Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Thomas Oliver - Tunnel Builder

Thomas Oliver

Thomas Oliver was one of the two contractors who built the Dore & Chinley Railway, the other being J.B. Edwards of Chester. It was Thomas who built the first ten and a half miles of track between Dore & Totley and Hope stations, including the whole of the Totley tunnel.

 

Thomas Oliver was born in 1834 in Lowton, near Newton le Willows in Lancashire, the fifth son and seventh child of Cuthbert Oliver, a railway contractor from Allendale, Northumberland and his wife Ann (nee Crow).

 

By the time of the 1841 Census, the family had moved to Hasland, Chesterfield, and Thomas's parents were to remain there for the rest of their lives, becoming quite wealthy land and property owners.  Like his father and his older brother Edward, Thomas established himself as an engineer and contractor, specialising in large civil engineering projects, especially those connected with the emerging railway network.

Thomas served his apprenticeship under Charles Bartholomew in Doncaster. Bartholomew was the engineer in charge of improving the navigation of the River Don and also the engineer to South Yorkshire, Doncaster and Goole Railway. In January 1854, at the age of 19, Thomas Oliver married Caroline Jane Lenn Gichard in York. She was four years older than Thomas, the youngest of six children born to William Michael Gichard, a Cornish gentleman of independent means, and his wife Elizabeth. Their first child, Cuthbert Wallace Oliver was born towards the end of the same year in Masborough, Rotherham.

 

Shortly after, Thomas was engaged to work for two and a half years to John Towlerton Leather on the improvement of the River Nene Navigation between Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Northamptonshire. Mr Leather was later to become infamous when, as the Consulting Engineer for the Sheffield Water Works Company, he prepared the plans and specifications for the Dale Dyke Reservoir which broke its embankment on the night of 11th/12th March 1864 causing the great "Sheffield Flood" with the loss of around 240 lives.

 

A second child, Thomas William Nene Oliver, was born in Wisbech in the first quarter of 1856. The following year Thomas began working for Edward Woods as the Resident Engineer in charge of the work to build the tracks in Sussex around Petworth, Midhurst and Horsham; the Shrewsbury to Welshpool line; and the Horsham to Guildford line. The Olivers had moved to Horsham in 1857 and were living at West Parade at the time of the 1861 Census. Thomas must have become quite successful because also living with him were a nephew, niece and sister-in-law, supported by a governess and two general servants. His elder son, Cuthbert, died in 1863 at age 8, but two more children were to be born soon after, Caroline Ann in 1863 and Frederick Lenn in 1866.  

 

Edward Woods proposed Thomas's application to become an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, in 1865, after which Thomas began working on his own account as a railway contractor. He was awarded a contract from the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway to add a second line between Coulsdon and Earlswood.

 

Caroline Oliver

 

Thomas Oliver won a contract valued at almost £150,000 to build a railway from Mansfield to Worksop and work began in June 1870. In the same year he bought Tanbridge House, off Worthing Road, in Horsham and was living there at the time of the 1871 Census when, aged 37, his occupation was recorded as "railway contractor employing about 950 men".  Later the same year, another daughter Mary Helen was born.  In 1875 Thomas secured a lucrative contract to build the Bennerley and Bulwell railway in Nottinghamshire, including the boring of the 151 yard Watnall tunnel. Also in 1875 work began on the Swadlincote loop in Derbyshire including two tunnels at Midway (104 yards) and Woodville (307 yards). In 1878 Thomas Oliver contracted to build and manage the line from Chichester to Midhurst.

 

Tanbridge House, Worthing Road, Horsham

In the 1881 Census Thomas's occupation is shown as "civil engineer and railway contractor employing 918 men" plus a "farmer employing 6 men, 2 boys and 2 women." Tanbridge House was a substantial property, but the Olivers had it demolished and rebuilt on an even grander scale in 1887.

Tanbridge House doorway
 

Above the door is a Latin inscription which reads "AD FOEDERA CRESCO", meaning "I gain by treaty" or "I grow for treaties". On the front of the building is the Oliver crest of a fist clenching an olive branch, together with the entwined initials T, C & O representing Thomas and his wife Caroline Oliver. To service the new building, the Olivers were employing seven servants by 1891.

