Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank

A reminder of our past. The Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank was founded in 1836 with small premises at Hartshead. Two years later, the bank moved to new premises on Church Street, designed by Samuel Worth. By 1878, the premises were inadequate to meet the needs of the business. The bank turned to Henry Dent Lomas (1818-1901), an architect on Norfolk Row, to add an extension to its left-hand-side. Later to become the Midland Bank and subsequently HSBC. It has been empty for twelve years, except for Tesco Express that occupies part of the building.


Cheney Row

My favourite walkway in Sheffield. Cheney Row, running alongside the Town Hall and Peace Gardens. It is a name transferred from Cheney Square, a group of nice houses destroyed when Surrey Street and the Town Hall were in the making during the 1890s. One of them was the residence for many years of Hugh Cheney, a doctor. The site of Cheney Square, being on the fringe of a small town, developed after the breaking up of Alsop Fields (a long-lost name), and with the building of St. Paul’s Church and the laying out of its large burial ground. The church stood on the site of the Peace Gardens and was demolished in 1938.


Cheney Row

A relic of the past. Cheney Row runs alongside the Town Hall adjacent to the Peace Gardens. It is an old thoroughfare, a survivor from the days of Cheney Square, demolished during the construction of the Town Hall in the 1890s.

Cheney is a very old Sheffield name, being found in the accounts of the Burgery as far back as 1645.

There is a record that says one Edward Cheney, in 1725, bought surplus land left over from the building of St. Paul’s Church, which stood on the site of the Peace Gardens and was demolished in 1938.

The land was known as Oxley Croft before the church was built, but that name disappeared and, in its place, we had New Church Street (also gone) and Cheney Row and Square.

In some old directories the name appeared as China Square, probably the result of a ‘politically-correct’ compiler believing that Cheney was a derivation of China.

And again, the name Cheney has been traced to Dr Hugh Cheney, originally from Bakewell, one of the first surgeons at the Royal Infirmary, who lived in a house at the corner of Cheney Square about 1803. But it was Cheney Square before his time.

There is little doubt that the Edward Cheney, who bought the surplus land of Oxley Croft, built the houses and called two of the thoroughfares after himself.

In January 1886 the Town Council decided that a site bounded by Pinstone Street, (New) Surrey Street, Norfolk Street, and Cheney Row should be utilised for a new Town Hall, and that New Church Street, Cheney Square and an unnamed lane should disappear.


Cabbage Alley

Somewhere underneath Sheffield Town Hall there are likely to be the remains of a dark, narrow, cobbled lane with the sweet-sounding name of Cabbage Alley.

Its existence is almost airbrushed from history, partly because those that used it back in the day didn’t even know that it had a name.

This photograph remains the only image of Cabbage Alley, reproduced in a newspaper in 1931, taken from an old painting by William Topham in 1877, of which its current existence is unknown.

The picture is a view down Cabbage Alley, looking towards the south. In the background can be seen St. Paul’s Church, built in the 1720s and demolished in 1938. In its place we now have the Peace Gardens.

Cabbage Alley ran from New Church Street, both demolished when the Town Hall was built in the 1890s, and Cheney Row, a walkway that survives.

The painting that emerged in 1931 belonged to Mr Ambrose James Wallis, head of Ambrose Wallis and Son, whitesmiths, of Norfolk Lane. His father, who commissioned the artwork, had set up business in Cabbage Alley in 1867 and remained there until about 1889.

“Cabbage Alley was an old-fashioned street even in those days,” he told the Sheffield Daily Independent. “The gutter ran down the centre instead of at the sides.

“A strange thing was that nobody seemed to know its name, and it was not until the notices for us to quit were received, that we learned that we had been living in Cabbage Alley.”


Queen’s Hotel

The grand old lady of Scotland Street is likely to be demolished soon.

The Queen’s Hotel, a relic of defunct Sheffield brewer, S.H. Wards, has been closed since 1997, boarded-up and decaying to the point of no return.

A planning application is expected to be submitted to Sheffield City Council, requesting the demolition of the inter-war pub, and replacing it with an eleven-storey apartment block.

There have been false dawns since the Queen’s Hotel’s closure. In 1999, plans were submitted, later withdrawn, to turn it into a massage parlour, sauna and health suite. Eight years later there were proposals to refurbish the old pub and create 126 apartments behind, but the scheme never got off the drawing board.

When the inevitable happens, it will end 128 years of a public house being on the site.

Scotland Street itself dates from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, built along a former boundary of an open field system. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, small factories, workshops and housing were built in the area, encouraged by an influx of Irish immigrants during the 1840s.

The public house was built in 1791, known as the Queen’s Inn, later Queen’s Hotel, complete with Dram-Shop, and a “good quoits and marble alley, and a very superior organ.” It belonged to local brewer William Bradley & Co, and subsequently by S.H. Wards, which bought it in 1876.

One of its longest serving landlords was James Bower Wragg, a well-known local angler, who reigned for fifty years or so, falling foul of the law on many occasions for serving outside permitted licensing hours.

