Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Meetings in 2018


Sphagnum Moss: A Harvest of Healing
Wednesday 24th October 2018


Because of building work at Totley Library, our October meeting was held in the United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road. Our guest speaker was Thelma Griffiths who had helped us with our World War I exhibition at the same location in November 2014.

Sphagnum moss stand at our World War 1 exhibition, November 2014 Sphagnum moss stand at our World War 1 exhibition, November 2014

During World War I they were struggling with dressing the soldiers’ wounds and needed something to keep them clear of infection. Sphagnum moss had been used for centuries to bind wounds as it has the power to mop up large quantities of blood and it also has antiseptic qualities. To make the dressings they layered the moss with absorbent cotton and gauze. The soldiers’ wounds were stuffed with the moss and it was also put on their skin.


The advantages of using moss instead of cotton were that it was lighter and cooler and at least twice as absorbtive. The best type of moss can hold twenty times its own weight of liquid before dripping. Blood was absorbed in the whole dressing before it needed changing so saved nurses time and avoided soiling the bedclothes.  


Sphagnum moss was also used for sanitary towels, dysentery pads for the soldiers, soaps for shaving and for canines for their coats. It was used in hospitals as a disinfectant. Dead bodies were even packed in moss to keep them fresh.


There are over a hundred types of sphagnum moss and several types were gathered and put to use for different purposes depending on the moss's particular qualities. It was also added to swimming pools to avoid using chlorine, however, there were reports that this was not successful.


Outings were organised with women, children, scouts and guides to collect the moss. It was hard work as the ground was often wet. There was no resistance from landowners for collecting it. It was squeeze dried and then laid out to dry. Overseas the moss was compressed to make transportation easier. The British Government purchased bulk amounts of garlic bulbs for sterilisation use. The United States and Canada produced millions of dressings and used large expanses of drying racks. Students at their universities were expected to spend two hours per week making dressings.

VAD nurse Doris Emma Elliott VAD nurse Doris Emma Elliott

Longshaw Lodge was used as a convalescent hospital during the war and volunteers would go on the moors to collect a healing harvest of moss, the Derbyshire moors being particularly good for it to grow as it likes a damp, boggy, cold environment. At one National Trust event, Thelma came across a lady whose grandmother, Doris Emma Elliott, had worked at Longshaw as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse in 1918 when she was 20 years old. When they went for walks on the moors Doris would recall to her granddaughter how she had helped gather moss to make dressings for the wounded.


After the end of World War I the collection of the moss was reduced as it was very labour intensive. During World War II its usage increased again but not to such high levels as in the first war. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were photographed collecting the moss! It’s use declined as cotton was imported and used as cotton wool. In the last twenty years a large area of moorland has been cultivated with the moss and it has thrived and it has increased its growth covering which shows how well it can be cultivated for the future. 


Thelma was thanked for a fascinating talk about how the moss had had a major role worldwide and how there is regeneration for its use in the coming years. 




An Exploration of the Life of Ebenezer Hall
Wednesday 26th September 2018


A large audience gathered in Totley Library on Wednesday, 26th September when our two speakers told us all about Ebenezer Hall. Pauline Burnett gave us a talk about his life and Ted Hancock let us know about his involvement in the local railway line.

Ebenezer Hall, portrait by Joseph Herbert Bentley R.B.A. Ebenezer Hall, portrait by Joseph Herbert Bentley

Ebenezer Hall was born in 1820 near Cromford, Derbyshire. He was educated at the Richard Arkwright School at Cromford where they had six hours of education and six hours of working per day. Ebenezer was picked out as a bright student in his early teens, and was chosen by John Roberts, a silversmith in Sheffield, to be his apprentice. John Roberts had no children and was looking for someone to take over his business. 


In 1841 the census showed Ebenezer as a manager and traveller selling goods across the country. In 1847 he was offered a partnership by Roberts and the business was called Roberts and Hall.


By the 1850s John Roberts was thinking of retiring and he purchased Abbeydale Villa and the land around it, Abbeydale Park. He extended Abbeydale Villa and it became what is now known as Abbeydale Hall. 


Throughout the 1850s some of Ebenezer’s brothers and cousins joined him in the silversmith business. The silversmith factory was on Broad Street and was an impressive building. Examples of their fine silverware are an enamelled knife that was recently on ebay for £100 and a tea service that was for sale in a London antique shop for £5,000. In 1857 there was a big fire at the hall, parts of it were damaged, it was insured for £600 and Ebenezer repaired it at a cost of £1300. Ebenezer also bought Brinkburn Grange and Greenoak House and let them out to businessmen and also bought other land in the area as it became available. 


John Roberts felt that as the area around the Dore and Totley station developed it needed a church and he built St John’s Church. There is a window dedicated in the church to John Roberts’ wife who died before the church could be consecrated. Ebenezer was seen as Roberts’ son and heir. Ebenezer married Sarah Wilkinson who was Roberts’ housekeeper and the cousin of Roberts’s wife. Ebenezer and Sarah married in London and honeymooned possibly in Eastbourne and later travelled to Australia as a business trip. 


Abbeydale Hall in 1922 Abbeydale Hall in 1922

On their return John Roberts sold the hall to Ebenezer and within a year Ebenezer became a JP, as a JP you needed to own your own home with a value exceeding £1,000, Abbeydale was valued at £3,000. The business became a limited company and this meant Ebenezer could pursue other interests, his strengths were business directorships. In the 1870s and 1880s he had business interests in gas companies, the Sheffield and Rotherham Bank and a mining company. 


He heard about the building of the Dore and Chinley railway line and did not like the look of their plans. The extension of the railway would bring more people to the area to live, around this time housing was being built on and around Dore Road. Travellers also used the line to visit the countryside. In 1884 the Midland produced a prospectus for the Dore and Chinley Railway to build a line to Chinley and Chapel En Le Frith. Ebenezer decided he would petition against the line. 


