Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Meetings in 2019

Ration Book Fashion
Wednesday, 23 October 2019


Our speaker on the evening of Wednesday, 23 October was Janet Stain who talked to us about Ration Book Fashion. Fashion was starting to change in the late 1930s and when war was declared this impacted the progression of fashion massively.


On 1 June 1941 rationing began. There was a restriction on fabric that could be used which gave the early 1940s a different look. Skirts were shorter, five buttons only allowed on a trim and two pleats. It looked very stylish. There was a shortage of fabric to make clothes as manufacturers were making clothes for military uniforms. There were also fewer workers available to make the clothes.


A ration book had 66 coupons at the start of the war which would buy a complete outfit, i.e. dress, coat, shoes etc. A pair of knickers was four coupons! The utility label was introduced by the government to enable cheap clothes to be produced that were a reasonable quality. They were similar to a military design. 

Clothing Ration Book from 1947. Clothing Ration Book from 1947.

Luxury goods were not officially rationed but they were self rationed as not many people could afford them.  Fur, lace, hats, and clothes for babies up to four months in age were not rationed. 


People made their own clothes, it was two coupons per yard of material. Some people could not afford to use their coupons but they weren’t allowed to be detached from the book to try to prevent a black market. 


People had to improvise with what clothes/material they had available. Two tone dresses were made from two dresses, using the best bits from each. Scarves were put over an old coat to disguise that it was worn. People borrowed clothes. An old coat could be turned inside out and made into a dress. Magazines had patterns in them for free. 


Men’s suits went from double breasted to a single breast and men bought longer trousers so that they could still have a turn up. Army blankets were good for dressing gowns and coats. Maternity smocks could be made from curtains since these were not rationed until 1942. Also aprons could be made from them. Aprons were popular as it saved wear on the clothes underneath.


Wedding dresses and underwear were made from parachutes if people could find someone they knew in the Forces who could get one. Trousers and dungarees became popular in the war and of course the land girls wore them. Children had extra coupons and everyone borrowed each other's children’s clothes. 


Knitted items were unpicked when worn and the best bits were used to re-knit another garments. Crochet thread was not rationed and could be used for gloves, wedding dresses etc. 


Hair was worn short and crimped, curls on the face and long hair was rolled up. Hats were not rationed but people could not get them as there were not many being manufactured. Hats were a small crown often with flowers, also berets, scarves and snoods were popular. 


Nylon stockings were introduced or legs could be coloured with gravy browning or cocoa. Ladies drew a line down the back of their legs when they could not get seamed nylons. The handbags used were from the 1930s to save coupons. In 1947-1949 a new look began that had started in 1940 before the war. Rationing finally ended in 1949. Christian Dior’s new look gave a waist again and a pert bust and hip pads to show off hips. 


We thanked Janet for a most fascinating and entertaining talk.



Sheffield 1917-1918: Collaboration, Innovation and Wartime Production

Wednesday, 25 September 2019


Our speaker on Wednesday, 25 September was Dr. Chris Corker who gave us the third in a series of talks about Sheffield during the Great War. This talk focussed on the years 1917-18.


The five main companies in the Sheffield armaments industry making armour plate, finished guns, projectiles and gun forgings for the war were:


Vickers - River Don Works. 
Cammell-Laird - Cyclops Works and Grimesthorpe works. 
John Brown - Atlas Works
Thomas Firth - Norfolk and Tinsley works. 
Hadfields - Hecla works.  


In Sheffield in 1917 there was vast expansion in production capacity and more workers were drafted into the munitions production. There was a reduction in use of steel for non wartime use. Houses and lodgings were moved or destroyed to accommodate more factories as they were rapidly expanding. 


The factories worked eight hour continual shifts with many women were employed, mainly young unmarried women. The women wore flouncy dresses as a uniform, certainly not designed with health and safety in mind when working with the machinery. 


Sheffield was very important to the war efforts and the naming of a ship called HMS Sheffield shows this. The workers at Cammell's part-manufactured a device invented by Capt. John Tolmie Tresidder (1851-1931) for de-capping shells. It took the form of protective steel mats and was fitted to a large number of battleships and cruisers. 


Hadfields were believed to employ more workmen than any other business in Sheffield and they were largely engaged in the production of war material.  Hadfields' shells had a patent cap which gave their projectiles very high ballistic qualities. At this time, Hadfields works covered nearly seven acres.  Hadfields helped train other manufacturers and overseas companies for the production of the high explosive shells. King George V visited Sheffield in May 1919 and visited Hadfields. 


Many of the companies collaborated together regarding technology, Firths and Hadfields continued until the 1930s. Export profit duty was introduced as the Government did not want companies making large amounts of profit from the war.


November 1918 saw the end of the war which came as a surprise to some people. The King and Queen visited the Cammell Laird works. Cammells employed 140 people before the war and by the end of the war this figure was at 3,000.  


Sheffield companies are believed to have produced over 38 million items for the war though Chris believes it could be as high as 100 million items. At the end of the war orders were cancelled and jobs were lost. The steel companies looked to the rail industry for work. 


We thanked Chris for a very interesting talk. We were sure that we all learned about Sheffield's huge contribution to the war from his series of three talks.



