Joseph W. Abson

Old Post Office, Hillfoot Road

I was delighted to see the illustration of my old home in your May edition of The Independent. Number One (1) Hillfoot Road was the family home from 1934 for Mother, Father, myself, Brother Clifford, a sister Ketural, and later Betsy who was born there. Mother and Father continued to live there until the Council placed a Compulsory Purchase Order on the property, to provide a Bus Terminus of course, like many things, this never materialised. 


Obviously, as the street lamp to rear of the building suggests, illustration was based on a Post photograph. We came to Totley after I had been born in Prospect Road, Bradway (then in Derbyshire), moving to Cowley, near Holmsfield, and 7 or 8 months at the Vicarage, Unstone - No, Dad wasn't a vicar! Immediately before we moved in it had been used as the Post Office which was then transformed to it's present location.


Before that, the house had, at some time, been the Farm house, as with the house there were two cowsheds, with barns or haylofts over them, and pigsties. I made use of the cowsheds to grow cultivated mushrooms and kept hens in the pigsty and on part of the land at the back of the house. We had some very happy times at the old house, although there was no electricity, hot water, bathroom or inside toilet.


Downstairs we had two very large living rooms, with coal fires, and one with an oven and cooking range, a very very large pantry with a stone slab down the middle nearly as long as a cricket pitch,and which was icy cold summer and winter. From the massive oak beams were hooks for hanging bacon and hams. The kitchen was also large and had a stone sink with one water tap (cold) and a copper with a fire underneath to provide hot water for washing clothes and for bath water. Bathing was in the old zinc bath in front of the fire and be careful of catching your body on the hot side.


The coal house was situated inside by the kitchen. Upstairs we had four large bedrooms, (by today's standard), each with it's own fireplace. Every room had a ceiling supported by large oak beams, worth a fortune today, and all downstairs rooms were paved with flag stones, until after the war when Dad replaced them with concrete floors.


The front garden consisted of two expanses of grass or Lawns - of a fashion, and in the 30' s before everyone had a car, hundreds of people would come to Totley by bus on Sundays and weekends and quite a few would stop over to have tea served and sit on the grass. In the evening queues of people waiting for the bus to Sheffield, would stretch from the Cross Scythes right down Hillfoot Road. 


As youngsters we could nip out of the back gate to the Nook, owned by Mr, Unwin, from whom we would buy sweets, drinks of pop etc. and play cards and dominoes.


Looking at pre-war photos, I note the house below, first house on Summer Lane with hardware and general shop attached was owned and run by Mr & Mrs Sam Green. Hiding the main view of the shop was a log shed used by the Greens as a store house for paraffin,stoves, lamps, felt etc. My youngest sister, Betsy was born there during the war, and I lived there until 1948 when I married a beautiful young Land Army Girl, Joan, who was known later by many of the older residents of Totley.


Just before marrying I kept my own pig, which I had slaughtered and cured at Clowne and hung the bacon and hams at the old house until eaten. I remember bacon was still on ration and with having our own pig, we had to give our bacon coupons up.


About 2 years prior to the house being demolished, an Adams Butter lorry coming uphill towards Baslow, with no other traffic in sight went through the bedroom wall. My father was in the front room nursing a broken leg when this happened.


Happy days, happy memories.


June 1994

I was surprised to see the picture of my old home on the front page of the November issue of the Totley Independent. We as a family, mother, father, myself, elder sister Kit and brother Clifford, known to me as Toby, moved in 1935 from a cottage on Cowley Lane, near Holmesfield.


We lived there, at least mum and dad did, until it was compulsory purchased to make way for the bus terminus, this of course never happened, the land including Summer Lane was sold on for new housing and mum and dad were rehoused in a prefab on Greenoak. Before being a Post Office it had been a farmhouse.  


We still retained a very large garden and huts where I kept an assortment of 30 hens (road island reds, brown leg horns, white sussex). I also had a large barn where I grew mushrooms and we had a pig sty which we did not use. The house had 4 bedrooms, a large living room, a large sitting room (or lounge), a large kitchen and an extremely large pantry with stone slab, bacon and ham hooks.  


There was no electric, cooking was by over open fire range, gas lighting and hot water from the fire heated copper in the kitchen. I believe the picture has had a bit of licence. I have a much older photo depicting it as a post office with the village postman stood outside and with shutters to the downstairs windows.  


The shutters were still in place when we moved in. There was no modern street light at the back. The roof tiles were thick stone slabs held in place with wooden pegs. The tiles were blown down in the gales hitting Sheffield in the 1960s. I have many happy memories of 1 Hillfoot Road.


J W Abson

PS – To the writer of Doug Turner’s memories in reading the Threshing machinery, it came from Binghams Hilltop Farm, Cowley, just past the old hirst hollow pit. 


December 2008

"Grandma Green and friend Mrs Hopkinson, my bantams and ducklings", photo from the late Roy Green. This photo was taken behind Grange Terrace on Baslow Road from just off Totley Hall Lane.


