Samuel Shore, the quiet reformer (1738-1828)

Samuel Shore by Chantry

believed to be of Samuel Shore by Francis Chantrey

Samuel Shore was one of the 18th century’s influential reformers. Yet it would appear from his obituary that few knew the extent of his involvement.  .

The Shore family appear to have started on their road to being Sheffield’s wealthiest family by being quarry men and stone masons. Three Shore brothers are mentioned in a document as demolishing the stonework of Sheffield Castle. A descendent of one of those brothers appears in documents as  owning the first cementation works in Sheffield in 1700. Samuel’s father married a rich heiress from Liverpool.  By the time Samuel Shore was born in 1738 the Shores were one of the richest family in Sheffield.

DSCF2672The Shore family were founder members of the Upper Chapel built to house  dissenters who split from the established church. At the time of its building in 1700 they called themselves Presbyterians but over the years their beliefs changed to what became known as Unitarian.  Unitarian beliefs were not tolerated and Unitarians along with Catholics were unable to worship.

Education for dissenters was problematic as they were banned from the Universities so Samuel was sent first to a French College in London which taught science, and then to a college in Brunswick in Hannover for three years.  In 1759 Samuel married the heiress Urith Offley and with that marriage gained possession of the Norton Estate.

In 1761 Samuel  became Sheriff of Derbyshire and  a local magistrate. The posts were unusual in that under the law non conformists such as Samuel were refused entry to the Universities, politics and government posts due to what was called the test act. Samuel did not take the test yet became Sheriff.

The Test act excluded from public office (both military and civil) all those who refused to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and  refused to receive the communion according to the rites of the Church of England. Those who would not conform were also barred from the Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Samuel now had position and status that most manufacturers in the North did not have, or most dissenters either. Samuel Shore knew London well, was multi-lingual, and with a keen interest in science.  As a Unitarian Samuel was forbidden by law the right to worship.   Samuel began a fight to change the law, bring about electoral reform and establish equal rights for all under the law. This was dangerous talk in Britain. It could be construed as treason. But Samuel was gaining respect throughout Yorkshire and beyond.

One good friend was Joseph Priestley. Priestley had tried unsuccessfully  for a job in the Upper Chapel but had been turned down.  A lifetime relationship formed between them with Priestley dedicating one of his religious books to Samuel.  Priestley’s research led to the discovery of oxygen but Joseph Priestley’s radical views would eventually lead him into trouble with the government.

In 1774  Shore backed their mutual friend  the Reverend Theophilus Lindsey to set up a Unitarian Chapel in Essex street London. At the opening ceremony Priestley, Shore, and Benjamin  Franklyn are among the guests. Though Unitarian chapels were illegal at the time Samuel Shore was friends with the Attorney General who turned a blind eye to it. Through the chapel Samuel Shore was to meet William  Smith from Clapham, and in 1779 they formed a committee to fight for the abolition of the Test Act.  At about that time   Benjamin Franklyn having met Thomas Paine, the great radical writer and inventor offered him sanctuary in the USA.  It is not known if Paine and Shore’s paths crossed in London but they shared a number of mutual friends so it seems likely he at least knew of Paine before Paine became famous or infamous for his republican views.

In 1775 Samuel Shore’s sister married Thomas Walker a cotton mill owner from Manchester. Thomas Walker was very much a radical thinker with strong  links to the Lunar Society in Birmingham  Samuel had many links including  Rev Samuel Blythe junior, from Bishops House, who had sold off the Blythe’s lands in Norton to the Shores, and Benjamin Roebuck in 1759  to go to  Birmingham and set up a meeting house. In 1780 Joseph Priestley shared the pastoral responsibility with Blythe who was growing  blind. In the same year Samuel Shore. supported by Major Cartwright, he became chair of the Yorkshire Association.

Cartwright called for annually-elected parliaments, equally-sized constituencies and manhood suffrage. Cartwright recognised  manhood suffrage would involve enfranchising the lower orders, recognising that those without landed property had a right to a vote.  Cartwright also called for the abolition of under-populated rotten boroughs and their replacement as constituencies by more populous parishes. He also believed that  open polling should be replaced by the secret ballot. In order to achieve these democratic reforms, he suggested that a campaign of petitioning be launched so that the force of popular feeling be brought to bear on the corrupt, self-interested ruling order.

William Wilberforce became an Independent MP for Hull and bought a pew in the Essex Chapel and joined the Yorkshire Association. .   In April 1780  Samuels friend Cartwright  also helped establish the Society for Constitutional Information, which Samuel became vice chairman of.   Granville Sharp joined the organisation. Other members included John Horne TookeJohn ThelwallGranville SharpJosiah Wedgwood, and William Smith.    William Smith became MP for Sudbury in Suffolk in 1784 the same year that the Yorkshire Association financially backed  William Wilberforce’s campaign to  become MP for Yorkshire.

Clapham was steadily becoming famous for evangelism and Methodism.  It is not known when Samuel changed his London address to Clapham but gradually his links with Clapham were more evident. The Clapham Sect became known as the heart of the anti slavery campaigns led by Methodist Selina Hastings otherwise known as the Countess of Huntingdon.  In 1773 , Phillis Wheatley 20 years old became famous when her first  book of verse, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published, by  Selina Hastings,  In publishing it, Wheatley became the first African American  woman and first U.S. slave to publish a book of poems.  Selina introduced Phillis  to high society where  she proved that the common belief that Africans were somehow inferior and could not be educated was undoubtedly false.

Samuel’s motives for being in so many committees for constitutional change is obvious. As a Unitarian and from a Northern manufacturing family there was very little opportunity for him to obtain high offices. There were no MPs for Sheffield. In 1736 there were around 7’000 inhabitants. By 1801 there were 60’000. Those eligible to vote for a Yorkshire MP were few and also meant a long  journey to vote in York.   But equally strong was the drive to make all men equal under the law with the right to worship how they chose.

As chair at a Midland  dissenters  meeting  Samuel Shore was to say.

It is not the province of the Civil magistrates to direct, or to interfere with the religious opinions or practices of any members of the State, provided their conduct be not injurious to others. 

That all the subjects of the State, conducting themselves in an equally peaceable Manner, are equally entitled not only to Protection in the possession of their civil rights, but also to any civil honours or emoluments, which are accessible to other subjects without any regard to their religion or practices.  

Desiring nothing for ourselves but the same equal and liberal treatment , to which we think all other persons in a similar situation, are equally entitled,  it is our earnest wish that an equal participation in all civil privileges may be obtained for Dissenters of every description, to whom nothing  can be objected, besides their religious opinions or practices , and who can give that security for their Civil allegiance which the state ought to require.

  That the protestant Dissenters of this country,  have always had reason to complain of unjust treatment  ie being disqualified to hold offices of Civil Trust or Power, though their behaviour has ever been peaceable, and loyal, and though they can even boast peculiar merit, as friends to the present government.

That it becomes Dissenters, as Men feeling their own disgraceful situation and the opprobrium which that reflects upon the country, to adopt every constitutional method of procuring the redress of their grievances and thus retrieve the honour of the nation.”

In 1786, Shore was a member of the Application Committee that applied to Parliament for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act and when that motion was defeated, he resigned from his post of High Sheriff in protest

Also in 1786 a young printer called Joseph Gales moved to Sheffield to take over the newspaper. The previous paper had been a local paper and not a very large circulation. Joseph had a vision of a more radical paper, which Samuel was keen to encourage, persuading William Wilberforce to support the paper as that meant the paper was exempt from tax.