The Select Committee met in March 1864. He attended and objected to the noise and annoyance the trains would cause and that the line would be over his land, he wanted a tunnel building, which would be a huge expense to the rail company and would also mean trains would be standing in the tunnel due to the location of the junction. The rail company offered instead to build him a screen. Ebenezer also objected saying the proposed line affected his two reservoirs and his Old Hay Trout stream, the rail company said they would divert the line around the stream and this his reservoirs were mill dams. A bridge was built for Ebenezer over the line so he could reach his land, it was a tall bridge with three arches, in 1920 the bridge was removed, however, we don’t know why this is, and we unfortunately have no picture of it. 


On 26 June 1864 an agreement was reached with Ebenezer that where the line passed through his land it would be diverted away from the dam and an embankment would be constructed and planted with trees. Ebenezer was a very detailed, determined man and stuck to his argument with the committee to reach a conclusion he could agree to. 

Plaque in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Abbeydale. Plaque in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Abbeydale.

In later years he was a keen fisherman, he was on the Board for The Cherry Tree Orphanage, he supported the church at Wirksworth, he spread his money around for many good causes. He left the equivalent of around £30 million in today’s terms when he died in 1911 aged 90 years, his wife continued to live at the hall. In his will he gave a lump sum to various local churches and set up many trusts. He is buried at The General Cemetery. Ebenezer adopted Sheffield and Totley for a large part of his life and what he did benefited many people during his lifetime and for today. 


Pauline and Ted were thanked for a very interesting and educational talk. 



Discovering the History of Gillfield Wood

Wednesday 25th July 2018


The August meeting of the Totley History Group took the form of a walk in Gillfield Wood, exploring the history of this ancient woodland. The well-attended walk was led by Paul Hancock and Kevin Walker of the Friends of Gillfield Wood


Paul began by giving us a a brief outline of the documented history of the wood which was named as far back as 1086 in the Domesday Book. It was described as "wood pasturable, one mile in length and half a mile in breadth". In 1561 Cameron's Placenames of Derbyshire referred to it as "a springe wood called Jyll Felde." A "spring wood" meant that it was coppiced for timber. Paul then explained that the hedgerow surveys that have been done in the nearby area suggest that the fields around the wood are at least medieval and this indicates that areas were being cleared for agriculture by this time. 

Standing stones in Totley Brook Standing stones in Totley Brook

We were taken to see some of the sites on the Totley Brook where there are groups of three standing stones whose purpose remains a mystery. The most likely explanation is that they were used to reduce the silt and debris from reaching the mill dam at Totley Rise. 


Gillfield Wood was a working environment until well into the 19th century and we were shown "Q-pits" where "white coal" was made. This was a form of dried wood which burned at a lower temperature than charcoal and was perfect for smelting lead. There are a number of small quarries in the area also where the local rock known as Greenmoor Stone was extracted and used for building field and riverbank walls. From the late 19th century the wood became more of a pleasure ground for the families who owned it - the D'Ewes Coke family and then from 1884 the Milners.

Q-Pit in Gillfield Woods Q-Pit in Gillfield Woods

In 1945 the wood was sold to Sheffield City Council. The wood had been felled during the Second World War but in the 1960s the Estates Department of the City Council replanted it with American oak and larch.


This was a most interesting and enjoyable walk in spite of the heat and we are grateful to Paul and Kevin for taking us to areas that we wouldn't normally see and for explaining their historical importance to us.


Below is a handout that was given to us, courtesy of the Friends of Gillfield Wood, whose website is at:

Revealing Gillfield Wood -Guided Walk Handout
by Friends of Gillfield Wood
Revealing Gillfield Wood - Guided Walk h[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [461.5 KB]




The History of Chatsworth Gardens

Wednesday, 27th June 2018

Our speaker on Wednesday, 27th June was Rachel Parkin who talked to us about the history of Chatsworth Gardens. In 1549 Elizabeth and William Cavendish bought the land where Chatsworth was built, it is believed there was a small manor house in existence on this land when they purchased it. The original Chatsworth was Elizabethan, building started in Tudor times, Elizabeth project managed the building of the house whilst William travelled all over the country supervising the dissolution of the monasteries. The hunting lodge existed at this time along with the fish lakes and the dower house where Queen Mary stayed during her seven visits to Chatsworth. The rest of the estate was mainly gardens. The turnpike road to reach Chatsworth was via Edensor.


Bess married another two times after William died. She had nine children, six survived, these children were with William. Their second son inherited Chatsworth who bought the title Earl of Devonshire as there was already an Earl of Derbyshire, so a title was created for him.


The great great grandson of Bess and William was the 4th Earl of Devonshire, in the 1680s he was one of the main members of the group who invited William of Orange and his wife Mary to depose King James II. This was a great success and as an honour was given the title of the 1st Duke of Devonshire.


He decided Chatsworth needed improvements so it could be a great showcase to visitors, most of the house was rebuilt and designed in baroque style. He rebuilt the gardens, kept the hunting tower and fish lakes. He made 20 different fountains that fed from the lakes at the top of the hill. There was not sufficient water to run the fountains constantly so it was only enabled as visitors arrived, the current fountains still use the lakes for water and use is restricted particularly during dry periods of weather. The Tudor gardens were made of coloured soil from dust from bricks, coal and marble and laid in patterns, these could be viewed from the first floor windows. As the variety of plants improved the patterns were done in plants and the grass cut in the shape of the crest Full time gardeners were employed and garden tourists visited the gardens. These visitors were the wealthy, the water features were designed that water could come out of the floor , one visitor wrote that a visit wasn’t complete without getting wet!! The garden cascade had 24 steps and the steps were carved differently so the water flowed at different angles. The cascade house when operating fully had water flowing from the top of the dome.


