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Online home of walks and talks with Ron Clayton…

Sheffield has been recently described as formerly regarded as one of the least historic cities in the United Kingdom, famed for many things, chiefly steel making and the production of cutlery. It’s also known as the biggest village in England largely because of the friendliness of its inhabitants. But Sheffield’s past goes far back before the Industrial Revolution to its medieval origins as a small settlement by the Rivers Don and Sheaf (from which it gets its name). What evidence of this long past survives is all too often unknown to Sheffielders old and new and sadly not appreciated by the city itself. For instance below is an illustration of Sheffield’s Hillsborough Barracks with its walls, turrets and powder magazine and erected in the reign of Queen Victoria. Its the earliest known photograph and shows the main gate complete with sergeants, drummer boy and sentry with fixed bayonet.

The earliest known photograph of Sheffield’s Hillsborough Barracks. The main gate complete with sergeants, drummer boy and sentry with fixed bayonet.

The city of Sheffield also boasts a hillfort within its boundaries, the magnificent 16th Century Shrewsbury Monuments in its Cathedral, several half timbered buildings such as the Old Queens Head and Bishops House, the remains of the place of captivity of Mary Queen Of Scots who spent most of her sojourn in Sheffield, the remains of a 13th Century medieval castle, hopefully to be uncovered after years of obscurity, mysterious earthworks on its outskirts, a superb Industrial museum at Kelham Island, industrial archaeology and monuments along its rivers, the first Anglo Saxon helmet discovered in the UK, marvellous collections of metalwork. It was home to the infamous Charlie Peace, the 19th Century’s most notorious criminal after Jack the Ripper, suffered the great disaster of the Sheffield Flood of 1864, witnessed the Gang Wars of the 1920’s and the Forgotten Blitz. Oh and it was the birthplace of Robin Hood…

Come in and learn more with Ron Clayton, Professional Sheffielder, Wit and Raconteur, you’ll never look at Sheffield in the same way again.

Sheffield Castle

The most enigimatic castle in England, demolished, c 1649, after it held out against Parlimentary Forces in August 1644. The stone one, built in 1270 to replace the motte and bailey erected after 1100 and burnt down in 1266, is regarded as possibly as large as Warwick Castle in its heyday. Archaelogists estimate that perhaps three quarters of its


Another piece of Sheffield S6 and indeed national heritage is seemingly in danger of demolition.

Here in Hillsborough and Owlerton- to accurately describe the area I have known for 64 years-the Old Blue Ball pub has closed and there is a rumour that a construction company has purchased it for redevelopment.

Many of us remember the Ball well, the bowling green and one of the most profitable pubs in Sheffield in the 1980’s but there is far more to this failed pub – for that’s what it is -than memories.

Look at the oldest part of the pub-the rectangular central elevation,solidly built of stone, curiously at an angle – because it was erected on Owlerton village green- and its curious upstairs windows.How old is it?

Its history during the the Great Flood of 1864 is documented and a matter of photographic record. Together with the Java Lounge[former Hillsborough Inn]the Shakey, former Masons,older part of the Crown, New Barrack Tavern and the Barracks it forms part of the core of the Sheffield Flood Trail and one of the few coherent Heritage Trails in the city.

Many of us in S6 feel that Hillsborough is the forgotten territory of Sheffield and that this process has accelerated since losing our seperate identity as a Parliamentary Constituency and being subsumed into Greater Brightside.This part of Sheffield has a tremendous heritage, sadly not as reflected as it should have during anotherwise remarkable event as Hillsfest.

Like Loxley Chapel and Dial House its the community and individuals within that community that has to speak up in a city as ever cavalier in its treatment of its historic buildings.

Ron Clayton

Malin Bridge

Dear Sir,
It’s taken longer than I thought to gather my thoughts about the latest case of ‘spontaneous heritage combustion’ and the most serious to my mind – the fire at Loxley Chapel. If readers wish to see the extent of the damage, Google Loxley Chapel Fire and you will see it on You Tube. On the 17th June I wrote an article for the Star called ‘Causes for Concern’ and Loxley Chapel was top of the list.
Now the Chapel is probably the oldest building standing in the Loxley Valley. Surviving in the curtilage of the building are graves and memorials and in the surrounding graveyard. Thank God I didn’t have our ‘owd feller’ put in there as it was between his last two pubs, the Rodney and the Shoulder.  Also there are the graves of Sheffield Flood victims, on a recent anniversary we had a re-enactor play the part of Mrs Armitage whose family were victims. Its also a part of the Sheffield Flood Trail which runs from Dale Dyke to to Millsands .I have had 84 year old folk ring me about what’s happened, folk who have family who wish to be interred in the graveyard at the side of relatives .As a result I have been speaking to Nick Clegg’s office and  sympathetic Council officers about the future of the building and site as well as to Councillor Ian Auckland, our Heritage Champion. Why?
Because what has apparently  happened at Loxley Chapel is not just a ‘Cause for Concern’ for Bradfield Parish Council or the people of Loxley but also the people of Sheffield and nationally.

I’ve two questions I would like to be answered publicly and I am sure others would also.

Can Dr Alan Billings confirm the rumour that the police caught two individuals removing material from the chapel and because it was not secured did not charge them but made them replace the material?

The result of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue investigation into the cause of the fire.

We will be ringing the bells shortly in respect of South Yorkshire Heritage  -let’s hope it’s not the death knell for Loxley  Chapel.

Ron Clayton