Oliver Crest, Tanbridge House

From 1888 to 1894, there are numerous references in the Sheffield and north Derbyshire newspapers to Thomas Oliver during the building of the 6,230 yard Totley Tunnel. Some are in relation to the outbreak of smallpox amongst the navvies, their safety and welfare, and also to damage and obstruction to roads. But not all reports were bad. In a detailed and highly factual report on progress, the Sheffield Independent of 8 June 1889 reported that Totley Grove Hall was unoccupied and being "done up" and that Thomas Oliver intended to reside there; meantime his son, T. W. N. Oliver was representing him on the spot. The article went on to praise Thomas for his efforts to minimise the impact of the influx of over 600 navvies and their families on the local area:

 

 
 
 
Mr. Oliver, the contractor, has provided accommodation for his men by erecting picturesque looking huts at Totley Bents and elswhere; he has enlarged the village school, so that the children might attend and be educated; and he has provided a mission hall for the adults, and contemplates further erections of the same character.

 

The full article, and more than a dozen others, on the construction of the eastern section of the Dore and Chinley Line, are to be found in our Newspaper Archive and make fascinating reading. They give detailed accounts of the enormous difficulties that were presented to the contractor and overcome by the skill and determination of the engineers, first amongst whom was Percy Rickard.

 

The tunnel opened for goods traffic on 6 November 1893 and for passenger traffic on 16 May 1894 and the project was deemed to be an enormous success. The Midland Railway made what has been described as an outstandingly generous settlement to Thomas Oliver & Sons, who even received an extra £14,500 unsolicited award in recognition of unprofitable work on a quarter of the length of the tunnel. 

 

Soon after the Totley Tunnel was completed, Thomas Oliver & Sons won a contract for building a 15 mile section of the new London to Sheffield line which was to include a 2,997 yard tunnel at Catesby in Northamptonshire. The first shaft was sunk on 18 Feb 1895 and the tunnel was completed by 27 May 1897, progress being greatly enhanced by the use of "steam navvies", which Thomas had previously used successfully at Totley and in the construction of a reservoir and filtering beds at Barrow Gurney near Bristol. 

Thomas Oliver gravestone and memorial window, Horsham

Although they retained Tanbridge House, Thomas and Caroline spent their later years living in Hove, Sussex. Caroline died of cancer in 1904 but Thomas outlived his oldest remaining son. He died on the 8 October 1920 at Abington in Lanarkshire aged 86. He is buried in Denne Road graveyard in Horsham where there is a family stone.

 

His children paid for a window in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity at the nearby Parish Church of St Mary. The single lancet window is of a bearded figure of Christ made up of stained and painted glass. Installed in 1924, it was designed by Frederick Etchells who noted that "the glass is designed with a minimum of colour in order not to obscure the light in the chapel".

 

Also near Worthing Road is Oliver Road, named in his memory.  

 

Photos of the Olivers, and the Horsham part of this history: Hidden Horsham 

Memorial window, Church of St. Mary, The Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex

Thomas Oliver in Public Records

Births, Marriage's and Deaths

Name  Event  Place Registration Date  Age

Caroline Jane Lenn 

Gichard (wife)

Birth

Little Colan, St Columb, Cornwall

abt. 1830  
Thomas Oliver Birth

Lowton, Newton le Willows, Lancashire

22 Mar 1834  
Thomas Oliver Baptism

Winwick, Lancashire

29 Apr 1834  
Thomas Oliver and Caroline Jane Lenn Gichard Marriage

York, Yorkshire

27 Jan 1854  

Cuthbert Wallace Oliver

(son)

Birth

Masboro, Rotherham, Yorkshire

Oct-Dec 1854  

Thomas William Nene Oliver (son)

Birth

Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

Jan-Mar 1856  

Francis Gibbon Oliver

(son)

Birth

Horsham, Sussex

Jul-Sep 1861  

Cuthbert Wallace Oliver

(son)

Death

Horsham, Sussex

2 Jan

1863

 8

Caroline Ann Oliver

(daug.)

