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Sheffield’s forgotten man of history

Henry Tatton. Image: Picture Sheffield

A few weeks ago, I was in a bit of a quagmire. I had pages and pages of research notes and needed something to piece them together. I spent hours cross-checking facts, but a vital link was missing. And then I found a letter in an old newspaper that proved to be my eureka moment.

The letter was written in 1933 by Henry Tatton, who solved my mystery in five short paragraphs. I was ecstatic and thought it only right to thank him on my Facebook page.

Sadly, Henry will not have seen my appreciation because he is long-dead. But I could imagine an elderly gentleman, writing at his kitchen table, not knowing how important his words would prove to be almost ninety years later.

And then, I decided to find out a bit more about him. What I found was quite significant.

Sheffield has had fine historians – Robert Eadon Leader, Rev. William Odom, Edward Vickers, Peter Harvey, the list goes on – and the name of Henry Tatton should also be included. He turned out to be a prolific letter writer, each one providing insight into our history.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph. June 1927. A typical letter from Henry Tatton

Henry was born in Sheffield in 1864, the son of Adam and Mary Tatton, and lived at Sheaf Gardens. He was educated at Brunswick Wesleyan Day School and in 1878 was working as a pattern maker to Thomas Steade, iron founder, in Cemetery Road.

He married Susan in 1889 at Townhead Street Baptist Chapel and lived at Lancing Road, off Shoreham Street. In 1898, they had a shop in Matilda Street and, along with his father, an ironmonger’s stall in the Norfolk Market Hall.

Advertisement from 1929. Henry Tatton, Norfolk Market Hall

It is said that, after moving to 69 Ranby Road in 1919, Henry learnt to draw, and began recording his memories in a series of notebooks. However, I suspect that his talents went back much further when, as a young man,  he appears to have studied drawing at the Sheffield Mechanics’ Institute.

His drawings were copied from old newspapers, but many were originals. The reason he gave for his work was his ‘love of his native Sheffield.’ He retired in 1929 and, despite failing eyesight, completed his third notebook in 1931. Six years later, in 1937,  the three thick foolscap notebooks were presented to Sheffield City Libraries, where they remain.

One of the factors that makes the books even more interesting were the dated notes of the state of each building when he wrote. He paid particular attention to any prospect of demolition, and this was often the reason for choosing a building to sketch.

A sample of Henry Tatton’s work.

In 1939, Henry added to his reminiscences with thirty-six closely-written manuscript pages.

He recalled the time that he saw the last stagecoach come into Sheffield. It was from Chesterfield and stopped at the Travellers’ Rest on The Moor. Shops under the names of Roberts, Atkinsons, and Binns, were just being opened.

After giving close details of shops and other buildings in High Street, Church Street, Fargate, Angel Street – which were then only wide enough to allow the passage of two wagonettes – he told of the suburbs as they were in those days.

The outskirts of town were surrounded by natural beauty, and bounded by Sharrow Lane, Collegiate Crescent, Rock Street, Hyde Park, and Shrewsbury Road.

Ironically, Henry recalls that a fine row of trees was cut down at Highfield, and the resulting public outcry in newspapers against what was considered ‘destruction.’ Yes, history does repeat itself.

He also remembered the days when there was neither ‘telephones nor telegraph’ and ‘hot’ news was collected by hansom cab. Handicap races were run in Hyde Park, and he recalled thrilling races between cabs going to the newspaper offices with the results.

Henry died, almost blind, in 1947, aged eighty-six, and was buried at Norton Cemetery.

There is a rare book, ‘Fine Old Sheffield – An historical walk with Henry Tatton’, edited by Sylvia Anginotti, with meticulous research by Sylvia Jackson, which shaped this article, and the time is right for his notebooks to be reproduced in a book. 

All these years later, it seems strange that this post is cheaply imitating what Henry did best. He saw significant changes, but it might be one he could never have imagined – the internet – that reawakens our interest in one of Sheffield’s forgotten men.