A Contract from Hell: Building Woodhead Tunnel. 1838-1845

Wednesday 26 June 2019


Our speakers on Wednesday 26 June were Chris and Judy Rouse who talked to us about the railway navvies and A Contract From Hell: Building the Woodhead Tunnel.


It was decided that a tunnel was needed from Sheffield to Manchester as there were no decent roads. The turnpike road was in a bad way and, due to the inclement weather, it was difficult to maintain.


The Woodhead tunnels are three parallel trans-Pennine railway tunnels on the Woodhead line, a former major rail link from Manchester to Sheffield. The first tunnel Woodhead 1 was constructed by the Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Manchester Railway. The line was 38 miles long and, at the summit, 1550 feet above sea level. Work on the tunnel commenced in 1837. 


It was designed by the railway engineer Charles Vignoles who was responsible for the tunnel design and specification and was involved in other activities for the company including fundraising. His decision to use his own resources to purchase shares under an alleged understanding that he would not have to pay the full price led to controversy and he resigned from his position in 1838  and was replaced by the civil engineer Joseph Lock.  When the tunnel opened in 1845, Woodhead 1 was one of the world’s longest railway tunnels and the first trans-Pennine tunnel. 


Woodhead 2 was completed in 1853. Woodhead 3 was constructed in the 1950s and opened in 1953 almost 100 years after Woodhead 2. Tunnel 3 was used by British Rail for electric lines built in 1964 and it closed in 1981. 


The working conditions and health of the navvies building the tunnels was very poor. There were deaths, outbreaks of disease and, because of the rock strata formation, building work was difficult. Short cuts were taken with the building works. In 1838 the first sod was cut. Things went wrong from the start; it was plagued by the climate, lack of money and poor health of the workers due to being out in constant bad weather. 


The engineer, Wellington Purdon, advised that the working conditions were awful and there was little consideration for the workforce. He asked why the safety fuses were not used and safety measures were not in place and the reply was that this incurs time and not worth it for the worth of the lives that were being lost. By July 1839 the workers and their families were living on the moors in bovies, and some were in the valley. It was a long walk to the site and then they were working a 12 hour shift. 


By 1839 even the engineers and contractors like Purdon were finding it difficult. It was therefore decided to build accommodation for the workforce and the horses, and also build some decent roads for the horses to get the materials to site. There were different types of accommodation for the different hierarchy of worker. However, they were all sub-standard, badly built, leaked, had no windows, no mortar, and rent had to be paid for this accommodation. Some navvies were left with nowhere to live and were sleeping in tents. 


It was difficult getting the coal and food to site and it was a constant fight to keep the water levels down in the tunnels works. There were 34 recorded deaths, hazards were rock falls, blasting explosions, falls by staff, embankment collapses. There were approximately 3,000 injuries. The water was contaminated with human and horse sewage and it was dark in the tunnels, with no lighting.


The navvies worked day and night and would bed-share between the shifts they worked. They should not have worked on a Sunday but did so and if caught it would have been the navvies that got fined. Sloping also happened where workers stayed with older ladies and left without paying their rent, also stealing occurred. There were bone fractures, limbs lost, eyes lost, blood poisoning. The navvies were often paid in a public house so they would spend their wages in the pub where fights often broke out. There was an absence of both education for the children and religious instruction. 


On 27 December 1845 the tunnel officially opened. It took ten and a half minutes to get through the tunnel. The dignitaries went on train to Manchester and back to Sheffield for a lavish receptions in Sheffield and Manchester. All the engineers were complimented on their great work but there was no mention of the navvies. The Edwin Chadwick Report of 1846 advised that it gave him no pleasure for this great architectural works as so many workers had died.


Chris and Judy were thanked for a fascinating, detailed talk. They can help with tracing your railway ancestor’s story via their website at:



The Great Sheffield Deer Park

Wednesday, 24 April 2019


Our speaker on Wednesday, 24th April was David Templeman who talked to us about The Great Sheffield Deer Park, Ye Great Park of England


The origins of the Sheffield Deer Park go back to Anglo Saxon times which can be attested by the size and age of the huge oak trees. One of these had a trunk measuring thirteen feet in diameter. Most of these trees were felled in the 18th century when the Deer Park was converted into other uses.


Sheffield Castle was the fourth largest in the country and was used as an administration centre for the whole of the Hallamshire area. The Deer Park itself was eight miles in circumference and was the largest private deer park in England. The castle stood on the edge of the Deer Park which was enclosed by a boundary wall that was eight feet in height, built with feet of stone and topped with a four foot wooden fence. This was intended to keep the deer in and predators - which would have included wolves at this date - out.


Sheffield Deer Park was by no means the only deer park in this area. Others included Wentworth, Tankersley, Conisbrough (which had royal connections), Cawthorpe, Walton Hall, Holme Hall, Whittington Moor and Staveley.


The Deer Park was all about showing off the power, prestige and wealth of the family who owned it. The park boundary went right into the centre of Sheffield and it contained over 3,000 fallow deer plus rabbits, pheasants and wildfowl. The majority of the people of Sheffield were poor and often starving and as a result poaching was rife even though it carried heavy penalties.


