Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Reg Stones: Working at Beauchief Hall in the 1950s

Reg Stones Reg Stones

Totley History Group has recently been contacted by Reg Stones who was an under gardener at Beauchief Hall in the early 1950’s, although for the last 50 years has lived in Dorset. Reg has been recounting his memories of the house and work at that time.

 

The Hall was occupied by Arthur Kingsford Wilson, Chairman and joint Managing Director of Spear & Jackson Ltd, and who had been Master Cutler in 1929/30.  

 

The gardeners saw nothing of him but Mrs Wilson, his 2nd wife, would enthusiastically discuss plans she had for the grounds with the Head Gardener, although a nod of the head as she passed was all Reg remembers of his own contact with her.  

 

She had a lucky escape from serious injury when she failed to notice an open trap door in the darkness of the boiler room and fell down a shoot into the coke store! Heating was needed for the 80ft glasshouse where peaches, grapes and tender flowering plants were cultivated. Geraniums grew all year round and reached the roof some 10-12ft high.

 

Sadly this no longer exists. Fred Allen [head gardener] and his wife lived in the old Pegge House with clock and bell turret. Daughters Isobel and Freda lived there too, Freda working as a hairdresser in Sheffield. There were three gardeners, Fred Allen, 2nd gardener Eric Pashley from Woodseats, and Reg.

 

Eric Pashley was later replaced by Trevor Gibbs who came from Middlewood. A number of other staff worked the estate including Brian Kirby from Greenhill who was the cow man, and a Mr. Vaughan who managed the trees. Bill Roach, an Irishman, was handyman at both the house and the firm. Staff for the Hall included a butler whose wife was the cook.

 

There were two ‘tweenies’, housemaids who had rooms in the attic. Reg thinks they came from Bolsover and were probably daughters of a miner. Staff amounted to around eight in all, but as Reg says ‘A lot fewer than the twenty or so employed in the earlier years of the century’, which reflected the social changes taking place across Britain.

Beauchief Hall

 

A plan to restore the gardens had begun just prior to Reg being employed and borders, ponds and paths were cleared, with seating added for people to use when watching the newly acquired fish in the carp pond. The garden was opened to the public in the spring of 1951 during the daffodil season, raising funds for the RSPCA.

 

The Hall’s two drives had been heavily gated and a Mr Watson lived in the gatehouse on Hemper Lane. Bent with age and always wearing a long mac, Reg remembers him trudging up and down the drive to do odd jobs for another landowner at the bottom of the hill.

 

Fifty acres of land were attached to the hall at that time, all of it grazed or producing hay. Basic powder slag was used as a fertilizer, a waste product from the steel-making industry.  

 

 

Beauchief Hall, deer park

The deer park had originally been to the left of the house surrounded by a stone wall some 7 ft high, although no deer were kept at that time.  

 

Cattle were held prior to going for slaughter, having been raised on land owned by the family in Lincolnshire. The breed they favoured was the Lincolnshire Red Poll a cross between the Lincolnshire Red and Aberdeen Angus. The animals went to Sheffield Abattoir via a Mr Lee [butcher] the agent of a very elderly Mr Swindon of Crooksmoor Rd who rented land from Mr Wilson. Mr Swindon was taken to the farm in Lincolnshire in a large Humber Snipe driven by his son-in-law, Mr Lee, and the farmer from there also visited the hall. They were having a problem with the bull that was proving to be aggressive! One stormy night the cattle were alarmed by thunder and broke through fencing, eventually ending up in the gardens of houses on Twentywell Lane. Mr Swindon was far from happy the following morning, but neither, I imagine, were the homeowners!  

 

Cattle over-wintering at the Hall were kept indoors in the buildings originally erected by Pegge in the mid seventeenth century. They had deep beds of straw, which produced warmth as it decomposed when mixed with their dung.  

 

Hay and grain were stored in a loft, its little windows glazed with ‘bubble glass’. They kept a grey Shire horse that went to Holmesfield for shoeing, a couple of Sussex saddleback pigs that went for slaughter once they reached 20 stone, and a small flock of bantams getting too close to the cockerel would result in him having a go at you with the spurs on the back of his legs! Also some Rhode Island Red hens were kept near to the back door, probably handy for the kitchen scraps.

 

Reg noticed the wild life too… tawny owls nesting in the woods, a colony of rooks, redstart in the walls, and red squirrels in the yew tree in the veg. garden. A feral cat helped keep the rat population down and foxes roamed the grounds in daylight as well as under cover of darkness. The Wilson’s gamekeeper from Horsleygate would visit to try to rid the Hall of the foxes and wood pigeon. In the spring a mass of marching toads were to be seen heading for their spawning pond behind the Abbey, although they had none at the Hall. Even then, when traffic was so much lighter, some failed to cross the lane safely. Rabbits were snared against the south wall of the rookery wood, Reg taking them home for his mother’s cooking pot. A cat that had her litter away from the house was seen catching rabbits to feed them and the order went out to drown the kittens.

 

There were two wells, one in the yard and another on the drive. The latter was said to have had a gas driven motor at one time which pumped the water to tanks at the top of the house. Reg wonders if these could be the origin of the St Quentin’s Well legend that gave Twentywell Lane its name. A spring feeds the ponds and the river flows through Gulley Wood, all making it the ideal place to establish the Abbey nearly 1000 years ago.

 

There was a bothy dug behind the 2nd pond to retreat to for refreshments in bad weather, a low, flat-roofed space just 8ft by 5ft but thankfully above the water table…just!

 

Alongside the house a reinforced bunker had been dug, presumably in WW2, for the protection of family and staff and there was an old domed roofed and stone lined icehouse some 15 ft deep, accessed by a long iron ladder.

 

There were stories of previous residents…the stockman in the 1930’s who died after being crushed by a cow in a stall and the suicide at the house in 1927 of William Wilson who had rented the Hall for over thirty years before buying it in 1923. He was the father in law of Marjorie Elsie Milner who had grown up in Totley Hall and had married his son, another William, in 1909. They were the branch of the Wilson family who owned the Snuff Mill at Sharrow and lived at Horsleygate. It was said that Arthur Kingsford Wilson had owned a Rolls Royce before WW2, too big for the garage it was kept in one of the barns. Reg found a few remnants hidden away under the steps to the hayloft. He wonders if German POW’s from Norton Camp at Meadowhead had once laboured there…if all the Frau’s lived over the sea, what a good swimmer Fritz would be…. a note he found.

 

Reg’s time at the Hall was more than 60 years ago, his wage was £1-10-0 per week of which £1 was given straight to his Mum. He also worked for Mr Swindon when Brian Kirby left, taking on extra responsibilities and learning skills such as stone-walling, thatching haystacks etc. but this period of Reg’s life ended when he was called up to do his National Service in 1953.

 

Arthur Kingsford Wilson died the same year and the Hall was eventually sold to De La Salle Catholic School in 1958.

 

Pauline Burnett

December 2014

Latest News

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

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

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

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

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

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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