Birth

Horsham, Sussex

Jul-Sep 1863  

Frederick Lenn Oliver

(son)

Birth

Horsham, Sussex

Jul-Sep 1866  

Mary Helen Oliver

(daug.)

Birth

Horsham, Sussex

Oct-Dec 1871  

Caroline Jane Lenn

Oliver (wife)

Death

Horsham, Sussex

15 May 1904  74
Thomas William Nene Oliver (son) Death

Steyning, Sussex

Oct-Dec 1915  61
Thomas Oliver Death

Gilberscleugh, Abingdon, Lanarkshire

8  Oct 1920  86
Thomas Oliver Burial

Denne Road graveyard, Horsham, Sussex

13 Oct 1920  

Francis Gibbon Oliver

(son)

Death

Elham, Kent

Jul-Sep 1927 66

Caroline Ann Tonge, nee Oliver (daug.)

Death

Tonbridge, Kent

Oct-Dec 1939 77

Frederick Lenn Oliver

(son)

Death

Newton Abbot, Devon

Jan-Mar 1942 75

Mary Helen Savill, nee

Oliver (daug.)

Death

Uckfield, Sussex

Jul-Sep 1963 91

 

 

 

1841 Census, Stony Bridge, Hasland, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Name Age/Born Occupation Born in County

Cuthbert

Oliver 

53

c. 1788

railway contractor

No

Edward

Oliver

15

c. 1826

railway contractor

No

John Oliver

12

c. 1829

 

No

Mary Oliver

9

c. 1832

 

 

No 

Thomas Oliver

7

c. 1834

 

No

Phoebe Oliver

4

c. 1837

 

No

Mary Cook

32

c. 1809

female servant

No

 

 

 

1851 Census, White Bank House, Hasland, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Cuthbert

Oliver 

Head  

 

Married  

 

63

c. 1788

proprietors of houses and land

Northumberland, Allendale

Ann

Oliver

Wife 

 

Married 

 

56

c. 1795

 

Durham, Hamsterley

Thomas Oliver

Son 

Unmarried 

17

c. 1834 

engineer

Lancashire, Lowton

Mary Ann Oliver

Daug. 

Unmarried 

19

c. 1832

 

 

Lancashire, Lowton 

Elizabeth Rigby Visitor

Married 

36

c. 1815

 

Durham, Witton

William Rigby

Visitor

Married 

40

c. 1811

railway contractor 

Lancashire, Lowton

Ann Redfearn Servant

Unmarried 

25

c. 1850

house servant

Derbyshire, Alderwasley

Sarah Hardy

Servant Unmarried

19

c. 1832

house servant

Derbyshire, Findern

.

 

1861 Census, West Parade, Horsham, Sussex

Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas

Olliver 

Head  

 

Married  

 

27

c. 1834

civil engineer

Lancashire,

Lowton near Newton le Willows

Caroline Jane Lenn

Oliver

Wife 

 

Married 

 

31

c. 1830

 

Cornwall,

Little Colan

near St.

Columb

Cuthbert Wallace Oliver

Son

 

6

c. 1855

scholar

 

Yorkshire,

Masbro' 

Thos. Wm. Nene Oliver Son

 

5

c. 1856

 scholar

Cambs.,

Wisbech

Maria Merrifield

Sister in law

Married 

49

c. 1812

cook 

Cornwall, ?,

St Austell

Ann Merrifield Niece

Unmarried 

9

c. 1852

 

Cornwall, ?,

St Austell

Matthew Oliver Nephew

Unmarried

17

c. 1944

pupil

Yorshire,

Masbro'

Marian Birch Governess

Unmarried

24

c. 1837

governess

Shropshire, Shrewsbury
Marian Napper Servant

Unmarried

20

c. 1841

general servant

Sussex,

Horsham

Elizabeth Balchin

Servant

Unmarried

18

c. 1843

general servant

Sussex

Loxwood

 

 

1861 Census, White Bank House, Hasland, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Cuthbert

Oliver 

Head  

 

Married  

 

73

c. 1788

railway contractor retired

Northumberland, Allendale

Ann

Oliver

Wife 

 

Married 

 

66

c. 1795

 

Durham, Linesack

Mary Ann Oliver

Daug. 