The photo in April's issue of The Totley Independent brought back many happy memories. For many years he was a Sunday School Teacher.


Sunday School was held in the afternoon at Totley All Saints School in the then large hall. He also had the hardware shop (Greens) at Dore. On the Sunday morning I was in the choir at the church and there again in the evening. Choir practice was on a Thursday, all for 5 shillings (25 pence) a quarter. Roy's father of course along with Mr Unwin of Baslow Road kept the "Nook", the wooden hut set slightly back off from 351 Baslow Road just below Mr Unwin's.


The Nook was a place where all the Totley youngsters and youths congregated in the evening for drinks, sweets, play dominoes, darts, and have a smoke. Happy days until the parents would look in. The Nook of course is now long gone, but I am sure many older Totley residents will have fond memories of it. 


May 2010

Up to the 1940s the shop on the right was Wints Grocery, Wines and Beer Shop, Grattons came a little later in 1940 something.  There were 2 butchers shops nearly next door to each other, Colin Thompson's (next to the store) and Frank Cartledge a little further down the rise.


Cartledges were later taken over by Lawrence (Lol) Tymn of the farming family, Don Tymn following on from his father at the farm before Totley Hall and another farm up Millhouses Lane.  Lol Tymn later moved from Totley Rise to a butcher's shop in the row of shops opposite the top of Mickley Lane. The shop there had previously been a bread and pastry shop (Pearson and Osthied) who moved next door to Albert Walker another Totley butcher at the top of Main Avenue opposite Walter Evans grocery ship later to be Tinsdales.  


The chip shop was way down the rise in those days and was owned by Pop Shaw (Hoppy) who lived 2 doors away from me. As for it not being the thing to be seen in the chippie there were hundreds of people who visited the chip shop and who were not unduly bothered who saw them, thank goodness. Us young boys used to rumble the potatoes in the cellar and receive free chips for our efforts. Many people well known in Totley used to live above the shops, eg Ackerslys, Marshalls, Charlie 'Rangoon' Cooper etc. We also used to fetch blood in one gallon cans for Thompsons to make their black pudding with from the slaughter house on Shude Hill in the city centre. We very often used to accidentally spill some in the Pond St bus shelter (bus number 45) to make it look a bit gruesome. All the shops at the top of Totley Rise had a basement with entry to the Back Lane where Colin Thompson had a few pigs and cattle stalls.  


At the Milldale end was the Millfield where the annual fair was held. Colin Thompson also had a shop at Dore. Lol Tymn's wife, May was also for a time a teacher at Totley All Saints School. Bonners News Shops eventually became Peter Swifts.  Davys also had a bread and pastry shop on the Rise. Across the road at Marstone Crescent were at the far end the doctor's surgery, Dr Connelly, followed by Dr Greg. This has now moved to the other corner, Totley Rise Medical Centre.  


There was Purdy's paint and wallpaper shop, a bank (very much missed as it was local), I think it was OK to be seen there, and the hardware shop, I believe Maynards. Happy days. 


June 2010

Gillfield Wood

As young lads pre-War we used to spend a lot of time in the Woods, swimming in the deeper pools, fishing or jumping from one side to the other of the river. I well remember the felling of numerous trees in the 40s and the huge lorries used to haul the enormous trunks up Hall Lane.  

Coming out of the Woods, through the fields, the deposited huge amounts of mud and clay on the Lane.  Much of which was trodden into the Post Office, providing Mr and Mrs Perkinton with the never ending job of keeping the floors clean.  


As to the pronunciation of the term Gillfield in those days it was always pronounced Jill Field, supposedly after its namesake the flower Gillflower of which an abundance grew in the Woods or the old half pint gill of milk (Jill) or ground ivy. Many people will beg to differ but why worry we have a beautiful wood and stream on our doorstep. 


April 2011

Latest News

Our first meeting in the new year will be on Wednesday 24th January when we welcome back Chris Corker whose talk is called The Shell, Armaments and Munitions Production Crisis, 1915-1916. The wartime demand for armaments lead to the Shell Crisis of May 1915. Chris examines the effect that the formation of the Ministry of Munitions, under the guidance of David Lloyd-George, had on Sheffield's armament companies and its industry as a whole. Because of refurbishments to Totley Library, there has been a change to the advertised venue. The meeting will now be in Totley Rise Methodist Church starting at 7.30 p.m.

On Wednesday 28th February we will be holding another in our popular series of Open Meetings. Everyone is welcome to share photographs, memorabilia and recollections of our local Sports, Social and Community Groups and activities. The meeting is in Totley Library, beginning as usual at 7.30 p.m.

On Wednesday 28th March there will be an illustrated talk by Stephen Gay called Off The Track in Derbyshire when we shall find out what hides out of sight alongside the Dore and Chinley railway line. The meeting begins at 7.30 p.m. in Totley Library.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the inscriptions on more than 600 gravestones in  the churchyard.


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