Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Charles Conway Plumbe

Charles Conway Plumbe (1881-1962) Charles Conway Plumbe (1881-1962)

A poem called The Angels of Mons made its first appearance in the magazine Punch on 6 October 1915. In his book, The Strange Case of 'The Angels of Mons' published 100 years later, Richard Bleiler says that the poem "was published anonymously, but Punch published its own indexes, and these reveal that its author was C. Conway Plumbe, but thereafter, the trail becomes faint and confusing. The C. is probably Charles. He contributed verse to Punch indicating that he might have been Canadian, but other verse indicates he may have been English. He was probably the artist of this name whose paintings were displayed at the Royal Academy in 1927, but might he also have been the civil engineer who in 1949 published Factory Well-Being and in 1953 the Factory Health Safety and Welfare Encyclopaedia? Was this also the person who in 1950 published the philosophical treatise Release from Time? It is not inconceivable that a poet painted and earned a living as a civil engineer, but this can be neither proved nor disproved, and these may all be different men having the same name."

Well actually, Richard, it can and has been proved that these were all the works of the same brilliant man. He was Charles Conway Plumbe, the elder son of William Alvey Plumbe and his wife Kate (nee Stidston), whose family had connections with Totley Rise between 1912 and 1966 (see Plumbe Family). We mentioned Conway Plumbe only in passing, partly because we were still researching him and partly because he deserves his own special place in the history of our area.


Conway Plumbe was born on 18 April 1881 in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and named after his maternal grandmother, Catherine Munford Conway (1825-1873). He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Mansfield and was successful in the University of London Matriculation Examinations in June 1898. The 1901 Census records that he became an apprentice electrical engineer and was still living with his parents at Linden House, Mansfield. In 1904 Conway graduated from the University of London with an B.Sc. Eng. Honours degree.

Conway Plumbe B.Sc. Eng. graduation photograph, 1904 Conway Plumbe B.Sc. Eng. graduation photograph, 1904

Conway joined the Civil Service working for the Home Office. We believe his first position as a factory inspector was in Galway, where he was still training with examinations still to take. After qualifying, he was appointed an H.M. Inspector of Factories on 23 July 1908. On 21 October the same year Conway married Lilian Emily Mary Lynham (known as Queenie), in Galway, Ireland. Queenie had been born at Wood Quay, County Galway on 16 May 1884, the daughter of John Isaac Lynham, an M.D. and Professor of Medicine and his wife Rebecca Margaret (nee Reed). From the 1901 Ireland Census it appears that Queenie was educated at a boarding school in Carrickfergus in Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is possible that the couple met through their mothers' shared interest in the Women's Temperance movement. On behalf of the English Women's Total Abstinence Society, Kate Plumbe gave an address to the Irish Women's Temperance Union annual conference in Athlone in May 1907 at which both Rebecca Lynham and her daughter were delegates.


The couple made their home in Hendon, Middlesex, and their first child, William John Conway Plumbe (known as John or Jack), was born on 17 March 1910. Soon after, however, the family were to move to Sheffield as the local newspapers report a number of court cases and inquests that Conway attended in his capacity as a factory inspector during the summer of 1912. A daughter, Therle Marguerite Conway Plumbe was born on 3 July 1913 at Airlie, 22 Busheywood Road where the family lived until at least 1923 but they had moved to Barna, 2 Brinkburn Vale Road by 1925. 

It was whilst living in Totley Rise that many of Conway's creative works were undertaken. As we have noted already he had verses published anonymously in Punch, including The Sherwood Foresters which was used in 1917 as the introduction of a bound collection of paintings of Old Mansfield by Albert Sorby Buxton (1867-1932) that was presented to the Duchess of Portland.


In May 1926 Conway Plumbe had a painting called The Broad West Riding accepted by the Royal Acadamy. It was of rolling country near Doncaster in which the huge steel masts of an aerial travelling railway feature in the foreground. Later that year, at the Derby Autumn Exhibition, Conway's painting titled Sherwood Birklands was described as a "pleasing landscape of young birches in Sherwood Forest on a day of grey delicate mist"

"To The Greenwood, Follow Me " "To The Greenwood, Follow Me " [photo taken through glass]

In May 1927 Conway had two further paintings accepted by the Royal Academy, although in reporting Conway's success the art critic of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph said that they were not as good as the painting he submitted the previous year. These paintings were called A West Riding Valley and The Coming and the Going. The Yorkshire Post described the latter as "ghostly and chilly in effect, perhaps intentionally".  Nature Magazine described it as "a fine picture of crepuscular rays with layers of cloud... quite a good subject for a meteorological lecture."


