On Saturday, September 9th 1939 on our first visit to Lane Head since the declaration of War all was quiet and apparently normal except that my Mother was unusually quiet after my two brothers had left for Padgate, to be fitted-out with uniforms and to receive postings to training camps to which they had been assigned. Unusually, my Father was not in his allotment and I was idly looking through the front window and about to ask where he was when he and my Brother Elijah appeared on the footpath outside, marching in step, with right arm swinging and shoulders back, on which one held a garden rake, the other a hoe, obviously to simulate the carrying of a rifle, whilst they looked very serious and solemnly marched past the house without a sideways look.
My Mother said that they had reported to the newly established Recruiting Centre in the village. Where?, I never knew, and never thought to ask, but possibly the School. There they had been sworn in to the Local Defence Volunteers - the L.D.V. for short, whose duties were to defend their own community against foreign intruders according to the instructions that had been broadcast on the wireless all week. The whole exercise was to familiarise them with the handling of guns, and the discipline essential to the security and safety of themselves, those working with them, and an army that might be called on to fight. At that stage, no one knew what was in store! Both were carrying them with pride and perhaps a feeling of importance, an arm-band showing the large letters L.D.V.
Events had moved fast for, during the short time of one week, sufficient L.D.V. arm-bands had been produced to equip a whole army, unless, of course, they had been lying in boxes in store-rooms throughout the country ready for the expected War. By the following week some things had changed when my Father was told to undertake responsibility for the safety of the Strawberry Lea mine, Moss Mine, Dore, and the land in the immediate vicinity of both pits, whilst at Totley, the local L.D.V. would be responsible for Totley village.
The outer boundary of Sheffield had been extended in 1934 and now reached as far as Ramsley, the outer boundaries of Holmesfield and Cordwell, and the boundary of Sheffield and Chesterfield on Eastmoor. It was evident that another L.D.V. Station was necessary, to be manned by those men who were familiar with the area. Elijah was transferred from the Totley group, and joined by those from Fox Lane and other outlying farms and houses in the moorland countryside. The new station was set-up at Owler Bar in the small, one roomed hut that was the original Toll Bar Cottage built on the side of the first toll road to Totley, and later incorporated into the outbuildings just inside the front gates of the newly built Peacock Hotel. It was a very small one-roomed shack, boasting a single large fireplace that Elijah often recounted as being ‘Mighty welcome’ when they returned in the early hours on a winter's morning after a night of very questionable activities. They had been issued with one gun, which each in turn was allowed to carry on manoeuvres , and which, to ensure the seriousness of the situation, contained one live bullet that was supposed to be taken out at the end of the exercise before returning to the Station. Elijah told me that one night it was the turn of Willie Woodbine of Fox Lane to carry it, which he did very proudly, but he forgot to take out the bullet before returning to the station.
Jack Shepley of Woodthorpe Hall was their Commanding Officer, in front of whom they paraded and stood to attention ready to be dismissed. Willie, only about 4ft. tall, forgot that the bullet was still in the rifle when he stood to attention, banging the gun on the floor, when it went off and the bullet shot up to the roof and sent them all into praying-mode on the floor. Only one of many stories from our own ‘Dad's Army’. One may be forgiven for thinking that this was all ‘Dad's Army’ joking, but there was a serious side also, probably not known to all Totley residents during the first year of the War for, although there had been a mild shock during that false alarm on the first morning, the following months were quiet and uneventful. Our weekly trip to Lane-Head continued; Identity cards, Ration Cards and Clothing Coupons had been issued immediately, and a complete blackout was ordered when black fabric could be purchased free of coupons, and the smallest chink of light brought the Air-raid Wardens shouting "Put out that light". Car headlights were dimmed, and street lighting absent except where absolutely essential, where it was dimmed and kept down to the minimum.
I had registered my Food-coupon book at Frank Evan's shop in Hillfoot Road as it was more convenient for me to collect our weekly rations there. Of course, I speak from my own experience, and almost everybody will have a different story to tell, for there was a great difference between the areas around the Docks of Liverpool, Hull, Grimsby, and Bristol, and the small inland towns and villages who posed no danger to the enemy. By February it was clear that my husband would not be home on leave as some of the soldiers were during this quiet year, for many more soldiers would soon be needed and the Drill and small and large arms instructors were turning-out conscripted young men in six weeks instead of the usual three months, and there was no time for Leave.