In 1787 Sharp, Thomas Clarkson and William Dillwyn formed the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Influential figures such as John WesleyJosiah WedgwoodJames Ramsay, and William Smith gave their support to the campaign. Despite pressure from members of the Clapham set Wilberforce held back joining till 1789. Suggestions were made that petitions should be raised across the country.

Samuel and his friends and relatives set up branches of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery across the country. Joseph Gales support with the rising popularity of his paper proved invaluable to publicising their cause.

In Samuel’s personal life after seven years as a widow  Samuel married Lydia Flower from Clapham and moved into Meersbrook Hall.


Meersbrook Hall, Meersbrook Park

In 1788 Samuel Shore as chairman of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery together with Rev Willkinson, John and William Shore, Mr Tudor, and Mr Watkinson (master cutler) and a Dr. Sutcliffe set up a committee to organise a petition.  Copies of the petition for people to sign were set up at Tontine Inn, the Cutlers Hall, and John and William Shore’s bank.

In thus endeavouring to rescue thousands of their innocent  and unoffending Fellow-Creatures  (innocent and unoffending at least to the Natives of this Country) from the miseries that are the necessary attendants upon such a commerce, your petitioners are, as men, influenced by the feelings of humanity; as members of a free  community, by the true principles of just and equal liberty; and as Christians, by a desire to act consistently with the Spirit of that most excellent religion, which does not confine good will and benevolent actions to a small part of the globe, or to any particular description , or complexion of men, but extends them to the whole human race.  

Your Petitioners therefore, humbly solicit this honourable house to proceed to a full and thorough investigation of this important subject: and if the most weighty and urgent reasons cannot be opposed to those advanced by your petitioners; and if those who are more immediately concerned in the question, cannot prove the Slave Trade from Africa to be agreeable to the dictates of humanity, conformable to just ideas of Liberty, and consistent with the precepts of religion, that then this honourable house will take such steps as in their wisdom may be deemed necessary, for the abolition of that inhuman and disgraceful traffic“.

The petitions strengthened William Smith and William Wilberforce’s hand to speak against the abolition of slavery.  In Gales Paper and elsewhere the pressure for boycotting sugar from slave plantations gained momentum. Many abolitionists were also campaigning for reform. Joseph Priestley, Thomas Paine, and William Smith had all visited Revolutionary France. Samuel’s Brother in Law had strong links to the new French Government. The ideas of a more equal society were understandably exciting to many in Britain.

The government was getting exceedingly nervous, not helped by the publication of Paine’s Rights of Man, putting forth republican views, and the rise of the Corresponding Societies (more political societies for change) Samuel Shore had helped Joseph Gales set one up at the Free Masons Hall in Paradise Square. The new Corresponding societies were seen as radicalizing the “riff-raff” Many Unitarians including William Smith openly praised the Revolution.  Joseph Priestley said :-

The glorious revolutions in America & France have propagated truths which will never be extinguished for Truth is like a spark of Fire which flyeth up in the face of those who attempt to tread it out.”

However the fire that happened was in Joseph’s house,  meeting house, and all his scientific notes and equipment burning in Birmingham lit by a mob who stormed the homes of dissenters. Samuel called for calm in Sheffield but a celebration of the revolution took a violent turn when many of the towns people attacked the debtors prison letting the inmates out, and smashed the windows and furniture of the Duke of Norfolk’s agents house and then as the army presence swelled up went on the rampage at Broomhall  home of the Vicar Wilkinson, smashing windows and furniture and books and attempting to set fire to the House. Having failed to do so they set fire to six of his hay ricks. But the protest in Sheffield was not really about revolution but attacking those they deemed responsible for enclosing Common land.

The corresponding societies were enthused by Thomas Paines Rights of Man and helped publish special cheaper versions so all could read it. A million copies were sold.  The corresponding societies were not however preaching violence but what they saw was a return to constitutional rights.

 That it is no less the Right than the Duty of every Citizen, to keep a watchful eye on the Government of his Country; that the Laws, by being multiplied, do not degenerate into Oppression; and that those who are entrusted with the Government, do not substitute Private Interest for Public Advantage.

 That the People of Great Britain are not effectually represented in Parliament.

That in Consequence of a partial, unequal, and therefore inadequate Representation, together with the corrupt Method in which Representatives are elected; oppressive Taxes, unjust Laws, restrictions of Liberty, and wasting of the Public Money, have ensued.

That the only Remedy to those Evils is a fair, equal, and impartial Representation of the People in Parliament.

That a fair, equal, and impartial Representation can never take Place, until all partial Privileges are abolished.

That this Society do express their Abhorrence of Tumult and Violence, and that, as they aim at Reform, not Anarchy, Reason, Firmness, and Unanimity are the only Arms they themselves will employ, or persuade their Fellow-Citizens to exert, against Abuse of Power                 

In 1792 Thomas Paine escaped to France having been warned that the government were planning his arrest.   A trial was held in his absence. The government  argued that Paine’s work inflamed the populace and distributed radical ideas to those without the experience to understand them.  Paine was found guilty. The verdict was seen by the government as legitimising their repression of radicalism.

In April 1793 Gales chaired an open meeting in Sheffield on parliamentary reform. At the meeting it was decided to start a petition in support of universal suffrage. Gales eventually presented Parliament with a petition signed by 8,000 people from Sheffield. By May 1794 the Sheffield Register was selling over 2,000 copies a week. Such a large circulation was extremely unusual for a provincial newspaper in the 18th century. Sheffield was now seen as the most radical town in Britain.

The government was also worried about the growth and tactics of the parliamentary reform movement in Sheffield. At a large meeting of the Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information, chaired by Henry Redhead Yorke, a resolution was passed that abandoned the policy of petitioning Parliament. William Pitt and his government feared that this meant that reformers in Sheffield would now resort to violence.

In 1794  Thomas Walker was prosecuted for treasonable conspiracy. Although the  treason charge against Walker was dropped he was brought to trial on a seditious conspiracy charge in 1794 in Lancaster together with ten defendants but the evidence was proved to be falsified  and they all walked free.

The authorities started arresting members of the Corresponding Societies. Thomas MuirThomas Fyshe PalmerWilliam SkirvingJoseph Gerrald and Maurice Margarot were found guilty of sedition and were sentenced to between seven and fourteen years transportation. Thomas HardyJohn Horne Tooke and John Thelwall were tried with treason but the charges failed to stick and they were released

Joseph Gales wrote articles in the Sheffield Register attacking the arrest of reformers. He also mounted a campaign against the suspension of habeas corpus. Gales was now considered a dangerous man and was charged with conspiracy. Aware that he would not receive a fair trial, Gales decided to flee the country. After publishing the last edition of the Sheffield Register on 27th June, 1794, Gales escaped to Germany. It is not known what Samuel Shore felt about Gales. Many have said that Shore was not a republican which was true, but what we do know that it was Shore money that was paid to Gales wife to allow them to escape to America.

In 1807 the aged Samuel Shore formed a Committee to support Fitzwilliam’s son Lord Milton who stood for the West Riding as a Whig.  With the Corresponding societies now illegal Samuel formed a new group called the Friends of Reform in 1810 which held a dinner for Samuel’s old friend John Cartwright in 1812.

In 1813 William Smith finally managed to have an act passed that  allowed for toleration of Unitarians worship. William Smith visited Meersbrook a number of times. No doubt as Samuel was now in his 70s the journey to London was becoming too much.  However there are signs that Samuel had not lost his campaigning spirit.

