The glitziness of Sheffield’s High Street has long disappeared, now it’s a modern-day Miss Havisham, whose dilapidated appearance attracts only those of similar behaviour.
As such, we’re not likely to risk cutting along Aldine Court to Hartshead if we can help it. However, it is one of our oldest streets, and although concealed by surrounding buildings, it can tell a few stories.
Up until 1913 Aldine Court meandered from High Street towards Hartshead in so erratic a fashion that historian Robert Eadon Leader suggested its origin could have been from a primeval footpath across the waste.
It was Leader who disclosed a deed from Mary Trippett’s time, she was descended from John Trippitte, yeoman, and Master Cutler in 1794, which revealed the haphazard buildings that had wantonly appeared; a malthouse (once William Patrick, then Thomas Wreaks), a maltkiln, a stable, workshops, and a bakehouse, as well as the old Sheffield Iris newspaper office at the Hartshead end.
“No two buildings were the same shape, the same height, scarcely of the same alignment; yet, decayed and ramshackle, they proved good enough for a typographer.”
Aldine Court had been called Trippett’s Yard, Wreaks Yard, and in 1845, when Joseph Pearce set up a printing works here, was referred to as Wilson’s Yard (probably after George Wilson, of the Sharrow Mills family, who had set up a snuff shop on High Street in the 1830s).
Pearce, the son of a bookseller in Gibraltar Street, was a stationer, printer and part-proprietor of the Sheffield Times before launching the Sheffield Telegraph, Britain’s first daily provincial newspaper, in 1855.
The narrow thoroughfare would become forever linked with newspapers, and it was Pearce who renamed it Aldine Court, honouring one of history’s publishing greats.
Aldo Manuzio arrived in Venice in 1490 and produced small books in Latin and Italian, publishing the works of Dante, Petrarch, and Erasmus. Over two decades, his Aldine Press published 130 editions, famous for its imitation of the handwriting of Petrarch, using a typeface called ‘venetian’ or ‘aldine’, but later known by the name we are familiar with today – ‘italic’.
Between 1913-1916, Aldine Court was somewhat straightened to accommodate the Sheffield Telegraph building, and partly covered with later newspaper extensions.
© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.