Unmarried 

29

c. 1832

 

 

Lancashire, Lowton 

Elizabeth Page Visitor

Married 

22

c. 1839

 

Surrey, Croydon

Mary Minn

Servant

Married 

26

c. 1835

cook 

Derbyshire, Stainsby

Elizabeth Minn Servant

Unmarried 

21

c. 1840

general servant

Derbyshire, Stainsby

 

 

 

 

 

1871 Census, Tanbridge House, Worthing Road, Horsham, Sussex

Old Tanbridge House, Worthing Road, Horsham, Sussex
Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas

Oliver

 

Head 

 

 

Married 

 

 

37

c. 1834

 

railway contractor employing about 950 men

Lancashire, Newton le Willows 

Caroline

Oliver

Wife 

 

Married 

 

40

c. 1831

 

Cornwall, St. Columb 

Caroline Annie

Oliver

Daug.

 

 

 

 

 

8

c. 1863

 

 

 

 

Sussex, Horsham

Frank Lenn Oliver

Son

 

 

 

4

c. 1867

 

 

Sussex, Horsham  

Charlotte Rhodes Servant

Unmarried 

27

c. 1844

 

Sussex,

Shipley

Matlilda Jenkins

Servant

Unmarried 

24

c. 1847

 

Sussex,

Rusper

Emily Berned? Servant

Unmarried 

21

c. 1850

 

Sussex, Horsham

Joseph Besam?

Servant Unmarried

22

c. 1849

groom

Yorkshire, Wentworth

 

 

 

 

 

1881 Census, Tanbridge, Worthing Road, Horsham, Sussex

Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas

Oliver

 

 

Head

 

 

 

Married

 

 

 

47

c. 1834 

 

 

civil engineer & railway contractor employing 918 men; farmer employing 6 men, 2 boys and 2 women

Lancashire, Lowton

 

 

Caroline Jane Lenn Oliver

Wife 

 

Married 

 

49

c. 1832 

 

Cornwall, St. Columb 

Thomas William Nene Oliver

Son

 

 

Unmarried 

 

 

25

c. 1856 

 

civil engineer 

 

 

Cambs.,

Wisbech 

Frank Gibbon Oliver

Son

 

Unmarried 

 

19

c. 1862 

brewer's pupil

 

Sussex, Horsham  

Caroline Annie Oliver

Daug. 

 

Unmarried 

 

17

c. 1864 

 

Sussex, Horsham

Mary Helen

Oliver

Daug. 

 

Unmarried 

 

9

c. 1872

 

Sussex, Horsham 

Edward Lawrence  

Unmarried 

22

c. 1859

gardener 

Sussex,

Shipley

Lucy Pullen

 

Unmarried 

28

c. 1853

domestic servant 

Sussex, Petworth
Fanny Lovekins  

Unmarried 

20

c. 1861

domestic servant 

Sussex, Horsham

Sarah

Mills

  Unmarried

19

c. 1862

domestic servant 

Sussex,

Slinfold

Kate Voller  

Unmarried 

16

c. 1865

domestic servant

Sussex,

Plaistow

 

 

 

1891 Census, Tanbridge, Worthing Road, Horsham, Sussex

Tanbridge House, Tanbridge Park, Worthing Road, Horsham, West Sussex
Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas

Oliver

Head Married

57

c. 1834

civil engineer & contractor for public works

Lancashire, Lowton

Caroline J. Oliver

Wife

 

Married

61

c. 1830

 

Cornwall, Little Colan

Frank G. Oliver

Son Single

29

c. 1862

brewer

Sussex, Horsham 

Frederick L. Oliver Son Single

24

c. 1867

civil engineer Sussex, Horsham
Mary E. Oliver Daug. Single

19

c. 1872

  Sussex, Horsham
Annie M. Rawlison Visitor Single

52

c. 1839

living on own means Sussex, Horsham

Eliza Watts

Servant Single

26

c. 1865

general servant Surrey, Ewell
Annie Parker Servant Single

17

c. 1874

general servant Sussex, Horsham
Emma Branch Servant Single

21

c. 1870

general servant  Sussex, Warnham
Mary A. Hillier Servant Single

32

c. 1859

general servant Surrey, Albury

Thurizh Mitchell

Servant Single

46

c. 1845

general servant Sussex Storrington
Emma Mitchell Servant Single

24

c. 1867

general servant Sussex, Fittleworth
Lucy Pullen Servant Single

37

c. 1854

general servant Sussex, Petworth

 

