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Dr Bartolomé: A Spaniard who made Sheffield his home

Bernard Edward Cammell’s portrait of Dr Mariano Martin de Bartolome (1813-1890), (Image: Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

The Story of Dr Mariano Alejo Martin de Bartolomé might be straight from the pages of a novel.

Bartolomé (1813-1890) was born in Segovia, Spain, and came from an old Castilian Hidalgo family, his father being the civil governor of the province.

Aged 8, he became a student at the Artillery College of the Alcazar of Segovia and had lined up a commission in the Hussars. However, Spain was in a state of revolution and the representative system was abolished. Ferdinand VII was restored by the intervention of the French, and the Bartolomé’s were driven out of Spain and their estate confiscated.

Segovia is a Spanish city located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the Province of Segovia.

They sought refuge in England, eventually taking up residence in Jersey.

It was here that Bartolomé met Mary Elizabeth Parker, the daughter of Rev Frank Parker of Dore, and they married in 1834. He had no profession, but Mary paid for him to become a medical student at Edinburgh University.

Bartolomé studied under Professor Sir Robert Christison, regarded as a brilliant physician and chemist, and gained his medical degree in 1838.

The couple moved to Sheffield taking up residence at 3 Eyre Street, popular with surgeons and physicians, and remained here for 45 years.

In 1840 Bartolomé was elected one of the honorary physicians to the Sheffield Hospital and Dispensary (later the Royal Hospital) and in 1846 joined the Sheffield Infirmary, later becoming senior physician. It was said that he rode there on a fine black horse and to have jumped the gate when he found it closed. By the time he retired through ill-health in 1889 it was estimated that Bartolomé had treated more than 750,000 patients.

Sheffield Infirmary (Image: Picture Sheffield)

In 1846, Bartolomé joined the staff of lecturers at the Sheffield Medical Institution, later the Medical School, delivering over 3,000 lectures and becoming its president.

As president he was instrumental in obtaining funds to build a new building in Leopold Street, finished in 1888, and after merging with Firth College and Sheffield Technical School it was renamed University College Sheffield before becoming University of Sheffield in 1905.

(University of Sheffield Library Digitals Collection)

His crowning glory was in 1876 when he was elected president of the British Medical Association (BMA) at a meeting in Sheffield. His presidential address was an exhaustive description of Sheffield, its surroundings, some of its trades, their effects on the health of workers, and suggestions as to future legislation.

Bartolomé was painted by artist Bernard Edward Cammell which was presented to him by the Medical School in November 1888.

“I came amongst you as a stranger and an alien, but you stretched out the right hand of friendship towards me, and I stand before you now one of the oldest Englishmen in the room, having been naturalised long before the majority of you were in existence.

“I wish that my portrait may remain in the midst of its givers – those friends whom I have so sincerely and frequently loved.”

Bartolomé moved his house and surgery to Glossop Road in the 1880s, the building on the corner with Hounsfield Road better known now as The Harley bar.

As well as his medical work, Bartolomé was a freemason at the Britannia and Brunswick Lodges (and laid the foundation stone at the Masonic Hall in Surrey Street) and was founder and president of Sheffield Athenaeum club.

In his last few years Bartolomé suffered from heart problems and was forced to give up a lot of work. In 1890, after waking, he attended his invalid son in an adjoining room and died soon after, supposedly “brought on by dressing somewhat hastily in order that he might visit his son.”

His wife, Mary, died in 1863, and Bartolomé married a second time, Mary Emily Jackson, the daughter of Samuel Jackson, who survived him.

After his death, Bartolomé’s family left the city, but his grandson, Dr Stephen M de Bartolomé (1919-2001), a former Sheffield University student returned to Sheffield to work for Spear & Jackson of which he became chairman.

The Bartolomé Papers – a collection relating to the history of the family through both Bartolomés – is held at the University of Sheffield. As a fitting tribute the former Winter Street Hospital (and then St George’s Hospital) became the School of Nursing for the University of Sheffield in 1997, named Bartolomé House in 1998 after Dr Mariano Martin de Bartolomé, and now the School of Law.