The weekends grew longer and I soon found a little niche where I could make myself useful. Rationing of food was little or no problem, for the Government, knowing that there would be a War, had had adequate time to make plans. Production was good throughout the country. Nurseries and Market gardeners could no longer grow flowers in their huge glass-houses, which had to be turned over to food production, and a few hens, or a pig, were allowed in the back yard and to be slaughtered at home, until after the War when the law changed and they had to be sent to the Abattoir for slaughter, the carcass being returned to the producer for cutting-up.
Many lessons had been learned during and since the first World War when food was scarce and distribution haphazard, and wherever two or three people were seen together at a shop window or door, others would join them until a long queue formed, often not knowing for what they were waiting; just a habit, not always a need. By 1939 rationing was well controlled, although coastal towns and cities, and of course the ports, fared worse than inland cities and villages where usually there were two shops both being allocated sufficient rationed foods for the whole population, which included visitors, and soldiers at home on leave who brought their own ration-books and coupons. Consequently, there was no shortage of rationed foods, and often the shopping-basket received a small added bonus of whatever happened to be surplus to ration requirements that week.
There were occasions when rations were not quite sufficient for special occasions, like weddings, and this is where my training at Totley Hall came in handy. Usually the Bride's Mother could bargain with friends and neighbours for a few ounces of butter and sugar to make the cake which was passed on to me with the icing-sugar and other ingredients for the almond paste and Royal icing (fondant icing had not yet become popular). The price was £3.00 for a single 12" cake delivered, which my Father took care of, but one woman wanted two-tiers and because she had no ornament for the top, I was to loan her the one from my own cake. As usual, my Father asked how much I was charging and refused to deliver it unless I charged £5.00. I did, but the Mother was angry and never returned my ornament. Sometimes you can't win!
Clothes rationing was less stressful and clothing coupons were adequate for most people, and there were ‘roll ends’, ‘end of bales’ and short pieces of cloth that could be adapted and used for garments for all ages. This was where I found my other small niche, for when my son was born in 1937 my Mother had given to me her old Wheeler & Wilson treadle sewing machine, since when he had worn (home-made) clothes. Easter had just passed and the thoughts of mothers were on Whitsuntide dresses for their daughters, and many of them could not make dresses, nor had the equipment to do so, but they could buy odd lengths of suitable fabrics at very little cost and no coupons. This led to Mums' skirts and dresses, one lady being delighted with her new lingerie made from silk given to her 5yrs. earlier.
By August 1940 sufficient conscripted youths and volunteers had been trained for immediate needs and the instructors were granted their first leave. My husband arrived home at the end of the first week, the immediate necessity the ability to unwind and get back to the reality of home-life, after which it was possible to talk about the future, such as it was.
Fortunately he recognised that I too could do with a change of air and scenery, and on his return to Caterham he put in an application for a two-week 'sleep-out pass' and arrangements that I should stay with the wife of a fellow instructor in Coulsdon, a small town about a mile away. My Father drove us to Sheffield Midland Station early on the last Saturday in August, a rather excited Mum who had not been to London before, and a mystified son who, by the look in his eyes, wondered what it was all about. The journey to London was quite uneventful, not unusual one might say, until we arrived at St. Pancras Station during an air raid warning. We made our way to the Taxi queue for the journey across London to Waterloo, when an air-raid Warden said that we were not allowed to travel in an air-raid. I explained, and he agreed to let us take the taxi, with an "OK be it on your own head". A case when 'ignorance is bliss!' and the taxi driver was wonderful. He soon realised that I had not been to London before and, as the actual air-raid had not yet begun and the streets were comparatively empty; the roads almost deplete in traffic, there was plenty of time before my train to Coulsdon was due to leave. It was perfect for a sight-seeing tour, first to see The Guildhall, on to The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, St James's Palace, the official seat of the Crown, and down the Mall, passing Clarence House and on to Buckingham Palace, where he went twice around the Victoria Monument for me to have a longer look.
