Most of us will at some time have had to visit the Dore and Totley Postal Sorting Office on Abbeydale Road, next to St John’s Church. The building was at one time the church rooms before the more modern church hall was built in the 1950s. Its most colourful period of use was in the First World War when it became a VAD Hospital. VAD stands for Voluntary Aid Detachment, and the volunteer staff were overseen by the British Red Cross Society. At the St John’s Hospital there were a hundred beds with the first wounded soldiers arriving there on the 21st November 1914. They were Belgian forces and thereafter many Belgian soldiers would pass through the St John’s doors.
Red Cross and auxiliary hospitals were set up very quickly in any place large enough to cope with from ten to a hundred patients. Many primary schools in Sheffield were turned over to this use, as well as other public buildings, church halls and private houses.
The text on the mosaic plaque reads, "This building was used as a VAD Hospital during the Great War".
This plaque is next to the Licenced Victualler’s Alms Houses on the opposite side of Abbeydale Road South. We believe that Woodland View was requisitioned as an overflow from the main St John’s Hospital site.
There are many references to the hospital in the Dore and Totley Parish magazines of the time. As early as November 1914 this was noted that “...there is a company of wounded Belgian soldiers at an improvised hospital, where they are well looked after by a large number of capable nurses, and where everything is done for their comfort and welfare.”
By December of 1914 many Dore and Totley residents were actively involved in fundraising for the St John’s Hospital. Following a social held at Dore School the authorities were asked what would be the most appropriate use of the money raised. The reply was: boots, slippers, gloves, and other little necessities.’
Trained nurses were greatly outnumbered by the VAD staff, who
did virtually all the work on the wards. They cleaned, scrubbed and dusted, did the catering for the patients, and did the washing, a massive task for a hospital in the days where laundry duty began by lighting fires for the coppers which boiled the linen. The most dramatic step for many of the VADs came in those duties directly involving the patients. These were young men who needed help to dress themselves and wash. Many of the women would have come from privileged backgrounds where they were chaperoned, and their only solitary contact with young men would have been with their brothers.
The uniform in the photograph is typical of that worn by the VAD staff who worked in St John’s VAD Hospital.
The next few pictures are reproduced from newspapers of the period, and are not of the best quality. The photograph below shows some of the staff and nurses outside the main door of the building. The ironwork gates and fencing are long since gone) melted for scrap to fuel a different war) but the imposing stone doorway is very recognisable.
We know that on the extreme left of the front row is Doctor Mary Andrews, second from the left is Doctor Charles A. Thorne, the hospital’s surgeon who lived at the Glen, and second from the right is Doctor C. O’Connor Parsons who lived at Dovedale on Totley Brook Road. Close inspection shows that at least two of the volunteers are wearing rather splendid hats.
Danny Reynolds’ memory of what happened at the VAD Hospital was kindly passed to us by Totley Local History Group. He recalled that it was the year of 1916 and the Great War was in progress. This was very apparent in Totley as it was like a small garrison town. Soldiers came by in their thousands to do their gunnery training on the rifle ranges; also wounded soldiers from the front line in France were brought to the field hospital (on the recreation ground fronting the Cricket Inn) for treatment. St John’s Hospital on Abbeydale Road was the operating theatre for severe cases, who were then transferred to the field hospital on recovery.” A Doctor Dick Evans, a member of the American Consulate, was a frequent visitor to the sick bay at Totley Bents, where I understand he was able to offer his valuable expertise.
Dr Thorne who was the principal surgeon at St John’s is on the extreme right of this photograph.
Images that exist of the interior of the church rooms whilst it was being used as a hospital show a very spartan appearance, still retaining many indications of its original purpose like the stone lintels around the windows, and the high ceiling.
Once again, Doctor Thorne can be seen in the background towards the left of the photograph.
The photograph was above was provided by Bill Glossop of Vernon Road, whose aunt was one of the VAD volunteers.
The photo above shows some of the VAD nurses, but instead of the photograph being taken outside the hospital, this one was taken in Dore churchyard looking towards the Hare and Hounds.
The President of the Dore and Totley Voluntary Aid Detachment was Mrs W.A. Milner of Totley Hall whose second son, Lieutenant Roy Denzil Pashley Milner of the 18th Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force, Sherwood Foresters, died on 20th September 1914 as he led a charge up the steep sided Troyon valley in Picardy. Lieutenant Milner was one of the first soldiers to die in the Great War from our area. For the rest of the War Sarah Milner worked tirelessly to provide aid and comforts for wounded soldiers, including working closely with the VAD hospital at St John’s.
