Categories
Streets

“And hence, True-Love’s Gutter, it’s old name was given.”

Castle Street, Sheffield. The original Truelove’s Gutter. Photograph: Google

In 2009, singer-songwriter Richard Hawley released a dark album called Truelove’s Gutter, said to refer to an ancient Sheffield street which was allegedly named after 18th century innkeeper Thomas Truelove, who used to charge people to dump rubbish in the gutter in the street that then flowed down into the River Don.

Thomas Truelove may have existed, I can’t find any evidence, but the Truelove family did own houses and land nearby.

The album reawakened interest in a long forgotten street.

In the 15th century no proper drainage existed, so as an aid to cleaning the streets a pool was constructed to make a reservoir for the storage of water supplied by springs on the hills above West Bar. This came to be known as Barker’s Pool and had a pair of sluice gates that could be opened to allow water to escape when required.

All the streets had an open drain or gutter which ran down the middle of the narrow road and into this, all the refuse and filth of the town were thrown.

To cleanse the town, bells would be rung about once a month to warn people and the water would be allowed to escape from the pool to rush down the sloping streets until it joined the River Don at Lady’s Bridge.

The drains also carried rainwater and after very heavy storms they became rushing torrents. Rails or fences were erected at the side of parts of the drain and in places bridges were put across the gap.

It was upon one of these small bridges that a courting couple were seated when they were washed away in 1690.

This inspired James Wills, a local writer, to pen a poem in 1827 called ‘The Contrast: or the Improvements of Sheffield’ and referred to a town about sixty years previous.

“You remember the sinks in the midst of the streets –
And when rain pours down each passenger greets
His fellow with ‘What a wide channel is here!
We all shall be drowned I greatly do fear’;
For lately two lovers sat here on a rail,
On the side of the ditch, fondly telling their tale,
When the flood washed them down in each other’s embrace,
For no longer could they keep their seat in the place;
And hence, True-Love’s Gutter, it’s old name was given,
Because by the flood these two lovers were driven!”

The historian Robert Eadon Leader destroyed this sad and romantic tale, and said the name really derived from the family of Truelove who lived for many generations in the vicinity.

The gutter exists in old deeds and in 1677 True Love’s Gutter Bridge is said to have been repaired by the Burgess. Also, in a Directory of Sheffield (1787), many tradesmen are living in this street – a grocer, baker, victualler, butcher, inkpot maker, linen draper, shoemaker, saddler, and hairdresser – as well as William Staniforth, surgeon, and man midwife.

Truelove’s Gutter, a narrow street, was renamed Castle Street in the early 1800s and widened a century later. It extended into what became Exchange Street and there have been recent suggestions that the name should be revived.

Richard Hawley. Truelove’s Gutter (2009)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Places

Castlegate vision may soon be reality

We’ve waited long enough to hear good news about Castlegate, and more importantly the site of old Sheffield Castle.

Sheffield has been successful in its bid to secure £20m of funding for Castlegate through the Government Levelling Up fund.

£15m of this will go towards further archaeological investigation and interpretation of the historic Castle remains for the public to view, quality open space, de-culverting of the River Sheaf and route-ways through the site. Targeted plots on the outer edges of the site will be made ‘developer ready’.

The remaining funding will go towards two other projects – Park Hill Art Space and Harmony Works.

Park Hill Art Space will deliver an arts, cultural and heritage destination at the Park Hill estate and it will aim to be one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the North, complemented by creative workspace and learning facilities, within a six-acre sculpture park.

Harmony Works is a partnership between Sheffield Music Academy and Sheffield Music Hub to create a new fit-for-purpose music academy by refurbishing Grade II listed Canada House on Commercial Street.

Categories
Buildings

The Viaduct Scheme

Markets on a grand scale. The proposed retail markets sketched by Alwyn Holland for E.M. Gibbs. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

The former Castle Market site lays in transition waiting for the day when a park is created between Castlegate and Exchange Street.

It was demolished in 2015 allowing the few remains of Sheffield Castle to be excavated in detail.

The area might be run-down and demands attention, but had an extravagant scheme been completed over a century ago, the place might look vastly different now.

In 1911, Sheffield Corporation drew up plans to create a new street running from Great Central Station (Victoria Station) into the centre of the city. Objections were made by the Markets Committee that any such road would have made it impossible to complete its proposed new market scheme.

In response, the Sheffield architect Edward Michel Gibbs created an alternative plan whereby, instead of building the street at ground level, a new road could be carried on a viaduct, allowing the site beneath to be developed for market use.

“The street to the station would be similar in position to that recommended by the committee. It would run from Haymarket to Blonk Street, nearly in a direct line for the station, but instead of descending 26 feet to Blonk Street and then ascending 20 feet to the station yard, it would be carried on a viaduct on the level of Haymarket, then by a bridge over Blonk Street (26 feet high), and forward to a viaduct over the side of Smithfield Market to the station yard.”

A plan of the proposed Viaduct Scheme linking Great Central Station with Haymarket. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

The viaduct road would have resulted in level access to Great Central Station, avoiding traffic congestion in Blonk Street, and allowing for the expansion of the markets.

It was a radical scheme that also allowed for the creation of brand new market halls. A wholesale market would have been constructed underneath the viaduct, covering an area of 13,960 square yards, and built on part of the River Sheaf.

On top of the viaduct were to be retail markets, with bold balustraded parapets, and set back 40 feet on each side of the new street, fronting onto a decorative space almost as big as Fitzalan Square. With 5,555 square yards of selling space, the markets would have been bigger than the combined areas of the existing Norfolk Market Hall and Fitzalan Market.

A sketch of E.M. Gibbs’ Viaduct Scheme, drawn by local artist Alwyn Holland. (Image: The British Newspaper Archive)

Gibbs estimated the cost of the Viaduct Scheme to be £351,000, inclusive of land, road, viaduct, markets, and a new River Don Street from Blonk Street to Lady’s Bridge.

Unsurprisingly, Sheffield Corporation recoiled over the estimated cost (equivalent to over £16 million today) and refused to consider the scheme.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph favoured the proposal and filled column inches with reasons why the council should at least consider it.

“There can be no doubt that the streets abutting onto the station approach are a disgrace to the town. They are dangerous, congested and filthily dirty, and they give the visitor to Sheffield a first impression of squalor and sordidness.

“If they alight at the station, what do they see? On the right a piece of wasteland: on the left a road that dips under the railway and is flanked with ugly stone walls; straight before them a sloping road leading to a narrow street of dingy, mean-looking buildings, with a dirty, battered ‘convenience’ of the worst and most ancient type standing proudly as a centrepiece.”

Gibbs published a pamphlet to convince people about the scheme and the council eventually agreed to discuss the proposal. However, the projected cost had increased to £398,000 and the Corporation went for the cheaper option.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph was unimpressed.

“The Corporation have before them a scheme which is only a tinkering with an admitted evil, not a bold and generous attempt to extirpate it. It will suffice only for a generation or so.”

Unfortunately, World War One halted all plans for the markets, and it was not until 1930 that Castle Hill Market opened, subsequently replaced by Castle Market in 1959.

Castle Hill Market seen from the air in 1933. The new River Don Street in E.M. Gibbs’ Viaduct Scheme was the only part of the plan adopted by Sheffield Corporation. It was built in 1930 and became known as Castlegate. (Image: Historic England)

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.