Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Jess Sowman (nee Turkington)

A Few Memories of the 1930's and Early 1940's 

 

Thanks to Dr. Marion Jepson, 1 have been able to read and enjoy the 'Totley Independent', in recent months. Reading about all the activities now and, seemingly, a new look in the area, brings back my memories of the Old Days, places, people, and activities. Several articles in which the Cherry Tree Orphanage was mentioned: J. Handley on, '50 Years Ago - Totley at War'; also, mention of earlier days brought back to me a few memories of my schooling in the 1930's, and of my friends throughout that period until I left in December 1941. 

 

Mention was made of Iris Benton, well, I went to school with her and her sister, Edith, along with their brother (he joined the Navy as a cadet at the age of 13, I believe 1938/39); also Cynthia and Sonia Mills, to name a few. The then leader of the Orphanage children took me to school on my first day after the Xmas holiday in 1932 living at 45 Mickley Lane, was easy for her to pick me up. It was a day to remember as the snow was thick on the ground, and heavy snow-drifts created a wearisome trudge to the C of E School. 

 

During my sojourn at school, I cannot recollect any orphanage boy or girl passing examinations for Grammar School - like so many of us. I do recall, however, the Matron allowing each child to invite a friend to tea and evening games. She also 'opened up' the orphanage to the locals to see how the place was I run and the conditions under which they lived. The teachers at the C of E throughout my schooling were, Miss Marsden, Miss Wilson, Miss Benton, Mr. Shirt, Mr. Wylie, Mr. Ramsden and Mrs. Housley. 

Perhaps Doug Turner and others will remember some of these names. I do remember Miss Marsden retiring about 2 years after I started school; Mr. Shirt went to the Spanish Civil War in 1938; and Mr. Ramsden was sacked for beating an orphanage boy in 1940. Mr. Wylie went into the Army in 1939. 

 

At this juncture, I would like to mention some of my school mates who maybe will be remembered by some Totleyites. Jean and Sylvia Kirby, George Fisher, the Hassell brothers, the Chapman twins, Eileen Unwin, Alan Firth, Roy Ward, Della Dronfield, Doris Hill, also Kath Pearson, Kath Barrett, Margaret Marsh, Rita Cross, Edith Summerfield, Barbara and Barry Kendal, Jean and Jackie Marshal, Margaret Glossop, Rueben Adlington , . . and so on.

 

At this juncture and for readers' interest, Margaret Glossop was one of the few who passed for Grammar School - High Storrs; then to Bedford College; eventually a Gym Teacher at Nottingham High School. Late 1940's and early 1950's she played hockey for the English Women's Team and had a great following of pupils from the Sheffield area. I am sure Bill Turner will recall Percy Hassell, Don Chambers and Jim Turkington (my brother). Don Chambers' father had the Fishmongers at Totley Rise. Before 1935 the School Dental Service was performed at the Primary School, Dronfield, travelling by train from Dore & Totley station. After that year, this service was at Lowfields School, Heeley Bottom. 

 

This same year saw the occasion of George V's and Queen Mary's 25 years on the throne. To celebrate, a Sports Day was arranged at the United Football Ground, when children from many schools were invited including C of E, and at which mugs and/or tins of chocolates were handed out to each child. I know that for 2 consecutive years, in the summer school holidays, a Fair came to Totley and Abbeydale Park was the venue (the years possibly 1937 and 1938). This was for one week, possibly two, but 1 know it was a great treat for us, not only for the locals but the buses from Sheffield were packed with eager holiday makers. It was so-well patronised that it was a shoulder-to-shoulder affair. 

 

The wireless was also a pleasure, especially the Children's Hour, each night between 5 & 6 p.m. I know it was a talking point. Can anyone remember Uncle Mac, Romany &. his dog, Larry the Lamb and there was Georgina, Pauline and Pinky, and a pianist. One of these young actresses was Doris Speed, the pianist, Violet Carson (both, of course, latterly of Coronation Street) .

 

Another talking point was the day off school for a trip to Cheddar Gorge, Somerset on 4th September, 1939, but was cancelled because of the outbreak of war. I cannot seem to remember any previous outing ever having been arranged before this time whilst I was at school. It was not long after this period that home schooling came into being. I know I only did a half-day's schooling for a few months until normal schooling resumed.

 

With the coming of the 1939/1940 winter, came the heavy snowfalls and bitter, cold days resulting in Beauchief Dam freezing over. I can remember several locals hurrying down for a chance of skating, and one or two of us were lucky enough to get steel blades put on our boots for the event. Though not lasting long, though, yet a time to remember the excitement it caused. 

 

When gas masks were handed out to us at school it was practise time, and I like a few more, did not like them one bit breathing was difficult. The Public Shelter adjacent to the C of E school was used plenty of times when the sirens went off officially or for a practice run, when huddled together, gas masks on, feeling trapped, we could not wait for the All-Clear.