Amongst some of the more unusual ways that the hospital was supported by Dore and Totley residents was through the very regular appeal for eggs to be donated. Food not rationed could be in short supply, and giving up precious eggs was indeed a major gesture of support for the War effort. Here are some extracts from the Dore and Totley Parochial Magazine:
September 1916: “The response to the appeal made to farmers and others for new laid eggs on Sunday July 20th was most gratifying, because although the notice was only a short one it revealed a willingness and sympathy on the part of the givers which justified the effort. Baskets containing 30, 25, 20, 15, 12, 6, 4, and paper bags with twos and threes, all given for the sake of those brave fellows who had risked their lives in battle, gave the pathetic touch to every contribution. The exact number given totalled six hundred and two.”
Again by June 1918 eggs are being requested as follows: “There was an enthusiastic response made on Sunday May 12th to the request that eggs should be given to the Red Cross Hospital at Abbeydale, Dore for our wounded soldiers. The Dore Day School children had been busy the whole of the previous week, and 104 children had between them collected 340 eggs, the remaining 320 being given by members of the congregation. Bearing in mind the scarcity of eggs, and their enhanced value at this time, and an important item of revenue to our farmers, a sacrifice was made, and so making the gift more marked and special.”
Do we know who any of the patients were? You might be very surprised to learn that we do. Again through Bill Glossop passing over copies of an autograph book of the period we can see the signatures of many of the Belgian soldiers, as well as a separate page signed by some of the RNAS patients. One of the pages is shown below:
Hand drawn and coloured, the RNAS page is dated 9/4/18. Perhaps someone will spot the signature of a family member?
And this one is one of several showing Belgian soldier’s details: Lion Roemans, Ist Regiment of Grenadiers.
One memory of the wounded Belgian soldiers which Dore Village Society received was this:
“St John’s Hospital was of great interest to us as children. The patients gathered round the entrance in their bright blue hospital uniforms and we practiced our halting French as we passed, though I think they spoke only Flemish.”
The final archive photograph is taken in 1916 on the occasion of the visit of Evelyn, Duchess of Devonshire, to St John’s. Despite the austerity of the War the iron gates and railings have been garlanded with flowers. Shortly after this photograph was taken the Duchess departed from England for Canada to continue war work on behalf of Canadian soldiers.
Dr Parsons is on the left of the Duchess and Dr Thorne is to her right. A guess is that Mrs Sarah Milner, in her capacity as President of the VAD Red Cross in the Dore and Totley area, is the lady with the large hat and wearing the bib of the Red Cross. Colonel Connell is on the extreme left and Matron is on the extreme right.
This emblem was the official badge of the British Red Cross VAD volunteer. Has any local resident got one of these tucked away? If you do, what a very moving story it could tell.
The first meeting after our summer break will be on Wednesday, 27th September when we present an illustrated talk by David Templeman called Mary, Queen of Scots: The Final Journey - From Sheffield to Fotheringhay (1584-1587). This talk relates the compelling tale of the events leading up to and including Mary’s trial and execution. Mary’s courage and conduct come to the fore as she takes her tragic story through Wingfield Manor, Tutbury Castle, Chartley Manor, Texall and culminating in the climax at Fotheringhay Castle where she is tried and executed for High Treason. But was she guilty? That is the question this talk addresses. The meeting is in Totley Library, starting at 7.30 p.m.
A recently discovered box of WWII correspondence reveals the story of how a small group of ladies from Dore and Totley recruited knitters from the west of Sheffield and how their efforts made them the country's greatest provider of Comforts for the Minesweeping crews of the Royal Navy. The story is told in Knit For Victory, a new book from Totley History Group. Written by Pauline Burnett, it has 82 pages and many illustrations. It is on sale in Totley Rise Post Office and local shops. Also available in Dore at the Village Store or direct via our website.
Since 1875 when there was only a Rolling Mill and Chemical Yard alongside the river a mile from Totley, the area has changed beyond anyone's imagination This book by Pauline Burnett tells the story of how it was named and grew into the community we know today. The Rise of Totley Rise has 94 pages including a useful index and is profusely illustrated throughout with many previously unpublished photographs from private collections.