By 1715 it became unfashionable to have intricate gardens as these were expensive to run and a more natural looking garden style was now in fashion. William Kent came to visit Chatsworth and had ideas to change the cascade and plant trees. By the 1740s the terraces had gone and the gardens appeared more natural looking.


The 4th Duke inherited in 1755, he had new ideas and wanted the most fashionable garden in the area. He had inherited a lot of money from his father-in-law, the 3rd Earl of Burlington, one of the richest men of England in the 1700s. He hired Capability Brown who implemented changes and employed a foreman on site. He was instructed by Brown and local people were employed for the workforce. The gardens were kept as natural looking as possible. He closed the turnpike road and diverted it away from the house and built a new bridge on the road to Beeley that is still there today. He built the three arch bridge in front of the house and also created a hillside and moved the village houses further back so they could not be seen from the main house, the only building that could be seen was the church spire. What Brown created is what we can see today. There were hundreds of waterpipes moving water from the top of the hill for the features in the gardens and also for use in the house. Brown was incredibly influential and dined with Kings and other society members.


William Cavendish became the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1811 and was known as the bachelor Duke as he never married. He spent a lot of time in the gardens and talked to the gardeners, one particular gardener he got on well with was called Joseph Paxton and at the age of 23 years he appointed him head gardener. Paxton went on tours of Europe with the Duke and Sarah Paxton, Joseph’s wife, would run the garden whilst he was away. Chatsworth have many letters in their possession from Sarah and Joseph that they sent each other during these tours and archivists are currently studying them. Paxton worked at the gardens for thirty years and created a conservatory and experimented with glass houses as the Duke liked plant hunting on his tours and these plants required heat for their growth. He also had an orchid collection and gardeners were sent to India to look for these and they were displayed in the greenhouses. The houses used coal to heat them and coal was transported in tunnels under the ground to the glasshouses. The conservatory wall glasshouse which is still in existence has a wooden structure with sliding glass and still has the original glass. In 1845 Queen Victoria came to visit and was very impressed, the public queued along the route and were allowed in the glasshouse after the Queen had left.


The rock garden that we can see today was created by Paxton, the idea came from Germany where they were fashionable. Chatsworth’s original fountain was 94 feet high. After the Duke’s visit to Russia to visit the Tsar who had a fountain that reached higher than the one at Chatsworth, the Duke returned and gave instructions for a new fountain to be built which would outdo that of the Tsar’s. The gardeners worked day and night for 6 months to dig a new, larger lake and install pipes from the lake down to the new fountain. When it was switched on the height was over 200 feet, however the Tsar never returned for a visit to view this! This is why it is called the Emperor fountain.


Whist working at Chatsworth Paxton created the Crystal Palace, he also was involved in designing public parks such as Birkenhead Park which was influential in the design of Central Park in New York. Paxton received a knighthood and when he died was a multi-millionaire. The gilding on the south and west side of the building has been recently restored, the gilding was only on these sides as this is the part of the building that was viewed on visitors arrival. The turnpike was also lowered from the lake to give the appearance to visitors as they arrived that the house was floating on the lake.


Chatsworth still has modern designers helping today, every Duke always has new ideas. Rachel was thanked for a very interesting and informative talk.



The Tenants and Workers of Abbeydale Hamlet 1740-1933

Wednesday 23rd May 2018


On Wednesday 23rd May, Pauline Burnett gave the gathered group in Totley Library an illustrated talk about the Abbeydale works and its workers from 1740 to 1933.

Just three tenancies covered all but twenty years of these two centuries: the Goddard family, John Dyson and the Tyzack family. The first record of a single grinding wheel in the vicinity of Abbeydale is in the late 17th century. It was the Goddard family arriving in 1738 that changed the area into an industrial site during their 65 year tenancy. Building the dam allowed use of  the newly developed water-powered machinery and their reputation as manufacturers of quality edge tools was nationwide. Martin Goddard died a very wealthy man in 1816, leaving £20,000.


John Dyson was not so fortunate. After a very ambitious start he also bought Totley Rolling Mill and established the brick works on Totley Moor (mining ganister for the crucible pots). Unfortunately he suffered at the hands of the Union agitators, probably because he had come to their notice for not paying union rates. The Grinding Hull was destroyed by an explosion, ultimately leading to his bankruptcy because of lost production. 


Dyson’s tenancy was followed by William Tyzack and Sons, later incorporating Turner into their partnership. William’s grandson Joshua started his working life at the Abbeydale but changed direction as his interest in farming grew. He had bought Old Hay Mill from the company when they stopped production there in the 1890ds and subsequently ran it as a farm, employing housekeepers and farm managers, but never living there himself. On his death in 1930 a well-kept secret was revealed when his farm manager, Jessie Fisher, was found to be his wife, having married him secretly in 1920. She inherited his considerable wealth.


Working in the steel industry was a dangerous occupation and life expectancy short. Safety wasn’t considered, industrial incidents happened frequently and the court rulings and inquests usually looked on the events as ‘accidental’. Families living in the tied cottages changed little, passing down the generations as sons or sons-in-law followed their fathers into the industry. We heard about the lives of just a few of the men.
…two men named William Price who moved (almost a century apart) from Belbroughton in Worcestershire, bringing their skills from a similar scythe-grinding region.
…Albert Fearnehough, a scythegrinder, who for a number of years left the industry to work at Edward Carpenter’s smallholding in Millthorpe. Albert’s wife Mary was his housekeeper.
…William Naylor and his anti-smallpox vaccination campaign.
…John Smith, yardman, who was called to give evidence after the boiler explosion in 1870.


Tyzack’s finally left Abbeydale in 1933 when their site at Little London became their main focus. J.G. Graves bought the abandoned Abbeydale works and gave it to the city of Sheffield. After restoration it opened as the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet in 1970.    



