Looking back at Grimesthorpe Road

Story: Elizabeth & Gordon Shaw, Local History Group.

Grimesthorpe Road, which starts on Gower Street, at the side of the Vestry Hall, ends just over a mile away at what once was Grimesthorpe Village, now just another suburb of Sheffield.

The road is first mentioned in Kelly's Directory in 1865 when approximately 25 households were listed including Carrfield House, Meadowhead House and Woodhill.

In 1879, there were seven manufacturers, two colliery owners, several shopkeepers, three vicars (Weslyan, Church of England and Methodist), a blacksmith, a builder, a book-keeper and lodging houses amongst others. Quite an assortment!

Houses full of people

The houses between Gower Street and Lyons Street were terraced. Beyond that were large detached and semi-detached houses giving way to further terraces at the far end.

No 13 Grimesthorpe Road, 1920
No 13 Grimesthorpe Road, 1920

A study of the 1891 census gives us an insight to the size of the families with sometimes surprising results. Who would have thought that the family running the corner shop in a street of small terraced houses would employ a servant? Mr & Mrs Barker at No.13 did! Further up the road, the widowed Mrs Norton, along with her adult son and daughter, ran a grocery shop at 179 and 181. They employed my namesake, Elizabeth Shaw from Stannington, as a domestic servant.

The family living at Number 156 might, these days, be considered overcrowded. Mr Howson shared his home with his wife, five children (two sons and three daughters aged between 3 and 18 years), his mother-in-law and three boarders: a tinsmith and gas fitter from Edinburgh, a sawyer from Glasgow and a barman from Dundee. A total of 11 people crammed into a two bed-roomed house, although it is possible that there was also an attic! Just across the road at 161, the Booth family must also have been a tight fit with eleven children, four of them being over 15 years of age.

A Street of Workers

A study of the 1891 census shows that out of 252 male heads of household, only two (one aged 65 and one living on their own means) were not employed. Of the 25 households with a female head, 22 were widows. The youngest male worker was a 12-year-old office boy. There were four 13-year-olds working (two office boys, one umbrella maker and one rope maker) and, surprisingly, one 14-year-old music teacher. At the other end of the scale, there were six men in their 70's still working. Of the male population (aged over 12 years) living on Grimesthorpe Road, over 95% were in employment.

What sort of occupations were these men employed in? There were labourers (37), steel workers (49), railway workers (25), clerks (14), butchers (10), grocers / greengrocers (14) - the sort of jobs people still do today.

Females of the time were less likely to be in employment. Of those over the age of 12, less than a quarter are shown as having an occupation. In these days of 'having it all' when women are expected to work, perhaps some may be envious of the fact that, out of 244 households registered with a wife, only seven of these were noted as having an occupation - three of them in a shop and four working in dressmaking/tailoring. Dressmaking and millinery was, at that time, a popular option for the daughters of the household, although a similar number gave their occupation as servant.

"Death from excessive drinking"

For recreation there was always the pub. There were five licensed premises along the length of this road alone. Starting at the Vestry Hall, the first pub was 'The Brunswick' which opened in 1893 and closed in 1976.

At Number 62 there was the 'Buckingham Hotel' which opened in 1876 and, in October of that year, was featured in the 'Sheffield Local Register': 'Sudden death of Thos Hill, Landlord of Buckingham Hotel, Grimesthorpe Road leads to charge against his wife, which is unsustained. Verdict of 'Death from excessive drinking' ultimately returned'. This pub also closed in 1976.

The Tea Gardens, 1970
The Tea Gardens, 1970

Occupying numbers 88-90 was 'The Tea Gardens' which gets a mention in 'A Pub on Every Corner' by Douglas Lamb. Opening in 1848 as a beer house called 'The Public Gardens,' it had several name-changes. The building still remains, though no longer in use, and is now surrounded by the modern housing which replaced the old terraces after they were compulsorily purchased in the mid 1970's.

Standing at the corner of Grimesthorpe Road and Earldom Road is the 'Normanton' which opened in 1879 and is still open.

On the corner with Earl Marshall Road, was the 'Grimesthorpe Railway Men's and Kindred Trades Social Club', now a guest house.

Private house to GP's surgery

On the corner of Lyons Road and Grimesthorpe Road stood a large detached property, Number 189. According to the Street Directory for 1895, this was the home of Mr & Mrs Samuel Ward, Steel Manufacturers. At the time of the 1891 census, George Shaw, a colliery proprietor, lived there along with his wife, Elizabeth, their son and three daughters. In the first part of the twentieth century, it was home to John Lavender, who was a forgeman.

By 1972, the house was no longer a private residence, being in use as a GP Surgery for Doctors Tyson, Kershaw and Stark. 1974 saw further change when it was, for a time, the Gower Weslyan Reform Church. Now this corner plot is occupied by an entirely new building - The Rosebank Nursing Home. The adjoining plot, Number 191, was a similar building and still remains.

Atlas View and Corporation Villa

Next along the road were some more terraced houses. These stand a little higher than the road, having a small front garden and bay windows. These were built in 1902 (the date is inscribed under the names – Atlas View and Corporation Villa) In 1903 the occupations of the people living there were pattern maker, fireman, milk dealer and joiner. On the corner of Ella Road and Grimesthorpe Road there is another detached property, not as grand as 189 and 191. It is set no further back from the road than the bay windowed terrace, but it is double fronted. In 1903 this was the residence of Thos Wainwright – Cab Proprietor, but now it has been converted into flats.

At this point, Grimesthorpe Road crosses Ellesmere Road, although it is now effectively a dead end for vehicles. Continuing along Grimesthorpe Road we come to nos. 279 and 281 which in 1906 were part of the Scattered Homes programme. Each of these houses had a foster mother with accommodation for 11 children. Across the road is Carrwood House, a handsome stone fronted building set back from the road and facing the road down to the city centre. In 1865, according to ‘Kelly’s Directory’, Carrwood was the home of William Ibbetson Horn . A little further along, is Meadowhead House, also mentioned in the 1865 Directory. This house and the one next door were both used as Sheffield Guardians Children’s Homes in 1903.

Past the allotments and going downhill towards Upwell Lane, is the Grimesthorpe Board School on the corner of Earl Marshall Road. The school got a mention in the ‘Sheffield Local Register’ when it opened on 13th May 1889.


Gordon Lawton 2010-03-03 09:24:14

Just to fill in a few gaps of this interesting article.

The private house on the corner of Lyons Rd and Grimesthorpe Road was a doctors surgery long before 1970's. My family doctor from about 1945 was Dr. Jacobs and then around 1954 he must have retired and Dr. Tyson took his place.

Along Grimesthorpe Road at the intersection of Carwood Road is All Saints Institute which has been the home of the 76th Sheffield Scouts for some 80 years and still is. There was also a thriving Girl Guides unit.Behind this hall nestling in it's own grounds is what was the All Saints Vicarage which was the residence of the church rector. Between late 1940's and 1950's I knew 2 vicars namely Rev Moses and Rev Murray Penfold. The building today is a private home for mentally handicapped persons.

Opposite Carwood House is a small steep lane with a sharp bend, known as the devils elbow. At the turn of the 19th Century this was the only access from Grimethorpe Rd to Scott Rd & Osgathorpe Rd as Ellesmere Rd finished at the intersection with Grimesthorpe Road. Further along is Woodhill House and a large hillside field stretching down to the soon to be extended Petre St. The Smith family owned this property from around 1885 to at least 1960 and the hill since has always been known as Smiths' Field or Smithy Field.

Gordon Lawton

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