I got so excited looking first through the side, then the back windows, lifting my son and pointing as if a two-year old understood every word I said, and the driver just laughed. My Husband met us at Coulsdon Station, very correct in full guardsman uniform, not allowed even a handshake, nor the freedom to lift and carry his small son, such were the regulations. A rather subdued wife and son arrived eventually and I was introduced to Eva, the Sergeant's wife with whom I was to live for the next two weeks. She had three sons, aged five, seven, and nine, who took to my son straight away, and looked after him until we left. My husband left after a few minutes, saying that he would be back later as he had a 'sleeping-out pass' whilst we were there, and all seemed very promising as we settled in and had our first meal. Coulsdon was on the flight-path from the coast to Kenley Aerodrome where the fighter planes protecting London were stationed, and I was soon to learn that the 'softening- up' had already begun.
I was not surprised to receive a message that Frank, my husband would not be coming that night after all. The sirens began just after six o'clock, and followed soon after by the drone of planes high in the sky, streaming overhead with fighter planes on both sides, group after group until the sky seemed to be full and the noise terrific. This was the third night Eva told me, but not to worry the children knew exactly what to do and Keith, the eldest, took charge when she wasn't there. The bombing and fighting went on until almost daylight when the bombers and straggling fighters could be heard returning high overhead until early morning. This was the pattern for the first ten days, I received a message from my husband to tell me that he would come to see me as soon as he had permission to leave camp, but it never happened. We had been in Coulsdon for a week, whilst Eva had done her best to entertain us, and the boys had been wonderful in taking care of my son, and one morning Eva asked if I would like to go into Coulsdon Town, see the shops, and have a meal. "The boys will be alright", she said, "they know what to do, if anything happens"
It was about nine o'clock when we arrived at the end of the long main street, the shops had opened and there were a few people already moving around when, suddenly, high in the sky in the distance we could see a fighter plane coming directly towards the far end of the street getting lower as it came nearer. "Quick" shouted Eva, "into Woolworth's, don't stop". I did as bid and stared in amazement. The counters were the length of the room, as was the custom in those days, when the assistants served from behind, and the till and the cashier were at one end. What I saw now was with the precision of a Brigade of Guards. At the far end of the room on the end of the counter was a roll of cloth, the ends of which two assistants each took a corner and running, pulled it along the counter, covering all the contents , whilst another assistant appeared with a huge Gladstone bag to hold the contents of the till that were quickly tipped into it by the cashier, then both ran to the far corner and down the steps to the room fortified into an air-raid shelter. Eva shouted, "Don't stand there, come on quick, the shelter, far corner". and I obeyed. We heard the bullets flying as the plane strafed the street to get rid of them before ditching his damaged aircraft in the sea. When all was quiet again we streamed out and by the time we had all reached the door, the counters were uncovered, the cash back in the till, and the store was trading as if nothing had happened.
When we arrived at the street again there was one woman lying in the road unhurt who had laid down as the plane flew over, and the bullets had passed harmlessly beyond her. After nine nights in the shelter, the tenth day brought a telegram from my Mother telling me that my youngest brother had come home on embarkation leave before being posted to Aden, and requesting that I return home at once. A quick call, and with a two-hour 'pass- out' my husband arrived about nine thirty, the first time I had seen him since the day I arrived. I had already packed and the first train to London was due to leave at twelve-thirty from Coulsdon Station about half a mile away on the outskirts of the town. My husband left at eleven-fifteen to report back by eleven thirty and a few minutes later we said our farewells to Eva and her family and set off on the half- mile walk, a small son holding one and dragging a heavy suit-case with the other. As on our arrival in London ten days ago, the air-raid warnings had now reached Coulsdon and, after only a few steps we were stopped by a warden, and as I insisted that I catch that train, he snapped "OK, be it on your own head, you've been warned" As the old saying goes, `Needs must when the devil drives' and so we kept on walking for about a quarter of a mile until we reached the steep slope to the station. When the station was built the road to it had been cut through a large field, leaving a huge barn about half-way up the hill with itsback to the road and we were about twenty yards away when I heard the first drone, and soon saw in the distance a flight of German bombers, high in the sky accompanied on both sides by Messerschmitt fighter planes.
