Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Basil Abbott - The Chemical Yard

I left school in April 1952 and started work at Brook Shaw's Ford dealers in Sheffield. Later that year I went into employment at C.L. Marcroft's garage situated at the Chemical Yard at Totley. 

 

As you entered the garage area the first occupant was Mr. Bradbury the blacksmith. He was such an interesting person, I loved listening to his stories from way back in time. Then came the garage where Jack Clarke was in charge. He lived on Bushy Wood Road with his wife and two sons. Above the garage was the office area. People working in that area were Mr. P. Marcroft and his uncle and also two females called Rosemary and Sonya.

 

The next building was the joiners run by Ernest who also has his son working with him. Also working there was Dick Taylor who did quite a lot of different jobs. Because my father died when I was 12 years old, Dick looked after me like a dad. He lived in a small row of cottages near the Cross Scythes with his sister. We had two Bedford tipping lorries that went on the building sites and returned at tea time. The drivers were Ernest Gascoigne and George Johnson, who lived near the shooting range. The building foreman Dennis Marshall often came to the yard either to see Mr Marcroft or have his Morris Minor seen to.

 

In the cottages at the bottom of the Chemical Yard the only people I really knew was Mr. & Mrs. Russell and their son Ken. My time in the garage was a happy time with lots of memories. Jack sometimes got a bit grumpy with me but I just smiled and carried on regardless. We dealt with some real top class cars like Jaguar, Lagonda, Aston Martin, Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, Alvis to name a few.

 

Also I met some very interesting people such as Mr. Stuart Wood, Director of a Sheffield Steel Works (Jaguar mark VII); two representatives of Tinsley Wire Industry (Austin A40's); Dr. Lingfoot of Baslow Road and his wife; Ms. Barbara Braithwaite who later became Mrs. Marcroft; the owner of Swerco Welding Sheffield (Canadian Ford V8); Mr. Faddon, hardware mongers of Abbeydale Road (Jowett Bradford van).

A treasured photograph of Basil Abbott and Jack Clarke in the Chemical Yard. A treasured photograph of Basil Abbott and Jack Clarke in the Chemical Yard.

Jack Clarke was an excellent mechanic and he knew everything about cars. One time we built (well I only helped) a two-seater sports car which they raced at Snetterton track. The registration number was "CLM 1" which speaks for itself. For those interested in cars it was designed with the following: Cooper chassis, Jowett Jupiter engine, ENV rear axel, Morris rack and pinion steering, rounded off with a fibre glass body.

 

I had an accident in the garage when a stiff window catch broke and it caused rather a deep laceration to my right wrist. I was taken to see Dr. Lingfoot who stitched and dressed the wound. I still have the scar to this day.

 

Mr. Phillip Marcroft was a great man to work for, kind, understanding and generous. He gave me a 5 shilling commemorative piece for the Queen's Coronation. I still have this coin to this day. My time at the Chemical Yard is a time that I will never forget with all its wonderful memories. 

 

I left in July 1955 to serve in the Royal Air Force. At that time I didn’t think that in my future I would be the manager of a Funeral Directors.

 

Thank you for reading this article and I hope that maybe the place or the names mentioned may bring happy memories for you too.

 

Basil Abbott

January 2018

 

 

From Anne White

It was very interesting to read the letter from Basil Abbott regarding The Chemical Yard.

 

I was delighted to read that he remembers my mother and father, Mr and Mrs Russell and my brother Ken. He obviously didn't know about my elder sister Audrey, or myself as we would probably have been at school when he was working in the yard. My brother would have been very interested in seeing the cars being repaired.

 

Mr Abbott may be interested to know that I have written many articles about my childhood in Totley and they can be found in back issues of the Totley Independent also on the Totley History Group website under the headings of The Chemical Yard and under my married name, Anne White. I have also taken part in the Oral History project.

 

My dad had a licence to sell sweets and cigarettes from our cottage and the two young ladies who worked for Mr Phillip Marcroft would call round during their lunch hour to buy a few treats. My mum was a very friendly, kind person and, one day, they were telling her how they didn't have a special place to sit and eat their lunch at work. They had to make room on their desks for their sandwiches etc and it was far from ideal. My mum listened sympathetically then suggested that they could come to our house if they wished and she would make a cup of tea etc. They were delighted to accept her offer!

 

They would arrive with their packed lunches and mum would make the tea and sit them at the table in our tiny front room with the fire burning brightly in the old Yorkshire range! If I was at home I would sit in my dad's comfy old armchair and listen to them chatting to each other and to my mum.

 

They wore pretty dresses and wore make-up and talked about all the subjects that a young 12 year old girl found very interesting!

 

One day, one of the girls started to tell my mum about a book she was reading, I listened very carefully and joined in with the conversation. When she realised that I was keen to know the story she offered to lend the book to me when she had finished reading it. I had always been an avid reader although we didn't have many books in the house and we were always busy with everyday chores as we had many animals to care for etc. True to her word, she lent me the book, it was a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank.

 

I read it with a mixture of horror and disbelief, it was so difficult to imagine a child's life so very different to my own sheltered existence. It fuelled my desire for reading and knowledge though so I was very grateful for the loan. I couldn't remember the names of these two young ladies so I am indebted to Mr Abbot for mentioning Rosemary and Sonya in his letter!

 

There was a special atmosphere about life in The Chemical Yard that is inexplicable, despite its dreadful name it seemed to cast a spell on anyone who lived or worked there. Despite all the tragedies that happened to my family I still remember my childhood there with happiness and I am so pleased that Mr Abbott has such wonderful memories too

 

Anne White

March 2018

 

Latest News

Coming Soon

Our first event after the summer break will be on Wednesday 26th September when we welcome back Ted Hancock with a talk called An Exploration of the Life of Ebenezer Hall of Abbeydale Hall. Ebenezer Hall was a silversmith, magistrate and benefactor but is often best remembered for his objections to the building of the Dore & Chinley Railway which cut through his estate. The meeting is in Totley Library beginning at 7.30pm.

 

On Wednesday 24th October Thelma Griffiths will be giving us a talk called A Harvest of Healing; Historical and Medical Use of Sphagnum Moss.
Sphagnum moss has remarkable properties to hold liquid and to cure or stop infection. In a medical era before antibiotics the combination of the power to mop up copious quantities of blood and staunch open wounds, along with its healing powers, made sphagnum invaluable for helping the terrible injuries of war. The meeting begins at 7.30pm and is likely to be held in Totley Rise Methodist Church but please note that this venue is to be confirmed.

 

On Wednesday 28th November there will be an Open Meeting when everyone is invited to share memories of local Sports, Social and Community Groups. You may remember that this meeting was postponed in February because of snow. Please bring along any photographs or memorabilia that you may have. It 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.

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"

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 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 650 gravestones in  the churchyard.

 

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