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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People

Mr High Test visits Sheffield in September 1930

Mr High Test and his Baby Austin. Image: Ken Martin Collection

September 1930. Mr High Test, a giant representative of the Anglo-American Oil Company, proprietors of Pratts High Test Petrol, visited Sheffield on an errand of “personal interest to all motorists in the district,” and make them aware of its new product.

Mr High Test was seven feet high and wore a uniform of orange and gold and had been covering the whole of the country in a 7 h.p. Austin Seven car. His height meant the seat was set a good way back, and he confessed that his biggest problem was finding a bed to sleep in.

He was really Mr R. Ormiston Noble, a Londoner, who at the age of 17 had joined the Army and went to France. Afterwards, he set up his own business before joining Pratts where he remained for several years.

He travelled in the car from Cardiff to Sheffield, and during his stay toured local garages and made appearances at the Hippodrome Theatre on Cambridge Street, where he became the butt of jokes from Frank E. Franks, a comedian, and at the Empire Theatre.

In 1935, a new range of petrol replaced Pratts at filling stations, a petrol so notably advanced that it was sold in all countries under a new name – ESSO – that Mr High Test promoted until being side-lined the following year.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Companies People

Tommy Ward – the man who built an empire

T.W. Ward, Albion Works offices, Savile Street, in 1937. The former offices still form an imposing appearance. Image: Picture Sheffield

When Thomas William Ward died in 1926, he had owned during his lifetime enough warships to make up a respectable fleet. He had founded T.W. Ward in 1877 and left what was probably the largest ship-breaking, iron, and machinery business in the world.

Once upon a time, businessmen had looked with suspicion on the scrap iron merchant and second-hand machinery business, but by honesty and square trading, Thomas lifted his business to the pinnacle which commanded the respect of the industrial community.

T. W. Ward, Coal Office, London Road, 1936. Image: Picture Sheffield

He was the son of Thomas William Ward of Wadsley Bridge and was born in Sheffield in 1853. He started his business career with Moss and Gamble, and in 1877, aged 24, launched out with his brothers as a coal, coke, and iron merchant. Within five years, he had cleared off obligations incurred in his father’s business and soon added the sale of machinery to his activities, extending the area of operations to deal with obsolete works and battleships.

Thomas William Ward (1853-1926)

Thomas had had the idea of dismantling old ships and recycling the material for other ‘useful’ purposes.

The business became a limited company in 1914 and such was the remarkable progress that it embraced 32 distinct undertakings in all parts of the United Kingdom.

The company dismantled many famous works, including Abbots Works, Gateshead; Bowling Ironworks; Kelham Rolling Mills, Sheffield; Derwent Rolling Mills, Workington; Dearne and Dove Works; Birchills Furnaces; West Cumberland and Whittington Works.

Many large battleships and merchant vessels were dismantled at Ward’s works, the list extending into several hundreds, including the steamers Luciana, Adriatic, H.M.S. Inflexible, H.M.S. Dreadnought, H.M.S. Magnificent, H.M.S. Prince of Wales, the German battleships Helgoland and Westfalen, and the steamer Canopie.

Lizzie Ward, the famous elephant, working for T. W. Ward in World War One. Image: Picture Sheffield

After World War One the company bought 1,000 tanks, the record purchase of 115 war vessels from the Admiralty, the acquisition of the Palestine pipeline, the Lartigue Railway, and the Marconi Wireless Station, Cliften, all for dismantling purposes.

Thomas Ward never sought public office but served as a J.P. and in 1913 had the unique honour of serving as president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Master Cutler, both at the same time. He also gave advice to several commissions in connection with the Merchandise Marks Act and the National Insurance Act

While conducting business, he travelled a great deal visiting America, South Africa, Australia, Sweden Norway, Spain, Germany, and Italy.

“I have succeeded because I worked very hard at the beginning, and as a young man I studied mechanics and metallurgy.”

His younger brother, Joseph, was involved in the business from the start, becoming chairman and managing director, while another brother, Arthur, and nephew, Ashley, were joint assistant managing directors. Together they erected an imposing headquarters on Savile Street, known as Albion Works, with other extensive premises at Preston and Wednesbury.