Now, fear is a terrible thing, and sometimes there is no sense in it, yet fear made me ignore the fact that they were a mile high in the sky, and probably didn't even see us, and even if they did, we were of no consequence and they would just wave "guten morgan". That, however, holds no water when fear takes a good hold, and now it ordered me to say to my son, "Come on pet, they shan't get us, run to that barn and crouch down, then they might not see us", 'silly me' when I told my son to be silent, "Don't even whisper, Sh, don't move". The noise was terrific as I just caught a glimpse of a face in one of the fighter- planes as they passed over-head. Quickly getting to my feet and grabbing my son's hand we set off, stumbling and trying to run, until about twenty yards from the train the station master appeared, running towards us, grabbing the suit-case with one hand, the other arm around a rather mystified little son's waist, and a quick run into the station with directions to "sit on the floor under the table with the others, and don't touch the blinds, just sit quietly".
We obeyed with great relief and joined those already sitting under underneath the tables; men going to work, some in bowler hats, others in various dress of workmen, women of all ages, and, obvious, by their dress and uniforms from all walks of life, and work, yet here we were, such an assortment of people who, under normal conditions, would probably never give even a glance at each other. We were safe and it was cosy, it was obvious that some of the children had done this many times before. One little girl risked lifting the corner of a blind, and whispered "they're there". Carefully I lifted the corner of a blind near me and saw, just above the train, a Spitfire, so close that I could see the Pilot, and the little girl whispered, "there's one on this side too", and, sure enough, we were escorted all the way to Waterloo Station by two Spitfire fighter planes, which, when we entered Waterloo Station, performed a 'roll' and, on their sides, made a quick turn and flew back to Kenley.
The warning was still active, and there was the same warning to me that I should get under cover, but St. Pancras was the next stop, and Totley the destination. Readers might say, "What has this to do with 'Old Totley'?". and I don't blame them, but, was Totley with Ruby Clark's sister from Green Oak who, with her Ak Ak, Squad, were fighting-off the bombers during the raids on London when they took a direct hit and all were killed. Were they with Mary Green of Summer Lane, who, we were told, was standing on the back of a lorry full of women of the 'Women's Royal Army Corp' being transferred to another unit when she was knocked off by an over-hanging branch and killed?. Was Totley with Ken Seals of Heatherfield, and Vin Webster and his brother. The two sons of Mrs Webster of The Grove; all three pilots in the Battle of Britain.
Was Totley with my Brother when he arrived in Aden, and later with John Johnson from the rifle Range when they both met in a street in Cairo or with hospital Sister Bessie Coates of Lane Head outside a Hospital in Haifa, when he was trawling the Kibbutz in Palestine with £40.00 from his C.O. to find food for his Squadron when they were down to their last two packets of cereals. I am sure they were with my brother Geoff, on call day and night keeping the fighter planes in the air, making sure that they were as safe as long hours of meticulous and painstaking work could make them. Of course they were, for wars may mean partings, but it can never break the bonds of family and friends.
It was with mixed feelings that I returned home to Lane Head after being met at Sheffield Midland Station by my Father. My Brother Jeff was his usual happy-go-lucky self, probably even looking forward to his first venture outside England, and the challenge of coping with the primitive conditions in Aden and meeting the inhabitants of a totally different country, for he was always adventurous, a 'go- getter', try anything once, type of lad. But there was a certain undercurrent of sadness as expected, and I was glad to have been at home when he left.
We stayed over the next weekend and my Father took us home to Gleadless to resume where we had left off. After a few days at home, and another weekend at Totley, a quiet celebration of my son's third birthday in October and mine in November, both warranting an extra day with the family, and this, I thought, would be the pattern until my husband returned, 'when'?, who knows?. It was 6.30 pm. on the evening of Thursday 12th December 1940, all was quiet and peaceful as I prepared for another weekend at Totley when the air- raid sirens blasted their way into the house with their warning that German planes were on their way. Our air-raid shelter standing out there in the garden had never been finished; it having been considered un- necessary in the absence of air-raids. But my now three-year-old son Arthur knew exactly what to do; just out of the bath he dived under the table as he had been taught, gleefully munching the bed-time biscuit as if it were all a game. I was about to wash my hair, but hesitated for a moment or two then, as all was quiet I took the chance and ran upstairs to the bathroom and managed to complete the first lathering just as the first drone could be heard, when I joined him. As the plane passed safely overhead, I dashed back upstairs and finished my ablutions and again joined Arthur who was quite happy under the table as if it were a game. The drone began again and the noise was terrific, as plane after plane dropped incendiaries as they passed overhead, until the house shook, then a terrifying bang as the first bomb was dropped near enough to make the house tremble and for me to hope that the table would be strong enough if the roof fell in. After another two bombs the planes moved on still dropping their bombs until the sky, and all around was as light as day with fires from the incendiaries and the burning houses but, thankfully, we were safe and about an hour later I thought it safe enough to go to bed.