Bartolomé House. (Image: University of Sheffield)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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People

When the Shah of Persia visited Sheffield

The photograph taken at The Farm, the Duke of Norfolk’s Sheffield residence, by Herbert Rose Barraud. It now belongs to the National Portrait Gallery. (Image: NPG)

Here is a story about a Royal visit to Sheffield that to younger generations will appear extraordinary.

In July 1889, the Shah of Persia (now the Islamic Republic of Iran) was invited to Sheffield by the Duke of Norfolk as part of His Imperial Majesty’s visit to Britain.

The welcome given to Shahanshah, Khaqan, Soltane Saheb Quaran, Quebleye alam (or plain old Naser-al Din Shah Quajar) was on a scale only afforded to British monarchs.

His visit to these shores was politically motivated, with the hope that it might lead to Britain developing Persia’s railways and business interests. Despite the pomp and ceremony that surrounded the Shah the country was regarded a poor relation, but one that might offer riches to our Victorian ancestors.

“Politically, Persia is misgoverned, oppressed, and plundered, and is sunk in barbarism.”

The Shah arrived at the Midland Station on Friday 12th July. He had been fatigued in Birmingham and his journey to Sheffield was delayed, causing unnecessary anxiety to those who had organised the schedule. Nevertheless, the people of Sheffield waited patiently, and gave him a rapturous welcome.

“The sight that met the Shah was one rarely witnessed in Sheffield. Not only were there thousands of people pressing against the barriers, but house tops, walls, boards, and almost every point from which a view of His Imperial Majesty could be obtained was occupied.”

From Midland Station, a huge procession, escorted by a squadron of the Yorkshire Dragoons, made its way to the Corn Exchange where a reception was held. Afterwards he visited the Atlas Works of John Brown and Company before heading to The Farm, the Duke of Norfolk’s residence (now the site of Sheffield College), where he stayed overnight.

The scene in the Corn Exchange during the presentation of an address from the Mayor. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)
The Shah witnessing the forging of a steel ingot at the Atlas Steel and Iron Works. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

Saturday was a rainy day, but it did not stop big crowds gathering along the Shah’s route.

“Flags flapped limply about their poles, the bunting drooped ingloriously, the streamers and floral festoons looked bedraggled, and all the bravery of decoration had departed.”

The Shah posed for a photograph at The Farm taken by Herbert Rose Barraud of Oxford Street, London.

“He was dressed in a dark coat fastened with emerald buttons. He wore a shoulder belt across his breast with bars of precious stones including Cabochin emeralds and rubies, the edges bordered with diamonds. Attached to a slender gold chain was the heart-shaped diamond he wore as an amulet; on his breast gleamed a richly jewelled star of the garter. His shoulder straps were studded with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. He wore a Kolah cap displaying the Lion and Sun of Persia.”

Once again events ran incredibly late, the Shah’s carriages, accompanied by 30 members of the Yorkshire Dragoons, not leaving The Farm until after mid-day.

“Punctuality is the courtesy of Princes, but in Persia it is an unknown quantity. There every man takes his time from the King who, come what may, is never late.”

Despite the long delay, thousands lined the streets as the Royal procession travelled along St Mary’s Road, The Moor and to Norfolk Street where the Shah visited the works of Joseph Rodgers and Sons, including a tour of the vast ivory cellar, before being presented with a handsome sporting knife.

From here, the Shah was transported to the silver plating company, James Dixon and Sons, at Cornish Works, where a whistle-stop tour ended with the presentation of a silver drinking flask.

By his side throughout the visit was a 10-year-old boy favourite of the Shah. It was said that if the opulently decorated boy were beside him no harm could ever befall the Ruler of Persia.

A late lunch was held at the Cutlers’ Hall where toasts were exchanged, with Prince Michael Khan acting as the Shah’s interpreter.

From here he left for Victoria Station which had been gaily decorated, as was the Royal Victoria Hotel, and a guard of honour was formed by the Artillery Volunteers while a band played the Persian National Hymn. His train set off for Liverpool and at Wardsend a battery of six guns was fired to send him on his way.