The story is told in Totley War Memorial WW1 of the ten men from our village who gave their lives in the Great War. Written by Pauline Burnett, Jim Martin and Dorothy Prosser, a chapter is devoted to each of the soldiers with a family tree followed by as much information as could be discovered about the men and their families. There is also information about their military careers and the actions in which they lost their lives. The book has 64 pages and is illustrated throughout with photographs of the men, their families and the houses where they lived.
Ron Wijk of Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands has sent us two scanned images of drawings of old cottages made by the celebrated Dutch painter, Anton Pieck (1895-1987) simply annotated "Totley", and wondered whether we could identify their locations.
We would like to thank Christopher Rodgers for bringing to our attention this fascinating log of the 85th Sheffield (St. John's and Totley Orphanage) Wolf Cub Pack for 1927-45. The log is published jointly by Sheffield Scout Archives and Totley History Group as a free PDF download. It is illustrated by no fewer than 92 photographs and is supported by a comprehensive index and biographies of some of the main participants.
Following our Open Meeting event on School Days, Roger Hart, Howard Adams and John Timperley have each written to us with their memories of Norwood School, which was located in the rooms attached to the Dore & Totley United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road.
On 22nd July 1909 the children of Dore and Totley Schools celebrated by a pageant the union of England under King Ecgbert which took place at Dore in AD 827. The pageant was devised and written by Mrs Sarah Milner and her daughter Marjorie and performed in a field close to Avenue Farm in front of a large audience. Photographs of the event survive together with a fragment of the script.
John Edward Greenwood Pinder had lived all 46 years of his life in Totley but on census night, Sunday 2 April 1911, he was not at home; he was in Derby Gaol serving a sentence of three months hard labour. From the age of 20, John had been in and out of local courts for a series of minor offences including drunkenness, assault, wilful damage and night poaching. Finally he was sent to gaol for cutting down and stealing 86 small trees which he sold in Sheffield market for Christmas.
We have already transcribed the census returns for Totley, Totley Rise and Dore. Now we have transcribed Census Strays. These are people who were born in Totley but are missing from our earlier transcriptions. They may have been living, working or studying elsewhere or just away from home on the night the census was taken. Two people were in prison. Others were in Union Workhouses, hospitals and asylums. Fully indexed strays from the 1851, 1861, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses are available now.
We wish to thank Gillian Walker for allowing us to digitize an archive of material about the 1st Totley Scout Group. Most of the material was collected by Arthur Percival Birley in the period 1949-51 and there are many interesting documents pertaining to the building of the scout hut on Totley Hall Lane. In addition four Newsletters survive, two from the 1940s and two from 1971.
We are grateful to Angela Waite and All Saints' Parish Church for giving us access to baptismal and kindergarten birthday rolls dating from 1926 to 1941. We have transcribed the names, addresses, birthdates and baptismal dates and created an alphabetical index of entries for you to search.
Edmund Sanderson, a Sheffield estate agent, aquired the land on either side of the old drive to Totley Grove in 1874 and divided it into plots for development. He called it the Totley Brook Estate. But before many houses were built, the estate road was severed in two by the building of the Dore & Chinley Railway line. The eastern end of the road became the cul-de-sac we now call Grove Road.
John Roberts was born in Sheffield in 1798. He became a partner in one of the leading silversmiths firms in the city before moving to Abbeydale Park in 1851 and extending the house in Victorian gothic style. He paid for the building of St. John's Church and was believed to dispense more in charity than any other person in the neighbourhood including his protege Ebenezer Hall.
The Coke Family owned the Totley Hall Estate from 1791 to 1881. With the aid of a family tree to guide us, Josie Dunsmore takes us through the story of their tenure.
When the Rev. D'Ewes Coke inherited the Totley Hall Estate in 1791 it had two farms. Josie Dunsmore tells the story of how the two farms were combined under the tenancy of Peter Flint with the aid of field maps drawn by Flint himself and later by the Fairbanks family.
Do you think you recognize this face? More than sixty photographs of the girls and teachers at Hurlfield Grammar School for Girls in the 1940s were given to Totley History Group by Avril Critchley, who was herself a student at the school. The collection includes fifteen form photographs from June 1949. There would have been a number of girls from the Totley area attending the school in those days.
Christine Weaving tells the story of her 2 x great uncle George Edward Hukin, a Totley razor-grinder, and his life-long friendship with the academic, poet, writer, and free-thinker Edward Carpenter.
Eric Renshaw (pictured here on the right with Bob Carr) grew up and lived in Totley from 1932 to 1960. Many of his memories are of a sporting nature.