Next morning my neighbour said that the last bomb had hit a house in the next road and it was still burning; that her husband had tried to get to work but there were no 'busses, and houses on Abbeydale Road and London Road were still burning. Sheffield was ablaze from Abbeydale Road to the Wicker Arches, and The King's Head at the corner of Fitzallan Square was razed to the ground and many people who had been sheltering there had been killed. There was nothing I could do, and I certainly was not going to let Hitler prevent me from going home so, after a quick breakfast, with Arthur warmly dressed in his new Siren- suit, we set out to walk over the top road to Gleadless Town-head, out onto the long road past the balloon barrage, and on towards Norton. With so many detours the journey was going to be about ten miles but in such situations there is always someone willing to help and, fortunately about half a mile from Norton, a driver stopped his car and offered to take us as far as the bottom of Stubley Hollow. With very grateful thanks I accepted his offer, and the rest of the journey up to Dronfield Woodhouse, down Mickley Lane was easy arriving at Lane Head at 1.30pm without further events, and with great relief. During the following days many people questioned why the hill-top village of Gleadless should have been subjected to such a damaging air-raid, as the only had hit Sheffield City and Gleadless instead of the steelworks.
The Polish prisoners of War were seconded for special duties from one of the various camps in South Yorkshire, who, he understood had been prisoners of the Germans, who had been rescued by the British during the first year of the War. Their job had begun by setting out on a large field on the Moor over a hundred braziers in the pattern of the village of Totley as seen from the air; a `mock village' so to speak, thus fooling, if that is the right word, the Germans into believing that they were nearer to the Steelworks than they actually were. They fuelled the braziers during the day so that the smoke they created dispersed before dusk, when groups of them spread over the moor in case of intruders. It was one of these groups that had accosted cousin May and Laurie. The Home Guard's duties covered the large area of Sheffield/Totley /Holmesfield moorland up to the boundary of Chesterfield, on Baslow Hill Road /Clodhall Road area. Whilst the Poles were guarding Eastmoor, the Home Guard were out on manoeuvres practicing their skills with their one issued gun, and guarding their own moors against intruders. My immediate reaction to this explanation was `ingenious', but later, the 'saving people' side of me had another view when thinking of all those who lost their lives in the City and Gleadless and the surrounding area: it was obviously a matter of importance in a dire situation, `People' or `Munitions'?, for many, many lives were lost that night, it could even have been me, and my son!
First-Aid Post 13 was based at Pipworth Road School, Prince of Wales Road, Manor Estate, near its junction with the Parkway between Sheffield and Handsworth. It was one of nineteen covering the whole of the city of Sheffield. No 13, however, was different as one shift was manned almost entirely by officers and members of the Saint John's Ambulance Brigade.
The post-Medical Officer in charge was a local doctor whose surgery was on the Manor Estate, and handy for 'pop-in' calls during the day, as and when necessary, and always at midnight. Often taking dinner (supper) with us before giving lectures and practice on the treatment of wartime injuries, which were quite different from those generally treated in peacetime. A female S.J.A.B. Officer was responsible for the theory and practice of First Aid according to the brigade manual, the bible for all members male and female. However, the curriculum for females (Sisters), also had intensive training in home-nursing, which to some extent was similar to the training of hospital nurses. This equipped them for the voluntary work in hospitals and homes that was still expected when time-tables allowed.