T.W. Ward Ltd Shipbreakers Yard, Grays, Essex, Seen from above in 1921. Image: Britain from Above

Thomas was a member of the Wesleyan Church, holding many lay offices, and gave generously to the church. He was an enthusiastic horticulturalist, and his gardens at The Grove, Millhouses, and then Endcliffe Vale, were a source of great pride and pleasure to him.

He died at  Endcliffe Vale House, aged 72, in 1926, and was buried at Crookes Cemetery.

The company was run by the family until the latter part of the 1950s, by which time there were five divisions – raw materials, construction, engineering, motor distribution and industrial supplies. Through acquisitions the Ward Group consisted over 35 companies by the 1960s, but its fortunes dwindled in the following decades.

A display of Hillman, Humber and Sunbeam Ralbot cars at E.H. Pickford and Co, motor dealer and engineer, c1953. The company became part of the T.W. Ward Group. Image: Picture Sheffield

The Group was acquired by Rio Tinto Zinc in 1982 but after significant losses an administration order was granted to the parent company, Ward Group, in 1992 and although the subsidiaries traded normally, most were subsequently sold.

The machinery division was acquired by an MBO in 1983 and is now known as T.W. Ward CNC Machinery, still operating at Albion Works.

In 1937, T.W. Ward were appointed to demolish the remains of fire-damaged Crystal Palace in Sydenham Park, London. The company reclaimed scrap iron and debris.
Albion Works. Seen from Bailey Bridge. Image: DJP/2021

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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People

Barbara Wreaks: Quite forgotten, even in the place of her birth

Barbara Hofland (née Wreaks), 1770 – 1844

Barbara Wreaks was the daughter of Robert Wreaks, a Sheffield manufacturer, brother of the better-known Marmaduke Wreaks, hairdresser, wigmaker, and toy merchant, of High Street.

Barbara was born in 1770, and first achieved local fame in 1795 by a series of contributions to the Sheffield Courant (1793-1797), entitled, ‘Characteristics of Some Leading Inhabitants of Sheffield at the Close of the 18th Century.

In 1796, she married Thomas Hoole, a Sheffield manufacturer, but quickly became a widow, and went to live with her mother-in-law in Attercliffe, where in 1805 she wrote a volume of poems, of which over 2,000 were printed, “By James Montgomery at the Iris office.” The list of subscribers occupied nearly fifty pages of the book, and most of them were Sheffield folk, but whether their large number is testimony to culture in Sheffield in those days, or simply to Barbara’s own assiduous canvassing, it is hard to tell.

With the profits from the book, she opened Grove House boarding school in Harrogate, a forerunner to what is now Harrogate College. Later she married Thomas Christopher Hofland, the landscape painter, and removed to London, where she became well-known as a prolific writer. She published nearly a hundred books, chiefly for young readers. One of her many popular books (as Mrs. Hofland) was The Blind Farmer and His Children (1816). Her most popular children’s book was The Son of a Genius, about an impulsive artist, which may contain autobiographical elements. She died in 1844.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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People

William Henry Babington: an eccentric photographer who captured Sheffield on camera

Occasionally, we stumble upon a Sheffield character who has been air-brushed by time. This can be said for William Henry Babington, a striking figure, who was easily identifiable as he moved about the city with his long grey hair, moustache, and an old-fashioned flowing cape. He was seldom seen out of doors without his camera.

William was a photographer, and it is quite sad that an article about someone who loved his craft cannot be supplied by a photograph of the person himself.

He was born in Leicester in 1856 and ran away to London at the age of 14, arriving penniless and with nowhere to sleep. His final choice of resting place was under a slab at Billingsgate Market, until he was ‘washed out’ the following morning.  Two days of this life in London were enough, and he found his way back home by the same means as before.

Afterwards his father always derived pleasure from recounting how “that mad son of his had ‘done’ London and back on his own.”

It was after experiences in Manchester, Derby, and Normanton, during which time he spent some years on the railway, that he came to Sheffield.

