed to bring me down Sharrow Lane into the squalid region of HEELEY. On passing Heeley Decorative and Art Company’s premises, I derived an impression that decorations need not necessarily be artistic. From the Railway Station I reached Cambridge Road, a new steep street lined with red brick buildings, scarcely more than cottages, where milk coal carts, salt carts, rag and bone men and herring hawkers were busy going their rounds. (Sir Francis Chantrey as a boy went round with milk of STEEL PEACH & TOZER admitted he once hawked herrings.) At the top of Cambridge Road I passed a chap seated in a donkey cart "Haddocks, haddocks", he cried He was beating his poor animal in a cruel fashion, which prompted an angry woman to put her head out of a window. "Eh mister, have you no mercy?" He replied with a vigorous jerk of the reins, "I’ve nought but haddocks".

"50 years ago, Heeley was a village with a church and village green near Sheffield. It's hard to believe that the site was once occupied by a few old cottages and a long sheet of water (River Sheaf) where teams bringing their loads to Sheffield, would stop to drink."

"Near the bridge stood HEELEY TILT, this site is now occupied by SKELTON’S WORKS. Thick woodland extended to the bridge on MYRTLE ROAD. All around were rich pasture lands and corn fields.

Having reached GLEADLESS ROAD, I soon arrived high above MEESBROOK VALLEY. Passing a little colony of red brick cottages, I came to Meersbrook Park and the open county side. It’s true that I have nothing to with this model colony, since it is in Derbyshire, whilst I am from Yorkshire. The stark contrast between town and country brings, to mind that saying, "MUCK AND MONEY". Heeley is an opaque spot, yet set in a frame of emeralds and gold."

The writer then refers to Gleadless which stands high above HEELEY. He tells an interesting story about WILLIAM NEVISON, the notorious highwayman, who was a frequent visitor to the GLEADLESS INN, where he was allocated a room, known to all as NEVISON'S ROOM by the landlord, Joseph Barker.

Apparently William Nevison overheard a conversation between, a farm bailiff and some of the inn’s clients. The bailiff boasted that he was carrying in his bag the proceeds of an enforced sale of an unfortunate local farmer's farm and equipment. Nevison, determined to see that justice was done, left the inn and lay in wait for the bailiff as he made his way home with his ill gotten gains. Having compelled him to hand over the bag, Nevison sought out the unfortunate farmer to return his money, which he did without keeping even a penny for himself. Naturally the grateful farmer was overjoyed, and wondered how his benefactor had persuaded the bailiff to return the money. It was, only many years later that, Nevison, now a firm friend of the farmer and a regular visitor, condescended to tell him the whole story.

by Alan Montgomery

At the beginning of the 19th Century Sheffield was a SINGLE PARISH and contained 3 Churches:

1) Mother Church of St Peter (now Cathedral)

2) St Paul’s 1721

3) St James' 1789

In. addition there. were 3 ancient chapels:

1) Ecclesall (13th Century)

2) Attercliffe (1680)

3) Shrewsbury HospitaI

During the next 40 years 8 more churches were built to provide for the rapidly increased population.

1846 – the Parish of Sheffield was divided into 25 separate parishes - one of which was HEELEY.


The Parish has a long history. Ancient documents (1343 earliest) record the transfer of land in the district.

HEELEY means HIGH LEYS (HIGH MEADOWS). It has been spelt in various ways over the years - HIGHLEGH, HEYLE, HELAYE, EYLIE.

There was a water wheel at Heeley Bridge in 16th Century.

In 1727 Burgesses erected a cross at LADY SPRING, a never failing well in a wood. Hence the names, SPRINGWOOD ROAD, WELL ROAD, WELL HEAD.

Until 19th century, there was no main highway into Sheffield. Visitors used pack horse tracks and brick roads. The only out of Sheffield to the SOUTH was almost impassable track via HEELEY, NEWFIELD GREEN and GLEADLESS MOOR.

The village of HEELEY in 1833 housed 64 families (18 pocket knife makers) with a population of 400-500. It was separated from Sheffield by 2 miles of fields. Writers have described the lonely walk along Bramall Lane, crossing the RIVER SHEAF by a single plank at CUTLER WOOD (SKELTON’S), where there were frequent highway robberies.


These have changed a lot since their creation, when they extended from Derbyshire border to HARMER LANE.

They now run (1953) from LONDON ROAD to HEELEY BRIDGE and to MEERSBROOK (an ancient boundary which has served as a dividing line between YORK and DERBY, and the ancient kingdom of MERCIA and NORTHUMBRIA), thence across W. edge of ARBOURTHORNE, through middle of NORFOLK PARK ESTATE to Junction o FARM ROAD an GRANVILLE ROAD, then back along QUEEN’S ‘ROAD to LONDON ROAD.


Consecrated 1348 - stood in entirely rural surroundings - built to accommodate 450 people - enlarged 1890 (320 extra people) and again in 1897 to give another 140.

The rapidity of growth of the population may be judged by the amount of building work carried out in the last 19th century. Not only was the Church doubled in size. In addition to 2 school rooms erected, one in the Vicarage garden 1889, the other in Hartley Street 1893.