This was undertaken by a retired Hospital sister, Nurse Harvey. She trained at The Royal Hospital Sheffield, as was the Post Medical Officer, and the owner of Sharrow-head Nursing-home. This was where I did four hours of my voluntary work in the theatre on Saturday mornings when on afternoons or nights. Not a glamorous job, but very enlightening as I was the 'dirty nurse'. The one who was not sterilised, who caught the 'dirty swabs' as the surgeon flicked them over his shoulder to land somewhere at my feet, to be set out in rows and counted before reporting to him at the end of the operation. When he checked the count with a grin and a nod and, operation over, we all went to Sister Goss's sitting-room for a coffee. Nurse Harvey, who lived in Main Avenue Totley (some readers may remember the sad day, after the war, when her son was killed on the main-road at the top of Main Avenue) was responsible not only for the theoretical and practical training according to the S.J.A.B. text Book, but also for the appropriate treatment of war injured from the streets before being transferred to hospital.
During the day there were five elderly men in another part of the school, all beyond calling-up age, with whom we had very little contact. At 6pm the volunteers arrived, both men and women, having finished their day-time work, who were trained as assistants in the treatment rooms and general helpers in the event of air-raids. The men as stretcher-bearers, and assistants to the ambulance men who were trained by another high-ranking officer of the brigade, who was honoured after the War for his work as an Officer of the S.J.A.B. Although married women with children were not conscripted for war duties those without children were expected to work locally thereby relieving single women for work in munitions factories wherever they were needed. However, there were many married women, some in reserved occupations, who chose to do voluntary work in the evenings, and First-Aid Post 13 had about twenty (both men and women), who started arriving about 6pm when the rooms were a hive of activity as they practiced the different methods of bed-making, bandaging, assistants to the doctors and trained nurses until 10pm when the full-time afternoon-shift signed off. The first month on mornings for new full-time S.J.A.B. sisters was spent on learning the daily routine at the Post, to be replaced for the next month by morning shifts at The Royal Hospital Sheffield, (demolished many years ago around the time that the new Hallamshire teaching hospital was built). Discipline was strict, which suited the attitude and discipline of their training for this was the time when nurses did the cleaning on their own wards when, straight after breakfast window sills and lockers were dusted, flowers and plants replaced on lockers, floors swept, including under beds. At exactly 9am matron appeared at the entrance to the ward, looking very stern as she examined with eagle's eyes, the perfect envelope corners of each bed, the dust- free lockers and window sills, and nurses in perfectly laundered uniforms - sleeves rolled down ending in stiff white celluloid cuffs, or rolled up above the elbow in working-mode, the 'roll' having been covered with perfectly laundered white ruched cuffs. All passed as satisfactory by the time the doctors and their students arrived and interviews with patients, discussions between themselves, and with matron, were followed by questions and discussions with their students.
For those nurses close enough to overhear, this was often very enlightening, occasionally a little apprehensive after the doctors finally retreated and matron delayed her exit to have a few words with the sister in charge of the ward. So intensive was the training by the Brigade that, on my first morning, the sister with whom I was making beds, was amazed that I already knew how to make perfect envelope corners! Very important in those far off days when perfection in all work meant efficiency which boosted my morale enormously! In 1942 a new building was built next to the school to accommodate both first aid at the rear with connecting doors to the Ambulance Station in the front with its entrance in Prince of Wales Road.
Very soon after the outbreak of war it became clear that more women were needed to work on the home front now that so many had joined the forces, or forced into munitions, and mothers with pre-school age children were accepted in various occupations, including the steel works and munitions factories in the city. As a result day nurseries were created with a fully-trained nurse in charge, assisted by a nurse from the nearest First Aid Post. Children could be left in their charge from 6am to 2pm to be collected at the end of the mother's shift. One such nursery was in Prince of Wales Road the assistant nurses being drawn from First-aid Post 13 as part of their shift rotation. After a month back at the post my turn came and I duly reported at 6am and reported to the nurse in charge. All went well, and a unique experience particularly the lunch time struggle whilst trying to feed seven children from 10 months old to a very active four-year old, followed by encouraging them to have a nap on the palliases supplied for the purpose. Nevertheless I enjoyed the experience until at 2pm when all the other mothers had collected their offspring's when one mother hadn't turned up. Half an hour later nurse was getting worried as it was almost time for her own child to arrive home from school. I offered to stay until the recalcitrant mother arrived, but I was non too pleased!, even less so when she turned up at 6pm delighted because she had done all the washing and ironing because it was such a lovely day. A few days later Dr. Saylis asked how I had enjoyed the experience, and I 'pulled no punches' as to what I thought of her and he immediately had a solution. One of the S.J.A.B. nurses at the post wore a 6" high boot due to a childhood injury, which did not restrict her in any way, but he was worried about the strain during the long shift would have on her leg."You know Rundle, she's crazy over kids and would cheerfully swop with you, I'll ask her to do your nursery month, and you can do her hospital one, how about that?" I agreed 'that' would be very satisfactory; and so it was.