Wincobank: Hill Fort, Hall and Community
Wednesday 25 April 2018


There was another excellent turnout on Wednesday 25 April to listen to Penny Rea who talked about Wincobank and 5,000 years of its history.


Wincobank Hill overlooks Meadowhall and Attercliffe and can see the railway, the motorway and the canals and also views over Firvale, Firth Park, and the City Centre. Also, Wincobank Hill can be seen from Blacka Moor.
It was a hunting park for Manor Park and was a rural place before the industrial revolution.


Western Park Museum have some interesting pieces that have been on display which tells us that people were there from over 5,000 years ago.


The rampart on the hill looks quite spectacular, burnt findings have been found there and not sure if this is from burning or decommissioning of the site. The centre of the fort not been excavated. There is a ridge that runs below the hill and believe that this maybe prehistoric, it follows the line of the parish boundary. The footpath here is used to get to Meadowhall and for thousands of years people have used the path. 


The Duke of Norfolk in 1905 gave the site to the City along with its ancient woodland. The trees in the woodland are interesting, they are often cut down so the branches grow out at several angles from the ground. There was a house and cottages on the hill dating from the 1700s, these were demolished after the Sheffield gales in 1962, Wincobank Hall was demolished in 1925, the hall dates from at least 1715 and probably before.


It had beautiful gardens, with ornamental flowers. Lead has been found from the windows of the hall. 


In 1816 the site was sold to Joseph Reed and his family, his wife Elizabeth and their children, 5 daughters and a son. The Reed family originally lived at Attercliffe but as the air got polluted from the factories they decided to move to Wincobank where there were lovely views. 


Elizabeth Reed was involved with the Sheffield Ladies anti-slavery society and actively supported other campaigns for social reform. 


By 1817 they had established a chapel in the coach house and a Sunday School in the laundry room, there being no other place to worship nearby. 

Unfortunately they got into financial difficulties and had to sell Wincobank Hall. Their daughter inherited some money from her husband’s family and brought the hall and cleared their debts. She applied for a grant and built a school which coincided with The Factory Act where children working in the factories had to have 2 hours of schooling a week which had to be paid for. 

Penny encouraged everyone to visit Wincobank Hill, the view is worth seeing and you can also view the graves in the graveyard and the chapel which is still in use today.


We thanked Penny for a fascinating talk, we found out lots of interesting history about Wincobank that we did not know about before.



Off The Track in Derbyshire

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


On Wednesday 28 March, a large audience gathered in Totley Library to enjoy an illustrated talk by Stephen Gay about the rail journey from Sheffield to Edale. 


We started at Dore Station where the line goes under Twentywell Lane. A lot of trees have been cut down along the embankment here due to the leaves falling on the line, there is a 1 in 1000 gradient which is steep for a rail line and can cause issues with leaves on the line. 


The line then carries onto the entrance to Dore and Totley Tunnel under a Victorian footbridge off Grove Road where there is also a refuge siding which is still in use A photo showing the view of the line from the aqueduct by Totley Brook Road shows the entrance to the tunnel. The tunnel is 3.5 miles long and has 5 ventilation shafts. 


Stephen’s walk then continued over the top of the tunnel from Owler Bar to Fox House and the Longshaw Estate to Grindleford station where the exit of the tunnel is located. Here it shows the date of completion of the building of the tunnel in 1893. At the station there is a cafe which sells great bacon sandwiches and pints of tea!! 


The next station along the route is Bamford station, it then crosses over the River Derwent by Lose Hill. The maximum speed limit on the line is 90mph and it carries both passenger trains and freight trains, including the TransPennine Express. 


The next stop is Hope Station where there is a lovely iron footbridge that has recently been refurbished. From here you can get to Win Hill with great views of Ladybower and Derwent Reservoirs. We then travel along to Edale Station where they are also great views of Loose Hill. 


We thanked Stephen for a very interesting talk with some great photos that he’d taken along the way, illustrating the journey. 



The Shell, Armaments and Munitions Crisis, 1915-1916
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 


On Wednesday 24 January, at the reaarranged venue of Totley Rise Methodist Church, Chris Corker talked to us about Sheffield 1915-16 Armaments, the Shell Crisis and Munitions Production.


There were a technologically advanced group of armament companies in the UK making weapons. There were 8 of these and 5 of the companies were in Sheffield. They had important links across the world and Sheffield was considered to be the arsenal of the world. War started in 1914 and these companies agreed to orders without considering if they had the capacity to fulfil them. They were unprepared for the demands of the war. 
Vickers – River Don – Armour plate, finished guns and projectiles 
Cyclos Works – Armour plate, projectiles and gun forgings 
Grimesthorpe Works – Armour plate, projectiles and gun forgings 
John Browns – Atlas Works – Armour plate, gun forgings 
Thomas Firths – Projectiles and gun forgings 
Hadfields – Projectiles and light armour 
Shell factories began to be built in Tinsley. Workers had notifications that they did not have to go to war, however, some workers wanted to be released from the gun factories for enlistment.


By May 1915 only 27% of the total orders taken had been delivered. There was now a shell crisis as factories had given promises that they could not keep. The Ministry of Munitions was established on 25 May 1915 under the leadership of David Lloyd George, and entrusted with mobilising all the British industry munitions production. The ministry set up a national projectile factory, however, the armaments companies objected to the Government run national shell factories so it was agreed they would be owned by the government and managed by the companies. Firths built at Templeborough and the Hadfields factory was built at East Hecia Works.


King George V visited Sheffield on 29 September 1915 and went to Thomas Firths. Sir Robert Abbott Hadfield – 1858 to 1940 – He was encouraged by his dad to research metallurgy and discovered manganese steel.


The Brodie Helmet was initially manufactured in Sheffield by Thomas Firths, after the first batch Hadfield realised that manganese steel was very hard wearing and ideal for these helmets.


The national projectile factories commenced production and more women were being enlisted to work in the weapon manufacture as production increased.


Firths – Construction began in September 1915, commenced shell turning on 19 January 1916, there were 1,300 male and 4,000 female workers.


Hadfields – Construction began in late September 1915 and completed in March 1916, shell turning began on 25 March 1916. Hadfields ran out of space so a decision was made to change the direction of the River Don in late 1915-16 for further building expansion. 


The Battle of Jutland – 31 May-1 June 1915 - This battle put the armaments to the test. It was the largest naval battle of the Great War, however, the projectiles did not work efficiently. Empire leaders visited Hadfields in July 1916 even though the projectiles had failed. Hadfield realised there were problems and patented a new model in October 1916.


Chris was thanked for a very interesting and informative talk. 

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Future Meetings




Unless stated otherwise our meetings are held in Totley Library on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm.

Pauline Burnett's book The Rise of Totley Rise has been revised and updated. It tells the story of this small piece of land from 1875 when there was only a rolling mill and chemical yard alongside the river a mile from Totley, through Victorian and Edwardian times, two world wars and up to the present day. It has 94 pages including a useful index and many illustrations from private collections. The book is available now from Totley Rise Post Office priced at £5, or through our website when an additional charge will be made to cover packing and postage.

A few copies are still available of Sally Goldsmith's book Thirteen Acres: John Ruskin and the Totley Communists. Totley was the site of a utopian scheme funded by art critic and social reformer John Ruskin. In 1877 he bought 13-acre St. George’s Farm so that nine Sheffield working men and their families could work the land and, to keep themselves busy, make boots and shoes. Sally tells an engaging story from our history with a quirky cast of characters including Ruskin himself, the poet and gay rights activist Edward Carpenter and Henry Swan, a cycling, vegetarian artist and Quaker. The book is available to order online from the The Guild of St. George by following this link.

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 local shops and via our website.  Further information about the correspondence is in this inside page of our website: Dore & Totley Minesweeping Trawlers Comforts Fund

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.

Totley All Saints' Church Parish Magazines for the years 1985-2006 with notices of baptisms, marriages and funerals and accounts of spiritual, educational, charitable and social matters in the village. Scanned in full, including advertisements from local traders.

In 1893 during the building of the Totley Tunnel there was an outbreak of smallpox amongst the navvies which spread to some of the local population. 17 people were buried in communal graves in Dore Churchyard, 6 from "Green Oak" (Lemont Road). The severity of the outbreak was principally caused by overcrowding and insanitary conditions in lodging houses .

Kathleen Grayson was a 39 year old housewife when WW2 broke out. She volunteered for the ARP and became an ambulance driver. During an air raid on Sheffield in July 1941, and despite her own injuries, she managed to get a seriously injured casualty to hospital. For this she was awarded a commendation from King George VI. Together with her friend Hilda Duffy, Kathleen also assembled a team of knitters to provide essential warm clothing for the men serving on the minesweepers patrolling the North Sea.

We have recently bought at auction the WW2 memorabilia of Douglas Platts whose family home was at Hillside, 98 Queen Victoria Road. After the war Douglas returned to his civilian occupation working in the family scissors manufacturing business. He lived in our area for the rest of his life.

We are very grateful to Mrs Valerie Taylor of Dore for lending us the title deeds to Lower Bents Farmhouse which is reputed to be the oldest surviving building in the area with a proven history back to 1621. We have now scanned and transcribed the deeds which could be particularly interesting to anyone with a connection to the local Fisher, Dalton and Marshall Families. 

Until 1844, when Dore Christ Church parish was created, Totley township was part of Dronfield parish. We have now transcribed the burial records for former Totley residents at St. John the Baptist, Dronfield for the period 1678-1870 and at St. Swithin, Holmesfield for the period 1766-1901.

Whilst researching the history of the Dalton Family we found it useful to transcribe a number of early Wills and Inventories. These and those of many other Totley, Dore and Holmesfield people dating from between 1594 and 1856 have now been added to our website.

St. Swithin's Church, Holmesfield pre-dates Dore Christ Church and was the place where many of the people from Totley worshipped and were baptised, married and buried. Read the inscriptions on more than 750 gravestones in the churchyard including those of Mr. and Mrs. William Aldam Milner of Totley Hall, Jessie Matilda Tyzack (nee Fisher) of Avenue Farm, and Rev. J. A. Kerfoot of St. John's, Abbeydale.

Thomas Youdan was a music hall proprietor and benefactor who was living at Grove House, Totley in 1867 when he sponsored the first football knockout competition in the world for The Youdan Cup.

The words Millhouses Cricket Club can be seen in the background of team photos which are likely to date from between 1905 and the early 1920s, very probably pre-war. They were lent to us by Garth Inman who can identify his great uncle, Cecil Inman, in some of the photos and would like to know when they were taken and, if possible, the names of others present. Please take a look to see whether you can put names to any of the faces. 

Josiah Hibberd was seriously injured whilst working on the construction of the Totley Tunnel in 1892. He died on 9 May 1897 at the age of 38 having apparently spent most of previous five years in hospital.

Bradway House was built around 1832 by Henry Greaves, a farmer, together with two adjacent cottages. We have traced most of the occupants of the property from these early days up to the start of World War Two.

We have transcribed the baptisms records at St. John the Evangelist, Abbeydale from when the church was consecrated in 1876 until just after the start of World War 1. The records are arranged in alphabetical order based upon the child's name and show the date of baptism, the names of the parents, their home location and occupation.

Nick Kuhn bought an original 1920s poster which had this owners' blind stamp in one corner. The stamp almost certainly refers to a house named Wigmore that was built in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The first occupiers that we can trace are John Howarth Caine, a district mineral agent for the LNER, his wife Florence Jane (nee Prince) and daughter Doris Mary. The Caine family lived at Wigmore until 1936 by which time the house would have been known simply as 12 The Quandrant.

George Griffiths died on 13 December 1888 following an explosion during the sinking of number 3 airshaft at Totley Bents. His widow Florence died shortly afterwards and his two daughters Maud and Annie were adopted separately. Whilst Annie lived the rest of her life in Yorkshire, Maud emigrated to Australia in 1923 with her husband, John Burrows, daughter Margaret and son Jack, pictured above.

George Wainwright was said to have been born in Bamford, Derbyshire in 1714. He learned the trade of linen weaving and moved to Totley after his marriage on 1744. He became an ardent follower of John Wesley who paid many visits to Sheffield and who would have passed through or close to Totley. Preaching was at first conducted out of doors and when Wesley's preachers became harassed by a mob of Totley ruffians in 1760, George offered them safety of his own home. He remained a Methodist for all of his long life, dying in Dore in 1821 at the reputed age of 107.

Oakwood School was started by Mrs Phoebe Holroyd in 1925 initially as the Firth Park Kindergarten and, by 1927, as the Firth Park Preparatory School. Phoebe was still working at the school almost fifty years later when she was well into her seventies. We would like to hear from anyone with memories of the school. 

James Curtis was born at sea aboard HMS Chichester in 1790. He enlisted as a Private in the 1st Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards in Sheffield in 1812 and served in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War. He later fought in France and Belgium taking part in the Battle of Waterloo. In later life James lived at the Cricket Inn where his son-in-law William Anthony was the licensed victualler. He died in Heeley in 1882 aged about 91. 

Charles Paul lived in Totley in later life. He was a local historian and archaeologist who was an authority on the history of Sheffield, especially the two areas he knew best: Attercliffe and Ecclesall. His books and letters to local newspapers were published under the Latin form of his name Carolus Paulus.

Towards the end of the 19th century Totley Hall gardens became a well known beauty spot that attracted many hundreds of visitors from Sheffield on open days and the rock gardens became one of its most popular features. Mrs Annie Charlesworth sent us six glass transparencies of the rock gardens taken, we believe, in the early years following the Great War.

Anton Rodgers send us photographs of three water-colours that had been bought by his grandfather at a sale of the contents of Abbeydale Hall in 1919. One was of a scene said to be in York by A. Wilson. A second was of a seated child with a dog believed to be pianted by Juliana Russell (1841-1898). The third was of Lake Como, by Ainslie Hodson Bean (1851-1918) who lived for much of his life on the Riviera and in North Italy.

A Canadian correspondent sent us photographs of a set of silver spoons that were bought in a small town in British Columbia. The case contained a note signed by Ebenezer Hall indicating that they were a wedding gift to Maurice and Fanny Housley. We think we may have traced how they got to Canada and where they might have been since.

Green Oak Park was opened on 23 March 1929 on land that had been bought by Norton District Council from John Thomas Carr, a farmer and smallholder of Mona Villas. In later years, the buildings were used by the Bowling Club (the green having been built in 1956) and by the park keeper. However, the buildings appear to have been constructed in several phases, the oldest of which predates the park to the time when the land was used for pasture.

We believe the old Totley Police Station at 331 Baslow Road was built around 1882. Two lock-up cells were excavated just below floor level in the summer of 1890. We have traced the Derbyshire Constabulary police officers who lived there from John Burford in 1886 to George Thomas Wood who was there when Totley was absorbed into Sheffield in 1934.

David Stanley lived in Totley Rise in the later years of his life. Born in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, he joined the 17th Lancers when he was 19 and rode in the Charge of The Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava where he was seriously wounded. For the first reunion of veterans in 1875, he told his story to a reporter from the Buxton Herald.

This picture postcard was addressed to Miss Abell, Holly Dene, Totley Brook Road and posted in Rotherham on 10 December 1907. Edith Annie Abell was born on 4 February 1887 in Sheffield and her family came to live in our area in the 1900s, staying for the rest of their lives.

Charles Herbert Nunn enlisted in the British Army on 23 August 1915 and was sent to France on 18 December 1915 to served with the British Expeditionary Force. In March 1916 it was discovered that he was underage and he was returned home. Shortly after his 18th birthday he re-enlisted and was again posted abroad where, in addition to this trio of medals, he was awarded the Military Medal. 

This certificate was awarded jointly by the Red Cross and St. John's Ambulance to Isaac Henry Williams, of Lemont Road, for his services during WW1 as a stretcher bearer. We are seeking anyone who can help us pass it on to a living relative.

In 1832 Samuel Dean pleaded guilty to stealing a quantity of lead from the Totley Rolling Mill and was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. He sailed on the Mangles and upon arrival in New South Wales he was sent to work for William Cox, the famous English explorer and pioneer. After receiving his Certificate of Freedom in 1840, Samuel became a farmer and went on to have a very large family. Samuel was born in Whitechapel around 1811 to parents Samuel Dean Snr. and Susannah Duck. His descendant Sarah Dean would like help in tracing his ancestry.

Ellen Topham was born in 1889 in Nottingham. Her parents had been living together since 1862 but had never married so it was most unusual that, after their deaths, Ellen was accepted into Cherrytree Orphanage. Even more so since her father, Snowden Topham, had been acquitted somewhat unexpectedly in a widely reported manslaughter trial. Ellen remained at Cherrytree until her death from pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 15.

Mabel Wilkes was a resident in Cherrytree Orphanage between 1897 and 1905. Her granddaughter Sally Knights sent us these images of a book presented to Mabel as a prize for her writing. Sally also sent us some personal memories of her grandmother and a photograph of a locket which contains portraits of Mabel and her husband Septimus Gale.

John Henry Manby Keighley was living at Avenue Farm when he enlisted in 1916. He fought in France with the Cheshire Regiment but after home leave in early 1918 he went missing. The Army were unable to determine whether he had deserted or returned to the front and been either killed or captured by the enemy. In August 1919 he was formally presumed killed in action but it appears he did not die but returned home to his family.