The same work also appeared at The Sheffield Society of Arts Exhibition in November 1927 and was described thus: "It is a country scene; a receding flood stream occupies the centre of the canvas; apple-blossom is seen in the foreground; trees with leaves turning brown are at the side; and the sun, apparently setting, is in the background. A charming study but what is Coming and what is Going?" Another of Conway's paintings, Yorkshire Clay Pit was described as "a bizarre picture, the colouring being open to criticism from several points of view." The same exhibition had a painting by Queenie Plumbe, described as "undoubtedly one of the most striking on view. It shows a girl standing by a pool in the moonlight. Above her is a planet which is so reflected into the cool water, that the girl appears to be grasping it in her hand."

Landscape painting signed by Conway Plumbe and dated 1934 Landscape painting signed by Conway Plumbe and dated 1934

By the end of 1928 the Plumbe Family had moved home to Sevenoaks in Kent, presumably as a result of an advancement in Conway's career. He had been born a Congregationalist and he became closely associated with the local Congregational Church and with the Fellowship of Youth for whom he contributed talks and even wrote a mock trial called No Gratuities, the performance of which was very well received. At one talk to the Fellowship in November 1936 he warned his audience about Communism and Fascism which, he said, had inflamed the youth of Germany and Italy to the point of becoming religions though not as we understood the meaning of the word in Christian Britain. Conway and Queenie also supported the Sevenoaks Arts and Crafts Society, exhibiting their paintings at its annual exhibitions.


They were still living at Windy Ways, Grassy Lane, Sevenoaks by the time of the 1939 National Register when Conway's occupation was described as Deputy Superintending Inspector of Factories. Their daughter Therle was still living with her parents having become a freelance journalist.


Son John, however, was living in Chellaston, Derbyshire, having followed his father's line of work. Having graduated from Imperial College, London, he became a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering on 17 February 1933 and was appointed an H.M. Inspector of Factories on 21 December 1934. John had married Margaret Irene Louise Paine, the youngest daughter of Arthur Edward Paine, a master tailor and his wife Myra (nee Young) at St. Nicholas Parish Church, Sevenoaks, on 23 April 1938 and they had one infant child, Ann. A second daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1942.

Seascape painting by Conway Plumbe Seascape painting by Conway Plumbe

During peace-time, the Factory Department had been under the jurisdiction of the Home Office but at the start of the war it was brought under the Ministry of Labour and Conway Plumbe was attached to the Central Office of the Ministry. He began a series of lectures around the country on aspects of working conditions in factories. At a talk given to the Industrial Welfare Society's course in Nottingham in May 1942, Conway revealed that since his daughter had become a welfare superintendent at a large Lancashire factory, he had learned far more than he had been able to discover for himself. Conditions had changed enormously since he joined the Factory Department and the aim now, he said, was to get factories not far removed from the home in matters of heating, lighting, ventilation, sanitation and general comfort. Stating that the Factories Acts required a minimum of 400 cubic feet of space per person, he added, amid laughter, that according to their standards the ordinary railway compartment was overcrowded with one person it in. Clearly, Conway had learned a thing or two since his early days as a factory inspector in Yorkshire when he had been criticised on several occasions by magistrates for pursuing cases where there was purely a technical breach of the regulations. 


In 1944 Conway Plumbe gave three talks that were broadcast by the BBC Home Service on successive Sunday evenings under the series title of Our Concern. Unfortunately the broadcasts are thought to no longer exist but the Radio Times entries do. We believe that the first talk on 27 February, which was called Your Obedient Servant, was about the work of H.M. Factory Inspectors. The second talk broadcast on 5 March was called Out of Shadow and it dealt with lighting and colour in factories. There was no reason, Conway said, why a factory should be a dull place and intelligent use of colour had been proven to reduce accidents. The third talk was on 12 March and was called The Machine is the Slave. In it Conway reminded his audience that too many factories had been built merely to house machines, their owners being forgetful of the fact that humans had to operate those machines.

Charles Conway Plumbe Charles Conway Plumbe

In January 1946, in one of the last talks he gave before his retirement, Conway Plumbe told an audience in Bristol that factory accidents occurred at the rate of one every one and a half minutes and that out of a total of 280,000 accidents a year, one thousand were fatal. "Only about 15 per cent of these accidents happen at machines," he said. "The remaining 85 per cent happen because someone does any one of a thousand foolish things." It was these "non-machine accidents" that he thought could be significantly reduced. The attitude of many people that "accidents will happen" was a very wrong one and they must endeavour to be more alert and imaginative in accident prevention.


Factory Well-Being was published by Seven Oaks Press Ltd. in 1949. It contained 126 pages, with illustrations, and was sufficiently short and simply written to be read by foremen and shop stewards as well as by factory owners and those who needed to know about the Factories Acts. The book surveys all the influences that go to make the factory a place for human occupation. Conway had learned that as well as adhering to the requirements of the Factories Acts and their regulations, there were other intangible elements that were very important for the well-being of factory workers. He referred to the "works atmosphere" and believed that sound technical experts - safety officers and medical officers - were more effective when there was also a driving force from the whole community of workers, managers and owners operating through a democratically organised health and safety committee. Democracy in industry he thought was the key to good human relations. A second book aimed at professionals, Factory Health, Safety and Welfare Encyclopaedia was published by The National Trade Press Ltd. in 1953 containing 328 pages. Many of Conway Plumbe's ideas found their way immediately into the publications of the Institute of Personnel Management.

Release From Time by C. Conway Plumbe, 1950 Dust jacket of 'Release From Time' by C. Conway Plumbe, 1950

With his place in the annals of workplace health and safety assured, perhaps Conway now felt he could turn his literary skills to other matters closer to his heart. In June 1950 Release From Time, a philosophical-spiritual work was published by Hodder & Stoughton. The book was dedicated to Queenie and any royalties were to be divided equally between the London Missionary Society and the Student Christian Movement. 


Time was beginning to be studied by mathematicians but Conway's work was intended for the layman and based upon ordinary experiences. He described a universe in which all matter, "natural laws", the three conventional dimensions (length, breadth and height), space and time itself had to have been created by a godlike intelligence. He concluded that the creator must exist outside of time and space and not be bound within them. This creator sees the past, present and future all in one and not as an ongoing sequence of events. 


Conway did not try to further justify the existence of the creator but instead he attempted to explain how time-bound events like life, suffering, death, evolution, fate, prayer, miracle and prophecy all fit within this universe. Once the time element is disregarded, the three phases of a man's life (before birth, visible life on earth and after death) are part of a whole, a life immortal. Memories are carried forward from visible life into spiritual life after death. Eternity becomes a state without time, rather than time moving on forever in chronological progression. Conway considers evil and gives an analogy with disease. Coming so soon after WW2 he uses the example of Nazism which he describes as "the symptom of a communicable soul disease."


Release From Time appears to have been well received by reviewers, being mentioned in connection with two books by the mathematician and industrialist, John Godolphin Bennett, that had been published a few years earlier. The two men may well have known each other; Bennett was chairman of the British Standards Institute at the time and they shared the same publishers.

Queenie Plumbe died on 8 December 1960, at the age of 76, in Hythe Nursing Home, Kent. The Probate Register shows that she had been living at Crossways, Littlestone-on-Sea beforehand. Charles Conway Plumbe died on 16 April 1962, then aged 80, at the same nursing home. He had previously been living at Fairlight House, 27 Fairlight Road, Hythe.

Selection of books on antiques by Bernard and Therle Hughes Selection of books on antiques by Bernard and Therle Hughes

Therle Plumbe had married George Bernard Hughes at Grappenhall, Cheshire in 1941. Bernard was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire on 30 August 1895, the son of Charles Bernard Hughes, a ship's tackle manufacturer and his wife Lydia (nee Shepherd). Bernard had volunteered for active service in World War I, enlisting in Manchester on 18 February 1916. He served with 1st Royal Marine Battalion at Arras, Paschendaele and Cambrai in 1916–1919 and suffered a gassing injury on 17 March 1918. He was demobilized on 23 February 1919 and initially returned to his former occupation as an electrical battery maker. He became a journalist in London by 1930 and was Editor-in-Chief of The Queen magazine. With the shortage of newsprint during the war, Bernard became involved in factory inspection being appointed an H.M. Inspector of Factories on 4 October 1940. His book Dry Batteries was published in 1940 and Modern Industrial Lighting in 1941. He had also become an expert in antiques and after the Second World War, Therle and Bernard went on to write and illustrate dozens of books on the subject and contribute to magazines like The Connoisseur and Country Life. They had two sons, Bernard born in 1951 and Clive born the following year. G. Bernard Hughes died in Shepway, Kent in 1975, aged 79. Therle Marguerite Conway Hughes died in Folkestone, Kent in 2005 at the age of 92.


During the Second World War, John Plumbe went into the army where he became a Major with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in India. After the war, the army wanted him to stay but he opted to return home to resume his peacetime career. A third daughter, Kate, was born in West Yorkshire in 1951. In 1967 John Plumbe was promoted to H.M. Chief Inspector of Factories and following his retirement he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours of June 1971. William John Conway Plumbe died at home in Fishpond, Bridport, Dorset on 9 November 1979 aged 69. His wife Margaret died in Exeter on 31 August 2002 at the age of 87. They are buried in Whitchurch Canonicorum, West Dorset.


We are very grateful to the Plumbe Family for the use of family photographs and for their help and encouragement in researching this article. Any mistakes are entirely our own. 


Charles Conway Plumbe
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Copies of the following books are available to borrow for members of Totley History Group:


Release from Time by C. Conway Plumbe, Hodder & Stoughton, London. 1950. Hardback, 206 pages.

Factory Well-being by C. Conway Plumbe, Seven Oaks Press Ltd., London. 1949. Hardback, 126 pages plus advertisements including one for Antiques Review by G. Bernard Hughes, Conway's son-in-law whose book Modern Industrial Lighting appears in the Bibliography.

- Voices of Silence: The Alternative Book of First World War Poetry by Vivien Noakes, Sutton Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire. 2006. Hardback, 454 pages. Contains two of Conway's poems, A Canadian to his Parents first published in Punch, vol 149, 1 September 1915; and My American Cousins first published in Punch, vol 152, 23 May 1917. Four other poems attributed to Conway in the Acknowledgements are or appear to be by Owen Seaman, who was the editor of Punch from 1906 until 1932.


We also have typed transcriptions of 12 of Conway's poems that were first published in Punch during the war years but as they may be subject to copyright we are unable to reproduce them here. The poems include The Angels of Mons and The Sherwood Foresters. Please ask for a copy if you would like to read them.     

Our email address for comments, queries and contributions is: contactus@totleyhistory

Latest News

On Wednesday 25th May local historian and author Peter Machan will tell us about a year during lockdown which he spent exploring the nearby Loxley Valley and how he discovered a surprising 'Cabinet of Curiosities' of diverse landscapes, historical characters, tragic and dramatic events, unusual occupations, perplexing ruins and unique folk tales and traditions that make the area so fascinating. The meeting begins at 7.30 Totley Library.


On Wednesday 22nd June, Nick Duggan will talk to us about Cutlery Used in Victorian Dining. Touching food with bare hands was considered to be unacceptable behaviour for Victorian diners who had to learn how to recognize and use a vast array of cutlery, flatware and serveware. Nick, a volunteer at The Hawley Collection of cutlery, tools and silverware housed alongside the Kelham Island Industrial Museum, will be our guide. The meeting begins at 7.30 p.m. in Totley Library.


On Wednesday 27th July Mike Kelley will tell us the story of one tumultuous year, from Christmas Day 1065 to Christmas Day 1066. What was it like to see 10,000 Vikings sack Scarborough? What was it like to be at the battles of Fulford, Stamford Bridge and Hastings? You will meet the heroes who stood against overwhelming odds to protect their families, and the traitors who sold their country for a price. England was never to be the same again after this eventful year. The meeting begins at 7.30pm in Totley Library.

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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