By the 1920s, the Scotland Street area contained some of the city’s worst slum housing, described as “hovels of the aristocracy” and “mansions of the poor.” It prompted Sheffield Corporation to demolish large swathes of terraced houses.

The last tenants on the street were Charles Booth, 72, his brother Walter, 69, and their sister Eliza, who moved out in 1929. Their parents had moved into the house in 1856, when “Scotland Street was an eminently respectable street and one which many gay scenes were witnessed.”

Sheffield Corporation set about widening Scotland Street, and in the process purchased land from S.H. Ward & Co, including the site of the nearby Old Hussar public house, and part of the site of the Queen’s Hotel, on condition that they paid the brewery £2,875 towards the cost of rebuilding the Queen’s Hotel.

The new pub, built with stark, simple, exterior lines, opened in December 1928 with guest rooms on the upper floors, a large function room on the first floor and two ground floor bars. It became a popular haunt for factory workers, replacing the gap left by former residents, and was one of the brewery’s flagship establishments.

Scotland Street became one of the city’s strongest manufacturing areas, but a long-term lack of investment and a general state of decline, resulted in the area becoming down-at-heel by the middle of the century.

Many local factories closed, and the decline accelerated in the 1970s, as did the fortunes of the Queen’s Hotel, not helped by S.H. Wards being taken over by Sunderland-based Vaux Breweries in 1972. The brewery closed in 1999, two years after the Queen’s Hotel had closed its doors for good in April 1997.

Remarkably, despite the onset of time, the building still shows old Wards branding outside… but probably not for much longer.


Death by paralysis

It’s a question asked by more than one person here and has appeared in more than one story.

I’m sure that after this, some qualified and knowledgeable individual will say that everything I write here is a load of rubbish.

But being the curious type, I’ve attempted to investigate a cause of death attributed so many times in Victorian and Edwardian Sheffield, that being “death by paralysis,” and even ‘death by creeping paralysis.”

Nowadays, the cause of death of an individual is more precise, largely due to the advance of science and medicine. Back then, paralysis might have been assigned to a death certificate for any number of reasons, unknown then, but common to us today.

“Death by paralysis” or “death by creeping paralysis” might have covered any number of causes – botulism, either caught through eating infected food or through an infected wound; multiple sclerosis; vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of alcoholism or eating disorder; cervical spondylosis; and even motor neurone disease.

However, the terms were often used to avoid family embarrassment, because death was caused as a result of syphilis or alcoholism.

Syphilis was extremely difficult to cure. Often patients would think that their disease had disappeared or been cured, only to have their bodies betray them with a resurgence of symptoms.

Concealment of the sexual disease was common, and women expected not even to show knowledge of the disease, with infection of families by men widespread across all classes.

Victorian case notes on venereal-disease patients, often follow a dishearteningly familiar pattern. Having responded well to treatment, many relapsed several months or years later. Stigmatising infections, lengthy treatments and uncertain outcomes took an emotional toll on patients.

Nineteenth-century doctors took seriously the notion that a diagnosis of syphilis could trigger acute despair and melancholia.

In fact, the final stages of syphilis triggered brain disease, characterised by dementia, progressive muscular weakness and paralysis. Unsurprisingly for the times, many ended up in mental institutions, diagnosed as “General paralysis of the insane.”

Oscar Wilde drew his last, laboured breath on November 30, 1900. He was only 46 years old. Ever since that moment, literary scholars, doctors and Wilde fans have argued about the precise cause of his death. The long-held theory was that Oscar Wilde succumbed to the ravages of tertiary, or end-stage, syphilis.


The Ruskin Building

A few weeks back we looked at 95-101 Norfolk Street, constructed by Flockton & Abbot for Hay and Son, wine merchants, in 1876. The business lasted until 1970 and was restored to become the Ruskin Gallery in 1985. The museum closed in 2002 and the collection is now housed at the Millennium Gallery.

In recent times, it has been home to several businesses, the ground floor occupied by Handlesbanken, a Swedish commercial bank.

Now, the Ruskin Building is undergoing further renovation as The Bank, operated by Sheffield Theatres Trust.

The Bank is part of Sheffield Theatres’ The Making Room project, a network of local artists in collaboration with Theatre Deli, The Bare Project and Third Angel. The new venue will be used as a theatrical and reading space, a rehearsal area and basement storage. This is where the next generation of creative talent will be nurtured.

The project has been made possible after a financial gift from long-standing Sheffield Theatres supporters, Jo and Chris Hookway.

The former Handlesbanken bank was separate to the former Ruskin Gallery, divided by a partition wall. This will be reconfigured and allow the extension of The Crucible Corner, an adjacent bar and restaurant, providing room for 20 extra covers. The remaining part will be used for The Making Room venture.

The opening of The Bank, scheduled for late November, does not affect the historic fabric or architectural features of the Grade II-listed building.


