The last days of haymaking

A pastoral scene from 1892. Image: Picture Sheffield

In 1892, a Mr Cunningham captured a scene of haymaking. A farm worker gathers hay by fork and piles it onto the back of a horse-drawn wagon on which a bowler-hatted man stands. Tending the horse is a young boy. In the background, a fire is on the go in an old cottage and smoke rises from the chimney. It is a scene of rural paradise with fields and trees rising-up the hillside behind.

Within fifty years this pastoral scene had disappeared. Sheffield’s growing population needed rehousing, and many were moved from old city centre slums into new housing estates that crept up the hillsides.

This photograph was taken on East Bank Road, and I’m led to believe that the old cottage stood in a glade behind Midhill House, a large country property that became what is now the Earl Marshall pub.

Still countryside but not for long. East Bank Road photographed in 1946. Image: Picture Sheffield

The road itself, then little more than a country lane, climbed the hillside and had once ended at Midhill house before eventually being extended towards the village of Gleadless.

The Arbourthorne estate, at the top of East Bank Road,  was under construction by the mid-1930s and the road  widened, with council houses built on the opposite side to Midhill House. The first bus service between Sheffield and Gleadless came up here from 1937 (and continues as the No. 51 bus route).

East Bank Road seen from from East Road, looking towards, No 291, Midhill Working Men’s Club and Institute Ltd (formerly Midhill House) in 1946. Image: Picture Sheffield

The old cottage disappeared, and farmland became property of Sheffield Corporation, and although housing eventually surrounded this little oasis, the area around Midhill House remained green space. The Norfolk Park estate was built at the top of the hill behind.

Modern day view of East Bank Road. Midhill House, now the Earl Marshall pub, survives. The old cottage in the haymaking photograph is believed to have existed where woodland now stands behind the house. Image: Google

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