William worked at Pawson and Brailsford as an account collector, and in 1895 joined the Sheffield Telegraph, acting as manager of the Zincographic department and as a staff photographer. (Zincography was a printing process that used zinc plates) As such, he was one of the original members of the Sheffield branch of the National Union of Journalists. He eventually devoted his time taking photographs and left in 1917 to set up as a freelancer.

The ruins of Mary, Queen of Scots, window ‘rescued’ by Samuel Roberts and re-erected in grounds of Queen’s Tower, Norfolk Park. Samuel Roberts who built Queen’s Tower, was an admirer of Mary, Queen of Scots and believed she would have looked through this window. Photograph by W.H. Babington. Image: Picture Sheffield

He was an ardent collector of old Sheffield prints, and at the time of his death had accumulated a collection of about 300 valuable negatives. Historians often turned to him for old photographs to illustrate their work, and lantern slides from his archive were often used by lecturers.

This charismatic person liked to entertain people with reminiscences and wrote a series of articles for the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star in 1930 with memoirs drawing on more than half a century as a camera man.

“In the early Press days there were but few daily newspapers that either had their own photographer or zincograph staff and plant. It was my good fortune,” he stated, “to obtain a position on the staff of a leading provincial daily paper. The Sheffield Telegraph and the Leeds Mercury being the first newspapers to attach a photographer to their staff.”

As an example of the high speed at which the press photographer worked, William recalled a photograph he took of Mr J.F. Hope when he was standing for Parliament. He took only 25 minutes getting it to the Telegraph office, and within ninety minutes it was published in the paper and on sale.

“At races, photographs of the finish did not worry me. I preferred to hunt about the crowd for well-known personages, who sometimes objected to being photographed, as they were supposed to be at business.

“When only one goal was scored at a football match, the photographer was always at the other end. That was no excuse when I got back to the office. The editor wanted to know why. When a reporter was late for an event it did not matter much, he could always obtain the story, but the press photographer who arrived late was finished. He had no second chance.

“The Sheffield police have done all they can to help me, so long as I did not try to photograph things, they did not want photographing.”

The last Hansom Cab in Sheffield. Photograph from 1912 by W.H. Babington. Image: Picture Sheffield

One of the more interesting of his recollections was an incident which occurred at the conclusion of a visit of a female member of the Royal family.

“I was the only camera man near,” he wrote, “when she was seated in her carriage, and I was offered without words the opportunity of a close snap. I don’t know what most people would have done. All my plates had been exposed but I took the opportunity given me on a plate already exposed. I could never disappoint a lady.” After that, whenever Royalty was in evidence, he always kept one plate unexposed until the departure.

“In my early days I had to rely upon the hire of any vehicle for transit. Eyam, historic for its plague epidemic, was holding a Sunday commemorative service, and a reporter and I were booked to attend. We hired an early edition of a motor-car, and, through some defect, had the pleasure of pushing it up most of the hills and running down to catch it when it descended on the other side.”

Such was William’s unique appearance in Sheffield that on one occasion a popular cartoonist, a friend of Babington, sent him a letter, the envelope of which bore a sketch of ‘Babs’, together with one word. ‘Sheffield.’ The letter was promptly delivered.

Old Sheffield Telegraph Offices, High Street, No 13, Castle Chambers, left, No 21, Roberts Robert, Tailors, right. Photograph by W.H. Babington. Image: Picture Sheffield

In his spare time, William was fond of the game of chess, and was a member of several old clubs, but as old age approached resorted to watching the game instead.

Today, we should be grateful for his work. Old images survive on Picture Sheffield, and books and magazines still use his black and white photographs. Many of the photographs taken of the Sheffield City Battalion while they trained at Redmires prior to World War One are attributed to him.

Barkers’s Pool, looking up Division Street (long before the City Hall was built). The building being constructed on the right is the Grand Hotel. Photograph by W.H. Babington. Image: Picture Sheffield

William lived at 59 Thompson Road, near the Botanical Gardens, and died, aged 76, in 1932. He was buried at Sheffield General Cemetery.

Finally, we have a mystery that somebody might be able to solve. Whatever happened to his extensive collection of old Sheffield prints and the vast library of photographs taken by him? Are they stored in an archive somewhere, or were they lost forever?