 

 

1891 Census, Gordon Lodge, Leigh Woods, Long Ashton, Somerset

Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas W N Oliver

Head Married

35

c. 1856

civil engineer 

Cambs.,

Wisbeach

Florence C. Oliver

Wife

 

Married

31

c. 1860

 

Sussex,

Brighton

Ruby F. Oliver

Daug.  

9

c. 1882

 

Bedfordshire, Bedford

Violet C. Oliver Daug.  

7

c. 1884

  Bedfordshire, Bedford
Thomas F. Oliver Son  

4

c. 1887

 

Gloucs.,

Clifton

Arthur W. G. Oliver Son  

2

c. 1889

l

Gloucs.,

Clifton

Ellen C. Philpot

  Single

33

c. 1858

governess

Middlesex,

London

Maggie Hendrie Servant Single

26

c. 1865

cook

Scotland,

Mickle Falls, Warthill

Mary Fitzgerald Servant Single

27

c. 1864

housemaid

Ireland,

Wexford

Charlotte Young Servant Single

20

c. 1871

kitchen maid

Somerset,

Portbury

Annie Parsons

Servant Single

22

c. 1869

nurse

Somerset,

Churchill

Mahala Stanton Servant Single

26

c. 1865

parlour maid

Somerset,

Clapton

 

 

 

1901 Census, 28 Adelaide Crescent, Hove, Sussex

20-38 (consec. r-l) Adelaide Crescent, Hove, Sussex; the Olivers occupied No. 28
Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas

Oliver

Head Married

67

c. 1834

civil engineer & railway contractor

Lancashire, Newton le Willows

Caroline J. L. Oliver

Wife

 

Married

70

c. 1831

 

Cornwall, Little Colan

Caroline A. Tonge

Daur. Married

37

c. 1864

 

Sussex, Horsham 

Iris M. E. Woolley Grand-daur. Single

17

c. 1884

  Middlesex, London
Mary F. Rose Servant Married

34

c. 1867

hospital nurse Russia, Moscow
Joseph Stringer Servant Married

55

c. 1846

butler Armagh, Tynan

Isabella

Laird

Servant Single

29

c. 1872

cook Aberdeen, New Aberness?
Fanny Williams Servant Single

34

c. 1867

house maid Sussex, Pagham
Fanny Peters Servant Single

28

c. 1873

house maid  Sussex, Horsham
Minnie Parr Servant Single

29

c. 1872

lady's maid Essex, Hadfield

Rose Yaxley

Servant Single

23

c. 1878

lady's maid Norfolk, Barton Turf
Charlotte Sadler Servant Single

24

c. 1877

parlour maid Sussex, Horsham
Annie E. Jupp Servant Single

20

c. 1881

kitchen maid Sussex, Roffey
Nellie Parker Servant Single

18

c. 1883

scullery maid Sussex, Horsham
Edwin G. Gasson Servant Single

19

c. 1882

footman Berkshire, Reading

 

 

 

1901 Census, Meads, Cuckfield, Sussex

Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas W N Oliver

Head Married

44

c. 1857

civil engineer and railway contractor 

Cambs.,

Wisbeach

Florence C. Oliver

Wife

 

Married

39

c. 1862

 

Sussex, Brighton

Ruby F. Oliver

Daug. Single 

18

c. 1883

 

Bedfordshire, Bedford

Violet C. Oliver Daug. Single 

17

c. 1884

  Bedfordshire, Bedford
Barbara Staply Niece  

12

c. 1889

  Yorkshire, Sheffield 
Helena Coith Boarder Single

34

c. 1867

  Saxony, German subject

 

C. Lewarne

 

