“I noticed that many of the old crofts have disappeared – the old slumdom is going.”

Sims Croft, from Townhead Street towards Tenter Street. Image/Picture Sheffield

“I believe that we can recapture the lost beauty of Sheffield. In fact, you are already beginning to recapture it. I thought this morning how greatly improved the city was architecturally and structurally. I noticed that many of the old crofts have disappeared – the old slumdom is going. Watch that you don’t get new slums in their place, and that you don’t let the jerry-builder play his old game and run up his weedy, seedy, respectable-looking, but fever-haunted dens, built on rottenness and breeding illness of all kinds in days to come.”

This is a quote from 1910, by the Rev. S.E. Keeble, of Southport, once a Methodist minister at Brunswick Church in Sheffield between 1893 and 1896, who had returned to speak at the Victoria Hall on Norfolk Street.

In olden days, it had been the fashion to name streets or lanes as ‘crofts’. Sheffield had Pea Croft, White Croft, Hollis Croft, Lea Croft, Sims Croft, Hawley Croft, Scargill Croft, and so on. These were (and some still are) located in the area between modern-day Bank Street and towards Scotland Street.

The ‘crofts’ area developed within plots formed by former fields, and the name was originally respectable and modern, much the same as ‘avenue’ became, but the advent of time led to the term becoming synonymous with slums.

And for this reason, Sheffield started eliminating the term, and under the Government’s Slum Clearance Scheme had eradicated the properties in the early twentieth century.

Scargill Croft, Lee Croft, White Croft, and Hollis Croft survive in very different circumstances, and in some cases the people have returned to live here.

Derelict housing on Scargill Croft. Image/Picture Sheffield/SCC

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