In 1819 Samuel Shore appears as Chairman at a meeting to protest at the Massacre at Peterloo  when the cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

Mr Rawson from Wardsend addressed the crowd

“Gentlemen, I have always been accustomed to consider it to be an inalienable  and an indisputable  right of the people to meet for a redress of grievances, and that too without any restriction in point of numbers. There are some who may object  to public meetings, alleging that they counteract, by their very violence, the cause which they are intended to support. This was not the opinion of our ancestors: if it had been so -where should we have been now? – in a state similar to that of Spain or Portugal. When our ancestors felt themselves aggrieved, they petitioned, addressed, fought, bled, and died for their liberties; and, dying, bequeathed us this right of meeting together on all matters as an heir-loom, to be preserved to our latest posterity, uncontaminated and unimpaired.” 

In 1824 Samuel Shore was seen in the news again at a meeting in the Town Hall as President of the Sheffield auxiliary  branch of the Anti-slavery society.

Sadly Samuel never saw the Great Reform Act which gave 2 MPs to Sheffield in 1832 or the abolition of the Slave Trade in 1833 as he died in 1828 at the age of 90 at Meersbrook Hall.

His obituary states

” Activity of body, no less than activity and energy of mind belonged to Mr. Shore. He enjoyed through his long life an enviable state of health and that eveness and elasticity of spirit which belongs peculiarly to those who are in constant action, and who have the hope which religion gives. He sunk very gradually into the tomb. He was truly a green old age.”



The economics of reuse vs demolition and rebuild

In essence, neglecting to take into account the economic value of cultural heritage conservation and the full costs and benefits of policies, regulations, and projects with cultural components can lead to sub-optimal allocation of resources in the sector, investment failure, and continuous degradation of the world’s cultural assets.  Economic Valuation of Cultural Heritage: Evidence and Prospects By Susana Mourato and Massimiliano Mazzanti

I suppose like many my first memories of a remarkable heritage building was being taken to see one by a family member. In my case it was Penrith castle with my Grandfather and playing among the ruins and seeing the remains of the huge fireplace are memories that have stayed with me. Hard to say why Heritage is important but I am certainly not alone in my feelings. Heritage evokes an emotional response in a wide variety of people and makes historic buildings an economic asset as well as a community asset. However there is a third factor that should be taken into account and that is the green aspect of historic buildings.

Research suggests that sustainable maintenance and refurbishment of historic buildings uses 23% less energy than new construction. Figures given by several researchers suggest that it will take between 40 and 65 years for a green and energy-efficient building to recover the energy and resources lost in the demolition of an historic building, and that demolition waste can make between a quarter to a third of all landfill.

Demolition Jessop

Reducing carbon emissions associated with the built environment means reducing the emissions associated with the whole lifecycle of buildings.  It is not necessary to demolish a building and replace it to have a greener building. Refurbishment and retrofitting of buildings, including insulation, replacing windows and boilers, heating networks, and installing renewable energy, can improve the performance of existing buildings to near-new standards.

We have two prime examples of retrofitting of listed buildings in Sheffield now, Sheffield Cathedral has a more energy efficient heating system, and the Lyceum Theatre has installed a wide range of energy saving measures.

Lyceum Theatre. Rescued from demolition by the public. Award winning productions

Lyceum Theatre. Rescued from demolition by the public. Award winning productions

If you demolish an old building, even if you leave the façade, the chances are that it will take at least 12 months to rebuild and be ready for occupation. If you retrofit you can do some things while the people are resident and others in a matter of days. You don’t need a lot of machinery or disruption of adjoining businesses and you are more likely to be using local contractors to do the work.

Broom Hall

Broom Hall

But surely retailers and businesses want new modern buildings? Evidence would suggest quite a sizeable number prefer the character of an older building and other research suggests that it is the uniqueness and historic character of a city that brings in the type of investor who also moves into the city to live so keeping the investment within the local economy. Economists call it Livability.

Sheffield hosts the biggest entrepreneur conference in the UK  but we are not selling our city to the delegates in the best way we could. We do not play to our strengths.

Yes we are a great outdoor city with  ancient woodlands, parks and part of the National Park within our boundaries but if you are going to set up a business are they the factors that would sway you to choose Sheffield?

Sheffield has some great historic buildings available. Research has shown that new startup businesses like the old works buildings as they are cheap, adaptable and present an image of stability.  The many cutlery factories have been proved by, Albyn, Portland, Harland, and Stag, and APG, to be great for a wide range of creative people who have found the arrangement of workshops around a central courtyard perfect for making a creative hub where ideas are exchanged.

Portland Works. cutlery works with workshops. Now community owned. Birthplace of Stainless Steel Cutlery

Portland Works. cutlery works with workshops. Now community owned. Birthplace of Stainless Steel Cutlery

Creative Industry thrives in older, mixed-use neighbourhoods.  Older smaller buildings house  significantly greater concentrations of creative jobs per square foot of commercial space. Media production businesses, software publishers, and performing arts companies can be found in areas that have smaller-scaled   historic fabric.

Commercial and mixed use districts with a mix of old and new buildings have a significantly higher proportion of non chain restaurants and retailers and also a significantly higher proportion of jobs in small businesses. These areas also have significantly more jobs per commercial square foot.

From a retailer’s point of view Sheffield has also a wide range of old chapels, banks and Georgian shops  and pubs that bring a great character that only an older building can bring. Very few Independent traders or small businesses use new buildings as besides it being cheaper and more individual it is also easier to fit in with the existing community.  The amazing Antiques Quarter uses a wide range of old buildings. It wouldn’t look the same if all the buildings were brand new.

Devonshire street. Its viability now under threat

Devonshire street. Its viability now under threat

Research on the economic impact of the historic environment for Heritage Counts 2010 found that over 90% of respondents in case study areas agreed or strongly agreed that investment in their local historic environment made the area a better place in which to live, work, visit or operate a business.

Furthermore case studies in five areas indicated that 25% of businesses agreed or strongly agreed that heritage was an important factor affecting the decisions of businesses to locate in the area. In terms of influence, heritage ranked equal with road access as a determinant of business location

Across the UK central urban living is increasing and visiting the town centre regularly for retail purchases decreasing. Large shopping centres are quite possibly going to become the dinosaur that Sheffield Markets had become due to changing retail habits. Judging retail by floor space when many large businesses sell online is outmoded thinking. The customer is either local or comes seeking a unique shopping experience with leisure catering in that mix. Certainly in Sheffield a high number of shoppers in the city centre either come on foot or by public transport.

Studies elsewhere have found that investment in the older more distinctive buildings has had a knock on effect in the area. Inhabitants have had a stronger sense of local pride and say they also feel safer. A report by IPSOS MORI, into public perceptions of beauty, shows the built and natural environment play an important part in how people view the places they live. A striking area of consensus in the findings was in the value people placed on old versus new buildings. Across all age groups, older buildings were favoured as being ‘more beautiful’. The most common reason people gave was that older buildings conveyed a sense of longevity and grandeur.

The patchy mainly community based restoration of Sheffield’s heritage means that presenting a uniform and more commercial image of Sheffield’s heritage is difficult. Much of what we have in Sheffield is of worldwide significance historically and we need to look at ways that we can present this which would bring in tourism and investment. As many of the older significant buildings are in deprived low income areas, it could bring in more jobs and boost the local economy.