 

The Home Guard was mentioned in an article, but there was eventually an A.R.P. Contingent. I never knew what they did, nothing happened in Totley needing their services that I can remember, other than the Blitz on Sheffield. One thing I do know, their Headquarters was the Cross Scythes Pub, possibly for discussing their defence strategy. With rationing came queues. Queuing was a way of life and always the ration and clothing coupon books at the ready. Everything was rationed, including linenware, clothes, shoes; this was the time of conserving, patching, darning, alterations etc.

 

Eventually, the war time rations read: 
Allowance, per person, per week: 
Bacon and ham 4 ozs 
Tea 2 ozs 
Meat 10s 2d worth 
Cheese 2 ozs 
Butter 2 ozs 
Margarine 4 ozs 
Cooking Fat 2 ozs 
Liquid Milk 2 X 1 pints 
Shell Eggs 1 egg per 2 weeks 
Dried Eggs 1 packet per 4 weeks 
Sweets 12 ozs per 4 weeks 

 

Anything else was a bonus, having to keep an I ear to the ground for extras, such as oranges and bananas, which were a luxury. Mentioning oranges reminds me of a time when my cousin was told to go and queue for them but, there being two queues he got into the wrong one and came out of the place inoculated for Diphtheria. I also remember there being a shortage of pipe cleaners for the smokers. These had been snatched by the women as hair curlers. 

 

Social activities in Totley were minimal. The then Methodist Chapel had a Friday Night Club, and in 1942 a Youth Club was formed there, which eventually went from strength to strength after the war. I read that there is a Dramatic Society at the United Reformed Church. Well, in the early forties, the Minister at the time of the then known Congregational Church allowed this activity - a great success and well patronised. There was also Badminton and Dances were held fortnightly on a Saturday night. For how long a period I cannot remember, Eventually, the C of E church at Dore and Totley station opened its doors to a monthly musical evening. Anything apart was socialising in homes, sports or rambles; although I seem to recollect the Hall on the Main Road, just up from Mickley Lane being opened up once or twice for film shows, but this stopped suddenly. 

 

The detachment of the Airborne Division at Totley Bents has been mentioned, and at this point I would like to recall Mac, the Officer-in-Charge, who eventually returned to Totley after the war, married a local girl and worked at Cherry Tree Orphanage. It seems to me that Totley has become a self~contained area, more of everything needed for a good community, and these jottings are just a few of my remembrances of the old Totley 50 and 60 years ago. May you go from strength to strength. 

 

Jess Sowman (Mrs), (nee TURKINGTON) 
17, Bathgate Street, 
South Dunedin, 
Otago, 
New Zealand 

 

P.S. I notice two correspondents, namely, J. Handley and D. MerrilL I wonder if J. Handley had, or has, a sister Dorothy; if so, I knew her very well. If D. Merrill is Duncan, well we were neighbours when I lived at Mickley Lane.

 

September 1993

Dear Ed, 


Like me, I think a lot of your readers would have been interested in the letter from New Zealand in which J. Sowman recalled her childhood in Totley.

 

As I had arranged a holiday which included a tour of New Zealand with an overnight stop in Dunedin and having lived in Totley for 35 years and knowing some of the people mentioned, I immediately wrote and broached the possibility of a meeting. The suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm (a phone call at 12.30 a.m.) and we duly met up at my hotel.

 

Jess is happily settled in New Zealand but remembers Totley with great affection and sends greetings to all who remember her. The meeting was all too brief, but was another highlight in what was a wonderful trip.

 

Yours faithfully,

Mary Hanson
December 1993

Latest News

On Wednesday 28th June, we welcome back Ann Beedham whose talk is called Days of Sunshine and Rain: Peak District Rambling in the 1920s, with words and photographs from the life of George Willis Marshall who was a keen walker and who took lots of photos in the 1920s and 1930s as he wandered the hills of Derbyshire with his friends. They were pioneers of the ‘right to roam’ and took part in the famous Kinder Trespass of 1932. The meeting is in Totley Library beginning at 7.30 p.m.

 

On Wednesday 26th July Alan Powell will tells us about The History of Newspapers in Sheffield. Alan is a former Editor of the Sheffield Telegraph and The Star newspapers and had a career of more than 44 years in journalism in Sheffield. The meeting as usual is in Totley Library beginning at 7.30 p.m. Non-members are welcome.

 

The first meeting after our summer break will be on Wednesday, 27th September when we present an illustrated talk by David Templeman called Mary, Queen of Scots: The Final Journey - From Sheffield to Fotheringhay (1584-1587). This talk relates the compelling tale of the events leading up to and including Mary’s trial and execution. Mary’s courage and conduct come to the fore as she takes her tragic story through Wingfield Manor, Tutbury Castle, Chartley Manor, Texall and culminating in the climax at Fotheringhay Castle where she is tried and executed for High Treason. But was she guilty? That is the question this talk addresses. The meeting is in Totley Library, starting at 7.30 p.m. 

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.

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 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 and Norton.

 

 

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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