The original Sheffield Castle was built of wood and was destroyed by fire in 1266. In 1270 Thomas de Furnival obtained a charter from King Henry III allowing him to build a castle and Sheffield Castle was rebuilt in stone. It was located where Dixon Lane and Exchange Street now stand and where the River Sheaf flows into the River Don. Where the two rivers met, a ditch was created to form a moat around the castle. In this low-lying area both water and sewage collected, making it both unhealthy and unpleasant as a place to live. In later times, Mary Queen of Scots spent much of her fourteen years of imprisonment in Sheffield Castle and, along with Tutbury Castle, it was the prison she hated most.


Deer parks were not used for hunting but to supply venison for the table of the lord of the manor. Venison was also sold along with deer skins, providing him with another source of income.

Sheffield Manor Turret House Sheffield Manor Turret House

The manor of Hallamshire including Sheffield Castle and the Deer Park passed into the Talbot Family, Earls of Shrewsbury, in the early 15th century. It was the Talbots who built Sheffield Manor Lodge in the centre of the Deer Park around 1510. They also planted a beautiful avenue of walnut trees from the castle up to the Manor Lodge. It was wide enough for a horse and cart to pass through and the dense canopy of leaves effectively protected both goods and people from the rain. 


In 1616 Gilbert, the 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, died without a male heir and the manor of Hallam passed into the Howard Family via Gilbert's daughter Alethea, who was married to Henry Howard, the Earl of Arundel and Surrey. Henry was only interested in making money from the estate, the deer were cleared out of the park, most of the trees were felled for timber, coal mines were leased out and the park was gradually enclosed and let out to tenant farmers. 


By 1672 the buildings in the Deer Park had become so dilapidated that most of them were demolished. Only some parts of the Manor House - including the Turret House - survived as they had been converted into cottages and farm buildings.

Old Queen's Head PH, Pond Street, Sheffield. Old Queen's Head PH, Pond Street, Sheffield.

The Old Queen's Head pub, built circa 1475, is the oldest timber structure in Sheffield and was once part of the Deer Park. Originally it was known as the Hall i' th' Ponds and was probably used as a banqueting hall for parties hunting wildfowl in the nearby ponds. This area was subject to flooding but provided lush grazing in the summer.


It is still possible to walk round five of the eight miles of the Sheffield Deer Park boundary, much of which is on ancient footpaths.


David was thanked for another fascinating talk. 



The Plague Doctor

Wednesday, 27 March 2019


Our speaker on Wednesday 27th March was David Bell, The Plague Doctor, whotalked to us about medical treatments in the 17th century. He warned us at the start that some of his talk was true and some not!!. 


Although David is not a doctor, historian or academic, he retired to Eyam and discovered that the waterfall on the farm he had bought, was the site where Matthew Morton had taken up residence, in 1665, with his dog ‘Flash’, to escape the plague, which had killed his wife and children. When bus loads of tourists turned up to view the waterfall and learn about the plague history of Eyam (whether myth or reality), David decided to research those times and events in the village.


An ordinary person living 350 years ago had an average life span of 40 years. Doctors did exist, so what did a doctor know? They did not understand about the heart pumping blood, what a pulse was or about blood pressure so they would listen to the patient’s complaint and would study their urine sample.


There were two main things a person would die from: they would suddenly drop down dead which could be from heart, stroke or kidney infection or the second most common killer was diabetes though the patient would die from gangrene. Most patients would want medicine to feel better so the doctors used the doctrine of signatures which states that herbs or items resembling various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of those body parts, e.g. a stick of celery for arthritis looking like a bone. A banana was described for depression which has the chemical serotonin, a happy chemical, although would probably have to eat 7 to 8 bananas per day.

David Bell with 'Samuel Pepys'. David Bell with 'Samuel Pepys'.

David brought with him a blow-up Samuel Pepys doll, dressed in 17th century clothes, which had a urinary tract infection, a bladder stone and constipation. With descriptions of the cures for ailments documented in Samuel Pepys' diaries David graphically demonstrated on the doll how these were performed.


The plague came to Eyam in a consignment of cloth from London, which had plague fleas in the cloth, so people started to get infected and die. 260 succumbed in total, over 14 months. The vicar of Eyam, William Mompesson, told his parishioners to stay in the village, not to mix or meet in public. They were subsequently selflessly sacrificed to the plague. Due to this isolation of the village eventually the plague was eradicated and was prevented from spreading to the surrounding areas.


David was thanked for his interesting, entertaining talk. 



The Story of an Ordinary 19th Century Sheffield Family

Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Suzanne Bingham was our speaker on  27th February talking to us about the story of a Sheffield family, a family history story about ordinary people leading ordinary lives, looking at two of her ancestors living in Victorian times. 


The first ancestor Suzanne researched was Eliza Dixon, her great great grandmother born in 1848. In 1851 she lived at Smithfields behind West Bar in back to back housing. The occupation of her father and brothers were Britannia metalsmiths making the Sheffield silver, it was a short walk to work, people lived near to where they worked. 


Neither of her parents were from Sheffield. Sheffield’s population started to increase during the 1800s, in 1801 the population was 31,000 and between 1821 to 1841 the population doubled. Eliza’s mum was from York and her dad was from Quebec as he was stationed there with the Royal Infantry. He married the sergeant’s daughter so she was allowed to travel with him and they had three children born in Quebec then returned to Sheffield. 