The development of Heeley Parish Church


White walls – high roof – spacious – light – double row of massive pillars mark position of exterior walls of original Church.

SANCTURY contains pair of oak SEDTLIA (SEDTLIA –stone seats for priests in S. WALL of chancel, usually canopied and 3 in number) on one of which Archbishop of York once sat during consecration 1848.

EAST WALL – memorial window dedicated in 1913 in memory of wife of Canon ODOM.

Organ dedicated 1906 (repaired 1921) – in N. TRANCEPT. In S. TRANCEPT is a simple and dignified LADY CHAPEL, a gift of mother’s union in recent years.

A Litany desk in Chancel was made in 1921 from wood discarded during renovation some dating back to 1848.


H Denson-Jones1846-1888
W Odom1888-1916
S A Miller1916-1920
A E Duckett1920-1927
W A Kendall1927-1948
D Howes 1948-1953
D R Jenkins1953

The 1856 directory states:

Heeley Church – 1st stone laid 4 November 1846 - £2650 raised by public subscription, aided by grant from the Incorporated Society.

Curacy endowed by Ecclesiastical Commissioners with £150 per annum (Rev. K D Jones).

Heeley had a school endowed with £20 per annum and a Methodist Chapel (1826).

The 1871 Directory states:

1871 Heeley, originally High Ley, is a detached member of Nether Hallam, with a popu1ation of 386o living on 305 acres.

However, its ecclesiastical parish, formed 1846, with a population of 7197, living in 1510 houses on 1214 acres, includes part of Sheffield Park.

Unti1 sale of Mr Shore’s estates 1843, village of Heeley had experienced little improvement. However, the date between it and the Meersbrook rivulet, now divided into freehold allotments under the name of Shirebrook Estate. Good roads have been made and many houses and cottages have been erected-during past 20.years. On opposite side of village several fields laid out for further housing development.

Census of 1881


Inhabited Houses Males Females Total Population in 1871
1714 4422 4323 8745 3860

Thus there had been a dramatic increase in population of 4885 in the years 1871-1881.

by Alan Montgomery.

From 1852 a horse drawn bus service to Heeley was introduced, and tokens could be used instead of money. On one side of the token was a picture of the bus, with the words, "Sheffield and Heeley Omnibus". On the reverse side were the words, "John Shortridge 1852-3d".

1873: a bus service from the RED LION Heeley, to the YELLOW LION, Haymarket, was driven by Mr. Charles Coggan, and in his absence, by his son..

A bus service operated between the RED LION and the BIG TREE HOTEL, Woodseats.

by Alan Montgomery

The BIG TREE HOTEL was originally called MASONS’ ARMS, although the customers preferred to call it BIG TREE.

One day SANGER’s CIRCUS passed through and stopped for rest and refreshment at the Hote1. Some elephants which were tethered to the tree broke loose, and dragging away many of the branches. Although the tree survived this ordea1for some time, it was eventual1y

replaced thanks to loca1 benefactor.

(For Part I, see Number 6, May 1987)


One summer night, I cannot remember the year, around 1925 (correction 1923?), we had a very bad storm. It lasted nearly all through the night, all the houses on the opposite side of Albert Road to us were flooded. The river rose half way up their passage ways, flooding the cellar kitchens to a depth of 5 feet. All the shops on Heeley Bottom were flooded, Wainwright’s Drapers, Charles Ross’s Factory, Heeley Co1iseum Picture House, Deniffs Butchers and Heeley Silver Rolling Mills.

Broadfield Road "The Primrose" as we called it, was one big lake. This was before the dairy was built.

Norton Lees Scouts

The first coloured person I ever saw was in the middle 20s. A Jamaican boy scout stayed at my Grandma Longdens, he was here for a scout jamboree. My uncle was a scout and so was I at that time. Stanley Jepson the famous Sheffield baritone who lived on Meersbrook Park Road was scout master at Anns Road Primitive Methodist Church, now St Andrews Methodists, he had two West African scouts staying with him. I was in Norton Lees Scouts.

The scout hut was in a field just past the church before the road was cut through to join us with Derbyshire Lane. Just beyond our hut were some cottages approachable from Derbyshire Lane. Eventually a hut was built next to the Parish Hall and even that has gone.

Sleath’s Butchers Shop

At the corner of Brooklyn Road and Valley Road, used to be a butchers shop called "Sleaths". The next door shop down Valley Road was also theirs, being the pork shop. It was an extremely busy shop with Mr. Sleath, his head man Albert, and at least four others serving. Mr Sleath’s sister was at the cash desk. Saturday morning we stood outside the shop ready to take orders, if and when required, for a penny a time. Just down Valley Road, next to the chapel, was the slaughter house, where every Monday night beasts; sheep and pigs were slaughtered and prepared for sale. Before that, the animals had to be brought up from the market.

I was never happy with cattle, so I helped to drive sheep or pigs. Thursday night was the drive night. I never knew sheep could run so fast, until one got separated from flock, and ran up Granville Road with me in pursuit. They were kept until Monday night in stalls next, to the slaughter house.

Throughout the week-end they often made a lot of noise lowing and baying. I’m sure they knew their fate.

