Gillfield Wood Swimming Pool

Duncan Froggatt, Totley Independent Issue, February 2002


TOTLEY, A VIEW FROM ABOVE
Picture it. Totley 15 March 1961 around 9:30am. There are traces of snow in the hedgerow bottoms and the trees still have their bare winter branches. This is shown on an old RAF photograph taken at 1,800 ft. above Totley and held by the NMR in Swindon...  I am intrigued by some features. In Gillfield Woods about 200m. upstream of the point where the footpath to Woodthorpe.crosses Totley Brook there is a dark rectangle about the size of a small house fed by a seat from Totley Brook. Is this the remains of the Totley Hall swimming pool or am I totally confused? Also there are a series of circular features, about 3 to 5 meters in diameter in some of the fields between Gillfield Woods and the track up to Woodthorpe Hall from Mickley Lane. Are these ancient burial mounds abandoned early industrial workings or, more likely, something far more prosaic? If anyone can shed light on any of this, please let me know.

 


Mike Roberts. Higher Wescott, Holsworthy, Totley Independent, April 2002


TOTLEY FROM ABOVE
The February 02 edition of the Totley Independent News has just reached me, to be read and enjoyed as all other copies have. May I perhaps answer the questions posed by Mr Duncan Froggat in his article entitled Totley, a View From Above.


1. The square shape in the wood above the bridge and path to Woodthorpe is indeed the old swimming pool, if the photo goes as far as Holmesfield Wood, he may see another swimming pool.

Gillfield Wood Swimming Pool, drawing by Mike Roberts

2. The circular features visible between Gillfield Wood and the path to Woodthorpe Hall I believe to be the remains of Home Guard activity during the last war. A searchlight was located in the centre of the field at the bottom of Wings Hill, this was circular. Along the top of the same field running parallel to the drive to Woodthorpe Hall were three or four huts, roughly 30ft. x 18ft. obviously these were square. In the adjoining field moving westwards were two or three circular ponds, of the dimensions suggested by Mr Froggat. These "ponds" I always felt were water filled collapsed mine workings but I cannot verify this. Not so very far away at the top of Mickley Lane there used to be drift mine workings. The ponds mentioned were again circular. I hope this may shed some light on Mr Froggat's questions. I am born and bred in Totley only moving down here on retirement.

 

 


Duncan Froggatt, Totley Independent, July/August 2002

 

VIEWS FROM ABOVE. AN UPDATE.
I am grateful to Mr Roberts of Holsworthy for his letter published in the April edition of the Totley Independent and to Steve Randall of Queen Victoria Road. He also wrote to me on the questions I had posed in February, In about 1990 Bob Warburton wrote a lovely book "Sheffield's Woodland Heritage" with a chapter on Holmesfield Park Woods and described white coal pits there. From the size you describe it seems probable that there are also some white coal pits in Gillfield Woods. As to the swimming pool, a neighbour, Archie Thomas, late of 42 Queen Victoria Road, told me a bit about it. Archie was born in 1903 and was the son of the butler to William Aldam Milner of Totley Hall. He wrote a brief autobiography which includes: "Our favourite ducking hole was the old sheep wash in Bull Wood that is the small wood between the bottom of Gillfield Wood and the field that backs on to the houses of Rowan tree Dell. There was another good pool in the Cricket Wood made by Caprons of Green Oak House and further improved by the sons of Pearsons of St. George's Farm. The pool made by the Milners in Gillfield was too cold it got full of dead leaves but was cleared by the lads of the village around 1932, the main worker was Fred Hoole. I've no idea where Cricket Wood is. He showed me the Gillfield pool and it is where you describe it. He described with glee some of the activities around and in the pool that didn't include much swimming. Incidentally someone tried to dig the Gillfield pool out again about 10 years ago but it has very quickly silted up. If the woods extended into this field 200 years ago then whitecoal pits are a strong possibility. Following Mr Holsworthy's idea that the pits were collapsed mine working I have looked more closely at some geological records. The Geological Survey indicates that the pits are close to an outcrop of micaceous sandstone. It is possible that a thin seam of coal or a seat earth was associated with it  but I have not seen any definitive record of it. If, as is possible, this is part of the Grenoside Sandstone deposits, then it is quite possible. The collieries at the top of the hill at Mickley were working some of the better coal seams the Silkstone and Mickley Thick amongst others, that were outcropping there. You can still see traces of the Silkstone outcrop across the field opposite the top of Mickley Lane. The next significant coal seams are to be found in Totley Bents and parts of Dore. The brickworks on Baslow Road is where it is because of the deposits of suitable clay with these coal seams. Thank you for helping provide information about my queries. However, does anyone else know of "Cricket Wood"?

 

 

Jo Rundle, Totley Independent, December 2006/January 2007 

 

OLD TOTLEY
There were activities and pastimes, some for all ages and sexes, others strictly for men only, the pond in the wood being the main one for a time in summer during the early twenties. The river Sheaf rises in a heap of rocks in the second field on the south-west side of Moorwood Lane just past Mooredge Farm from where it flows down the field and under the road at its lowest point and continues down the fields and through Gillfield Wood, part of the Totley Hall Estate, when it is known as Totley Brook. Early in the century Arthur Bradley the Forester and other employees at Totley Hall had damned the brook just above a bend and excavated an area 18ft square by 3ft. deep to make a fish-rearing pond with a pipe inserted to drain off the water into what was intended to be a swimming pool, however, in a short time the tank completely filled with silt and was abandoned. Some time in the early twenties Frank Taylor and Arthur Kirby approached Mr. Milner for permission to re-excavate
the site and create a swimming-pool for the lads of the village, to which he agreed. The pond was not an ideal situation because, still being a part of a flowing stream it was constantly being silted-up and fowled by vegetation from upstream, and although it was often a source of great hilarity, as when one of the village girls dared to gate-crash and was dunked for her efforts, and many of the youths learned to swim in it's muddy waters, it soon became impossible to keep it clean enough even to play around in and was abandoned.

 

 

Ann White, Totley Independent, July/August 2011 

 

CHEMICAL YARD MEMORIES

...I always knew the woods by the name of Gillyfield and, the first time that I saw the name in print, I thought that the printers had got their facts wrong! I remember walking through the woods in early springtime, they were full of bluebells and the sun's rays shone through the baby green leaves of the beech trees, I thought I was in the Garden of Eden. I recall seeing the remains of the swimming pool and wondering why it was there...

 

 

 

Jim Wyte, Totley Independent, September 2011

 

TOTLEY MEMORIES

My name is Jim Whyte and I have lived in Plymouth since 1962. Picked up a copy of your excellent publication from (what used to be) Gratton's on Totley Rise and was interested in a letter from Anne White, referring to a disused swimming pool in Gillfield Woods. As a boy, I lived at 14, Rowan Tree Dell from about 1940 until I got married and spent most of my spare time playing in the woods. I was very aware of the derelict swimming pool. I often used to wonder who had gone to the trouble of digging out a large hole and fitting up a water supply and outlet. I never did find out, but one year I remember that a gang of local lads let in water from the river and cleared the surrounds of the pool. For a few days the pool was used for swimming by youngsters from the area. It soon fell into disrepair again. I don't remember the date, but would have thought it was in the mid forties.

 

 

 


Listen to what Christine Hibberd has to say in Totley Swimming Pool

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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