In 1861 the census showed that Eliza had moved to Nursery Street, it was easy for people to move around as they had few possessions and lived in rented accommodation. By 1871 she had moved to Broad Lane and living with a man called James Bingham, she was living very near her parents, families did stay living near each other. 


In 1872 Eliza’s mum died and her father was left on his own, he died in 1874 in the workhouse, they both had pauper burials. The workhouse was at Kelham Island before it moved to Firvale where the Northern General Hospital is now. Elderly people were 50% of the inmates as they could not work so had no money. The workhouses were not great places for the elderly to be. In 1836 the general cemetery opened for burials, there was an agreement with the workhouse for pauper burials and every week a man with a cart would arrive with bodies to be put in a designated area in one grave, the highest number was 96. 


In the 1881 census Eliza was a respectable married woman living on Hawley Croft in back to back houses living with children aged from 11, Eliza’s married sister and children also lived with her, three generations are living together and Eliza’s sister’s child is actually Eliza’s child. Most women at this time worked in the buffing trade or similar, working for a manufacture who would provide training. Once they were skilled and got married and had children they worked for a little missus and rented a small workshop and took the children to work though the pay was not good they had the flexibility of childcare. 


In 1891 Eliza was a widow, her husband died in his 40s, he was a grinder. Life expectancy was low as grinding knives and forks with a grindstone all day was bad for posture and breathing in the cuttings. Sadly Eliza’s health deteriorated and she moves in with her daughter and is then in the workhouse at Firvale where it is not as overcrowded and there were proper hospitals and schools etc. This was the only source of free hospital but many could not use it as attached to the workhouse. Eliza died in the workhouse and was buried in pauper grave. Eliza had tried to better herself but was constantly drawn back into the system. 


The second ancestor that Suzanne researched was her great great grandfather William Tyas. He was born in 1843 in the workhouse and the birth name of his father was blank on the birth certificate, his mother was Ann Tyas, they were both illiterate. William lived in Duke Street, he moved in from Maltby where agriculture work was done, people were moving into Sheffield from surrounding areas as better opportunities in the metalwork industry happened. 


Ann had at least two illegitimate children and this was not unusual, she gave birth in the workhouse and would have had to wear a particular uniform or a band to stigmatise her as an unmarried mother. Bed sharing was phased out, the beds were like coffins, mattresses were made of straw and there were no blankets or sheets just their clothes to keep them warm. They would have had to work even if heavily pregnant. 


Ann did leave the workhouse and in the 1851 census was a respectable married woman and had her second illegitimate child living with her, she lived at Cotton Mill Row. Ten years later Ann lived on Brocco Street. A lot of the apprentices lived with their master (they were housed and clothed but no pay). Ann’s illegitimate son lived with her perhaps as a boarder to keep his independence. Apprentices had to sign a code of behaviour. 


A few years later he married Sarah Gledhill at St. Stephens Church at Netherthorpe and his occupation was a razor grinder, neither himself or his bride are literate so they put a X against their names for the marriage certificate. 


At this time Sheffield has terrible sanitary conditions and a high death toll, life expectancy was an average of 27 years, dreadful housing and overcrowding. When looked for William again he has moved to Hartlepool for the clean sea air, they were recruiting to develop the metal trade. Sarah gives birth here to Suzanne’s great grandmother. 


They don’t stay in Hartlepool and return to Sheffield living in better accommodation away from central Sheffield near Hillsborough Park in the countryside where the environment was good and now they now have 6 children. William is now a little mester at the Philadelphia Works, he is self employed, affiliated to a manufacturer and rents the workshop. They did not work on Monday, worked Tuesday to 2pm, Wednesdays a full day, Thursday 12 hours and Friday worked until midnight as they were behind with their work. The saying nose to the grindstone comes from this schedule of work. On a Saturday they were awake early as had to get their work to the manufacture and collect next week’s work. Wages were dependent on how the individual negotiated and people did not discuss what they earned so workers were on different rates of pay. Local shops were opening in the suburbs due to the rise in population, this sees the local high street developing and William converts his front room to a grocer’s shop, the rise of the corner shop is an opportunity for working class people to better themselves, however, the working hours were long. 


There were tragedies of Victorian society, in the 1911 census William had eight children and only three were alive, the infant mortality rate was one in five children died before 12 months of age and one in two children died before they were 5 years old, the highest mortality rate in the country. Isolation hospitals were built e.g. Lodge Moor to stop diseases spreading and education provided regarding the understanding of bacteria and how germs were spread, babies were badly fed, so mothers were educated how to raise children, health workers were made available, first aid classes provided and leaflets/drop in sessions, baby clinics, the first clinic is where the Wicker Herbalist was in Surrey Street. William tried to improve his life but he could not escape the Victorian living conditions around him. 


Suzanne was thanked for a fascinating talk about her ancestors and the environment they lived in and how this affected their lives. Suzanne hoped we are all now encouraged to research our ancestors.




