Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Totley at War: 1943

by Jack Hadley

Fifty years ago - 1943 - Britain was locked deep in the midst of war; and the situation nationally was very grim. Though some successes were beginning to come in other areas, the situation in the Battle of the Atlantic was extremely serious. In the first part of 1943 more allied shipping was sunk by the U-boats than could be replaced by the shipyards. Consequently, there were repercussions at home. But what was happening in Totley? 

 

On the physical scene, there were several features which showed the state of war. At the junction of Glover Road and Mickley Lane there was a slit trench; and in the field off Laverdene Avenue there was an 'L' shaped trench, with a similar one in the field which is now the site of the Shepley Spitfire. These trenches had been dug as part of the counter invasion measures earlier in the war. Other features of the same type were the tank-traps on Baslow Road; one by the bridge over the Old Hay Brook, and one just above the junction of Baslow Road and Lane Head Road. These tank traps consisted of sockets formed in the roadway about 3ft deep, into which steel girders were to be placed, with concrete blocks about 2ft in diameter and about 3ft long being placed between them. How effective these measures would have been against the German Panzers was, fortunately, not put to the test. 

 

A rather different sort of physical feature at this time was formed by the various types of water tanks provided for fire fighting purposes. A static water tank, consisting of a circular brick-built tank, perhaps 30ft in diameter and 4ft deep, was situated at the junction of Baslow Road and The Crescent, in the grounds of the present Catholic Church. A water tank with running supply was dug on the Totley Brook at the bottom of Mickley Lane. This was quite a large tank, and initially was probably about 12 15ft deep, and perhaps upward of 50ft across. During the progress of the war, however, its capacity got smaller as silting was quite a problem in this tank. The spoil dump behind the Shepley Spitfire bears witness to the evacuations required for this dam; and also to a road improvement scheme on Totley Rise which was carried out a year or two before war broke out. A further water tank with running supply was constructed on the Old Hay Brook by Baslow Road and the Methodist Church by forming a sheet piled dam across the Brook. Relics of this dam can still be seen today. 

 

Nearly every home was provided with its Anderson shelter to provide protection against bombing; and to give proper protection these had to be dug some 2-3 ft into the ground. Sometimes this was not possible, as in the case of one house on Mickley Lane where, as soon as the hole was dug l8 ins. deep, the hole promptly filled with water, and refused utterly to relinquish its water. In due course this house was provided with a table shelter, and the property marked with a large 'T' for identification. The proneness of other shelters to collect water led to the construction of a special land drain at the back of properties on Mickley Lane. 

Air raid shelters on All Saints School playing fields.

In addition to the small domestic Anderson shelters, there were two public shelters provided; one on Totley Rise, and one what is now the playing field adjacent to Totley All Saints School. The one on Totley Rise was built opposite the Post Office on land which had been levelled in the improvement scheme mentioned above. The shelter next to All Saints School was used by the school whenever there was an air raid alert, whether this was a practice or the real thing. By 1943 the school had an overspill class which occupied the Chapel building down Chapel Lane. When there was an air raid alert the sprint which was necessary from the Chapel to the shelters was quite taxing to many of the young pupils. 

 

The Army was present in Totley in two areas, with different roles. There was an anti-aircraft battery which was located on land by the drive to Woodthorpe Hall at the bottom of Wings Hill. Old foundations of some of the buildings were still evident on this site quite recently. At Totley Bents there was a fairly large army camp, but here the emphasis was less on the purely defensive. Based at the Rifle Range was a training centre for a detachment of the Airborne Division. It was quite a familiar sight to see the soldiers set off in the early morning on a route march, and then see them returning up Penny Lane in the mid afternoon. This all sounds rather simple of course; that is until you realise that these route marches were carried out at the double, and whilst carrying full pack and weapons - excess of 60lbs. weight. There can be no doubt that this training probably in improved the toughness of the airborne soldiers considerably.  

 

During the war Totley had its own Fire Station which was located on Baslow Road at Tatley Rise on the site now occupied by Gordon Lamb. Either 2 or 3 appliances were based here, and of course, these were the operational counterparts of the various supplies of water which have been mentioned earlier. Earlier in the war, this station had been manned by the Auxiliary Fire Service, (A.F.S.), but by mid-war manning was by the National Fire Service, (N.F.S.). Whether this was merely a change of name, or whether there was greater significance in this, I do not know. Again, whether this station was engaged in much fire-fighting as a consequence of enemy action I do not know; but I suspect that it was not. But there was one aspect of fire-fighting where it was quite active. The gorse in the field off the drive leading to Woodthorpe Hall seemed to be prone to spontaneous combustion, for each successive year during this period it managed rather mysteriously to catch fire. This called for a turn-out of the Fire Station on Totley Rise to extinguish the blaze. 