New Era Square

It is probably Sheffield’s longest-running construction project. New Era Square, at the corner of St. Mary’s Gate and Bramall Lane, seems to be taking an eternity to complete. Construction of the £66million project started in late 2015 with building work still ongoing four years later.

The residential and leisure development is the creation of Jerry Cheung, a UK-Chinese businessman, local property developer, restaurant owner, and chair of the Sheffield Chinese Community Centre.

Cheung is head of New Era Development (UK) Ltd, an international property development company based in Sheffield, founded in 2013 to develop large-scale Chinese-funded projects in the north of England.

Local media have dubbed their first project, New Era Square, designed by Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson Ltd, as “Chinatown” and “Sheffield’s very own version of New York’s Times Square.”

Building work is being undertaken by Derbyshire-based Bowmer & Kirkland with Phase 1 finished last year, consisting mainly of student living space.

Phase 2 is underway after £27million of funding from Barclays, and will include cluster student accommodation, restaurants, retail and office space, all built around a central plaza.

As construction moves towards completion, restaurants are already being lined up to move in.

This week, Oriental fine dining restaurant OISOI announced that it would be moving into New Era Square early next year.

The company is opening OISOI Gathering/The Party Room and The Artisan Patisserie and Bakery, providing a new concept in live music, in-house party bands and state-of-the-art holographic technology.


Henderson’s Relish

Henderson’s Relish is a Sheffield institution, poured over pies, stews, chips, almost anything, has its own unique flavoured crisp, and the secret of its recipe remains a closely guarded secret.

It is about as Sheffield as you can get, virtually unheard-of outside city boundaries, except for those cases exported to home-sick expatriates around the world.

Henderson’s Relish, Worcestershire sauce-like (without the anchovies), owes its existence to Henry Henderson, born at Walkeringham, Nottinghamshire, in 1850. He was the thirteenth child of Joseph and Hannah Henderson and grew up working on the family farm.

At 21, he left home and worked as an apprentice miller before setting up home in Sheffield with his first wife, Clara Cornthwaite, in 1874. In the early 1880s, Henry became a ‘drysalter’ – somebody who supplied salt or chemicals for preserving food, and somebody who might also have sold pickles, relishes and dried meat.

The Henderson’s set up home at 35 Broad Street, where Henry created a spicy Yorkshire relish in 1885, sold from his adjoining general merchant’s shop, and where customers returned their empty bottles to be refilled from huge barrels.

After Clara died in 1898, Henry remarried in 1904, Eliza Ann Swinterland, but suffered ill-health and made several attempts to sell the business, advertised as a Relish Manufacturer, Wholesale Druggist and Smallwares Dealer.

Henderson’s Relish was sold to Shaw’s of Huddersfield, pickles manufacturer, still in existence today, and appointed Charles Hinksman as General Manager.

Henry retired and lived at Beechwood House, Kenbourne Road, at Nether Edge, and died while on holiday at the Granby Hotel, Skegness, in 1930.

During the 1920s, the business moved the short distance, to Leavygreave Road, near the Jessop’s Hospital, where its small factory became a talking point. According to legend, nobody was ever seen entering or leaving the building.

In 1940, Hinksman bought the company from Shaw’s, renaming it Henderson’s (Sheffield) Ltd, and it has remained in the family ever since.

Harvey Freeman took over from his sister, Gladys, Charles Hinksman’s wife, in 1975, slowly growing the business, and it was handed over to Dr Kenneth Freeman in 1991, the man credited for the dramatic rise in the company’s fortunes. After he died in 2013, aged 92, his wife, Pamela, became its Managing Director.

In 2013, Henderson’s Relish sold the Leavygreave Road factory to the University of Sheffield, which had plans to develop the building as a Henderson’s themed pub. Production of relish was transferred to a new factory on J.F. Finnegan’s 58-acres Sheffield Parkway Business Park.

Stocked by supermarkets across the city, it’s a must for restaurants and takeaways, and woe betide anybody who compares it to Worcestershire Sauce, as did Lewisham MP, Jim Dowd, during a House of Commons speech in January 2014. He lived to regret his faux pas.


Dominic West

I sometimes think these posts ought to be called “They escaped from Sheffield.”

Dominic Gerard Francis Eagleton West. Born Sheffield, in 1969. Actor and producer. Educated at Westbourne School, Broomhill, Eton College and Trinity College, Dublin. First cousin, once removed, of American Thomas Eagleton, briefly the 1972 Democratic nominee for Vice President. West is celebrated for once spending four months as a cattle herder in Argentina.

Best known for The Wire (2002), Chicago (2002) and Tomb Raider (2018). Also famous for playing serial killer Fred West in ITV’s Appropriate Adult and appearing three times on the Crucible Theatre stage (The Country Wife, Othello and My Fair Lady).

West is married to Catherine FitzGerald, daughter of Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, and lives in Shepherd’s Bush, London, and Glin Castle, County Limerick.

He’s also received an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University and an Honorary Degree from the University of Sheffield.

“When I meet anyone from Sheffield, they look at me sceptically, as if to say, ‘You don’t come from Yorkshire’.”