Sadly, the Shah of Persia was assassinated in 1896 but the monarchy remained until 1979 when it was abolished after the Iranian Revolution.

His Imperial Majesty Naser al-Din, The Shar of Persia. He was assassinated by Mirza Reza Kermani when he was praying in the shrine of Shah-Abdol-Azim in 1896. It was said that the revolver used to kill him was old and rusty and had he worn a thicker overcoat, or been shot from a longer distance, he would have survived. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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People

Enid Blyton: once upon a time

(Image: Alamy)

A few unsuspecting people across Sheffield might not realise that the houses they live in have a connection to Enid Blyton, that infamous children’s author of over 400 titles, 600 million copies sold, and translated into 42 languages.

Our story begins in the 1870s when a Lincolnshire-born linen draper, Thomas Carey Blyton, and his wife, Mary Ann, moved from Kent to Sheffield. They brought with them four children – Bertha Sidney, Thomas Carey, and Sybil – and a fourth child, Alice May, was born here and died at Dore in 1962. The Blyton family lived at Asline Road, Aizlewood Road and finally moved to Machon Bank.

Their son, Thomas Carey Blyton Jr, married a Sheffield girl, Theresa May Harrison, from Monmouth Street, Broomhall, in London in 1896, moving on account of his job as a cutlery salesman. The newly-married couple lived in a small flat above a shop in East Dulwich where Enid Mary Blyton was born in 1897, followed by two boys, Henly and Carey.

They later separated with Enid’s mother telling people that her husband was “away on business.”

It appears that Thomas Carey wanted Enid to be a concert pianist but in 1916, aged 19, she moved to Ipswich and trained as a teacher. However, she had already started writing and her first book Child Whispers was published in 1922.

She went on to write hundreds of short stories, as well as introducing us to Noddy and Big Ears, the Famous Five, Secret Seven and the Malory Towers series.

Her work was loved by children, less-so by critics who regarded it as being “not great literature – but harmless.” However, some libraries and schools banned her works, and the BBC refused to broadcast it from the 1930s until the 1950s because they were perceived to lack literary merit.

The negativity about Enid Blyton continues today – not least tales of her being a ‘bad mother’, and in 2016 the Royal Mint blocked a proposal to honour her with a commemorative 50p coin on the grounds that she was ‘a racist, a sexist and a homophobe’. Millions of children would probably disagree.

Did Enid Blyton ever visit her Sheffield relations? Perhaps not, she became increasingly distant from her mother and with her less direct relatives, although a visit to Meadway Drive at Dore to see Auntie Alice May might not have been out of the question.

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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People

Peter Horbury

(Image: Autocar)

Peter Horbury is probably an unfamiliar name.

Born in Alnwick in 1950, his family moved to Sheffield and he attended King Edward VII School between the ages of 7 to 11. It was here that he started doodling car designs.

After moving to Darlington, Horbury attended art school in Newcastle, going on to complete a master’s at the Royal College of Art in London.

His first job was at Chrysler, before moving to Ford in Essex working on the Ford Sierra programme and joining Volvo in 1979.

After leaving to set up his own business, he re-joined Volvo in Sweden as Head of Design from 1991. His Volvo ECC concept car influenced designs for years to come including the S40, S60, S80 and XC90 SUV.

The Horbury-penned ECC sparked a Volvo design revolution in the 1990s (Image: Autocar)

When Ford bought Volvo, he became Head of Design at Ford’s Premier Automotive Group including Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover as well as Volvo.

Horbury later moved to Detroit and influenced the design of the Ford Fusion, Ford Focus and Ford Taurus as well as remodelling the Lincoln car brand.

In 2009 he returned to Volvo in Gothenburg, remaining when Chinese company Geely bought the brand in 2010. He is now Executive Vice-President, Design, overseeing Geely Auto, Lotus, Lynk and Co and Volvo.

Not bad for a lad from King Ted’s.

Volvo had never done an SUV and many thought it never should. But the brand had always had a strong following in the US and demand there won the day. (Image: Autocar).

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings People Sculpture

Victoria Station Memorial

The original memorial outside Victoria Station. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

In our investigations into the Victoria Station one structure appeared on old photographs that deserved further investigation.