For over two years there had been no air-raids on Sheffield, consequently, whether to show-off the new post, or concern for the capability of all first aid posts and ambulance stations to cope should there be one, that prompted those responsible for the defence of the City to arrange a competition between the 19 posts to test their efficiency in the, still possible event of an air-raid. This resulted in a tournament between the posts, and much to my amazement and a little pride, I was appointed leader of the team. Surprisingly, because my team included the state registered nurse, the S.J.A. B. Officer, and an S.J.A.B. Sergeant. This worried me at first, until my wise father said "They've chosen you, so they must think you can do it" and I felt more confident. Three- months later when we won the trophy and all four received Gold lockets and chains engraved with the occasion and our names, he said that he was very proud of me, which possibly made me happier than the actual winning of it!
By November 1944 the Battle of Britain was over, although it continued on the Continent until May 8th 1945, consequently there was no further need for First-Aid and Ambulance Stations and, at the end of November 1944 they were all disbanded. However, I had told my husband that I would continue until the end of the war and I accepted Sister Goss's offer of a full-time job from Monday until Friday. I continued with the Saturday mornings in the theatre, whilst my son, now seven years old and back at home, played with the son of one of the gynaecologists who performed most of the operations. My first ‘shift’ was on night duty, which relieved Staff-nurse Harrington, a stern, dedicated, full of energy, Irish 45 yr old, who had been managing on her own throughout the war.
Now I found myself in charge of 4 new-born babies each one in need of changing and feeding as necessary, whilst their mothers, two male patients in small single wards, and two post-operative patients, one of whom had come from London as a safe option, were my responsibility until 6am. Staff nurse came on duty to do her rounds 8am breakfast when I signed-off. On this, my first night, I had just finished feeding and changing three of the babies when, in the distance I could hear a faint drone, which I ignored for a moment, but the patient from London had also heard it and started to scream and shout hysterically, "It's a doodle-bug. it's a doodle-bug". Abandoning the babies I made a dash to the ward just as Staff-nurse Harrington appeared from her bedroom on the top floor. “Shut that `ruddy’ woman up” she gasped, “she'll have them all in hysterics”. I was already in the ward, hauling the woman out of bed and down to the shelter in the basement, returning to the babies to get them to the basement nursery, when the drone, thankfully passing overhead, suddenly stopped and everybody became silent, waiting, terrified, then came the terrific bang. The bomb had dropped a little way down the hill between Sharrow Vale Road and Hunter's Bar, having missed the home by less than a hundred yards. Nurses and patients alike returned to their respective Wards, and those who had remained in their beds gave thanks, and all was back to normal.
My own feelings were “I hope that my new job is not going to be as ‘exciting’ every night!” The 'doodle- bugs' as they were called, were the final defiant act by the Germans and gradually life began to get back to normal, whatever normal was going to be after peace in Europe was declared on May 8th 1945. For, as most people were aware, there was still fierce fighting in the East until the atom bombs brought the war with Japan to an end on August 15th. 1945. This was a strange time when soldiers and evacuated children throughout the country were returning home, and rationing of certain foods continued for the next five years. During the war we were told to eat more bread because there was a shortage of potatoes, now the tables had turned and for the first time bread was rationed and we should eat more potatoes. Shipments of large tins of apricots from Africa, Spam from America, and the occasional shipment of corned beef from Argentina, all obtainable without coupons, had ceased, yet there were more mouths to feed.