Manor Lodge

Manor Lodge

The value of heritage tourism is expected to increase between 2013 and 2025, as the economic output in tourism is expected to rise from £58 billion (4.1% of the UK economy) to £119 billion (4.6% of the UK economy), with the number of tourism jobs rising from 1.75 million jobs to 2.10 million jobs over the same period. Sheffield has no designated councillor or officer responsible for tourism or indeed and designated funding for tourism. Could this be why Sheffield performs badly despite the significant rise in Yorkshire Tourism. It is true that the numbers of people attending festivals has increased rapidly but mid week visitors are in short supply and mainly on business. It is Tourists in particular (esp older tourists known as the Grey Pound) who could bring long lasting jobs and help revitalise the retail hubs within the city more than any rebuilding of the city centre.

These are all strong reasons as to why Sheffield Council  needs to put our old buildings at the head of regeneration plans not as an afterthought or an add on. Why we need to group together all the people who think keeping our old buildings is important. That way we turn up the volume.


The Role of Historic Buildings in Urban regeneration. Eleventh report of Session 2003-2004 Volume 1 report. House of Commons ODPM: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Region’s Committee.       Heritage Counts 2014

Heritage Lottery Funding – strategic framework 2013-2018 A lasting difference for Heritage and people.

Lose or Reuse. Managing Heritage sustainability.  by Lydia Wilson published 2007 Ulster Architectural Heritage Society 66 Donegal Pass, Belfast B17 1BU

New Ideas need Old Buildings Heritage Lottery Fund. April 2013.

Older smaller Better measuring how the character of buildings and blocks influence urban vitality May 2014    USA

Reusing existing buildings towards sustainable regeneration. School of architecture: Place Culture and Identity Group working paper. Dr. Aylin Orbasli, BArch DPhil March 2008 Oxford Brookes University

Energy Costs in an Old House: Balancing Preservation and Energy Efficiency by Sally Zimmerman, Preservation Specialist Historic Homeowner Membership Program. Historic New England Sept 2008

Demolition or refurbishment of Social Housing? A review of the evidence 27th Oct 2014 UCL Urban Lab and Engineering Exchange for Just Space and the London Tenants Federation

Renovate or Replace? The case for restoring and reusing older school buildings.  published by Save Our Land, Save Our Towns Inc. The Pennsylvania Historic Schools Task Force.

The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse a report by Preservation Green Lab, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Values and Benefits of heritage. A research view January 2015 compiled by the Heritage Lottery Fund Strategy and Development Department Gareth Maaer/Amelia Robinson  NBS strategy for low emission refurbishment.  extract from The Handbook of Sustainable Refurbishment: Non-Domestic Buildings by Nick V. Baker

The economic Power of Heritage and Place. How historic Preservation is building a sustainable Future in Colarado Oct 2011

The economics of Uniqueness

Walkley Carnegie Library

Walkley Carnegie Library

Two years ago I and a few friends felt it would be a good idea to map out Sheffield’s heritage.  I also started listing all the heritage groups and organisations which are at a rough estimate  around 120.  It became obvious that there needed to be a central point for heritage events. It turned out to be a big job as there is over two thousand a year.

People come to me grateful because their area and history has been highlighted.  Whether newly moved to the area or there for generations, the history and the heritage buildings in their neighbourhood give the place where they live its unique identity.

It turns out that the unique identity is recognised as important not

Cornish Works

Cornish Works

only by heritage organisations but by the World Bank, and the EU. They are not looking at it from purely a resident community point of view but from a green sustainable economy aspect.   It is about the economic value of uniqueness. What makes your city different from another similar city? What can you offer that no other city can offer?

People like to feel they are living and working in a unique historic environment. If you are running a cafe or other Indy business, an old building gives your business a unique image What is surprising is that high tech businesses and upmarket retailers like it too. It gives their business gravitas.

If heritage is a saleable asset  why are old buildings being knocked down? Why are places like the Devonshire Quarter losing their identity?  Why are we continually “fire fighting” to protect our heritage? Simple answer is that Sheffield Council don’t recognize heritage’s importance in the regeneration of the city. Nor have they considered the green aspect of not knocking down but adapting existing building stock.

Albyn Works

Albyn Works

A major problem is that designers live in London and the manufacturers are here.  We don’t have the loft apartments for young professionals that cities like Manchester has. There is still a tendency to see the city centre as a place to shop and work, but not to live in, except if you are a student.  If we are to keep our designers (many fine ones graduated in Sheffield) and bring in investment we need to make Sheffield an attractive place to live and work.

Our heritage is a big plus point in so many ways, the ancient woodlands, the Victorian parks and the wide range of old factories, houses and shops that can be adapted. There are already some great conversions. The same type of buildings converted to student accommodation could also be adapted to private apartments.

Also within the old buildings are opportunities for community run enterprises or community owned enterprises such as

Castle House

Castle House

Portland Works and Summit studios. The council owns a number of heritage buildings in the parks could be used for this, which would not only reduce the council’s costs it would also provide work and upgrade many of the tired listed buildings we have in the city.

Cities with a sustainable economy plan such as Bristol have several hundred local organisations working together in collaboration and cutting costs for the council by doing so. These councils have access to a huge range of experts at no cost. People feel they have a stake in the city and will be listened to. The old councils who remain distant and disconnected or isolate groups into different categories are noticeable when you look at economic activity. They do badly.

The Rockefeller Foundationin its list of desirable achievements for a resilient economy is to

“Ensure everybody is well informed, capable, and involved in their city. This includes access to information and education, communication between the government and public, knowledge transfer, and timely and appropriate monitoring.” So why isn’t Sheffield doing this?

RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce)   summarizes how heritage is so important.

Old Town Hall Waingate

Old Town Hall Waingate

  • Participating in heritage can contribute to people’s personal development, and there is emerging evidence of a positive relationship between heritage participation, wellbeing and health.
  • The historic environment is seen as making a positive contribution to community life by boosting social capital, increasing mutual understanding and cohesion and encouraging a stronger place – but further research is needed to understand these effects in full.
  • Heritage makes a contribution to UK GDP, particularly as a driver of overseas tourism but also in making a place attractive to those looking to work, study or undertake business; recent research has found that cultural and historical sites are the most important asset in making a country attractive.
  • Economists have developed methods to monetise the overall value 358of particular heritage sites. People typically gain more value from a site than it costs them to visit, and the total value generated by a site can be considerably greater than the cost of its upkeep.
  • The historic environment has a potentially powerful role to play in shaping distinctive, vibrant, prosperous places; further research on the role of heritage in everyday life and the relationship between heritage and identity will help to realise the potential.

Individual impacts such as pleasure and fulfilment, meaning and identity, challenge and learning and the relationships between heritage participation and health and wellbeing.

  • Community impacts including social capital, community cohesion and citizenship.
  • Economic impacts such as job creation and tourism
  • Bishops House Museum

    Bishops House Museum


Why Sheffield Needs its Heritage Buildings

Meersbrook Hall, originally family home, then Ruskin Museum, now offices for Sheffield Parks

Meersbrook Hall, originally family home, then Ruskin Museum, now offices for Sheffield Parks

At present we have no councillor who is designated with heritage as their specific responsibility, nor has it been discussed in the recent Sheffield Green Commission. Something that is a little ironic given that the councillor present, Jayne Dunn is a Cabinet Member for Environment and recycling. Recycling isn’t only about glass bottles and newspapers. Buildings can be recycled too.

Grenoside Reading Room former school, library, now community hall

Grenoside Reading Room former school, library, now community hall

Our heritage is one of the great assets in our city.  It is what makes Sheffield unique.  Shiny new buildings may seem the best way to indicate a modern progressive city, but this is an outdated concept.  Modern thinking has realised there is an economic advantage in utilising a city historic buildings.  Researchers have found  that innovation, new products, new services  and, new economic growth – flourish best in cities possessing a good stock of historic, distinctive buildings. This is why organisations like the World Bank are encouraging investment in heritage. Sheffield has over 1’000 listed buildings.