This was an elegant memorial that stood at the entrance of the railway station. The classical portico, with colonnade, contained nine columns with the names of workers of the Great Central Railway who died in World War One.

The names of 1,304 men were inscribed on tablets of French marble, and the memorial was unveiled by Earl Haig on Wednesday 9th August 1922. He had commanded the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war.

Sheffield had been chosen for the memorial because it was the centre of the railway’s operations. About 8,000 people turned up for the ceremony, including hundreds of relatives of the fallen.

Haig inspected a guard of honour composed of over 200 ex-servicemen employees who had gained decorations for gallantry in the field.

“The day will come when we in our turn will have passed on, but these stones will still stand as evidence of the splendid sacrifice and glorious achievement of the 1,300 brave and gallant men whose names they bear.”

The ceremony was presided by Lord Faringdon, chairman of the Great Central Railway, who said the memorial had been subscribed by no fewer than 3,000 shareholders and servants of the company as far afield as Canada, India, Australia, and Africa. He pointed out that over 10,000 employees had gone to war.

Canon Houghton dedicated the memorial, after which wreaths of remembrance were laid, and the service closed with a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.

They would have been forgiven that the future of the memorial was secured. However, within two years the marble had crumbled, and some names were already illegible.

In 1925, the London North Eastern Railway (LNER), which had absorbed the Great Central Railway, graciously replaced the tablets with Kupron bronze plaques. The memorial stood on its own until 1938 when LNER improved the station, extending the booking hall, so that the memorial became its eastern wall. (I presume the memorial was reversed and the tablets were relocated inside).

It remained until the Victoria Station’s closure in 1970 and might have been lost with subsequent demolition.

Remains of the memorial before demolition in 1980. The plaques had been removed to the underneath of Wicker Arch. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

A handful of survivors campaigned for it to be saved and the bronze tablets were re-erected (somewhat hidden) underneath Wicker Arch, where it was rededicated in November 1971. The magnificent portico, in which they had stood, was sadly lost).

The decline of The Wicker is well publicised, and the memorial suffered from neglect and vandalism. Various locations were suggested as an alternative site, but it was the owners of the Royal Victoria Holiday Inn (the former Victoria Station railway hotel) that offered it a permanent home.

The memorial plaques underneath Wicker Arch. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

With support of the hotel, sponsors and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Great Central Railway Society organised rescue of the plaques and relocation to its new home, almost on the site of the original memorial.

It was rededicated on Remembrance Day 2008 and remains outside the Royal Victoria Crowne Plaza. A Roll of Honour for all the men listed, collated by the Great Central Railway Society, can be found inside the hotel.

(Images: David Poole)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings People

A church in Madrid with Sheffield connections

St George’s Anglican Church in Madrid. Built in 1926

It might be out of the question now, but if you get chance to visit Spain’s capital city there is a Sheffield connection.

The answer lies in a tablet over the south door of St George’s Anglican Church, on the corner of Calle Núñez de Balboa and Calle Hermosilla in the barrio Salamanca district of Madrid.

It reads:

“To the memory of William Edgar Allen. Born March 30th, 1837. Died January 28th, 1915. By whose generosity, this church was completed A.D. 1925.”

William Edgar Allen is a familiar name in Sheffield history. In 1868, he founded the firm of Edgar Allen and Co, Imperial Steel Works, at Tinsley. Taking advantage of his knowledge of continental firms, he soon obtained extensive orders for foreign arsenals, dockyards, and railway companies.

Besides other donations, Allen gave, in 1909, the Edgar Allen Library to the University of Sheffield, contributed £10,000 to Sheffield hospitals, and founded, in 1911, the Edgar Allen Institute (in Gell Street) for Medico-Mechanical treatment, the first institution of its kind in this country. It proved especially beneficial during the First World War; a great number of soldiers having recovered the use of their limbs through the effectiveness of the treatment.

In 1913, Edgar Allen, staying in Madrid, asked Edward Mitchel Gibbs, the famous Sheffield architect at Gibbs, Flockton and Teather, to visit the Spanish city and draw up plans for a Protestant Church.

