Totley History Group
Totley History Group

The Shepley Spitfire

The Story Behind the Name

The 1979 Hardys & Hansons and 2010 Greene King pub signs

In 1978 a Nottinghamshire brewery, Hardys and Hansons, built a new public house on Mickley Lane. A competition was held to find a suitable name and the brewery chose that suggested by Seymour Shepley of Woodthorpe Hall, which lies a few hundred yards away in the parish of Holmesfield. This is the story behind the name, one that is both sad and inspiring.

 

The Shepley family came to Woodthorpe Hall in 1926. Jack and Emily Shepley had four sons, Seymour, Rex, Frank and Douglas, and a daughter, Jeanne. A fifth son, Peter, had died as a child. All four sons went to Oundle School in Northamptonshire and eventually both Rex and Douglas joined the pre-war Royal Air Force. Jeanne Shepley joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry when the possibility of war first cast its dark shadow in early 1939. On the outbreak of war, Frank joined the Sheffield Artillery Volunteers. Seymour, the oldest son, was in a reserved occupation.

Jeanne Shepley

Tragedy first struck the Shepley family in the early months of the war. Early in 1939 Jeanne had set off on an adventurous journey travelling by land and sea to India. On the outbreak of war Jeanne was determined to return home as soon as possible and she sailed on the SS Yorkshire from Rangoon. The ship arrived safely in Gibraltar and on 13 October 1939 it sailed for England as part of an unescorted merchant convoy.

 

On 17 October the ship was off the coast of France when it was struck by a torpedo and sank with the loss of 25 crew and 33 passengers, one of whom was Jeanne Shepley who was last seen helping other passengers to the lifeboats. The family still treasure the letters that Jeanne wrote home describing her adventures and the people she met. These were made into a book and privately published in 1948.

 

The Shepley brothers in the Spring of 1940. Left to right: Rex, Frank and Douglas.

 

On 31 May 1940 the Shepley family sustained a second loss when Rex was was shot down and killed whilst flying his Westland Lysander. He had been undertaking a series of missions to drop essential supplies to the troops who were grimly defending the port of Calais as the British Expeditionary Force were being rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his gallantry and this is still kept at the family home. Flt Lt Rex Shepley is buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Pihen-les-Guines, 10 kilometres south-south-west of Calais.

 

Plt Off Douglas Shepley in early 1940

 

In the early summer of 1940 Douglas Shepley had married Frances "Bidy" Linscott, a young nurse from Sidcup in Kent. Douglas was a Spitfire pilot in 152 Squadron stationed at Warmwell in Dorset and was one of "The Few" who fought in the Battle of Britain. He shot down two Messer-schmitt 109s, one on the 8th and the other on 11th of August. On 12 August the squadron was scrambled to defend Ventnor radar station on the Isle of Wight. Pilot Officer Douglas Shepley was last seen pursuing enemy raiders and was shot down over the English Channel, south of the island. His body was never recovered but he is commemorated on Panel 10 of the Runnymede Memorial near Windsor, one of 20,000 RAF aircrew with no known grave.

Three Shepley siblings remembered on WW2 memorial, Holmesfield Church

 

Devastated as the family were after losing three of their children, they decided to do something positive. Emily and her daughter-in-law Bidy set about raising £5,700 (over £300,000 in today's terms) to buy a new Spitfire. The people of north Derbyshire and south Yorkshire rallied round magnificently organising whist drives, concerts, dances and various other events. There were collections in local cinemas, pubs, theatres and shops and within fifteen weeks the money had been raised. 

 

The Shepley Spitfire Mk.Vb W3649

The Shepley was first flown on 1 August 1941 and was issued to 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron on 16 August. Shepley moved on to a Polish squadron and then to a New Zealand squadron before eventually becoming the personal aircraft of Group Captain Victor Beamish DSO DFC AFC, the Station Commander at RAF Kenley in Surrey in 1941. Sadly he too was shot down over the English Channel on 28 March 1942.

 

That is the story of courage and sacrifice that lies behind the name on our local pub.

 

 

We thank the Shepley Family for the use of family photographs and access to Jean Shepley's letters.

Douglas Shepley & MG P-type, MG 3880

Richard Verrill has seen our article on The Shepley Family of Woodthorpe Hall and has written to us from Northumberland with this interesting story about Douglas Shepley's car.

I am in the process of writing up my recollections of cars I have been associated with since my birth in 1946, my father’s records have led me to a Google search for Douglas Shepley.

 

In 1940 my father was a student at King’s College, Newcastle upon Tyne and persuaded my Grandfather to buy a wrecked P type MG, I understand from my father’s notes that the car had belonged to a Flt Lt Douglas Shepley and she had been borrowed by another RAF pilot who unfortunately had driven the car into the back of a tramcar as it was being prepared in the dark for a return journey into the city. Father’s note goes on to report that both pilots had been killed on active duty.

 

Reading “The Story Behind The Name” THE SHEPLEY SPITFIRE put shivers down my spine.

 

My father also went to Oundle probably a year or two later than the Shepleys, I have no idea whether he knew that when he acquired MG 3880. I note from the photograph that Douglas was a Pilot Officer not Flt Lt.

 

Father rebuilt MG 3880, she figured in the courtship and marriage to my mother before he joined the Fleet Air Arm, seeing active duty in the Far East before returning home when I was  born and spent many an hour in a carrycot in the back of the little two-seater car.

 

Here is an image of MG 3880 in Bamburgh, Northumberland after the rebuild in 1940.

The rebuilt MG 3880 in Bamburgh in 1940 The rebuilt MG 3880 in Bamburgh in 1940
My father always regretted selling MG 3880 and in the early 70s he brought another wreck that I inherited in 1990 and am now hoping to finish the rebuild he started some 40 odd years ago.

 

MG 3880 seems to have disappeared and I live in hope that one day she will be found. I am also hoping the MG Car Club can give me further details from their Abingdon factory records but I would be most interested to learn if there are any photographs or recollections of the car in Shepley hands.    

 

Yours sincerely 

Richard M. S. Verrill

August 2015

We hope that Dick Shepley may be able to add more to this intriguing story.

Latest News

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. 

Then 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 over 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.

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 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.

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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