Dead and Buried, Dore and Totley Ancestry

Wednesday 23rd January 2019


Our speaker on Wednesday 23rd January was Hilary Hutson who gave a talk called Dead and Buried, Dore and Totley Ancestry


Good websites to use for research are, the General Register Office, Find My Past (some libraries have a subscription), Find a Grave and also newspapers have lots of information. Also, death and burial records are a good method for finding information for research - death certificates, parish records, obituaries and grave stones. 


Death certificate records began in England in 1837. For England and Wales the death index is online up to 2017. Scotland has more detailed information, a lot of the Irish records were lost, where the information is available it is free. Requests for death certificates are charged. We can now can apply for a PDF copy for family history research which is a copy of a death certificate and this is cheaper. On the death certificate there are details about where the death was registered, details of the deceased, cause of death, informant of the death and date of death. 


If an ancestor died in the workhouse the relatives were informed and the relatives arranged the funeral if they could afford it. Otherwise they were buried by the workhouse in their burial grounds or somewhere nearby or their body could be sent for medical purposes. Some of the causes of death were listed as: 


-Old age (this is not allowed today); 
-By visitation of God. This was seen up to 1900 and used if someone dropped suddenly dead; 
-Blank. We are unsure why this was recorded;



There were disease epidemics: scarlet fever, smallpox, measles, influenza, diphtheria etc. Suicide was a sin and against the law and no funeral service was permitted. However, some vicars were more humane and gave a service, and they could be buried in unconsecrated ground. From 1558 deaths were recorded on parchment as paper didn’t store well and old paper records copied over to the parchments. 


It was common to reuse a name for a child, child mortality was high. Elderly women called searchers carried poles to notify people they had been in contact with the sick, they diagnosed deaths and often got ill themselves. There is now a theory regarding the Eyam plague that it was not from a flea bite and the thinking is it may have been an infectious virus not the plague, as not all people who were in contact with the illness died. 


There were laws for non-conformist burials and then in 1880 there was a burial law amendment act and people could be buried in their own right and the burial could take place without the rites of the Church of England. The dead were buried in woollen shrouds to avoid importing linen. The poor and plague victims were not buried in wool. The Parish paid for the burial of people in alms or the poor. 


In 1854 the London Necropolis train station opened to transport the coffins of the departed Londoners to graveyards outside of London as burial space had run out in London. The living and the dead were segregated during travel according to their class and religious persuasion. Coffins were often transported to their graves in Victorian times by train and then left at the lychgate to the church, often overnight in a coffin or shroud and were guarded. 


There were also coffin routes via foot, one such one being from Dore through to Totley over to Holmesfield. Safety coffins were invented, a coffin fitted with a mechanism to prevent premature burial to allow the occupant to signal that they have been buried alive. 


Hilary was thanked for a very interesting, detailed talk.

Latest News

Monthly Meetings

All 2020 Meetings Cancelled


Because of the coronavirus, the monthly meetings of Totley History Group have been postponed until next year.



On Wednesday, 23 January 2021 you are invited to join former British Rail employee Stephen Gay on a railway journey from Sheffield's abandoned Victoria Station via the towns of Rotherham, Worksop, Retford, Gainsborough and Grimsby to the east coast holiday resort of Cleethorpes during which you will pass through the 1,334 yard Kirton Tunnel whose castellated western portal was completed in 1849 for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. Not just for railway enthusiasts, this well illustrated talk will be in Totley Library beginning at 7.30pm.


On Wednesday 24 February we welcome back Penny Rea who will talk to us about The History and Residents of Zion Graveyard, Attercliffe. The graveyards is the final resting place of pioneering anti-slavery campaigner Mary Anne Rawson (1801-1887), as well as a number of the City's early industrialists and influential non-conformist Christian radicals. The meeting will be in Totley Library, beginning as at 7.30pm.


On Wednesday 24 March Ann Beedham will present The History of Stained Glass. Coloured glass has been made since the time of the Egyptians and the Romans but it gained widespread recognition with the spread of  Christian churches. In England, many of these early works were destroyed in the 17th century by order of King Henry VIII after his break with the Catholic Church. During the movement of the Gothic revival many new styles were developed and the Victorians popularised the use of decorative stained glass windows and entrances in their homes. The meeting will begin at 7.30pm in Totley Library.

A few copies are still available of Sally Goldsmith's book Thirteen Acres: John Ruskin and the Totley Communists. Totley was the site of a utopian scheme funded by art critic and social reformer John Ruskin. In 1877 he bought 13-acre St. George’s Farm so that nine Sheffield working men and their families could work the land and, to keep themselves busy, make boots and shoes. Sally tells an engaging story from our history with a quirky cast of characters including Ruskin himself, the poet and gay rights activist Edward Carpenter and Henry Swan, a cycling, vegetarian artist and Quaker. The book is available to order online from the The Guild of St. George by following this link.

A recently discovered box of WWII correspondence reveals the story of how a small group of ladies from Dore and Totley recruited knitters from the west of Sheffield and how their efforts made them the country's greatest provider of Comforts for the Minesweeping crews of the Royal Navy. The story is told in Knit For Victory, a new book from Totley History Group. Written by Pauline Burnett, it has 82 pages and many illustrations. It is on sale in local shops and via our website.

Since 1875 when there was only a Rolling Mill and Chemical Yard alongside the river a mile from Totley, the area has changed beyond anyone's imagination  This book by Pauline Burnett tells the story of how it was named and grew into the community we know today. The Rise of Totley Rise has 94 pages including a useful index and is profusely illustrated throughout with many previously unpublished photographs from private collections. 

The story is told in Totley War Memorial WW1 of the ten men from our village who gave their lives in the Great War. Written by Pauline Burnett, Jim Martin and Dorothy Prosser, a chapter is devoted to each of the soldiers with a family tree followed by as much information as could be discovered about the men and their families. There is also information about their military careers and the actions in which they lost their lives. The book has 64 pages and is illustrated throughout with photographs of the men, their families and the houses where they lived.

This picture postcard was addressed to Miss Abell, Holly Dene, Totley Brook Road and posted in Rotherham on 10 December 1907. Edith Annie Abell was born on 4 February 1887 in Sheffield and her family came to live in our area in the 1900s, staying for the rest of their lives.

Charles Herbert Nunn enlisted in the British Army on 23 August 1915 and was sent to France on 18 December 1915 to served with the British Expeditionary Force. In March 1916 it was discovered that he was underage and he was returned home. Shortly after his 18th birthday he re-enlisted and was again posted abroad where, in addition to this trio of medals, he was awarded the Military Medal. 

This certificate was awarded jointly by the Red Cross and St. John's Ambulance to Isaac Henry Williams, of Lemont Road, for his services during WW1 as a stretcher bearer. We are seeking anyone who can help us pass it on to a living relative.

In 1832 Samuel Dean pleaded guilty to stealing a quantity of lead from the Totley Rolling Mill and was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. He sailed on the Mangles and upon arrival in New South Wales he was sent to work for William Cox, the famous English explorer and pioneer. After receiving his Certificate of Freedom in 1840, Samuel became a farmer and went on to have a very large family. Samuel was born in Whitechapel around 1811 to parents Samuel Dean Snr. and Susannah Duck. His descendant Sarah Dean would like help in tracing his ancestry.

Ellen Topham was born in 1889 in Nottingham. Her parents had been living together since 1862 but had never married so it was most unusual that, after their deaths, Ellen was accepted into Cherrytree Orphanage. Even more so since her father, Snowden Topham, had been acquitted somewhat unexpectedly in a widely reported manslaughter trial. Ellen remained at Cherrytree until her death from pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 15.

Mabel Wilkes was a resident in Cherrytree Orphanage between 1897 and 1905. Her granddaughter Sally Knights sent us these images of a book presented to Mabel as a prize for her writing. Sally also sent us some personal memories of her grandmother and a photograph of a locket which contains portraits of Mabel and her husband Septimus Gale.

John Henry Manby Keighley was living at Avenue Farm when he enlisted in 1916. He fought in France with the Cheshire Regiment but after home leave in early 1918 he went missing. The Army were unable to determine whether he had deserted or returned to the front and been either killed or captured by the enemy. In August 1919 he was formally presumed killed in action but it appears he did not die but returned home to his family.

Horace Ford was admitted to Cherrytree Orphanage on 26 October 1888 at the age of six. He left at the age of 14 to become an apprentice blacksmith and farrier. Soon after his 18th birthday Horace enlisted in the Imperial Yeomanry to serve his country in the war in South Africa. His letter home to his Orphanage mentor tells of the lucky escape he had in battle.

Pat Skidmore (née Sampy) lived on Totley Brook Road from 1932 to 1948 before her family moved to Main Avenue. In this short article she remembers her time at Totley All Saints School where she was a contemporary of Eric Renshaw and Bob Carr.

As we have nowhere to exhibit memorabilia and artifacts, we have created a Virtual Museum instead. The latest addition to our collection is this double-sided Totley Rise Post Office oval illuminated sign which was on the wall of 67 Baslow Road before the Post Office business transferred to number 71. Please contact us by email if you have things that you own and would like to see added to the virtual museum.

Conway Plumbe was a man of many talents who came to live in Totley Rise around 1912. As a young man he had poems published by Punch magazine and is remembered in modern collections of WW1 poetry. A number of his paintings were accepted by the Royal Academy. An engineering graduate of London University, he joined the Civil Service where he rose to a high level as a factory inspector, publishing two books on the subject and giving a series of talks on workplace health and safety on BBC radio during WW2. In retirement he wrote a philosophical-spiritual work called Release From Time.

Inside Totley Rise Methodist Church there is a Roll of Honour commemorating the soldiers from its congregation who served their king and country during the Great War. For all but one of the 28 names the soldier's regiment is recorded in the next column. The exception is David Cockshott for whom 'killed in action' is written alongside yet he appears on no war memorial in our area and no record of a mortally wounded soldier of that name is to be found. We think we have solved the mystery.

Mrs. Kate Plumbe moved from Mansfield to Totley Rise with a number of her family in 1913 and became closely involved with the Totley Union Church. Her daughter Winifred became a missionary and headmistress in Calcutta for over 38 years following which she returned home to live with her sister Hilda on Furniss Avenue. Hilda had also been a teacher, missionary and, like her mother, a volunteer at St. John's VAD during WW1.

Thomas Glossop was a cutler and razor manufacturer who was well known amongst cricketing and gardening circles. Despite going blind, he was able to continue his hobbies with remarkable success

The Totley Union Cycling Society Prize Giving and Fete was held on the fields near Abbeydale Hall on 18 July 1914. Anne Rafferty and Gordon Wainwright have named some of the people in two wonderful photographs of the event. Can you identify any more for us? 

The Tyzack family are well known in our area for owning iron and steel trades at Walk Mill, Abbeydale Works, Totley Rolling Mill and Totley Forge. This article covers the history of the family from the late 18th century when William Tyzack the founder of the company was born until the early 20th century when Joshua Tyzack farmed at Avenue Farm, Dore.  

Walter Waller Marrison moved to Totley around 1897 with his wife and their two young sons. He was a house builder who constructed properties around Totley Brook and Greenoak before ill health forced him to take up less physically demanding work. In 1904 he took over the tenancy of the grocers and off licence at number 71 Baslow Road. After his death in 1908, his widow Kate and later their eldest son Jack continued to run the business until it was sold in 1934.   

Ron Wijk of Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands has sent us two scanned images of drawings of old cottages made by the celebrated Dutch painter, Anton Pieck (1895-1987) simply annotated "Totley", and wondered whether we could identify their locations.

We would like to thank Christopher Rodgers for bringing to our attention this fascinating log of the 85th Sheffield (St. John's and Totley Orphanage) Wolf Cub Pack for 1927-45. The log is published jointly by Sheffield Scout Archives and Totley History Group as a free PDF download. It is illustrated by no fewer than 92 photographs and is supported by a comprehensive index and biographies of some of the main participants.

Following our Open Meeting event on School Days, Roger Hart, Howard Adams and John Timperley have each written to us with their memories of Norwood School, which was located in the rooms attached to the Dore & Totley United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road. 

On 22nd July 1909 the children of Dore and Totley Schools celebrated by a pageant the union of England under King Ecgbert which took place at Dore in AD 827. The pageant was devised and written by Mrs Sarah Milner and her daughter Marjorie and performed in a field close to Avenue Farm in front of a large audience. Photographs of the event survive together with a fragment of the script.

John Edward Greenwood Pinder had lived all 46 years of his life in Totley but on census night, Sunday 2 April 1911, he was not at home; he was in Derby Gaol serving a sentence of three months hard labour. From the age of 20, John had been in and out of local courts for a series of minor offences including drunkenness, assault, wilful damage and night poaching. Finally he was sent to gaol for cutting down and stealing 86 small trees which he sold in Sheffield market for Christmas.

We have already transcribed the census returns for Totley, Totley Rise and Dore. Now we have transcribed Census Strays. These are people who were born in Totley but are missing from our earlier transcriptions. They may have been living, working or studying elsewhere or just away from home on the night the census was taken. Two people were in prison. Others were in Union Workhouses, hospitals and asylums. Fully indexed strays from the 1851, 1861, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses are available now. 

We wish to thank Gillian Walker for allowing us to digitize an archive of material about the 1st Totley Scout Group. Most of the material was collected by Arthur Percival Birley in the period 1949-51 and there are many interesting documents pertaining to the building of the scout hut on Totley Hall Lane. In addition four Newsletters survive, two from the 1940s and two from 1971.

We are grateful to Angela Waite and All Saints' Parish Church for giving us access to baptismal and kindergarten birthday rolls dating from 1926 to 1941. We have transcribed the names, addresses, birthdates and baptismal dates and created an alphabetical index of entries for you to search. 

Edmund Sanderson, a Sheffield estate agent, aquired the land on either side of the old drive to Totley Grove in 1874 and divided it into plots for development. He called it the Totley Brook Estate. But before many houses were built, the estate road was severed in two by the building of the Dore & Chinley Railway line. The eastern end of the road became the cul-de-sac we now call Grove Road

John Roberts was born in Sheffield in 1798. He became a partner in one of the leading silversmiths firms in the city before moving to Abbeydale Park in 1851 and extending the house in Victorian gothic style. He paid for the building of St. John's Church and was believed to dispense more in charity than any other person in the neighbourhood including his protege Ebenezer Hall.

The Coke Family owned the Totley Hall Estate from 1791 to 1881. With the aid of a family tree to guide us, Josie Dunsmore takes us through the story of their tenure. 

When the Rev. D'Ewes Coke inherited the Totley Hall Estate in 1791 it had two farms. Josie Dunsmore tells the story of how the two farms were combined under the tenancy of Peter Flint with the aid of field maps drawn by Flint himself and later by the Fairbanks family.

Do you think you recognize this face? More than sixty photographs of the girls and teachers at Hurlfield Grammar School for Girls in the 1940s were given to Totley History Group by Avril Critchley, who was herself a student at the school. The collection includes fifteen form photographs from June 1949. There would have been a number of girls from the Totley area attending the school in those days.

Christine Weaving tells the story of her 2 x great uncle George Edward Hukin, a Totley razor-grinder, and his life-long friendship with the academic, poet, writer, and free-thinker Edward Carpenter.

Eric Renshaw (pictured here on the right with Bob Carr) grew up and lived in Totley from 1932 to 1960. Many of his memories are of a sporting nature.