The church, in Early English-style was to have seated 150 people, funded entirely by Edgar Allen. Unfortunately, the estimates for the building amounted to £10,300, a larger amount than Edgar Allen had anticipated, and the plan was abandoned.

However, at the suggestion of the architect, Edgar Allen, who was in failing health, bequeathed a legacy of £6,000 for a new church to be built.

Edgar Allen died at Whirlow House two years later, and his bequest was put towards the building of St George’s Church, the church of the British embassy, completed in 1925.

Spain was a Roman Catholic country, and rules as to the building of churches other than those of the Roman Catholic communion, were strict. Because St George’s was built on the premises of the British Legation, such restrictions did not apply.

“The workmanship and material of the church throughout were the best, and everything was in excellent taste.”

St George’s was designed by the Spanish architect Teodoro de Anasagasti, who blended elements of the Spanish Romanesque style (cruciform plan, semi-circular apse, bell tower, tiled roof) and the characteristic brick-and-stone construction of the uniquely Spanish “Mudéjar” tradition with specifically Anglican forms.

The chaplain of the church was the Rev. Francis Symes-Thompson, who received a grant of £250 per annum from the Foreign Office.

St George’s Madrid

William Edgar Allen (1837-1915), Founder of the Edgar Allen Institute. (Image: Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust/ArtUK)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Buildings People

Edward Mitchel Gibbs

Edward Mitchel Gibbs (Image: Picture Sheffield)

“If you want to see a monument to this man, look around you.”

Here is a man once described as “one of the makers of Sheffield,” for he was responsible for many of its principal buildings and played a leading part in changing the shape of the city.

His long list of work can be seen around Sheffield today.

In his earlier years, Edward Mitchel Gibbs was architect for the branch libraries at Upperthorpe and Highfield, and later designed the Mappin Art Gallery, St. John’s Church at Ranmoor, the University of Sheffield, the Sheffield Telegraph Building, Lodge Moor Hospital, Channing Hall, Glossop Road Baths, Foster’s Building in High Street, and the White Building at Fitzalan Square. He was also responsible for some of the finest shops of the time in High Street and Fargate.

Sheffield Telegraph Building (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

E.M. Gibbs (1847-1935) was born in Sheffield, educated at the Milk Street School, and articled to architects Flockton & Abbott between 1862 to 1868, remaining as principal assistant. He attended classes at Sheffield School of Art and subsequently spent time in London, studying at the Royal Academy Schools and assisting in the offices of Alfred Waterhouse.

Gibbs worked as Superintendent of Works to Archibald Neill of Leeds from 1868 until 1872, when he was taken into partnership by Flockton & Abbott.

He continued in partnership with Thomas James Flockton after the retirement of George Lewslie Abbott in 1875, and the partnership was joined by Flockton’s son, Charles Burrows Flockton, in 1895.

Gibbs became senior partner in 1902 (as Gibbs & Flockton), and the partnership was joined by John Charles Amory Teather in 1908, and Gibbs’ son, Henry Beckett Swift Gibbs, in 1921.

Mappin Art Gallery (Image: Picture Sheffield)

Like all good men, it was only after his death that people appreciated his contribution to the city.

His funeral in December 1935 was held at the Unitarian Upper Chapel on Norfolk Street (in which Gibbs had designed much of its interior) where the Rev. Alfred Hall paid tribute:

“Gibbs’ aim was to make Sheffield beautiful. All his artistic insight and architectural skill were devoted to that end, and, though tastes and fashion had changed, all men would acknowledge that the buildings he conceived and erected were dignified and noble.”

The funeral achieved national attention because Rev. Hall read out a document left by Gibbs:

“Born of Unitarian parents, I was a staunch supporter of the Unitarian precepts for many years, but under the teaching of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer became an agnostic. I hope the Minister, if he accepts the responsibility of conducting my funeral, will do so in the simplest manner possible, remembering that I die an agnostic.”

The clergyman admired his “sterling honesty” after which Gibbs’ remains were taken to City Road for cremation.