An elevated view of Pinstone Street, from the top of the Town Hall Tower, St. Paul’s Church (now Peace Gardens), left, Prudential Buildings, centre. Reuben Thompson’s City Mews (soon to be incorporated into the Radisson Blu Hotel), right. St. Mary’s Church can be seen in the background. Photograph from 1912 by W.H. Babington. Image: Picture Sheffield

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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People Places

The Afghan charm offensive that came to nowt

Amanullah Khan was crowned the Amir of Afghanistan after his father, Amir Habibullah was assassinated in February 1919. Amanullah Khan was fiercely anti-British and wanted to destroy an old agreement which gave the British control over Afghanistan’s foreign policy. The British resisted this move, and so began the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). After a brief struggle, the British were forced to negotiate and in the end surrendered their control over Afghanistan’s foreign policy.
Afterwards, Amanullah became a national hero, and was given the tile Ghazi. He then turned his attention to modernising Afghanistan. Photograph: Britannica

Afghanistan is a country that seems to be in perpetual turmoil. There have been those that attempted to modernise it, thwarted at every turn, and there was a time when Sheffield was going to play its part.

In March 1928, Sheffield welcomed the King and Queen of Afghanistan. People crowded the streets to welcome King Amanullah and Queen Souriya who had travelled at high speed in Rolls-Royce cars from Derby.

The visit was part of a European tour that began in late 1927, taking in Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and finally Poland. Amidst the flag waving, it was clearly an attempt by western industries to gain a foothold in a new economy.

Ghazi Amanullah Khan (1892-1960) was the sovereign of Afghanistan from 1919, first as Emir and after 1926 as King. Having wrested control from colonial powers, King Amanullah had set about reforming Afghanistan along Western lines.

The King met the Lord Mayor at Sheffield Town Hall by taking off his hat, shaking hands, and saying “How do you do?” in English.

When King Amanullah entered the Town Hall he noticed Sergeant Harper, an ex-serviceman, in his invalid carriage. He was about to pass when the old soldier held out his autograph album and fountain pen. The King duly obliged by adding his name to the book.

After luncheon, the King and Queen went onto the balcony over the front entrance and waved to the cheering crowds outside.

When the royal party left the Town Hall, Sergeant Harper had hoped to get the Queen’s signature. He held out his autograph book, but she did not see him. However, King Amanullah did, and went over to him, shook his hand again, and placed what was thought to be a £1 note in his hand. Only afterwards did Sergeant Harper realise that it was a £100 note!

Sergeant Harper, the disabled ex-serviceman, to whom the King of Afghanistan gave a £100 note. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

Afterwards, the King and Queen visited Vickers-Armstrong’s River Don Works where they witnessed steel production and visited the gun machine shops. They were shown a demonstration of caterpillar armoured cars, guns, and rifles.

A Bean Motor Car at Hadfields Co. Ltd., East Hecla Works on the occasion of the Royal visit of King Amanullah and Queen Souriya of Afghanistan. Bean cars were manufactured by A. Harper Sons and Bean Ltd who were owned by Hadfields Ltd at the time. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

Next it was to Hadfields East Hecla works, where the strength of its steel helmets and armour was demonstrated by shooting at the figure of an infantryman. Queen Souriya proved to be an accurate shot, hitting the helmet, and was presented with the bullet as a souvenir. On their departure, the King was presented with a Sheffield knife with golden haft, in a Morocco case. In exchange, the King paid the customary halfpenny, and laughed heartily at a quaint old Sheffield custom.

The Royal party inspecting Vickers’ River Don Works. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

The next stop was a tour of Mappin and Webb on Queen’s Road, where they witnessed the depositing of gold and silver, and the shaping of nickel silver sheet metal using power presses and drop stamps. Here he was presented with a silver-gilt casket, with his crest enamelled on the cover.

The Royal Party then returned to the Town Hall for tea and was presented with a canteen of cutlery and a case of scissors as gifts from the city. The King accepted this, and through his interpreter said he would always remember the warm welcome they had received in Sheffield.