We are very grateful to Gordon Grayson for giving us this splendid sale document for the Norton Hall Estates, following the death in 1850 of Samuel Shore. The estates included a large part of Totley and the document has maps and illustrations, plus schedules of land and property with the names of tenants. We have also added a transcription of the entries for Totley and Dore. 

Watch this Youtube video of the talk given by Dr. Mark Frost and Sally Goldsmith on Ruskin, Totley and St. George's Farm. The talk was hosted by Totley History Group on 20th May 2015 as part of the Ruskin in Sheffield programme. Also enjoy a video of the outdoor performance Boots, Fresh Air & Ginger Beer written by Sally.

When Jacqueline A. Gibbons became interested in what made her father tick, it began a journey through WW1 archive records and led to her flying from Toronto to visit the house and village where he lived and the countryside that he so much enjoyed. Jacqueline reminds us that in the early 20th century Sheffield was a driving force of industry and that Totley was the place where many of its remarkable people lived and where they formulated their ideas.

Edgar Wood was the designer of The Dingle, 172 Prospect Road, built in 1904 for Rev. William Blackshaw, the founder of the Croft House Settlement. The house, together with its western terrace and boundary walls, has now been awarded Grade II listed building status. 

What was probably "the most perfect little garden railway in existence" in 1910 was to be found in the grounds of Brook House, Grove Road, the home of its designer and constructor, Guy Mitchell. Look at some wonderful photographs and read reports in newspapers and a full appreciation in Model Railways magazine. 

We have now completed our transcription of Totley School's Admission Records for the period from 1877 to 1914. There is also a useful index to the names of the scholars and to their parents or guardians. We are very grateful to Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library for allowing us to transcribe and publish these records and for permission to reproduce the photograph of a specimen page of the register.

On 8, 9 and 11 November 2014 Totley History Group held an exhibition at Dore & Totley United Reformed Church to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Below are additional links to some of the photographs we were lent and stories we researched especially for the exhibition.


Oscar Creswick was a local farmer who served with the Army Service Corps in Salonika and who after the war returned to Totley to become the innkeeper of the Cricket Inn and a member of the village's successful tug of war team.


Walter Evans was a market gardener who also ran a small grocery shop on Hillfoot Road when war broke out. He fought with the Machine Gun Corps at the fourth battle of Ypres. After the war, Walter ran a grocers shop at the top of Main Avenue.


Fred Cartwright was another Totley soldier who survived the Great War. He fought in France and Belgium and although he wasn't wounded he was gassed and was home on sick leave when his daughter was delivered by Nurse Jessop during a snowstorm in January 1917.


Maurice Johnson joined the Yorkshire Dragoons, a territorial unit, on 1 Jan 1914 and so was called up at the very start of the war. He fought throughout the war on the Somme, at Ypres and at Cambrai. After demobilization in 1919 Maurice returned to his old occupation in the steel industry.


Bill Glossop lent us a letter written by his father, William Walton Glossop to his wife describing life in the army during training in the north east of England and asking her to keep him in mind with the children.


The photo above provides a link to an album of photographs taken of WW1 Hospitals at St. John's, Abbeydale and the Longshaw Estate.


Nora Green, of Chapel Lane, was only 14 when war broke out. In 1914 she was ill with diphtheria and was sent to the isolation hospital at Holmley Lane, Dronfield. Nora recovered and wrote a letter of thanks to one of the hospital staff and the reply she received survives. 


We have collected together on this page the names of local men who appear on various War Memorials and Rolls of Honour in Totley, Dore, Abbeydale, Norton, Holmesfield and Dronfield.


Unfortunately we were unable to identify all the photographs we were lent of Totley Soldiers. Please take a look at this album to see if you recognize any of the missing names.

This walk visits locations that have strong associations with Totley during the First World War. It includes the homes of the ten soldiers from the village who lost their lives, the auxiliary hospitals, war memorials, and even the rifle range on which the soldiers trained. Take a look at the first draft of a new walk by the authors of "Totley War Memorial WW1 1914-1918"

We wish to thank the Trustees of Cherrytree for giving us permission to publish transcriptions of the Cherrytree Orphanage Admissions Book entries for the years 1866-1929. There is also an alphabetical index for you to look at.

With more people having access to faster broadband and mobile networks, we have uploaded seven full and unedited oral history recordings and also added more short excerpts for you to listen to.

Our transcriptions of local trade directories have been expanded to cover the 95 years from 1837-1932 and have also been indexed. From the days when there were a handful of farmers, stone masons, saw handle makers & scythe grinders to the wonders of the Totley Bridge Garage Company, Betty's Boudoir and The Heatherfield Shopping Centre.

We continue to add to our Totley Newspaper Archive. Recent entries have included several about The Plumbe Family, Thomas Glossop and accidents during the construction of Totley Tunnel.

Totley Church of England Parish Magazines for the years 1922-1939 and 1948-1967 with notices of births, marriages and deaths and accounts of spiritual, educational, charitable and social matters in the village. 

Around 90 photographs taken by Stuart Greenhoff for his thesis A Geographical Study of Dore and Totley including several of Totley Moor Brickworks. Superb!  

Chronologically ordered snippets of information recorded by Brian Edwards during his many years of research into our local history.

Read the inscriptions on more than 700 gravestones in  the churchyard.


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