During his lifetime Gibbs thought positively and deeply and was a man of definite views. He was afraid that the country might fall into the hands of extremists and had the foresight to see the danger it faced arising out of Germany’s ambitions.

Highfield Library (Image: Picture Sheffield)

But he was not just an architect.

Gibbs had knowledge of property values and was retained by Sheffield Corporation in all cases of arbitration under the Tramways and Street Widening Act of 1897.

He also published essays: ‘The Town Planning of Sheffield’ and ‘The Finance of Housing and Reform of Rating’. In 1895, he presented a scheme for a central railway station in the vicinity of Haymarket. The plans were dismissed, as was his big scheme for housing.

Gibbs’ grand expansion plan was based on garden city principles with radiating main roads linked by a ring road with suburban settlements at its junctions.

Foster’s Building, High Street. (Image: Picture Sheffield)

As well as being a city magistrate, he was a trustee of Woofindin Homes, a director of the Gladstone Buildings Company and a governor of the University of Sheffield, where he was awarded a Master of Arts, and was instrumental in establishing the Department of Architecture.

He was admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1892 and was also president of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Society of Architects and Surveyors. Gibbs also succeeded Thomas James Flockton as Consulting Surveyor to the Town Trustees, for which he designed the Fulwood Park estate.

The White Building, Fitzalan Square. (Image: David Poole)

Gibbs was married to Lucy, daughter of a manager at the Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank, who died a year before him, and lived at Woodcroft, 7 Riverdale Road. On his death he left gross estate of £52,939 (about £3.8 million today).

St John’s Church, Ranmoor. (Image: St John’s Ranmoor)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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Other People

Sheffield Legends

(Image: David Poole)

We walk over them regularly, and might be guilty of not giving them a second glance.

These are the Sheffield Legends, stars that line the pavement outside Sheffield Town Hall.

This is Sheffield’s Walk of Fame, honouring those who have achieved national or international acclaim. As in the Hollywood version, there are plaques with people’s names on them and why they are celebrated.

The idea was first suggested in 2005 when the people of Sheffield were asked who should be honoured after a local resident suggested honouring the footballer Gordon Banks, who grew up in Sheffield.

(Image: David Poole)

Nominations are considered by an independent selection board representing various sectors across the city such as the arts, sport, education, media, and business, and chaired by the Lord Mayor.

To date, the inductees are:

Gordon Banks – England’s World Cup winning goalkeeper
Sean Bean – film and TV actor
Joe Cocker – singer
Sebastian Coe – Olympic medal winner and President of the International Association of Athletics Federation
Derek Dooley – Footballing legend for United and Wednesday
Dame Margaret Drabble – internationally respected novelist and critic
Dame Jessica Ennis – Olympic Champion, double Outdoor and Indoor World Champion athlete
Professor Barry Hancock – OBE, world renowned cancer expert
Brendan Ingle – world famous boxing manager and trainer
Def Leppard – top-selling rock band
Nick Matthew – world squash champion
David Mellor – internationally renowned cutlery designer
Michael Palin – famous film and television personality
Steve Peat – champion downhill mountain biker
Helen Sharman – first British astronaut
Joe Simpson – renowned mountaineer, author, and motivational speaker
Joe Scarborough – one of Sheffield’s finest artists
Michael Vaughan – one of this country’s most successful cricket captains
Clinton Woods – world champion boxer
Grace Clough – Paralympic gold medallist, rowing
Tony Foulds – the man who inspired the spectacular flypast to remember those who died in the Mi Amigo wartime plane crash

(Image: David Poole)
Categories
People

Marti Caine

(Image: IMDb)

It’s been a while since we had a look at some of those people with Sheffield connections. Today, the lady once considered to be Britain’s premier comedienne and the clown queen of TV comedy.

Like America’s Lucille Ball and Phyllis Diller, she paved the way for women working in light entertainment, whether it was the tough world of northern clubs or hosting her own television specials.

Born in 1945 at Sheffield, Lynne Denise Shepherd worked as a model, petrol pump attendant and a croupier. She’s better known to us as Marti Caine, her first professional performance aged 18 at a working men’s club in Rotherham, which led to more than 12 years playing the northern cabaret circuit.