Servant  Single

37

c. 1864

lady's maid

Cornwall,

Bodmin

Eleanor Gaze Servant Single

28

c. 1873

cook London, Islington
Leah Mulford Servant Single

45

c. 1856

housemaid Berkshire
Elizabeth Kinipple Servant Single

21

c. 1880

kitchen maid

Essex,

Forest Gate

Elizabeth Henty

Servant Single

29

c. 1872

parlour maid Sussex, Cowfold
F. L. Oliver Visitor Single

34

c. 1867

civil engineer and railway contractor Sussex, Horsham

 

 

 

1911 Census, 3 Brunswick Terrace, Hove, Sussex

1-6 (consec. r-l) Brunswick Terrace, Hove, Sussex; the Olivers occupied No.3
Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas

Oliver

Head Widower

77

c. 1834

private

means

Lancashire, Newton le Willows

Frederick Lenn

Oliver

Son

 

Single 

44

c. 1867

railway contractor

Sussex,

Horsham

Mary Jane

Roberts

Lady help Widow

66

c. 1845

 

Sussex, Slinfold

 

Thomas Southgate Servant Single

62

c. 1849

butler Norfolk, West Raynham
Harriet Southgate Servant Married

60

c. 1851

cook Sussex, Balcombe
Fanny Williams Servant Married

44

c. 1867

house maid Sussex, Pagham
Edith Mary Taylor Servant Single

32

c. 1879

parlour maid Sussex, Southwater
Fanny Peters Servant Single

34

c. 1877

2nd house maid  Sussex, Horsham
Susan Jane Merrik Servant Single

25

c. 1886

kitchen maid Sussex, Rusper

Sidney

Ousley

Servant Single

31

c. 1880

groom Devon, Upton Pyne

 

 

 

1911 Census, 26 Brunswick Terrace, Hove, Sussex

20-32 (consec. r-l) Brunswick Terrace, Hove, Sussex; the Olivers occupied No. 26
Name Relation Condition Age/Born Occupation Birthplace

Thomas William Nene Oliver

Head Married

54

c. 1857

civil engineer and railway contractor 

Cambs.,

Wisbeach

Florence Charlotte Oliver

Wife

 

Married

50

c. 1861

 

Sussex, Brighton

Violet Caroline Steply Oliver Daug. Single 

27

c. 1884

  Bedfordshire, Bedford
Thomas Frederick Oliver Son Single

24

c. 1887

 

Gloucs.,

Bristol Clifton 

Lilian Rose Spriggs Servant Single

20

c. 1891

under parlourmaid

Kent,

River, Dover

 

Daisy Violet Marchant

 

Servant  Single

20

c. 1891

housemaid

Kent,

Bexley

Elizabeth Treags Servant Single

19

c. 1892

kitchen maid London, Greenwich
Annie Bertha Chittenden Servant Single

17

c. 1894

betweenmaid India, Jotogh
Emma Jane Bearsman Servant Single

39

c. 1872

housemaid

Kent,

Maidstone

Ellen Peto

Servant Single

38

c. 1873

parlour maid

Kent,

Woking

Isabella Cheyne Servant Single

40

c. 1871

cook and housekeeper

Aberdeen

-shire, Turriff

Jack Snelling Servant Single

23

c. 1888

chauffeur London, Shepherds Bush

 

 

 

Index of Wills and Administrations

OLIVER Thomas of Tanbridge Horsham Sussex died 8 October 1920 at Gilkerscleough Abington Lanarkshire Probate London 8 November to Francis Gibbon Oliver Frederick Lenn Oliver and Henry Savill esquires.

Effects £165,000

Latest News

On Wednesday 28th June, we welcome back Ann Beedham whose talk is called Days of Sunshine and Rain: Peak District Rambling in the 1920s, with words and photographs from the life of George Willis Marshall who was a keen walker and who took lots of photos in the 1920s and 1930s as he wandered the hills of Derbyshire with his friends. They were pioneers of the ‘right to roam’ and took part in the famous Kinder Trespass of 1932. The meeting is in Totley Library beginning at 7.30 p.m.

 

On Wednesday 26th July Alan Powell will tells us about The History of Newspapers in Sheffield. Alan is a former Editor of the Sheffield Telegraph and The Star newspapers and had a career of more than 44 years in journalism in Sheffield. The meeting as usual is in Totley Library beginning at 7.30 p.m. Non-members are welcome.

 

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.

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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