We are very grateful to Gordon Grayson for giving us this splendid sale document for the Norton Hall Estates, following the death in 1850 of Samuel Shore. The estates included a large part of Totley and the document has maps and illustrations, plus schedules of land and property with the names of tenants. We have also added a transcription of the entries for Totley and Dore.
Watch this Youtube video of the talk given by Dr. Mark Frost and Sally Goldsmith on Ruskin, Totley and St. George's Farm. The talk was hosted by Totley History Group on 20th May 2015 as part of the Ruskin in Sheffield programme. Also enjoy a video of the outdoor performance Boots, Fresh Air & Ginger Beer written by Sally.
When Jacqueline A. Gibbons became interested in what made her father tick, it began a journey through WW1 archive records and led to her flying from Toronto to visit the house and village where he lived and the countryside that he so much enjoyed. Jacqueline reminds us that in the early 20th century Sheffield was a driving force of industry and that Totley was the place where many of its remarkable people lived and where they formulated their ideas.
Edgar Wood was the designer of The Dingle, 172 Prospect Road, built in 1904 for Rev. William Blackshaw, the founder of the Croft House Settlement. The house, together with its western terrace and boundary walls, has now been awarded Grade II listed building status.
What was probably "the most perfect little garden railway in existence" in 1910 was to be found in the grounds of Brook House, Grove Road, the home of its designer and constructor, Guy Mitchell. Look at some wonderful photographs and read reports in newspapers and a full appreciation in Model Railways magazine.
We have now completed our transcription of Totley School's Admission Records for the period from 1877 to 1914. There is also a useful index to the names of the scholars and to their parents or guardians. We are very grateful to Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library for allowing us to transcribe and publish these records and for permission to reproduce the photograph of a specimen page of the register.
On 8, 9 and 11 November 2014 Totley History Group held an exhibition at Dore & Totley United Reformed Church to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Below are additional links to some of the photographs we were lent and stories we researched especially for the exhibition.
Oscar Creswick was a local farmer who served with the Army Service Corps in Salonika and who after the war returned to Totley to become the innkeeper of the Cricket Inn and a member of the village's successful tug of war team.
Walter Evans was a market gardener who also ran a small grocery shop on Hillfoot Road when war broke out. He fought with the Machine Gun Corps at the fourth battle of Ypres. After the war, Walter ran a grocers shop at the top of Main Avenue.
Fred Cartwright was another Totley soldier who survived the Great War. He fought in France and Belgium and although he wasn't wounded he was gassed and was home on sick leave when his daughter was delivered by Nurse Jessop during a snowstorm in January 1917.
Maurice Johnson joined the Yorkshire Dragoons, a territorial unit, on 1 Jan 1914 and so was called up at the very start of the war. He fought throughout the war on the Somme, at Ypres and at Cambrai. After demobilization in 1919 Maurice returned to his old occupation the steel industry.
Bill Glossop lent us a letter written by his father, William Walton Glossop to his wife describing life in the army during training in the north east of England and asking her to keep him in mind with the children.
The photo above provides a link to an album of photographs taken of WW1 Hospitals at St. John's, Abbeydale and the Longshaw Estate.
Nora Green, of Chapel Lane, was only 14 when war broke out. In 1914 she was ill with diphtheria and was sent to the isolation hospital at Holmley Lane, Dronfield. Nora recovered and wrote a letter of thanks to one of the hospital staff and the reply she received survives.
We have collected together on this page the names of local men who appear on various War Memorials and Rolls of Honour in Totley, Dore, Abbeydale and Norton.
Unfortunately we were unable to identify all the photographs we were lent of Totley Soldiers. Please take a look at this album to see if you recognize any of the missing names.
This walk visits locations that have strong associations with Totley during the First World War. It includes the homes of the ten soldiers from the village who lost their lives, the auxiliary hospitals, war memorials, and even the rifle range on which the soldiers trained. Take a look at the first draft of a new walk by the authors of "Totley War Memorial WW1 1914-1918"
As we have nowhere to exhibit memorabilia and artifacts, we have decided to create a Virtual Museum instead, starting with old bottles that were found under the floor of the Old Infant School. Please contact us by email if you would like to see the real thing or have things that you own and would like to see added to the virtual museum.
We wish to thank the Trustees of Cherrytree for giving us permission to publish transcriptions of the Cherrytree Orphanage Admissions Book entries for the years 1866-1929. There is also an alphabetical index for you to look at.
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.
Visitors since 24 Sep 2012: