Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Memories of the Chemical Yard

Anne White

Chemical Yard from Laverdene Avenue, 1972

I was born in one of the little cottages in the Chemical Yard, Totley in 1941.  My parents were Annie and Albert Russell and I was the youngest of their children.  I had an older brother Kenneth and a sister, Audrey.  Even as a very young child, I always felt that, somehow, I was very lucky and privileged to live in such a beautiful place. I always felt so happy and safe wandering around the fields and open countryside around our home and I learnt all about the animals and flowers which were part of my 'little world'.  I could write a book about my many memories of my childhood and I only wish that I had the time to do so.


Despite the fact that our family seemed to be plagued by many personal tragedies, I recall my childhood days as being happy and contented.  Our home was just a small cottage with only two bedrooms and no hot water; there was an outside toilet at the bottom of the garden which we shared with our neighbours.  My parents were hardworking people, they never seemed to stop, they strived to be self-sufficient and they had a fierce pride in their appearance and conduct.  They taught us good manners, politeness and kindness to others and they provided many guidelines for the behaviour they expected from us which laid a firm foundation for the rest of our lives.  Most importantly, our home was always filled with love. 

All my grandparents had died before I was born although I did have a step-gran who I will always remember with love and gratitude because she cared for me and fed me when my world was falling apart. I have led a very full and active life, and still do, I decided recently that I would add to my list of many hobbies and would try to research some of my family's ancestry.  I began with my mother's side of the family.  I knew her maiden name was Barber and, of course, I know the names of her siblings.  I discovered that my grandfather's name was Thomas and my grandmother's name was Hannah.  Just having this small scrap of information made me see them as 'real' people and I am extremely keen to find out more. 


According to the 1901 census, my grandfather was living at home with his father and mother and younger brother at No: 11 Totley Rise.  It's a long time ago since I used to know this area well, so, last Sunday; we decided to drive to this row of houses to see if we could identify No: 11.  I remember the beginning of The Rise' as Topham's the newsagents, his shop and the houses adjoining it are now business premises which I think begin with No: 15 so what has happened to No: 11 I wonder? (* see footnote)

My partner Dennis and my daughter and grandson went for a walk down the back lane to have a look around the area where I used to live.  I didn't want to go, I know that many changes have taken place and I think that  I would have found the whole experience too upsetting.  On their travels they stopped to speak with a lady who lives on the road leading out of The Chemical Yard and onto Queen Victoria Road.  She was very interested in their reasons for being there and she kindly gave them a copy of the February Issue of The Totley Independent.  What a coincidence that this issue has an old photo of the houses at the bottom of Totley Rise on its front page! 


This has prompted me to write this letter to you.  It's quite difficult to know just how much information I can write in one single letter.  I have decided that my best approach is to write as much as I can remember about The Chemical Yard and the people who lived there when I was a child.  I am certainly not an artist but I will draft out a rough drawing of the surroundings to help to illustrate my memories. The houses were not numbered but I will number them so that they can be identified.  (Click here to see Anne's map).

In cottage No: 1 lived a family who we referred to as the Gutsers but I believe they were probably called Goodsirs.  There was Mr and Mrs Goodsir and their son Joseph.  When I was about 10 or 11 yrs old they left and a family by the name of Hanwell moved in. There were Mr and Mrs Hanwell and their sons Clive and David. They had moved from Heeley and Mrs Hanwell hated living in the 'countryside'.  She complained about the mud from the back lane which was just a rough track way back then and she told my mum that she couldn't wait to go back to 'civilisation' with its tarmacked paths etc.  I became good friends with David who was just a little bit older than me and I showed him the many walks to be explored and all the fun and exciting places to play. 


In cottage No: 2 lived the Nicholson family, the parents had about nine children. Their twin daughters Pamela and Mary were just a fortnight younger than me and I loved playing with them.  We all attended Totley All Saints Church of England School, in those days, it was rare for a parent to accompany their children to school and I often came home from school on foot and using different routes.  One day, when I was 6/7yrs old, I was coming home with the twins and we were using the bus.  As it pulled up at the top of Totley Rise there was a resident waiting there who spoke to the twins and said they had to go with her to her house.  I felt very puzzled as I walked home alone.  We heard later that the twin's younger brothers, also twins, and only aged five, had been on the previous bus.  They had crossed the main road then attempted to cross Glover Road.  I'm ashamed to say that I cannot remember their names; I think they were called Colin and Edward but one of them had been run over and had died.  I remember the day of the funeral and seeing a table in the Nicholson's house laden down with lovely food.  As a child it seemed strange to me that people would want to eat on such a sad day.  Still, that's how children see the world around them and try to understand it. 


When I was 10yrs old the Nicholson family left their cottage.  I was heartbroken and cried and cried; I thought my world had come to an end and couldn't envisage a future without Pamela and Mary.  Mr and Mrs Markham moved into their cottage with their son Stephen. 


Next door to them, at No: 3, lived my step-gran Ada Barber and one of her sons, my Uncle Tom.  The end of the row of cottages, No: 4 was occupied by an elderly gentleman living on his own called Mr Thompson.  I know that he was related to the family of Thompson's the butchers but I'm not sure of the relationship.  To me, Mr Thompson seemed very old, he walked with a stick and I believe that he suffered from gout.  He didn't have electricity in his home and he would sit at a large wooden table in front of his window with a candle burning in front of him.  This cast strange shadows across his face at night-time and I must admit that this terrified me.


Sometimes, during the day, he would call to me and ask me to run an errand to the local shops for him.  We were used to being asked by our neighbours to go shopping for them, it was the way life was back then.  He would reward me with a half-penny if he was feeling generous that day!  One morning, he was discovered lying on the floor of his cottage unable to get to his feet.  My mum and our neighbour Mrs Stanway looked after him and I remember seeing my mum making his fire for him in his old Yorkshire range and cooking fried eggs and bacon for his breakfast.  The local doctor came and said Mr Thompson had to go into hospital.  I never saw him again and, not long after, his cottage was occupied by the Pashley family.  Jean Pashley became very good friends with my mum.  She and her husband became parents to Dianne and Richard and I would baby-sit for them when I was about 13yrs old. 

Eventually, at Christmas 1957, Audrey and Peter moved in.  The cottage looked lovely as they had bought all new furniture and carpets and had the alcoves in the living room lined with mirror tiles and concealed lighting.  What a transformation! Life there should have been idyllic but, just a few months later, in July 1958, we awoke one morning to a deathly silence.  The first thing that I realized was that I couldn't hear the birds singing and something seemed very wrong.  Our cottage had become the victim of sever flooding, the tranquil little stream which ran at the bottom of the garden had burst its banks and flooded all the cottages.  If I were to write a book then this event alone would require a chapter of its own. 

At the end of the row of cottages were the outside toilets.  I can't remember how many there were but I think there may have been three, each one to be shared by two families?  All the cottages I have mentioned didn't have back doors and the river ran along the back of them.  My parent's cottage stood well back from the river and we had a long front garden.  We also had a long garden at the side which contained a greenhouse, sheds, gooseberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant plants and the old air-raid shelter which we used for storage.  Across the river was a little wooden bridge which my father had made and that gave us access to the land adjoining the back lane which my father rented from the Thompson's.  He built a pigsty here and grew vegetables on part of the land.


I have written some of my dad's life story which was published about two years ago in a book called 'Earning a Living' which is still available from a book shop on Surrey Street which specializes in local history.  Our cottage was called North West Cottage and our neighbours were Mr and Mrs Stanway and their son Eddie.  In time, Eddie married a lady called Winnie and she moved into the cottage, they later had a daughter, Susan and a son, Robert.  After a few years Mr and Mrs Stanway moved to another cottage in Totley.  These are my earliest memories of The Chemical Yard until the late-fifties, nothing lasts forever and many changes were due to take place. 


On 12th March 1955, my brother married and left home, on 26th March 1955 my sister also married and she too left home.  Our lovely mum died in August the same year so, in just one year, we went from having five people living at home to only two, myself and my dad.  Just a few weeks later we discovered that our dad had terminal cancer and only had a few months left to live.  He was such a proud and strong man and we didn't tell him although I'm sure that he was aware of how ill he was.  He had rented our cottage from Mr Marcroft (Colin or Philip?) who owned a building company within The Chemical Yard.  Mr Marcroft was having financial problems and he offered all his tenants in the yard the opportunity to buy their homes from him. 


Now, my dad was a working class man who had never seen himself as a property owner.  He had enough savings to buy but was unsure about what he should do. We had a good friend, Mr Sutcliffe, who lived on Whirlowdale Road at Millhouses and my dad sought his advice.  As a result my dad invested his life savings and bought our cottage for the princely sum of £100!  All the other residents bought their homes too. 


Dad's illness meant that he spent time in and out of hospital and I lived in our cottage on my own with just our dog to keep me company.  This is when my gran came to my rescue.  She would have a meal ready for me when I returned home late at night after visiting my dad.  Because of our circumstances I left school in July 1956 when I was 14yrs old and I had to wait until August when I became 15yrs old and could start working in the offices at Laycock's Engineering Company on Archer Road.  


In April 1957 my dad died.  At his request, my sister and her husband were going to live in the cottage and I would live with them.  Audrey and her husband Peter decided that they would have the cottage modernized before they moved in.  They had all the walls and ceiling re-plastered plus a new concrete floor, our dad had already had the old Yorkshire Range replaced with a smart, new, marble-tiled fireplace.  The electrics were renewed and the kitchen modernized also all the bedrooms re-decorated.  Of course, all this work took a long time and I lived in the house on my own while the alterations were taking place.  My gran fed me and I sometimes slept at her home. 

Eventually, at Christmas 1957, Audrey and Peter moved in. The cottage looked lovely as they had bought all new furniture and carpets and had the alcoves in the living room lined with mirror tiles and concealed lighting. What a transformation! Life there should have been idyllic but, just a few months later, in July 1958, we awoke one morning to a deathly silence. The first thing that I realized was that I couldn't hear the birds singing and something seemed very wrong. Our cottage had become the victim of sever flooding, the tranquil little stream which ran at the bottom of the garden had burst its banks and flooded all the cottages. If I were to write a book then this event alone would require a chapter of its own. 


In December of the same year, 1958, at the tender age of seventeen, I was married at Totley All Saints Church in a very simple wedding ceremony.  The church had a stone floor, but, just a week before I was due to be married, a brand new red carpet was fitted and I was the first bride to walk on it down the aisle!  I moved with my new husband to shared rented accommodation in Raleigh Road at Heeley. 

As a result of the freak flooding of the cottages, all the owners were told by the council that their homes had been built too close to the river and they would have to be demolished.  Disheartened by the destruction of all their new furnishings and belongings and all the sad events that had happened, my sister didn't oppose the council's decision and she and Peter moved to Lowedges to a modern house with all mod-cons.  All the other residents decided to move too.  Our Gran had experienced the flood but had since died.  Ironically, the only people to officially object to their home being demolished were the Hanwell family, they won their case and I believe that their cottage still stands today with strong fortifications in case of further flooding.


I have written my memories with happiness, sadness and great nostalgia. I have many more stories to tell so if you find that your readers are interested in my recollections then I will happily send my stories to you.  I am hoping that my family will treasure them and enjoy reading them. I have tried my utmost to be as accurate as possible and hope that I have succeeded. 


Anne White  

March 2011 


THG Footnote.

Number 11 in the 1901 Census is actually the enumerator's schedule number, not the house number.



From J.W. Abson


It was good to read the article on the Chemical Yard by Anne White. In the 1930s there was a blacksmiths in the yard and I believe a joiner’s shop. The Siddal family lived in one of the cottages and the 2 brothers used to bring bundles of sticks (firewood) for lighting fires by trolley (by sledges in winter) to the shops in Totley, Tommy was one, the other brother’s name escapes me. In those days the yard was known as the Comical Yard by the Totley villagers. In the floods that Anne mentions the bridge at the bottom of Mickley Lane was damaged as were the row of houses near the bridge.  Laverdene Avenue, in those days, was a cul-de-sac with a footpath to the Back Lane on Totley Rise. Ann mentions that her grandfather was a Thomas Barber. In the 1930s there was a well known Tommy Barber but I don’t know whether he came from The Chemical Yard. 


May 2011



From Mike Roberts, Cornwall


The below fills in a few gaps in The Chemical Yard stories.  During and after the war as youngsters we played on the roof of part of the building occupied by Philip Marcroft, the builder, there was a blacksmith, his name was Mr Bradbury, he built us a sledge in 1946.  


He lived on Queen Victoria Road in a house overlooking The Chemical Yard as did Tommy and Freddie the 2 brothers I knew well. I remember them as being gentle, kind and helpful and not doing anyone any harm. Kids being what they are could be cruel and used to take the mickey out of them. Fairly certainly there was a Tommy Barber living in the yard, he was a character for different reasons. I also well remember the Russell Family living in the yard as childen for we used to buy sweets from them, happy days!! 


June 2011





From David Lee


I read with interest memories of the Chemical Yard by Anne White in issue 342 of the Totley Independent. My name is David Lee and like Anne was born in 1941 and went to Totley All Saints School.  I was friendly with the Nicholson family at that time and can remember playing in the river outside the cottages with them and either Anne or Audrey Russell I am not sure which perhaps they could enlighten me! We used to catch small fish putting them in glass jars filled with water one of these fish I remember was named a "BulleyHead "  


One strange thing I remember was a Jaguar car parked up in the Chemical Yard only a few years old which would have been in my opinion worth a considerable amount of money at the time of its abandonment. In those days very few people had a car at all let alone a Jaguar! It was being slowly vandalised and used as a plaything by local children. How it came to be there and who had owned it I never knew, does anyone know?  Just behind the car there was a large tree high up on the embankment to which we had tied a long rope which we would all swing from.  


Times were happy then except for a terrible accident when one of the twin boys of the Nicholson family named Eddie was knocked down and killed on Totley Rise at a very young age.  I never found out why the place was called The Chemical Yard and in 1958 we moved up to the North of England and so lost touch with the whole thing.  I returned to Sheffield in 1978 twenty years later by which time it had radically changed, but I still maintain warm memories of that bygone age.  


July 2011



see also Anne White

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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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