Professionally she wasn’t Marti Caine then, or even Lynne Stringer. She was Sunny Smith for all of three weeks, followed by a spell as Zoe Bond. Unhappy with both, she scoured a gardening book for inspiration. Her husband Malcolm Stringer tinkered with tomato cane and came up with Marta Cane. The club she was playing misheard and billed her as Marti Caine.

She became an overnight star at the age of 30 on the TV talent show New Faces. Viewers took to her gawky, but highly glamorous looks and quickfire timing and she soon became a household name on television and starred on her own show, Marti Caine, on BBC2 from the early 1980s.

Marti starred in Funny Girl, in 1989, playing the lead as Fanny Brice, at the Crucible Theatre.

Marti Caine found fame by appearing in the television talent show New Faces. (Image: Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock)

During the last ten years of her life she combined an outstanding career in light entertainment with that of one on the stage and undertook tours including a notable performance in Alan Ayckbourn’s Seasons Greetings. In 1986 she presented her own one woman show, An Evening with Marti, at the Donmar Warehouse in London.

For three years from 1986 Caine hosted ITV’s New Faces, where she was noted for her friendliness and encouragement to young performers appearing on television for the first time.

In 1992 she toured Britain to record BBC’s Joker in the Pack and later completed another series, Your Best Shot, also for the BBC.

Pantomime was one of her first loves and for many years she made the character of the Red Queen a special part in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which played in Cambridge, Bath, Bournemouth and in London’s West End at the Strand Theatre.

She talked about her TV image as if she were an acquaintance, someone she didn’t particularly like, but had grown to accept.

“She drives too fast, smokes too much, her language is a bit choice and she is very ambitious. I am an emotional coward. I don’t like being the centre of attention. When Marti Caine is out under the spotlight, I’m in the wings throwing up with nervousness.”

In 1988, it was made publicly known that she was suffering from cancer of the lymphoid cells which prompted her to ask her doctor “Does this mean I am a lymphomaniac?”

She was given two years to live but refused to stop working and fought against the disease for seven years.

Marti died aged 50 at her home in Oxfordshire in November 1995, her second husband, Kenneth Ives, by her side. A funeral service was held at Sheffield Cathedral. It was attended by showbusiness personalities and a public address system was set up outside to relay the service to those unable to get inside.

“Remember me with a smile. I don’t want any weeping and wailing when I’ve gone. I want people to dance in the aisles.”

The 2017 film, Funny Cow, starring Maxine Peake, tells the story of a female comedian playing working- men’s clubs in the 1970s and is said to be loosely based on Caine’s story.

Caine appearing in Funny Girl at the Crucible Theatre in 1984. (Image: Kevin Holt/ANL/REX/Shutterstock)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
People

Dr Robert Styring

Photograph by University of Sheffield

In another post we looked at Brincliffe Towers (Brinkcliffe Tower), and through this old Victorian house we come across Dr Robert Styring, a name overlooked by Sheffield history.

Styring was one of the city’s good people, neglected in favour of his friend, J.G. Graves, a man who will be forever remembered for the substantial gifts to its people.

However, although Styring’s benevolence was modest in comparison, I hope that this synopsis will allow us to appreciate his impact on the city.

Robert Styring was born in Sheffield on March 18th, 1850, the second son of Henry Styring, an estate agent, and completed his education at Hebblethwaite’s School in the old Freemason’s Hall in Paradise Square.

He left school at fifteen becoming a clerk and collector in his father’s business, leaving four years later when his older brother, Henry Ashmore Styring, returned from his travels

Robert moved into law and was articled as clerk to George Edward Webster, qualifying as a solicitor in 1875, and later going into partnership until Webster’s retirement in 1908.

Shortly afterwards, with his two sons, he founded Robert Styring and Sons on North Church Street.  He became president of the Sheffield District Incorporated Law Society in 1907.

Styring became a City Councillor for St Peter’s Ward, in 1886, and, after four re-elections, was promoted to the aldermanic bench in 1899. He held this position until 1926, when, after forty years’ public service, he was one of the aldermen who were refused re-election by the Socialist majority which gained power that year.