Home Guard at Totley Rifle Range

Dad's Army, in the guise of the Home Guard, was also active in Totley during these wartime years. The detachment H.Q. was at Abbeydale Hall, which was, in fact, the local H.Q. for all Civil Defence functions. Training took place every weekend; and included rifle and weapons practice on the Rifle Range, and periodic training manoeuvres ranging throughout the district. 

 

Food-rationing was quite severe by this time, thanks to the cripplingly-high shipping losses referred to earlier . Most foodstuffs were rationed, but bread and potatoes were not yet rationed - their turn came later. If you decided to keep a pig in the bathroom (or even in the backyard), and feed it on potato peelings cadged from the neighbours and also acorns collected from the many oak trees growing in the district, then when you got tired of it, or just thought that the time had come for it to form a supplement to the meagre bacon and meat ration, then you could not just kill it at will. First you had to get permission from the Inspector at the Ministry of Food. Meanwhile, the pig enjoyed a privileged and fully protected status until you obtained that permission; and also surrendered your ration book. From the point of view of supplementing the meat ration, chickens were a better proposition, since it could always be argued that the fox had got in. And since there were plenty of these predators about, it was neither practical nor necessary to specify the precise identity of the culprit. 

 

Though food rationing was severe, several grocers would deliver the weekly order. The grocer and beer-off at the top of Totley Rise, now the wine shop, made deliveries by horse and dray. But for the most part, shopping was done personally on foot. From time to time one could also see the Rington's Tea horse-drawn outfit making local deliveries. 

 

The horse and cart was found useful by the roadsweeping and maintenance also. One such outfit was hired from Kirby's farm at the top of Totley. This particular horse was quite docile, and responded well to this type of work.

 

Roadside verges were not cut until late June; the accumulated growth was then cut as hay by a local farmer. This, and the next item, indicate the extent to which belt-tightening took place at this time. No access was allowed to the recreation ground on Mickley Lane from Spring until the end of June. During this period the grass was allowed to grow and then cut as hay, again by a local farmer, though not necessarily the same one. In all probability, the same system applied at the recreation ground at Totley Bents. At the Mickley Lane recreation ground the lower half of the field was ploughed-up, and a cereal crop, probably wheat, was grown there.

A notable feature of daily life at this time was the 'Dig for Victory' Campaign. Each household was encouraged to turn the front garden, (and the back one also if it could be spared), over to growing vegetables. This was a particularly important matter so that the maximum amount of food could be grown at home and thereby reduce the reliance placed on shipping, which, as already mentioned, was suffering losses at the hands of the U-boats. To help increase home production additional land was made available for allotments; and everyone was encouraged to take on the cultivation Of an allotment. In Totley, allotments were provided in large blocks on the land between Aldam Road and the Recreation ground, where the new Council Estate is now, and on the land between All Saints School and Baslow Road. Smaller blocks of allotments were provided at various other sites. Various horticultural supplies, including seed potatoes, could be obtained at Abbeydale Hall. The popular Growmore fertiliser, then known as National Growmore, is a remarkably long-lived relic from the 'Dig for Victory' Campaign. 

Cherrytree Orphanage had quite a large number of children at this period. For many of these children their only 'crime' was that they had nobody else to look after them when their dad was conscripted into the army, as in the case of Anne and Betty Murray. Such children as these paid their own price for the war. But another lad, aged about 7 years at this time, though still enjoying the.privilege of living at home with his mother and sister, had hardly seen his dad, who was in the army and had been in India for most of the war. The children from Cherrytree would walk down Mickley Lane from the orphanage in an orderly group each morning, up the footpath on the Laverdene side of Mickley Lane to Baslow Road, cross and walk up the Heatherfield side of Baslow Road to get to All Saints School. (Only the one side of Baslow Road had a proper footpath at this time). For the whole of their journey, the children formed an orderly group, rather like little soldiers themselves, and were under the jurisdiction of the senior boy or girl, who, though only 13 years old, exercised a strict discipline. As there were probably twenty or so in the group, the senior boy or girl took on quite a responsibility for a 13 year old; but they did not allow any messing about. Cynthia and Sonia Mills were at different times senior girl, and though they kept firm control on their charges, I remember that when some minor mishap happened to me, the exact nature of which I have long since forgotten, then the warm and tender side of these girls could, and did, show despite the austerity of the regime in which they lived.