Horace Ford was admitted to Cherrytree Orphanage on 26 October 1888 at the age of six. He left at the age of 14 to become an apprentice blacksmith and farrier. Soon after his 18th birthday Horace enlisted in the Imperial Yeomanry to serve his country in the war in South Africa. His letter home to his Orphanage mentor tells of the lucky escape he had in battle.

Pat Skidmore (née Sampy) lived on Totley Brook Road from 1932 to 1948 before her family moved to Main Avenue. In this short article she remembers her time at Totley All Saints School where she was a contemporary of Eric Renshaw and Bob Carr.

As we have nowhere to exhibit memorabilia and artifacts, we have created a Virtual Museum instead. The latest addition to our collection is this double-sided Totley Rise Post Office oval illuminated sign which was on the wall of 67 Baslow Road before the Post Office business transferred to number 71. Please contact us by email if you have things that you own and would like to see added to the virtual museum.

Conway Plumbe was a man of many talents who came to live in Totley Rise around 1912. As a young man he had poems published by Punch magazine and is remembered in modern collections of WW1 poetry. A number of his paintings were accepted by the Royal Academy. An engineering graduate of London University, he joined the Civil Service where he rose to a high level as a factory inspector, publishing two books on the subject and giving a series of talks on workplace health and safety on BBC radio during WW2. In retirement he wrote a philosophical-spiritual work called Release From Time.

Inside Totley Rise Methodist Church there is a Roll of Honour commemorating the soldiers from its congregation who served their king and country during the Great War. For all but one of the 28 names the soldier's regiment is recorded in the next column. The exception is David Cockshott for whom 'killed in action' is written alongside yet he appears on no war memorial in our area and no record of a mortally wounded soldier of that name is to be found. We think we have solved the mystery.

Mrs. Kate Plumbe moved from Mansfield to Totley Rise with a number of her family in 1913 and became closely involved with the Totley Union Church. Her daughter Winifred became a missionary and headmistress in Calcutta for over 38 years following which she returned home to live with her sister Hilda on Furniss Avenue. Hilda had also been a teacher, missionary and, like her mother, a volunteer at St. John's VAD during WW1.

Thomas Glossop was a cutler and razor manufacturer who was well known amongst cricketing and gardening circles. Despite going blind, he was able to continue his hobbies with remarkable success

The Totley Union Cycling Society Prize Giving and Fete was held on the fields near Abbeydale Hall on 18 July 1914. Anne Rafferty and Gordon Wainwright have named some of the people in two wonderful photographs of the event. Can you identify any more for us? 

The Tyzack family are well known in our area for owning iron and steel trades at Walk Mill, Abbeydale Works, Totley Rolling Mill and Totley Forge. This article covers the history of the family from the late 18th century when William Tyzack the founder of the company was born until the early 20th century when Joshua Tyzack farmed at Avenue Farm, Dore.  

Walter Waller Marrison moved to Totley around 1897 with his wife and their two young sons. He was a house builder who constructed properties around Totley Brook and Greenoak before ill health forced him to take up less physically demanding work. In 1904 he took over the tenancy of the grocers and off licence at number 71 Baslow Road. After his death in 1908, his widow Kate and later their eldest son Jack continued to run the business until it was sold in 1934.   

Ron Wijk of Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands has sent us two scanned images of drawings of old cottages made by the celebrated Dutch painter, Anton Pieck (1895-1987) simply annotated "Totley", and wondered whether we could identify their locations.

We would like to thank Christopher Rodgers for bringing to our attention this fascinating log of the 85th Sheffield (St. John's and Totley Orphanage) Wolf Cub Pack for 1927-45. The log is published jointly by Sheffield Scout Archives and Totley History Group as a free PDF download. It is illustrated by no fewer than 92 photographs and is supported by a comprehensive index and biographies of some of the main participants.

Following our Open Meeting event on School Days, Roger Hart, Howard Adams and John Timperley have each written to us with their memories of Norwood School, which was located in the rooms attached to the Dore & Totley United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road. 

On 22nd July 1909 the children of Dore and Totley Schools celebrated by a pageant the union of England under King Ecgbert which took place at Dore in AD 827. The pageant was devised and written by Mrs Sarah Milner and her daughter Marjorie and performed in a field close to Avenue Farm in front of a large audience. Photographs of the event survive together with a fragment of the script.

John Edward Greenwood Pinder had lived all 46 years of his life in Totley but on census night, Sunday 2 April 1911, he was not at home; he was in Derby Gaol serving a sentence of three months hard labour. From the age of 20, John had been in and out of local courts for a series of minor offences including drunkenness, assault, wilful damage and night poaching. Finally he was sent to gaol for cutting down and stealing 86 small trees which he sold in Sheffield market for Christmas.

We have already transcribed the census returns for Totley, Totley Rise and Dore. Now we have transcribed Census Strays. These are people who were born in Totley but are missing from our earlier transcriptions. They may have been living, working or studying elsewhere or just away from home on the night the census was taken. Two people were in prison. Others were in Union Workhouses, hospitals and asylums. Fully indexed strays from the 1851, 1861, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses are available now. 

We wish to thank Gillian Walker for allowing us to digitize an archive of material about the 1st Totley Scout Group. Most of the material was collected by Arthur Percival Birley in the period 1949-51 and there are many interesting documents pertaining to the building of the scout hut on Totley Hall Lane. In addition four Newsletters survive, two from the 1940s and two from 1971.

We are grateful to Angela Waite and All Saints' Parish Church for giving us access to baptismal and kindergarten birthday rolls dating from 1926 to 1941. We have transcribed the names, addresses, birthdates and baptismal dates and created an alphabetical index of entries for you to search. 

