Categories
Places Streets

Kelham Island

Little Kelham. (DJP/2021)

Once a rural idyll, along came industry, and Kelham Island became famous for its factories and works. It’s hard to believe that in a remarkably short space of time, the last remnants of industrial heritage are being squeezed out, and Kelham is becoming one of the “coolest places to live in Britain.”

Here’s an extract from Robert Eadon Leader’s ‘Reminiscences of Old Sheffield: Its Streets and Its People’ (1876), in which Richard Leonard remembered the days before industry.

“Beyond Bower Spring, the footpath – Cottonmill Walk – was the continuation of Spring Street. It ran in the direction now taken by Russell Street, across ‘Longcroft,’ as the open space was called in 1771, towards Green Lane. Of course, it took its name from the cotton mill of Mr Middleton.

“An open stream ran from the top of Cornish Street, in front of Green Lane, and emptied itself in the Don, below where Green Lane works now stand. On the other side of the stream were cottage gardens. Middleton’s silk mill – built in 1758, burnt down in 1792, and the cotton mill, re-erected on the same site only in turn to be burnt down in 1810, and again built only to become the Poor-house in 1829 – stood alone in its glory, its nearest neighbour being Kelham Wheel, still there, as it had been at least as long before as in 1674, on the now covered-in ‘Goit’.

“Across the river was the suburb of Bridgehouses, and all around was verdure. Those were the days when ‘the old cherry tree,’ whose name is now perpetuated only by the public-house (on Gibraltar Street) and the yard where it stood, was still young, and when Allen ‘Lane’ and the Bowling Green marked the extremity of the inhabited region of Gibraltar. Beyond the road ran between fields – ‘Moorfields’ (now Shalesmoor) – and on to the distant rural haunts of Philadelphia and Upperthorpe.”

The photographs show Citu’s recent sustainable housing development at Little Kelham (Little Kelham Street).

Little Kelham. (DJP/2021)
Little Kelham. (DJP/2021)

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Places Sculpture Streets

Grey to Green

The recent post about Castlegate failed to mention that it is in the process of being part-pedestrianised, Phase 2 of Sheffield’s ‘Grey to Green’ project. Unless you visit this forgotten part of the city centre the relevance of the initiative might escape you.

It is part of an approach to transform ‘redundant’ road space into a network of public spaces, sustainable drainage and urban rain gardens, which aims to improve the setting of the Riverside Business District, Castlegate and the rest of the city centre and then on to Kelham Island and Victoria Quays, as a place to work, live and enjoy, whilst also dealing with the effects of climate change.

Phase 1 (West Bar/Bridge Street/Snig Hill) was completed in Spring 2016 and was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund and Sheffield City Council.

The area suffered catastrophic river floods in 2007. With the completion of the Inner Relief Road in 2008, traffic was diverted away from West Bar. The opportunity was seized to replace the ‘grey’ impermeable ‘redundant’ roads into ‘green’ permeable beds, transforming the space with colourful meadow-like planting and significantly increasing surface water storage.

With advice on plant selection from the University of Sheffield Landscape Department this has created a new townscape that is different to anything done in Sheffield before. Over 40,000 bulbs, 40 new trees, 600 evergreen shrubs and 26,000 herbaceous plants were introduced to form a seasonal urban meadow.

The new road layout was designed to slow vehicle speeds and make walking and cycling more attractive. New paving, street furniture, colourful seating and five eye-catching  public art ‘totems’ celebrate the local history of the West Bar area including its Victorian music halls and theatres, its lively street life, its complex relationship to the river and its legacy of industry and brewing.

Phase 2 (Castlegate to Exchange Place) is nearing completion, and Phase 3 (Gibraltar Street  to Shalesmoor) will eventually transform 1.2km of ‘redundant’ road-space into an attractive new linear green public space.

© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

Categories
Companies

Sheffield Simplex

In the early part of the twentieth century, the World’s best car was unquestionably the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.

But a legion of fresh luxury cars soon appeared, and the Rolls-Royce revolution was challenged by Lanchester, Leyland Eight, Hispano-Suiza, Ensign, Farman… and the Sheffield-Simplex.

And yes, for loyal younger readers… Sheffield could and should have been a centre for car production.

The Sheffield-Simplex owed its success to Earl Fitzwilliam, from Wentworth Woodhouse, whose attempt at the Templeborough works to make the finest motor car in the world very nearly succeeded.

The company received financial backing from the Earl, the first few cars called Brotherhoods, and were a continuation of the Brotherhood-Crocker cars made in London in which he had been an investor.

Brotherhood sold the London site in 1905 and moved to Peterborough but could not get permission to build a car factory, so the Earl suggested a move to Sheffield where he built a new factory in Tinsley.

In 1908, the first cars to bear the Sheffield-Simplex name appeared designed by Percy Richardson, ex Daimler and Brotherhood. The LA1 had a six cylinder 6,978 cc engine and three speed gearbox.

It was joined in 1908 by the LA2, intended for lighter open bodies which did without a conventional gear system.

Four smaller cars joined the line-up in 1910 but lasted only one year, and in 1911 were replaced by the LA7 with a six cylinder 4,740 cc engine.

Sheffield-Simplex considered their only rival to be Rolls-Royce and even opened a London showroom in Conduit Street very close to theirs.

During World War One, the company made armoured cars which were supplied to the Belgian and Russian armies, as well as making ABC Wasp and Dragonfly aircraft engines and munitions.

Car production resumed in 1919, and judged by pre-war standards, the Simplex was a very fine car indeed. But it was also very costly, and it never again captured the exclusive market.

Sheffield-Simplex went into steep decline, building a few Shefflex trucks and the Ner-a-Car fully enclosed motorcycle to the designs of the American, Carl A. Neracher. When the doors finally closed, around 1500 cars had been made during the company’s history… and it seems that only three survive, two of which are at Kelham Island Museum.