Old Queens Head Pond Hill, originally a refreshment station for Castle occupants, then laundry and back to being refreshment station ie pub.

People prefer shopping in an area with character. As more shopping is done online and large retailers are finding it hard to be viable on the high street, research indicates that shoppers are seeking a “Grand Day Out” with leisure, catering and retailing found together. Experts agree there needs to be more special retail hubs like the Sharrow Antique Quarter, and the Devonshire Quarter who have a strong historic character and a mix of retail, living accommodation, creative industry and leisure.

Totley Manor now part of Hallam University

Totley Manor now part of Hallam University

Modern conference organisers look for cities with a distinctive character. Universities attract students not purely for their   academic status, but also the environment students work and live in. It is surely no coincidence that both Universities own a substantial number of listed buildings?

Sheffield industries no longer trek down to London to Trade Fairs to look for the

Butchers Works once cutlery works now apartments , gallery and workshops

Butchers Works once cutlery works now apartments , gallery and workshops

big bulk buyers. The Internet has produced a different way of doing business. Companies are getting relatively small   orders per customer but from a larger number of customers. The need is to produce a strong creative hub within the city because there is often a wide geographical gap between designers and manufacturers. For Sheffield to compete it needs to create a desirable environment for talented people to select Sheffield as the place to live and work.

Manor Lodge Yorkshire's fastest growing museum & part of Manor regeneration

Manor Lodge Yorkshire’s fastest growing museum & part of Manor regeneration

Older buildings are greener and adaptable and create an atmosphere that encourages creativity. Businesses based in listed buildings are highly productive and make an estimated annual contribution to UK GDP of £47billion and employ approximately 1.4 million people. Heritage is one of the biggest drivers of the UK’s tourism industry, which has estimated to be approximately £85.6 billion. Rather than being a drag on productivity, listed buildings attract businesses in the most productive sectors of the economy.

In Dublin they found that after refurbishing two historic areas that new Hi tech industries moved in. Research has found that knowledge based industries like working in historic buildings. In Poland the industrial town of Lodz redeveloped an old cotton mill mixing residential, retail, cultural and heritage creating 3,500 jobs. In the UK Glasgow by including historic buildings in their regeneration policies they have significantly improved both their image and their economy.

The Castlegate district could be an exciting change in thinking where heritage and modern development

The Old Town Hall Waingate scene of Chartist riots, refuge from Sheffield Floods etc.

The Old Town Hall Waingate scene of Chartist riots, refuge from Sheffield Floods etc.

are seen as complimentary. The green corridor, the castle ruins and park, and the renovation of the Old Town Hall, could create a place where people want to live, work, shop, and spend their leisure time. This is the birthplace of Sheffield, and its buildings tell Sheffield’s story. It is important that the area is developed sensitively. Not lose its heritage amongst high rise buildings.

Sheffield needs to embrace modern thinking, and to form a strong partnership between Business, Council, and Community. The old attitude of measuring progress by demolishing the old and replacing with new in a belief that this makes a city marketable needs to change. At present there is no obvious Council strategy re conservation of heritage and urban re-development. The danger is that we will lose assets we cannot replace, and any marketing advantage we have as a unique historic city.


Worldwide there has become an emphasis on investment in Cultural  Heritage UNESCO,  The World Bank, and the  EU  sees heritage investment as part of the  agenda for inclusive green growth and sustainable development. Heritage investment promotes an efficient model of built assets and land, maximising the benefits of adaptively reusing assets that could otherwise be neglected or underutilized.

  1. Competitive.

A city’s Heritage is a strong selling point. It makes a city distinctive.  When there is fierce competition throughout the world a city’s uniqueness  gives it the edge. Research find  that innovation, new products, new services  and, new economic growth – flourish best in cities possessing a good stock of historic, distinctive buildings

  1. Green

To restore an old building is much lower carbon foot print than demolishing an old building and replacing it with a new one. Reusing built assets and regenerating underutilized land in central locations is very much a worldwide agenda

  1. Adaptability.

Older buildings are suitable for a huge variety of business use. They have character and colour, so creating the distinctive leisure quarters of cities and an atmosphere that fosters creativity.

  1. Generates Income

Across the UK, the businesses based in listed buildings are highly productive and make an estimated annual contribution to UK GDP of £47billion and employ approximately 1.4 million people. Culture and heritage are the biggest drivers of the UK’s tourism industry, which was estimated to be worth approximately £85.6 b in 2006, with over 32.6 m overseas visitors in 2007.

  1. Good for the Community

Heritage anchors people to their roots builds self-esteem, and restores dignity. Identity matters to all vibrant cities and all people.  UNESCO, the World Bank and the EU all believe this is an important factor in making a city livable.

Lyceum Theatre. Rescued from demolition by the public. Award winning productions

Lyceum Theatre. Rescued from demolition by the public. Award winning productions


Heritage and Tourism Bibliography

Cultural heritage contributes to sustainable growth through merging modernity and tradition, and through a creative combination of the legacy of the past with innovative ideas aimed at shaping the future. Heritage is thus seen as a resource, which not only preserves historic memory but, if used creatively, can also bring various social and economic benefits to a variety of stakeholders. It raises the profile of places making them more competitive in the contemporary world, and serves as a source of inspiration for the contemporary arts and creative industries

Oxford economics The Economic impact of the UK Heritage Tourism economy by Kareen El Beyrouty Andrew Tessler May 2013 2014

The Contribution of Arts and Culture to the National Economy an analysis of the macroeconomic contribution of the arts and culture and of some of their indirect contributions through spillover effects felt in the wider economy. CEBR making business sense…Report for Arts Council England and the National Museums Director’s  Council May 2013

EU Tourism industry sub-sectors Country report United Kingdom March 2014

The Social and economic Value of Cultural Heritage; literature review by Cornelia Dumcke and Mikhail Gnedovsky EENC Paper July 2013

Measuring economic impact of CCls policies How to justify investment in cultural and creative assets April 2012 K A European Affairs EU

Cultural Heritage as a socio-economic development factor Archimedes Action to regenerate cities and help innovative Mediterranean Economic Development Enhancing Sustainability

The Economics of Uniqueness Investing in Historic City Cores and Cultural Heritage assets for sustainable development Edited by Guido Licciardi and Rana Armitahmasebi Urban Development Series, The World Bank

The Changing Face of the High Street : Decline and Revival A review of retail and town centre issues in historic areas June 2013

Beyond Retail Redefining the shape and purpose of town centres. November 2013 Taskforce and Hark Group

Unlocking town centre retail developments GVA May 2012 The Purple Pound. Volume and Value of Accessible Tourism in England 2014

New opportunities for the Tourism Market: Senior Tourism and Accessible Tourism. Elisa Alen, Trinidad Dominguez and Nieves Losada University of Vigo Spain.