 

At this time, Cherrytree faced something of a test with regard to education. I do not know whether anyone from Cherrytree had passed the Scholarship exam, (later known as the 11-plus qualifying exam) previously; but I do not think that anyone had passed far some years. In 1942, I think, a boy called Norman caused some consternation when he passed for Nether Edge Grammar School, for this posed problems regarding the provision of facilities for homework and study. But if Norman made the system creak, worse was to come, for in the very next year a girl, Iris Benton, nearly wrecked it when she struck a blow for women's rights and passed for Abbeydale Girls Grammar School. But credit is due to the Matron and powers that be at Cherrytree, because ways and means were found such that Norman and Iris and others following, were able to go on and have the benefit of the grammar school education of which they had shown themselves worthy.

 

On the matter of education, All Saints School was the only non-private school at Totley at this time. Because Totley had formerly been in Derbyshire, and had become part of Sheffield only a few years before, (1935), pupils who so wished could take two Scholarship exams, one for Sheffield Grammar Schools, and one for the Derbyshire Henry Fanshawe Grammar School at Dronfield. Nationally only about one pupil in ten passed the exam for entry to grammar school; and this would mean no more than three pupils a year passing from Totley, on average. Totley All Saints had done better than this for several years; but in 1943 there was somewhat of an upsurge. In that year about half of the pupils taking the Scholarship, i.e. about 14 or 15 were successful in obtaining places at grammar school. In the following year even better results were obtained when more than 15 out of 28 obtained places. Despite criticism that exam successes do not show the whole story, this much better achievement than national average shows that credit is due both to teachers and pupils for such excellent results.

 

 

Fairthorn Children's Home, Dore

Though outside the Totley area proper, not far away was the Fairthorn Chi1drens' Home. This had been requisitioned as an annexe to the Children's Hospital during the war. The aunty of a boy living on Greenoak Road was Cook there. In 1941, I spent 3 weeks at Fairthorn, flat on my following head injuries; and the meals were very good, and they formed reasonable compensation for the injustice of being confined to bed on my back for so long. 

 

Street lighting was something of a problem in Totley during the war years, since, for the most part, it was virtually non-existent. Such lighting as there was consisted almost entirely of inadequate gas lamps. But even these had been modified by fitting a special hood to ensure that only a tiny fraction of their total output ever emerged to serve the purpose of lighting the street. The philosophy behind all this seemed to be that if it could be seen by anyone on the ground, then the light could also be seen by the bombers. As there was also a complete general blackout in force for all buildings, Totley was a very dark place at night. Yet despite all this, the situation was made even worse when some young do-gooders decided to shin up the lamp-poles and turn out the gas lights. Of course, there was something of distinction in this, since it was only the more able climbers who could shin up a metal lamp-pole anyway.

 

The foregoing items, despite their total length, are merely a selection of facts and incidents from the scene in Totley 50 years ago, and nowhere near a complete representation of wartime life here. Perhaps there are others who feel that they have something which it would be rather a shame to allow to become lost. If so, then maybe they will consider committing it to writing. Could it be that we should try to emulate our predecessors, but instead of engaging in a 'Dig for Victory' Campaign, we should engage in a 'Write for Posterity' Campaign?

 

March 1993

Latest News

On Wednesday, 25th October we will be holding another in our popular series of themed Open Meetings, when you will be invited to share memories of Totley Then and Now. There will be about a hundred pairs of photographs showing how Totley's buildings, lanes, and open spaces looked in the past compared with the same scene today. The meeting will be held in Totley Library beginning as usual at 7.30 p.m.

Then on Wednesday 22nd November there will be a talk by Christopher Jewitt entitled The Cutlers Company and Assay Office: Sheffield's Two Unique Companies. Among his many roles in a distinguished career, Christopher has been both Master Cutler of The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, established by Act of Parliament in 1624, and the Chairman of The Sheffield Assay Office, established in 1773. The meeting starts at 7.30 p.m. in Totley Library.

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 Totley Rise Post Office and local shops. Also available in Dore at the Village Store or direct 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.

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"

As we have nowhere to exhibit memorabilia and artifacts, we have decided to create a Virtual Museum instead, starting with old bottles that were found under the floor of the Old Infant School. Please contact us by email if you would like to see the real thing or have things that you own and would like to see added to the virtual museum.

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 John Roberts and the building of St. John's Church. There are several about the history of Brinkburn Grange and its first occupier, John Unwin Wing, an accountant who later lived at Totley Hall before being convicted of forgery and fraud and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in Pentonville gaol. There are more than 50 articles from the 1880s and 1890s about Joseph Mountain and the Victoria Gardens, and twenty on the construction of the Totley Tunnel and the Dore and Chinley Railway.

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 600 gravestones in  the churchyard.

 

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