King Amanullah and Queen Souriya of Afghanistan with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield at the Town Hall. The cabinet of Sheffield cutlery presented to them by the Corporation is seen in the centre. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

They left the city for Manchester by royal train, the King and Queen occupying the saloon used by British royalty.

Looking back, it was a day of celebration, and one that might have cemented a special relationship with Afghanistan. However, while the King toured Europe, opposition to his rule had increased back home culminating in a march on the capital where most of the army deserted rather than resist.

There were allegations of corruption, and within ten months of his visit to Sheffield, the King had abdicated and was forced into exile in India before seeking asylum in Italy. Many of the reforms were reversed and Afghanistan remained a troubled state.

The King and Queen of Afghanistan photographed with their suite at the Midland Station when they left for Manchester. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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People

It started in Sheffield. Keith Barron spent little time off our screens over his 56-year career with over 160 credits

Keith Barron once wistfully explained that he had ‘enjoyed a career of two stages’: in the first, he’d had the luxury of getting many roles that required “Penetration Acting” – having sex on screen (fake, of course); and the second stage was what he called “Heart Attack Acting” – playing older characters whose ‘bedroom antics have cardiac consequences.’ Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

He might not have been from Sheffield, but actor Keith Barron owed his success to the city. He was born in Mexborough in 1934, and left its Technical College with ambitions to be an actor, spending eight years with the Mexborough Theatre Guild.

“I had always been interested in the theatre, but my father had a wholesale provisions business and wanted me to take it over. I found it very difficult, so I used to take off and read film magazines. We had a terrible row, he sold the business, and I went into rep at the Sheffield Playhouse in 1956. I had to start at the bottom, making tea for a pound a week for nine months. It’s valuable experience, it makes you really sure that you want to do it.”

The Sheffield Repertory Company was on Townhead Street and Keith lived on Kenwood Road.

“Visitors to Sheffield Playhouse will be pleased to see Keith Barron making his professional debut in Sheffield Repertory Company’s production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. He has the small part of a porter. Although he has only two lines to say and his appearance does not last more than 30 seconds what little he had to do, he does well.”

His first sizeable role was as the spy in Peter Ustinov’s Romanoff and Juliet, and starred in dozens of productions over the next few years, including amongst many, The Winter’s Tale, Frost at Midnight, Graham Greene’s The Potting Shed, A Touch of the Sun, Toast and Marmalade and a Boiled Egg, An Inspector Calls,  Blithe Spirit, and as the Rev. Guy Saunders in another Ustinov classic, The Banbury Nose.

Like the other men of his generation, Keith Barron was forced to partake in the National Service which stood in the way of his acting dreams. It wasn’t until he had completed his time in the RAF after dropping out of school, that he was able to follow his passion and begin studying acting at what was the Sheffield Playhouse. Photograph: BBC News

In 1959, 25-year-old Keith was described by a newspaper “as a modest, aspiring young man, and standing on the brink of success.”

“There is perhaps, no more impressive moment in a theatre when an audience is moved to spontaneous applause by the sheer power of a player’s acting. This is happening every night at Sheffield Playhouse with Keith Barron in The Ring of Truth,” said The Stage in 1960.

Much Ado About Nothing at the Sheffield Playhouse in February 1958. Left to right. Bernard Archard, Keith Barron, Neville McGrath, Judy Bailey, Kenneth Dight, Anne Godfrey, Julie Paul, Judith Chappell, and Bryan Drew.

Keith was also amongst Sheffield Playhouse actors chosen to record An Inspector Calls for BBC radio for its Saturday Night Theatre slot.

His departure from Sheffield Playhouse in 1961 was regarded as a serious loss. “A sound young actor with a compelling sense of rhetoric: he has held many audiences enthralled by his command of rapid dialogue accompanied by quick stage movements. He is definitely a live theatre actor, but like too many he is going into television.”

Keith Barron enjoyed a ‘long and varied career’, and was survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Pickard(right), and his son Jamie (middle). Photograph: Daily Mail

Keith never gave up on the stage, joined the Bristol Vic, and didn’t want to go to London but television was the future.