Portland Works. cutlery works with workshops. Now community owned. Birthplace of Stainless Steel Cutlery

Portland Works. cutlery works with workshops. Now community owned. Birthplace of Stainless Steel Cutlery

Ruskin Museum at Meersbrook Hall

Ruskin Museum SheffieldOn April 15th 189O the New Ruskin Museum was opened by a silver key by the Earl of Carlisle.
“Certain it is that the many precious things into which the master of St. George’s Guild would fain educate our people in the love of beauty and of art, will be displayed at Meersbrook as they have never been displayed before; and opportunities for their profitable study will be afforded such as were utterly impossible in the confined and inaccessible building in Walkley.”  (The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent April 5th 1890)
Not only were the contents of Walkley transferred to this Georgian House but 160 drawings from a failed museum at Bewdley that were on loan, and a collection of minerals and drawings formerly given to the Town Clerk’s care. So a much larger collection than Walkley. The Papers blithely say how good the delay has been in that they acquired the use of Meersbrook House.
” A few years’ waiting has placed at the disposal of the Corporation, in Meersbrook House, a building so well adapted as a home for the museum. Free from the disadvantage of an intrusive newness, it has nevertheless after a few structural alterations, ample light and space.”
Meersbrook Hall Ruskin 1895-page-0Four rooms were given over to the Ruskin collection or really five in that two rooms were knocked into one to make a gallery, one for the collection of the minerals, one as Library and print room and finally a room for the attendant. The walls were adorned with quotes from Ruskin, “All things are noble in proportion to their fullness of life” and “Pleasant wonder is no loss of time” and “Nothing that is great is easy.”
“The Museum contained specimens, copies, casts, etc., selected
by John Ruskin, paintings, engravings, drawings, illuminated work , sculpture, and crystallised gems and precious stones.Things interesting in natural history, or in legend, were used as drawing copies, to train the “hand and Eye.”
Ruskin always drew a sharp distinction between central Museums, which should be store-houses for the 11046362_414825548685639_7067766445662807871_n
research of specialists or advanced students, and local Museums, which should be for “simple persons.” It is not quite evident what classification Meersbrook Ruskin Museum came into but given the level of visitors it certainly was popular. But Ruskin didn’t want it to be a Sunday school for children or a place of entertainment. He felt everything should be laid out carefully and thoroughly explained but not overcrowded and the items on show should be rotated and sometimes the layout changed for a special exhibition. Ruskin’s ideas of museums is more in line with our modern thinking I think
” There must be “no superabundance and no disorder”; the purpose of the place is to give “an example of perfect order of elegance,” containing “nothing crowded, nothing unnecessary, nothing puzzling”
“The Lecture Room is well filled when the Curator discourses on various branches of art of science illustrated in the Museum. The Curator also expounds the objects in the Museum on the occasion of regular visits paid by children from the elementary schools under the regulations of the Board of Education. The Ruskin Societies in Manchester and Liverpool and other large cities visit it, and it is a meeting-place for the “circles” of a vigorous Ruskin Club in Sheffield itself. The fame of the Ruskin Museum has spread to other lands, and the present Curator was recently invited to lecture upon it (in connexion with a People’s Museum to be11083622_414824945352366_2736416367731422545_nestablished at Berlin) at a Museums Conference held in Mannheim; an illustrated report on the Ruskin Museum was published in Berlin at the same time.”

jpeg document0011

Plan of projected park land prior to purchase

By the time of the opening of the Meersbrook Museum Ruskin was elderly and frail. He had not had a hand in writing the catalogue of the items or much involvement in the layout or the placing of the items. He was even too ill to join in the opening ceremony.
The story behind the Ruskin museum in Meersbrook Park was much more complex than a simple transfer of the collection from an over-crowded Walkley Museum to a larger Georgian Hall. Even the buying of Meersbrook Park and the buildings within it were not without controversy and indeed scandal. They had been discussing buying the Park since 1874. It was not until 1886 they celebrated the buying of the park at the Red Lion for the grand price of £7’500 for 37 acres. The original park was going to be bigger, but the price per acre was twice what the Council paid for Endcliffe Park and Hillsborough. Even after the Park was bought and the Ruskin Collection moved in a huge Fraud case erupted concerning the Land trust that had sold the estate.
DSCF2480There had been plans to build houses across the whole estate and demolish the Tudor Farmhouse at the top. Many pleaded for the Park to be bought while others felt that this was purely to make the surrounding land and buildings more valuable. That was the Duke of Norfolk’s purpose when he created Norfolk Park from part of the old deer park. Why should tax payers pay to line landowners and developers pockets? What saved Meersbrook Park was the increasing enthusiasm for Soccer and of course Ruskin.

Even before Meersbrook estate became a public park soccer matches had been played there. The argument made was that they needed a park to play football in. Weston Park was too small and Norfolk Park was not owned by the Corporation so every match they wanted to play there meant that they had to ask the Duke permission. But what to do with the old Hall and Bishops House at the top?
Ruskin had founded his Museum in 1875 in Walkley in a cottage. His purpose was to inspire the local DSCF9415
artisans. In 1885 they built a further extension but Ruskin collection was continually increasing and the space was getting tighter and tighter. It outgrew the accommodation, and the question arose, what to do with the additional objects.

Ruskin declined to have them merged in any general museum at Sheffield. He proposed to build a museum of his own, either at Sheffield or elsewhere, and he had plans drawn for the building. Sheffield didn’t want to lose the Museum and started putting up suggestions of suitable buildings Ruskin could use.

In 1880, Ruskin used a letter in Fors Clavigera to ask the public to help him realize plans for a new building. He had in mind ‘a working man’s Bodleian Library’, asking the architect E. R. Robson to produce preliminary designs. It was initially proposed that ‘the building should be of red brick, faced with the marbles of Derbyshire’ Robson objected that ‘neither Derbyshire nor any other marbles would stand in our climate’, and argued for granite instead. Robson quoted an estimated cost of £5000.

Although several sites for the new museum were considered, a piece of land on the Endcliffe Hall estate was the focus of attention. However, by the end of 1883 everything seemed to be in good train. A public meeting was held at Sheffield; the sum of £5000 was guaranteed and an acre of land was promised at Endcliffe Gardens; and an appeal for subscriptions However problems arose. The trade Unions felt that Endcliffe was too far from their work so they would find great difficulty getting to the Museum. The Council were concerned that Ruskin would not gift the objects to them but insisted that they remain in the St George’s Guild’s ownership. The Guild was set up by Ruskin as trustees for the collection. The reason for the Council’s concern was that they felt it was a lot to ask of them to spend money on a purpose built museum if the collection could be removed at any time.

In 1885 Ruskin announced his scheme of building a museum at Bewdley, and he invited public subscriptions for the purpose.. No response, however, was forthcoming.

In 1886 the Corporation had purchased the Meersbrook estate of forty acres, and they suggested that Ruskin should transfer the Walkley Museum to the house in this Park. He had not, however, as yet abandoned all hope of receiving help to build a new museum of his own, and he declined the Corporation’s offer; though, he generously offered to present any museum which should be established at Meersbrook both with drawings and with minerals.

Presently, however, failing health and vanishing hopes wrought a change, and in 1889 it was definitely decided that St. George’s Museum should be moved from Walkley to Meersbrook. The Guild on its part agreed to lend the contents of the Museum to the Corporation for a period of twenty years; the Corporation agreed to provide suitable accommodation, and to defray all the costs of maintenance. The Trustees of the Guild are members of the Museum Committee. The house in Meersbrook Park was suitably decorated and arranged; and the collections were transferred.

But not everything in the garden was lovely, a year after the Collection was transferred, despite all the refurbishment, the roof needed major repairs at a cost of £6’000. William White the curator appealed in 1892 to the Companions for extra funds to support the new museum. Mrs Talbot, one of the other Guild Companions, who had given a lot of property to the Guild, had opposed the move to Meersbrook on the grounds that Ruskin had wanted the Guild museum to be a small but choice collection, and blocked funding. And for some reason White also fell out with John Ruskin. By 1899 White was feeling attacked from all sides.

“My detractors take no interest whatever in Mr. Ruskin, nor in the Museum – only in trying to prop up and patch up the worn-out old structure which is impossible to keep weather-proof – and never have.”
White was sacked soon after that letter and a new Curator appointed.
It is not known whether the repairs issues were solved as I could not find any accounts of requests for repairs in the Museum and Parks committee meetings.

As far as the public were concerned the museum was a great success with visitor numbers averaging 45’000 visitors and 600 students per annum. But despite these numbers the Council was not happy and in several meetings discussed moving the collection to a more central place. This despite Ruskin constantly saying before he died that he wished the collection to be in a natural setting and away from the worst of the industrial smog.

With the advent of the Second World War there was concern about the collections safety and the contents Bombing Map Blitz
were removed to a community hall on the Chatsworth Estate for the duration of the war. It is not certain what the hall was used for during the war though there is some hint that the lower rooms were used as social rooms for RAF personnel. In 1940 for 2 nights Sheffield was subject to severe bombing. Bombing in and around Meersbrook Park was particularly heavy, but, despite a bomb falling 50 yards from the House, and several in nearby streets, the House emerged unscathed.The collection returned to the Hall and fond memories are expressed from those who remember it.

“My neighbour Myra grew up opposite Ruskin Museum and remembers the big peacock in the foyer as you went in, the Museum Keeper who always wore a uniform, very smart and imposing with shiny buttons and he always wore white gloves. Out front were benches with flowerbeds in front of them and the playground was almost next to it just up the hill a bit, she doesn’t know why they moved it from amongst the trees. So her mum could sit on a bench whilst the children played. She used to put one foot on the grass and wait for Mr Abel or “Lanky” (could be another park keeper or Mr Abel) to chase her off.

Inside all she remembers is the MAGICAL staircase with the beautiful coloured window. She says she doesn’t remember upstairs or any particular exhibits apart from the peacock which she was told was the last surviving peacock of the ones that used to roam around the rhododendron bushes (now flowerbeds) on the slope in front of the house and that they stuffed it cos it was the last one.”
DSCF9430  “A woman in her 80’s remembers Mr Gough the museum curator, who was a friend of her dad. At Meersbrook Bank school in those days they didn’t provide school dinners so after they’d had their sandwiches at school the children used to spend half an hour in the park, often in the museum. She went to school with Hazel and Jean, who were Mr Abel’s daughters who lived in the Hall.”

After the war the arguments went on about moving the collection. In the 1950s the roof needed substantial repairs and the collection was removed into storage. The collection was relocated to the University of Reading, with the intention of being housed in a new museum. This never materialised and the collection was returned to Sheffield. In 1985 a new Ruskin Gallery opened on Norfolk Street in the city centre.
The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent April 5th 1890
The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent April 15th 1890 page 5
The Aberdeen Journal Thursday October 4th 1883
The Times Thursday March 1st 1883
The Times Saturday June 3rd 1882
The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent Tuesday Oct 19th 1886 page 3
The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent Saturday June 5th, 1886
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent Wednesday, June 9th, 1875
The Western Times Exeter Friday March 8th 1895
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Wednesday, July 29th, 1874
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Saturday, July 18th, 1874
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent Thursday July 9th 1874
Sheffield and Rotherham Saturday May 30th 1874
Complete Works by Ruskin, John, 1819-1900; Cook, Edward Tyas, Sir, 1857-1919, ed;Wedderburn, Alexander Dundas Oligvy, 1857-, joint ed Published 1903
St George’s Guild Minute Book 1879-1927 Sheffield Archives
Minutes of the Sheffield Art Galleries and Ruskin Museum subcommittee 1942-1953 CA-L/1/8/3 Sheffield Archives
List of properties damaged by enemy action 1940 CA 10/5 Sheffield Archives

Cowmouth Farm, the last of the Norton Dairy Farms


‘Cow Mouth Farm’ or ‘The Old Dairy’ is on Hemsworth Road, opposite  Graves Park and has been a dairy farm and dairy in its time . The old farmhouse is still intact and there are  old farm buildings that require closer investigation

. The earliest reference I have found at present is in 1584 when John Trikett was born to Leonard Trikett and Elisabeth Burnell from Bolehill al Cowmouthe, Leonard Trickett born 1563. Possibly born in Norton Lees.

There was a nearby farm at the top of Cobnar Road – Bolehill Farm – and these two are sometimes confused in the records. Bolehill farm buildings still stand but are now private  dwellings at the edge of Graves Park.

In the 1800’s when it was owned by Offley Shore who owned  much of Norton  manor including what is now Graves  Park  . It is know that the farm‘s  tenancy was occupied by the Linleys at least from that date from the parish records. Thomas Linley of Cowmouth died in 1800 and there are other Linley deaths and births recorded  for the Cowmouth Linleys.

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England),
Saturday, January 06, 1844

More Fowl Plundering.- On the night of Christmas-day, the hen roost of Mr Thomas Linley, of Cow Mouth Farm Norton, was again plundered of fifteen fine fowls. Only a short time before, the premises were robbed of a number of fowls and rabbits. Altogether, Mr Linley has been robbed of about thirty fowls within four months.


Due to the collapse of the Parker Shore bank Cowmouth farm was put up for sale by the receivers in 1850. The farm was described as having a rental value of £170 and being  120 acres. A bid was put in for £4’000 by a Mr. Shortridge  but the bid was deemed as insufficient and  the farm was  withdrawn. The Linleys moved to a farm in Eckington and Cowmouth was bought by the Rev Henry Barlow of Christchurch Pitsmoor in 1853

In 1857 Elijah Wragg was the tenant there. From 1861-it became the tenancy first of  Joseph Carr, then by other members of the Carr family.

The Rev Barlow died in 1878 and an attempt was made to sell the farm to develop the land for housing on. It is not known why this did not happen although some parts of the farm was sold off in a piecemeal fashion. The farm continued to remain in the Barlow family. In 1909 Henry Barlow’s great nephew sold three fields and the top part of Warminster was developed for housing.


In 1881 Mr Carr was a 57 year old widower with 3 sons and 3 daughters There was a local scandal when 22 year old Frederick Fox Carr ran away with Clara Robinson of Bolehill Farm and they were married in Matlock! Frederick came back to Sheffield to be a butcher with a shop on Chesterfield Road, but became a milkman and, on his death in 1921, 2 of his children – JW Carr and Doris M (Carr) Widdowson took over the milk round. The business was sold to Amos Knowles in 1959 who was then living at the farm and  this became Express Dairies when Mr Knowles retired and then the Association of  Co-Operative Creameries and the Dairy Farmers of  Britain until the site was sold and planning permission for a housing development was sought.

From the Norton Free admission books, a child Jenkinson was at Cowmouth Farm in 1904 and a child Knowles in 1914. In a 1948 Directory, both Avery Knowles and Amos Wiliam Knowles are listed as milk dealer, Cowmouth Farm.

When  the Carrs ran their dairy farm they had the following fields –The Spring field, The Footway field, The Long field, The Square Bent field, The Croft, The Ponds , The Garden field, The Turnpike field, and the farmhouse, yard and garden and a Plantation. It comprised 43 acres, 2 roods and 22 perches. Warminster Road only reached as far as Carr’s Hill – the steep part of Warminster just above Mount View Road. The top part of Warminster was built on between 1909 and 1939.