He was Lord Mayor in 1906-07, and for a considerable period was chairman of the Electricity, Water and Parliamentary Committees, and reputed to never have worn the same tie twice when attending Council sittings. In 1912, he was successful in the inclusion of Tinsley into the city boundaries.

Royal visit of Princess Christian in 1906 as she leaves Sheffield Town Hall accompanied by Lord Mayor, Robert Styring. Photograph by Picture Sheffield

As a member of the City Council it fell to him to organise the Sheffield Electric Supply Department, initiated the Surplus Lands Committee, made arrangements for the purchase of the tramway system and subsequent conversion to electric, and led a Parliamentary struggle for Sheffield to claim a share of the Derwent Valley Water Board scheme in Derbyshire.

Styring was interested in education and appointed a member of the Education Committee in 1903.

Robert Styring

To the civic and educational life of the city Styring gave generously. He was a staunch supporter of Sheffield University, in fact, may well be said to have been one of its pioneers. He was a member of the Council of the old University College from which the University sprang, and when the proposal for a University was made, he was a sincere and determined supporter of the scheme.

In those days there was a suggestion that Leeds and Sheffield should combine to form a Yorkshire University, but Leeds declined to co-operate. Styring was a strong advocate of a University for Sheffield and when it was granted a charter became a member of the Court of Governors and expressed faith in its future by having his sons educated there.

In 1923 he anonymously presented the University with £20,000 for the endowment of scholarships and research work. It was only later that his identity was revealed and the following year the University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) and only a few days later the Corporation presented him with the Freedom of the City.

His departure from the Council meant he ended his work on the Education committee but was reappointed not long after, as well as being chairman of the Governors at King Edward VII School.

In other public life, he was leader of the Liberal party in Sheffield, a Justice of the Peace, became a member of the Licensing Committee, and was elected a Town Trustee in 1925. .

A Congregationalist, for many years Styring was associated with Cemetery Road Congregational Church, was chairman of the Sheffield Congregationalist Organisation, treasurer of the Sunday School Union, and completed more than half a century’s service as Sunday school teacher and superintendent.

Styring married Annie Frances Hovey in 1880, who helped him in his public duties, and became a rock in his life for 45 years.

Annie Frances Styring

For a while they lived at Moorseats Hall, Hathersage, a house identified with Jane Eyre, and he frequently walked from there to his office in Sheffield.

A man who always looked younger than his age, he attributed his good health to gardening. When living at Hathersage, he had a delightful garden, which he reproduced on a larger scale at Brinkcliffe Tower, which he purchased in 1897.

Brinkcliffe Tower

While addressing a meeting of women at the Victoria Hall in March 1925 Annie Styring remarked, “Excuse me one moment,” sat in her chair, collapsed, and died.

Her death affected Styring deeply. “It was entirely due to her that I entered public life, and due to her efforts, won what was thought to be a forlorn hope, a seat in the City Council for St. Peter’s Ward in 1886.”

In November 1925, he decided to gift the Brinkcliffe Tower estate to the city. To be handed over after his death, as well as the house, there were twelve acres of grounds which were to be used as a public park.

“We have enjoyed the pleasure of the estate and nothing would have given her greater satisfaction than to know the purpose to which it was to be adapted.”

Styring was a lifelong abstainer and non-smoker and indulged in the healthy pursuits of walking and golf.

In later years he became a world traveller and completed a 33,000 mile round the world tour during which he visited Egypt, India, Ceylon, China, Japan, and the United States.

After handing over the deeds to the council, Styring remained at Brinkcliffe Tower until 1935, by which time he chose to enjoy retirement in Paignton, Devon. As a result, he vacated the property, gave the keys to Sheffield Council, along with three houses on Brincliffe Edge Road, and left behind a Japanese tapestry and two large oil paintings. He died in 1944, aged 94, at Lancaster House in Paignton.

Brinkcliffe Tower, later known as Brincliffe Towers, became a care home until 2011 and is currently empty awaiting redevelopment. A better fate has befallen its former grounds, opened in 1935 as Chelsea Park, although arguably it maybe should have been called Styring Park.