He appeared as Detective Sergeant John Swift in The Odd Man (1962-65) and the policing spin-off It’s Dark Outside. His first sitcom success was in The Further Adventures of Lucky Jim (1967) and later in No Strings (1974). He deftly switched from comedy to drama, from the title character in Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton (1965) and as David, in Duty Free (1984-86) about two couples on a package holiday in Marbella and attracted seventeen million viewers.

Duty Free was about two British couples, David and Amy Pearce and Robert and Linda Cochran, who meet while holidaying at the same  Spanish hotel in Marbella and the interruptive affair conducted by David and Linda during their break. It was made by Yorkshire Television. Photograph: BBC News

His other TV roles were prolific, and included Room at the Bottom, Haggard, Prince Regent, The Good Guys, Telford’s Change, Stay with Me till Morning, Take Me Home, Doctor Who, Coronation Street, DCI Banks, All Night Long, Where the Heart Is, Kay Mellor’s The Chase, and Dead Man Weds. And he was in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner on numerous occasions.

Keith died in November 2017, survived by his wife, Mary Pickard, a former stage designer, whom he met in Sheffield and married in 1959, and a son, Jamie, also an actor.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

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People Places

From Ballifield, Handsworth, to Ballifield, USA

Trenton is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. It briefly served as the capital of the United States in 1784

Mahlon Stayce was born at Dore House on the family’s Ballifield estate, Handsworth, in 1638, and married Rebekah Ely in 1668. Both their families were English Quakers, a new religious movement that was treated with suspicion and hostility under the parliamentary rule of Oliver Cromwell following the English civil war. With the return of the monarchy by Charles II, Quakers were subject to persecution for their refusals to conform to the Church of England. Their refusal to pay mandatory tithes meant they faced crippling fines or imprisonment, and many decided to practice their faith in the American colonies.

Mahlon Stayce, a tanner, acquired, as a creditor, a large chunk of colonial soil in West Jersey, America, and his family sailed from Hull in 1678. He established his home on the south bank of the Assunpink Creek and called it Ballifield after his ancestral home at Handsworth.

Ballifield Hall in the late 1800s, rebuilt by Peter Cadman, and for many years previous was the home of the Stacye Family. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

Stacye was given permission to build a new settlement at the side of the Delaware River where he founded a church. The town was originally called The Falls, and later Stacye’s Mill.

Stacye held a large estate, had several business interests, and held many titles in public life.  He died a wealthy and respected citizen in 1704.

By 1719, the town had adopted the name “Trent-towne”, after William Trent, a Philadelphia merchant, who purchased much of the surrounding land from Stacye’s family

This humble settlement, with its Handsworth origins, grew into a big city – Trenton, New Jersey.

Back in Sheffield, Ballifield Hall has gone, the Ballifield housing estate built on its former parkland.

In 1910, the Trenton Chamber of Commerce put out a contest to create the slogan to be put on the bridge. S. Roy Heath was the winner of the contest, making him the creator of “Trenton Makes, The World Takes.”
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People

A forgotten son who created visuals for classic mid-century travel posters and architectural landmarks

Time makes us forget, and this applies to the work of Sheffield artist Kenneth Steel. He was a painter and etcher, noted for his watercolours, but since his death in 1970 his work is often overlooked.

Kenneth Steel was born in 1906, the son of George Thomas Steel, an artist and silver engraver. His eldest brother, George Hammond Steel (1900-1960) was a successful landscape painter, and both brothers studied at Sheffield College of Art under Anthony Betts. During the 1920s, Kenneth studied briefly under landscape artist, Stanley Royle, and exhibited his watercolours, oils, and engravings in Sheffield at the Heeley Art Club and Hallamshire Sketch Club.

In 1932 he secured a contract with the print publishers, James Connell and Sons, and annually published line engraving and drypoint prints both before and after the War. In 1935 he exhibited two of these prints at the Royal Academy and then in November 1935 he became the youngest elected member of the Royal Society of British Artists. His work in watercolour was shown at three one man exhibitions in London in 1934 and 1937 and Dublin in 1938. After World War Two he diversified into the fields of perspective drawings and commercial art. This included railway posters and carriage prints.