Although the effect was not serious in Totley where we still had two shops, the changes were evident all over the country adding to the feeling that things would never be the same again. London and the south of England, the ports and docks, had taken the brunt of the bombing, and now felt the greatest change. For their children had been sent away from a stable home life, into the homes of complete strangers who, as we are still hearing today, were not like the parents they had left behind, many were intolerant, unkind and, in some cases, cruel. Now, after five, in some cases six years, without the experience of normal family life, many bordering on adulthood, along with those who had spent their youth serving in the war, both men and women were soon to be the parents of the next generation, with no experience of parenthood as we had known it, and the Social system took a radical change. By the end of the fifties, rationing over and a new generation of parents and children, all the old rules disappeared, home life, education, manners, and the old idea of ‘Love thy neighbour’ died a natural death. Life was free, live it to the full, and children born into this new world did just that; how do I know?, becauseI was one of those parents, with a seventeen year-old son. In 1954 I produced a daughter, a child of this new world, and the difference was obvious, a son of an era past, a daughter of a completely new one, but, I was not a new parent and my rules were strict. This was the real time of change, in discipline, in home life, in education, and in personal freedom, the old parents were tired, weary of war and all it had brought, content to dissolve into the background and leave the future to the new generation.
The rules for the future were freedom, do what you like, enjoy, and the future was sealed a few years later by the advent of the ‘pill’!, a new-found freedom for women, or was it? In 1958 I stopped on Moorwood Lane to have a word with a neighbour, G.H.B. Ward who was looking across the valley at the new Totley College; in disgust he said “a packing-case”. He was that kind of man - if you think it, say it! I watched as Totley gradually changed, and slowly moved away from its historical roots, away from the old boundary, taking New Totley with it, on its way to Green Oak. The old playground in The Bents was, and still is, part of the close community there, and modem Totley has made its new home on the playing-fields of Green-oak, whilst the old Totingelei on whose boundaries, in 829 England was born, peacefully, now sits proudly with all its memories and long may it remain so. Finis.
Because of the continuing need for measures to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, the monthly meetings of Totley History Group have been suspended until further notice.
Please continue to support your history group by sending your questions, comments and contributions to: contactus@
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.
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.
Charles Paul lived in Totley in later life. He was a local historian and archaeologist who was an authority on the history of Sheffield, especially the two areas he knew best: Attercliffe and Ecclesall. His books and letters to local newspapers were published under the Latin form of his name Carolus Paulus.
Towards the end of the 19th century Totley Hall gardens became a well known beauty spot that attracted many hundreds of visitors from Sheffield on open days and the rock gardens became one of its most popular features. Mrs Annie Charlesworth sent us six glass transparencies of the rock gardens taken, we believe, in the early years following the Great War.
Anton Rodgers send us photographs of three water-colours that had been bought by his grandfather at a sale of the contents of Abbeydale Hall in 1919. One was of a scene said to be in York by A. Wilson. A second was of a seated child with a dog believed to be pianted by Juliana Russell (1841-1898). The third was of Lake Como, by Ainslie Hodson Bean (1851-1918) who lived for much of his life on the Riviera and in North Italy.
A Canadian correspondent sent us photographs of a set of silver spoons that were bought in a small town in British Columbia. The case contained a note signed by Ebenezer Hall indicating that they were a wedding gift to Maurice and Fanny Housley. We think we may have traced how they got to Canada and where they might have been since.
Green Oak Park was opened on 23 March 1929 on land that had been bought by Norton District Council from John Thomas Carr, a farmer and smallholder of Mona Villas. In later years, the buildings were used by the Bowling Club (the green having been built in 1956) and by the park keeper. However, the buildings appear to have been constructed in several phases, the oldest of which predates the park to the time when the land was used for pasture.
We believe the old Totley Police Station at 331 Baslow Road was built around 1882. Two lock-up cells were excavated just below floor level in the summer of 1890. We have traced the Derbyshire Constabulary police officers who lived there from John Burford in 1886 to George Thomas Wood who was there when Totley was absorbed into Sheffield in 1934.
David Stanley lived in Totley Rise in the later years of his life. Born in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, he joined the 17th Lancers when he was 19 and rode in the Charge of The Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava where he was seriously wounded. For the first reunion of veterans in 1875, he told his story to a reporter from the Buxton Herald.
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.
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.
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.
Visitors since 24 Sep 2012: