Our Heritage is under Threat.



Beauchief Abbey founded in 12thc

Never has  Heritage been so much under threat than it is now.  Lancashire’s museums collapsing under the cuts and a major museum in North East England in Jarrow closing its doors. Libraries have closed in every county and what Museums and Galleries there are left survive by using unpaid volunteers and staff on short term casual contracts. The Tourism budget was abandoned in 2010 when the regional developments were closed. But the threat is even more than that. It comes from the shedload of planning laws in the last few years and cash strapped councils that lack the ammunition to strike back.


Sheffield Rotherham Canal built 1819

There is the possible free for all, that essentially says you can ignore previous and existing planning laws, if you are creating new houses or lots of jobs. Sounds great, but planning laws are there to protect our heritage and our environment. Green spaces are essential to keep down pollution and our heritage buildings are part of a places unique selling points to incoming investors. It is also more environmentally friendly to adapt what we have, than knock down and rebuild in most cases. Councils already are often letting through planning permission because they lack the finance to set up a challenge in the courts when the developer puts in an appeal.  Now the Governments says it may intervene and over-rule local planning decisions.


Bishops House Late 15thc  farmhouse

In Sheffield every new development plan talks of hundreds if not thousands of jobs being created but where do these figures come from? Generally figures come from looking at other cities of similar size who did same thing and created  lot of jobs. However as we have no real data on  Sheffield to make comparisons. In short we don’t know how much impact following another city’s plan will have on the economic and environmental and community life of the city.

City Hall Barkers Pool

Sheffield City Hall 

Many new retail developments have failed because they have not taken into account the local retail habits and the changes in the National market. This Christmas while many National companies were complaining of the drop in sales Sheffield’s Independent retailers were saying their sales were at an all time high. So shouldn’t they be the businesses we are encouraging?

Lyceum Theatre. One of 8 theatres. Soon to be 9. 


For centuries the North has been told they are philistines, uncultured, and backwards. Northern Culture has been ridiculed and ignored despite the facts there has been and are composers, artists, innovators, philosophers, musicians, poets and writers. Outsiders from abroad actually know this and find Northern Culture fascinating.  Cultural Heritage is worth Billions to our National economy. Far from demolishing our old buildings and closing our Museums we should be promoting our uniqueness and some of the great scenery all around us.


Butchers Works once cutlery works now apartments , gallery and workshops

It is the older buildings  that are becoming space for financial, legal, and creative companies who are relocating from expensive London offices,  because they like the Heritage and the green spaces in Sheffield. They don’t want a miniature London they want somewhere different.

Regather Horn Handle Works now a cooperative venture & entertainment centre 

So want to join the Fight back? Join the Sheffield Heritage Network, or if not from Sheffield link with us via our websites or Facebook page. Lets form networks across the North.

Next Sheffield Heritage Networking event 25th  February at Crookes Social Club  http://www.crookessocial.co.uk 7pm -9.30pm

https://www.facebook.com/TimeWalkProject/  email timewalkproject@gmail.com   http://timewalk.btck.co.uk/


The Heeley Poisoning



Thirlwell Terrace is gone but the Wesleyan church that was directly across still remains.

In 1880 Kate Dover, 27 years old, ran a little sweet shop in London Road and lived with her parents in Thirlwell Terrace . Her father was a wood carver. The terrace has gone now though the Wesleyan Methodist Church across from where it was is still there but now a mosque. Kate was an independent woman for the period and was known for her fashionable clothes and a liking for the finer things in life. So much so that she was nicknamed the Queen of Heeley.

Kate met a local man living at 24 Glover Street, Thomas Skinner, an artist and etcher. Thomas Skinner was prominent in the city having invented a new method of etching designs into steel and bone which amounted to a


24 Glover place

transfer printing method and which made it possible to mass produce designs on cutlery. He was therefore a reasonably prosperous man but also at 61 years of age considerably older than Kate.  Nevertheless despite Kate’s parents misgivings the two became a couple and became engaged. After Thomas Skinner’s housekeeper moved out and after a  niece he called in to do the job also left, Kate gave up her shop and became his housekeeper, walking from her home to his house every morning and walking home with a parent at 10 p.m every night.

On the 5th of December 1881 Kate Dover bought an ounce of arsenic to colour some artificial flowers from a chemist in Abbeydale Road (The shop now called Room). She then walked to meet Thomas Skinner’s at his local pub The Big Tree at Woodseats. Thomas was in a good mood and talked of buying Kate a pony. To all they gave the impression of enjoying each other’s company and looking forward to their wedding the following March.


Chemist where Kate bought the arsenic

On the afternoon of the 6th, Mr. Marshall was called from his London Road surgery to Glover Street to attend to the couple who were both complaining of burning in their mouths and a heaviness in the stomach. On the table was the remains of a roast chicken and a separate dish of stuffing. Thomas was much worse than Kate and said ” She has done for us both this time” The suggestion being that the vegetables sent by his old housekeeper and used by Kate to make the stuffing had somehow been tampered with by the old housekeeper.

The doctor was sure this was a poisoning case and kept all the food remains etc. to be analysed. Tests showed that the stuffing from the chicken was clear but the separate stuffing was positive. On December Friday the 9th Newspapers were stating

that there was reason to believe that Skinner was “wilfully poisoned”  Certain facts have come to light which are regarded as being very damaging to a person who had access to Mr. Skinners food and this person is under police surveillance.  “ At 3 o’clock 16th December Friday Kate Dover was brought to Highfield Police Station.


An inquest was held in the Victoria Inn, a few metres away from the police station and more damning evidence had been collected by then. Kate was engaged to marry Thomas Skinner and he had told her mother he would make sure she was looked after.


Victorian Inn corner Abbeydale road and London Road where Inquest was held

But their relationship had been very volatile. John Skinner had accused her of pawning his best suit and other items to pay for her fashionable clothes. He had hit her and frequently swore at her. The jury felt there was a possible murder case and Kate was referred to the Magistrates court on Christmas Eve. 

She was committed to the Leeds Assizes where in February 1882 she was tried for murder but found guilty of manslaughter because the jury was reluctant to have a woman hang. The judge sentenced her to life. The first woman to be sentenced to penal servitude for life. However by 1901 she was obviously released as she turns up living with her sister in Rotherham. No one knows why she poisoned Thomas Skinner as there was no will found and she was due to marry him in the March in 1882. It was partly the lack of motive that helped her escape the Noose. She died at the age of 69 in Rotherham.


Old Town Hall, Magistrates Court in 1881