Among his most famous pieces are Sheffield Castle from 1964, commissioned by the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Society to hang in Castle House, an imaginary view of Sheffield Castle as it might have looked.

Oil Painting of Sheffield Castle by Kenneth Steel R.B.A. S.G.A. Art., commissioned by the Board of Directors for the new Boardroom at Castle House, September 1964. 

From his studio in Crookes, Kenneth found work preparing watercolour washed perspective drawings commissioned by the construction industry. One of these, the Electricity Sub Station on Moore Street, painted in 1965-1966, was a classic piece of Brutal architecture. Other works included Jodrell Bank Observatory, South Kirkby Colliery and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.

Kenneth wrote a number of books on artistic techniques and had his work widely reproduced in such publications as Arts Review, Sphere, Studio and The Artist.

Cadman Lane by Kenneth Steel, looking towards the Town Hall and Norfolk Street. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

But there was tragedy in his life. His mother and pregnant wife were both killed during the Sheffield Blitz, and much of his work destroyed. He remarried in 1953 and the last two decades of his life produced some of his most experimental artistic work.

The proposed Sheffield city centre redevelopment, 1908-1926 showing the Law Courts from a new Chester Street. There were a number of artworks created by Kenneth Steel that are thought to be lost. Devonshire Green now occupies the site of the original Chester Street. The proposal never came to light. Photograph: Artist’s Estate

His work can be found in a book ‘Kenneth Steel. Catalogue Raisonné of Prints and Posters’ with full-colour illustrations of his watercolour and oil paintings, plus his perspective drawings and later palette knife oil paintings of the Balearic Islands and beyond. The appendices include a complete catalogue of his fifty-four line engraving and drypoint prints, plus a full catalogue raisonné of his 48 Railway posters and thirty-five carriage prints.

These now sought-after posters – nostalgic reminders of a vanished world – adorned railway station platforms, carriages, and waiting rooms.

This month you can view Kenneth Steel’s work in a new exhibition at Weston Park Museum. It is curated by Lucy Cooper, exhibitions and display curator at Sheffield Museums, and runs from December 17 until May 2.

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Roger Moffat: “Nobody did it like me.”

Roger Moffat at Radio Hallam. Photograph: Picture Sheffield

There I was, looking for something completely different, and I discovered that on this day in 1986 Roger Moffat died (aged 59) at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

It was a hard-drinking, fag-fuelled, career with Radio Luxembourg and BBC Radio, not to mention TV with Pinky and Perky (1957), Here’s Harry (1960) and Like … Music (1962).

Roger Moffat was best-known to us on Radio Hallam (as was) – an eccentric, masterful storyteller, and leader of controversy. As somebody commented, “Who would dare hire somebody like this nowadays?”

‘Our Rog’ might only have been on the airwaves at Radio Hallam for seven years, but it is quite incredible that Sheffield people still talk about him 35 years later.

The photograph above is dated 1980/1981 which meant his days at the station were numbered. He “sally forthed” to Scotland for a holiday, was dropped by Hallam, and only reappeared when his own pre-recorded obituary was broadcast after his death.

Here is a sad story that takes place in 1985, a year before he died.

I was working at a supermarket at Broomhill in Sheffield and asked to deliver provisions to him. Carved ham, cut half an inch thick, and Italian garlic salad dressing. He was bed-ridden in a ground-floor bedsit. Memorabilia was piled high – records, cassettes, newspapers, books, fag packets, and, of course, a radio to listen to.

Roger looked a lonely old man, very charming, and still able to entertain an audience of one. He was a brilliant storyteller. I was so captivated that I forgot to take payment for his shopping and ended up paying for it myself.

Had he still been alive, Roger would have been ninety-four.

Long-gone, not-forgotten, and if only he had completed his autobiography that was to have been called ‘Nobody Did It Like Me.”

Announcer Roger Moffat announces the end of the Light Programme, 1967. Photograph: BBC

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