Edmund Sanderson, a Sheffield estate agent, aquired the land on either side of the old drive to Totley Grove in 1874 and divided it into plots for development. He called it the Totley Brook Estate. But before many houses were built, the estate road was severed in two by the building of the Dore & Chinley Railway line. The eastern end of the road became the cul-de-sac we now call Grove Road

John Roberts was born in Sheffield in 1798. He became a partner in one of the leading silversmiths firms in the city before moving to Abbeydale Park in 1851 and extending the house in Victorian gothic style. He paid for the building of St. John's Church and was believed to dispense more in charity than any other person in the neighbourhood including his protege Ebenezer Hall.

The Coke Family owned the Totley Hall Estate from 1791 to 1881. With the aid of a family tree to guide us, Josie Dunsmore takes us through the story of their tenure. 

When the Rev. D'Ewes Coke inherited the Totley Hall Estate in 1791 it had two farms. Josie Dunsmore tells the story of how the two farms were combined under the tenancy of Peter Flint with the aid of field maps drawn by Flint himself and later by the Fairbanks family.

Do you think you recognize this face? More than sixty photographs of the girls and teachers at Hurlfield Grammar School for Girls in the 1940s were given to Totley History Group by Avril Critchley, who was herself a student at the school. The collection includes fifteen form photographs from June 1949. There would have been a number of girls from the Totley area attending the school in those days.

Christine Weaving tells the story of her 2 x great uncle George Edward Hukin, a Totley razor-grinder, and his life-long friendship with the academic, poet, writer, and free-thinker Edward Carpenter.

Eric Renshaw (pictured here on the right with Bob Carr) grew up and lived in Totley from 1932 to 1960. Many of his memories are of a sporting nature.

We are very grateful to Gordon Grayson for giving us this splendid sale document for the Norton Hall Estates, following the death in 1850 of Samuel Shore. The estates included a large part of Totley and the document has maps and illustrations, plus schedules of land and property with the names of tenants. We have also added a transcription of the entries for Totley and Dore. 

Watch this Youtube video of the talk given by Dr. Mark Frost and Sally Goldsmith on Ruskin, Totley and St. George's Farm. The talk was hosted by Totley History Group on 20th May 2015 as part of the Ruskin in Sheffield programme. Also enjoy a video of the outdoor performance Boots, Fresh Air & Ginger Beer written by Sally.

When Jacqueline A. Gibbons became interested in what made her father tick, it began a journey through WW1 archive records and led to her flying from Toronto to visit the house and village where he lived and the countryside that he so much enjoyed. Jacqueline reminds us that in the early 20th century Sheffield was a driving force of industry and that Totley was the place where many of its remarkable people lived and where they formulated their ideas.

Edgar Wood was the designer of The Dingle, 172 Prospect Road, built in 1904 for Rev. William Blackshaw, the founder of the Croft House Settlement. The house, together with its western terrace and boundary walls, has now been awarded Grade II listed building status. 

What was probably "the most perfect little garden railway in existence" in 1910 was to be found in the grounds of Brook House, Grove Road, the home of its designer and constructor, Guy Mitchell. Look at some wonderful photographs and read reports in newspapers and a full appreciation in Model Railways magazine. 

We have now completed our transcription of Totley School's Admission Records for the period from 1877 to 1914. There is also a useful index to the names of the scholars and to their parents or guardians. We are very grateful to Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library for allowing us to transcribe and publish these records and for permission to reproduce the photograph of a specimen page of the register.

On 8, 9 and 11 November 2014 Totley History Group held an exhibition at Dore & Totley United Reformed Church to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Below are additional links to some of the photographs we were lent and stories we researched especially for the exhibition.


Oscar Creswick was a local farmer who served with the Army Service Corps in Salonika and who after the war returned to Totley to become the innkeeper of the Cricket Inn and a member of the village's successful tug of war team.


Walter Evans was a market gardener who also ran a small grocery shop on Hillfoot Road when war broke out. He fought with the Machine Gun Corps at the fourth battle of Ypres. After the war, Walter ran a grocers shop at the top of Main Avenue.


Fred Cartwright was another Totley soldier who survived the Great War. He fought in France and Belgium and although he wasn't wounded he was gassed and was home on sick leave when his daughter was delivered by Nurse Jessop during a snowstorm in January 1917.


Maurice Johnson joined the Yorkshire Dragoons, a territorial unit, on 1 Jan 1914 and so was called up at the very start of the war. He fought throughout the war on the Somme, at Ypres and at Cambrai. After demobilization in 1919 Maurice returned to his old occupation in the steel industry.


Bill Glossop lent us a letter written by his father, William Walton Glossop to his wife describing life in the army during training in the north east of England and asking her to keep him in mind with the children.


The photo above provides a link to an album of photographs taken of WW1 Hospitals at St. John's, Abbeydale and the Longshaw Estate.


Nora Green, of Chapel Lane, was only 14 when war broke out. In 1914 she was ill with diphtheria and was sent to the isolation hospital at Holmley Lane, Dronfield. Nora recovered and wrote a letter of thanks to one of the hospital staff and the reply she received survives. 


We have collected together on this page the names of local men who appear on various War Memorials and Rolls of Honour in Totley, Dore, Abbeydale, Norton, Holmesfield and Dronfield.


Unfortunately we were unable to identify all the photographs we were lent of Totley Soldiers. Please take a look at this album to see if you recognize any of the missing names.

This walk visits locations that have strong associations with Totley during the First World War. It includes the homes of the ten soldiers from the village who lost their lives, the auxiliary hospitals, war memorials, and even the rifle range on which the soldiers trained. Take a look at the first draft of a new walk by the authors of "Totley War Memorial WW1 1914-1918"

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 The Plumbe Family, Thomas Glossop and accidents during the construction of Totley Tunnel.

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 700 gravestones in  the churchyard.


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