Monday night was the big nigh. Not a very pretty sight for a youngster. Our reward for he1ping Thursday and Monday was a fish and chip supper ordered by the head man, for every helper. All pork products were prepared on the premises too. Tripe was also boiled here, with the tripe shop on the front.

The coming of the Wireless

The advent of wireless was a very thrilling experience too, although I had reason to hate its coming in the early stages. We had a crystal set with one set of headphones which Dad had priority of. We had to be quiet and not move about for fear of dislodging the cats whisker from its point on the crystal. Later when valve sets became the thing, my dad started making his own sets. "wonder Wireless" shops sprang up in every district. Here you could buy all the parts to make your own set.

Many a Saturday afternoon I had to stand in out in our back yard holding a coil of wire, while dad wound it around a former to make a transformer. Once I had to help to fix a 30 foot pole in our yard for an aerial, like a ship’s mast.

Another time he sent me for a "Baffle Board". A board about 5 foot square. This was when loud speakers came into fashion. The bigger area of board was supposed to give you better sound. So I had to trudge to Pitsmoor to pick up this board and it was a difficult size to carry. Later, when I was in my teens, I became interested myself and made all the "Telson Circuits" from one valve to eight valves.

The Wonder Wireless shops were all painted yellow. I used to wonder why they called it wireless, when in the old days the sets were a mass of wires, not realising that wireless referred to the sound travelling through space without wires, unlike the telephone.

The first loud speaker I ever heard was at my granddad’s. He had a "Marconi" set with horn like speaker. He had a family party so that we could all go and hear this new invention.


Ernest Mills was and still is at the age of 87 a pen and pocket knife cutler who lived in Richards Road and then, after his marriage to Emily Wood (the daughter of Woods sweet shop on Foster Road) he moved to Hartley Street. Later he lived on Alexandra Road, opposite the wood yard, where he used to remember parking his motor bike and side-car, and later his motor car.

He remembers the rhubarb field across from Heeley Bank school and the horses having sacking over their hoofs to deaden the sound of the ‘clopping’ when any one was ill or had died.

Ernest Mills recalls the Coronation of King George V being held there in 1911. All the schools in Sheffield used to attend such events with flags and banners. He loaned us photo postcards to look at.

There seem to have been two "Clarks Farms". One was Lees Hall Farm below where the Lees Hall golf course is now, and which was known also as "the Duck Pond Farm". There were tennis courts at the back which were rented by Hee1ey Church for their Tennis C1ub. The other farm was Newfield Farm, up Gleadless Road and on the right in the part which is now Newfield Green. Further up on the other side there were cottages, the old police station, and Buck Woods.

Ernest Mills also remembers a rough track ran down by Heeley Bank School which is now Heeley Bank Road. On the right at the bottom was the "Little Sisters of the Poor". Higher up on the left, standing on its own, was a Children’s Home. The children attended Heeley Church Anns Road Chapel and Oak Street and were educated at local schools.


Mrs Cook and Mrs Lawson who lived nearby, a1so remember the-horses having their hooves covered and their being strawberries in the rhubarb field earlier. They recall Empire Day, and wearing white dresses, with the boys in sailor suits, marching to Bramhall Lane, where they uses to celebrate important events.

Mrs Cook and Mrs Lawson remember the cows being brought up Myrtle Road to the Ball Inn to graze twice a day from Granger’s Farm below Anns Road. There was another farm where the Coop is now at the Corner of Carfield Road. (See Jessie Wevers memories in No. 4).


Directory 1865

Among private residents we find:

Thomas Baines (Heeley Bank); Samuel Bennett (Hee1ey Bank); George Bloomer - Charles Baker (Artisan View); William Bonner (Albert Road); Thomas Booker (Shirebrook Villa); James Bourne (Thirlwell Road); George Dalton (Kent Road).


Jabez Barton (Thirlwell Road – optician)

John Bate (Thirlwell Road – landscape gardener)

Joe Berley (Waggon and Horses)*

James Bolsover (Bridge Inn)

John Creaser (Corn Miller - Heeley Mill)

John Dodson (Farmer – Heeley Bank)

Mrs Dodson (Farmer – Upper Heeley)

Charles Dover (Wood Carver – Oak Street)

Betsy Gill (Farmer - Newfield Green)

John Hoyland (White Lion – also local plumber and gas fitter)

Miss Ellen Machin (Day School)

William Memmott (Ball Inn)

William Webster (Shakespeare Inn)

* Present Waggon and Horses built 1886c

Directory 1876

297 Richard Gillott (file grinder)

255 Edward Russell (school master)

Directory 1883

Wm. Petch (headmaster) - his wife Helen, 84 Albert-Road; Heeley Foundation School (mixed) - Wm. Truelove – school master – Gleadless Road.

297 Gleadless Road - Mrs Cocking - 261 Edmund Makins;

Directory 1893

259 Gleadless Road – Edwin Fidler (silver stamper)

299 Samuel Palfreyman

392 J Memmott – farmer

Samuel Alliott – farmer Newfield Green

Police Station - Newfield Green - officer in charge Samuel Horsfield

(Contributed by Alan Montgomery)

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