In July 1950 the Sheffield Astronomical Society drew plans for a proposed observatory and presented to the Council. This was a very difficult time for any sort of building work, owing to the shortage of materials after the end of the war and any plans were surrounded by red tape and limitations of how much one was allowed to spend within a certain time. Eventually, the plans were passed and the construction took place at a cost of £150. This was a substantial sum in those days and was raised entirely by regular donations of 5p and 10p from members. A deed for the lease of the land at Cowmouth Farm was signed and included the stipulation that the Society provide a fence to prevent the cattle getting too near the Observatory.

In 1956 the “Bramley fields”  from the farm were  made into playing fields for Sheffield University.

Timewalk project A personal perspective

TW LOGO NEW  Timewalk project started 21 months ago. The idea was to map out some of Sheffield’s heritage to show people what was there and to find a way also of showcasing the great work of the history and Heritage organisations.

It’s been an interesting journey and I must admit we have sometimes been led in directions we weren’t expecting to go. They were nevertheless important directions. I personally have found myself at entrepreneur events and Le Tour workshops and some great arts events as well as meetings for coffee with all sorts of interesting people.


Wardsend Cemetery

What I had confirmed is that heritage is important in that it gives people a sense of place. In housing estates which have rows and rows of identical houses it is good to have ancient farmland, which is now a park, and that has historic buildings within it that you can learn the story of, and tell it to outsiders. It’s what makes your neighbourhood unique. It doesn’t matter whether your family goes back generations there, or you just came to live there,  it is the story of where you live, and you are all part of that story. In a rundown neighbourhood, that seems like everyone outside forgot about you, it is important to know that there is a story to be told, which often in Sheffield changed the whole world. Crucible stacks, cementation furnaces, factories and workshops that changed the world completely. It created in Sheffield an attitude of problem solving and adaptation, which is present today and now called entrepreneurship. It’s also why the label Made in Sheffield is so important. Not just a heritage thing but a sign that it is an ongoing attitude that outsiders respect.  It can be a good mix though not always. Good to be rooted in the past but not to be concreted in.


Bishop’s House Meersbrook Park

Shepherds Wheel 1

Shepherd Wheel, my first Sheffield Heritage photo 26 years ago

I was not born or brought up in Sheffield though my husband was. What I knew of Sheffield before I came with my fiancé to meet his parents  26 years ago could have been written on a postage stamp and still have room. Certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, but every visitor finds that. Some things were annoying such as lack of disabled access to most of it including most of the pavements, but 2 places had a great impact on me. A visit to Shepherd Wheel and to Bishops House. I remember Shepherd Wheel most of all. There it was nestled in the hillside in a public park, with this elderly enthusiast who set the wheel going for us and told of us of the struggle they had had to save this wheel.  I felt quite shocked that such an important part of Sheffield’s history should ever have to fight for its survival. Another day we struggled up the steep hill of Meersbrook park. Not a place I would recommend for a wheelchair push. There, almost at the end of the park, at its highest point, was the pudgy slightly wonky little black and white timbered building. Somehow inside the house it was almost Tardis like. The House seemed much longer inside than outside. In one of the rooms was an art exhibition of Heeley wheel and other local wheels, all gone with hardly a trace.

I lived for a while in Broomhall and remember discovering the beautiful Broom hall. The lovely Georgian front and the little black and white half timbered building to the side. Since then it seems like every corner holds a surprise, and so many old buildings that have remarkable stories to tell. So many of these stories are left untold. Not sure why. Perhaps local people don’t think the place where all the stainless steel objects in the world started from is particularly worth noting. After all there are other equally important buildings round every corner. Or perhaps it was thought that dwelling on the past was unhealthy in the continual drive for Sheffield to progress and innovate.


Broom hall, once home to Designer David Mellor


Personally I don’t see why you can’t look both back and forward. What you learn from looking back is past mistakes and solutions. At MADE conference I remember listening to the story of the development of the Gripple, a fastener which has revolutionised wire fencing, and the mistake made in buying expensive welding equipment to weld 2 pieces together, then seeing that a dye-caster could create the whole thing in 1 piece much cheaper and better. An old skill used in a modern setting.  Its not an untypical story in Sheffield, the mix of age old skills and modern innovation and design. It’s evident in the designs of David Mellor and is becoming evident in the partnership between artists and pewter manufacturers for example.


Jessop Hospital surviving wing.

Wincobank Chapel Non denominational

Wincobank non denominational Chapel

So Heritage should be important to the people who live here. It is at grassroots level. There are literally thousands interested in the history of Sheffield within the city and elsewhere. You see it reflected in the number of local history and heritage organisations, the online forums and the Facebook pages. New groups form every day.  But there is no supporting structure within Local or National Government. No building is completely safe. Each building that is saved is still only 1 battle won. The war goes on. No building is safe no matter how important to that community’s story. No matter that previously battles were fought and won. A new road, a new development, a new rail link, a shopping centre all are given prime importance over listed status. While I am not saying we should not have new developments or shops I am saying that they shouldn’t be built regardless of local feeling or of  the importance of a specific site to the city’s history. Other cities and countries manage this.

We should have a city which prides itself on its heritage and shows it off to the world. The world is interested. You only have to look at the number of people from abroad on the Sheffield History sites. Timewalk projects Facebook Page has people from 22 countries linked into the page alone.

So that’s why Timewalk has found itself looking at other aspects other than just listing what’s to see and what the heritage and history groups are up to.

  1. How do you get to see it? Is it accessible to my wheelchair or mobility scooter? What about other people who aren’t so fit or have young children? This produced our path grading system.

    Botanical Gardens Access Map -finished and amended-page0001

    Our first official graded map.

  2. Some places would be more accessible if they just moved certain things that obstruct access such as bins and furniture. Yes, can be that simple. That has led to me being on an all inclusive access advisory group. Now looking to creating a directory of best practice, and how even listed buildings can have better access or at least made into a better experience, rather than sitting watching the rest of your family go in and then sitting outside bored for an hour.Open Doors, Open Minds conference invite-page-0
  3. Such great venues like Manor Lodge, but why aren’t there queues every day to see it? That has us involved in looking at ways of marketing Sheffield’s heritage both locally and further afield. The bigger the crowd the more money sites like Manor Lodge have to restore and add to the experience. The better the experience the more visitors from outside and the more money in the local economy. The more money into the local economy the more value is placed on that heritage site. So now we are looking at a conference and other events to show off what we have to businesses and conference organisers. There is a wide range of historic buildings that could be used for all sorts of events.


    Manor Lodge, Festival of Dance

  4. Certain buildings are at risk not of demolition but of neglect. Often there are people who would like to take on the building and have ideas which are not heard. We are looking at how we build up better communications and possibly along with that a directory of willing experts. Some buildings are neglected not through choice, but through lack of funding. There are several avenues that could be explored to help such buildings. Collective purchasing between several groups to cut costs.   Funding generally is for specific projects. It is not available for day to day expenses or employing people on a permanent basis, or advertising or promoting. Exchange of expertise and experience. That has involved me going to entrepreneur conferences and business conferences to look at how groups can find self sustaining ways of keeping everything going and at possible cooperative structures.


    The Old Townhall/magistrates courts Castlegate


Shepherd Wheel

Present Day Shepherd Wheel.

Timewalk project has become a link between many organisations, but still has a long way to go in that respect, but the foundations are there. We are on no particular organisation’s committee. We do not seek to interfere with any history group or heritage organisation’s autonomy. We go to committee meetings as visitors not members. We make suggestions and convey news and facilitate meetings, but we do not run them or organise them. This gives us a certain freedom of movement and speech.  From my point of view it is necessary because I am not in good health and cannot make regular meetings or organise things, but I can use the social media to publicize and link people together. My objective is to be redundant. The communication to be so good that my work is unnecessary.