Thursday, 27 September 2012

Event - Sherwood Through The Ages (Edwinstowe)

The glorious setting of Sherwood Forest once again comes to life with our annual Ancient to modern era multi-period event. Visitors can stroll around the circular Major Oak path and en route enjoy displays and meet some the people and characters who lived in or helped to shape the history of this famous forest from ancient times. The event is organised in conjunction with and on behalf of the Sherwood Forest Rangers and Visitor Centre. As usual the hugely attractive woodland will prove an ideal backdrop for timed displays and ongoing living history to enjoy. Children can also enjoy have-a-go medieval archery (a small charge applies).

From ancient settlement, Sherwood became a medieval Royal forest (and, of course, one of the possible homes of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood). The Great North Road ran through the forest and during the Civil War, control of this became vital to both sides. Highwaymen lurked in the trees awaiting travellers in the C18th and later on, much of the forest became a military training ground (and part still is). Today the visitor centre offers a fascinating insight into the history of the forest, as well as an ideal base for a great day out.

Wood smoke from cooking fires and the sound of C18th music will drift on the breeze, the clash of steel on steel will ring through the trees as armoured Noman knights fight the Saxons (and occasionally, each other!), whilst volleys of musket fire will crash out as civil war Parliamentarian soldiers demonstrate their martial prowess. See Romans mingle with Britons, meet WWI “Tommies”, a secret “Auxiliary” from 1940 (ready to fight a guerilla war if the Germans invade), and some soldiers who trained prior to D-Day in 1944, watched by British land army girls as they busily chop fire wood for the war effort. Sherwood is still used for military training today, and this will be reflected by some British soldiers of the 1980s and their equipment.

At the Major Oak, arena displays form a centre piece to the event whilst opposite, there’s a bustling C15th medieval camp with archers, camp followers and craftsmen, including some selling their wares. At the same time, the famous order of military monks, the Knights Hospitallers, will offer have a go archery lessons for adults and children alike…and also showing the amazing amount of food they ate to eat to maintain their strength, equivalent to 5,000 calories per day each! But visitors must beware of the Normans, definitely not the most pleasant of conquerors, they'll certainly give anyone a hard time if they show any sympathy for the downtrodden conquered Saxons! Visiting their encampments is at visitors' peril (with wallets hidden), as the King’s henchmen are as always looking at new ways to extort taxes!

Sherwood’s circular one-mile long Major Oak Path is the ideal setting for this hugely enjoyable walk through history, with the colourful encampments and displays arranged in chronological order - and extremely photogenic too. In addition there are modern day conservation and other displays at the visitor centre.

Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire NG21 9HG

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 September 2012 11.00am to 4.30pm

Free admission (a modest visitor car parking charge applies)


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Event - 10th tractor show aims to plough successful furrow (Newark)

ORGANISERS of a show which celebrates Notts' farming heritage are gearing up for its tenth anniversary.

An action-packed two days is planned when Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show is held at Newark Showground.

Up to 18,000 people are expected to attend the show over the two days, with enthusiasts from across the UK and Ireland expected to bring with them over 850 exhibits.

Adrian Johnston, who helped to found the event in 2003, said: "The show has really exceeded our expectations as it's become the national leader of its type for vintage tractors and farming heritage.

"Notts has a great heritage for tractors. We've gone to great lengths to expand the heritage of the show.

"You cannot help but be impressed by the amazing condition that the tractors have been restored to. In some cases they are better than when they left the factory gate."

The annual show, which marks the end of the ploughing season, will also feature other agricultural heritage displays and craft stalls, as well as a major collection of Perkins tractors and machinery.

Enthusiasts will also perform tractor driving routines to music, while more than 100 rare and British native breeds of horses, sheep and other animals will also do displays.

Mr Johnston said: ''We're so grateful for people's support over the years."

The show is at Newark Showground on November 10 to 11.

Activities take place between 9am and 5pm on the first day, with an auction of agricultural memorabilia starting at 10am.

There will also be a tenth anniversary dinner in the evening. The second day will run from 9am to 3.30pm and includes a Remembrance Sunday service at 11am.

Former Lord-Leiutenant of Notts, Sir Andrew Buchanan, will open a new garden at the showground to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics.

Adult tickets can be bought in advance for £8.50, with over 65s £6.50, and children aged under 17 free. Tickets on the day cost £10 for adults and £8.50 for over 65s.

For information call 01636 705796, visit, or e-mail


Event - Tour the secret museum of curiosities (Sheffield)

a SECRET museum housing weird and wonderful natural history objects will open its doors for the first time in 40 years.

The private Alfred Denny Museum includes never-seen curiosities such as the enormous skull of a rare man-sized giant eagle, half a dolphin, tiny flying dinosaur skeletons and sun spiders complete with ferocious, poisonous jaws.

Tours of the strange collection are a highlight in the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind, which launches today in an 11-day free extravaganza of 56 events.

Curator, Professor Tim Birkhead, will provide tours and talks of the museum in the department of animal and plant sciences.

  29th-30th September 2012 10am-4.30pm

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Website - Protect our Place (Nationwide)

Civic Voice - the national charity for the civic movement – today announces the launch of the English Heritage sponsored ‘Protect our Place’ website.
Protect our Place ( is a research project to understand the different types of current community action taking place across England to protect and promote local heritage.

The websites main feature is the interactive map for groups to upload their projects onto, and discover other work both locally and nationally. It will be searchable via theme or location, and is free to all community groups working to protect or promote the historic environment. We urge all heritage volunteers not only to use the map and connect with the wider heritage network, but also to discover all of the resources available to them on the site.

Sarah Spurrier, Project Manager said ‘the website being up and running is extremely exciting. It now means that there is a resource out there for all community groups not only to celebrate their own projects and inform people about what they do, but also for networking, for new volunteers, and professionals. The website marks a new phase for community interaction, and can only strengthen the great work which is already being undertaken throughout England.’

Steve Graham, Chief Executive said, ‘This is a really great project which will really help to support community action in the historic environment. By working with a variety of partners and community groups, we hope to ensure the website benefits everyone in the heritage movement.’


Article - Oldest RAF veteran meets memorial campaigners (Halam)

A 99 year old RAF veteran has given his seal of approval to a memorial erected to seven airmen killed in a plane crash in Nottinghamshire during World War Two.

The crew of a Lancaster bomber died in 1943 when their plane crashed in the village of Halam near Southwell. Last year a granite memorial was unveiled in their honour after two locals - Andrew Paris and Tony Denyer - campaigned for the crash site to be recognised. Relatives of the crew from Australia, Canada and the UK were present at the blessing.

Jim Flint is the oldest and most decorated surviving RAF war veteran and Bomber Command pilot. He flew 56 missions and became a Commanding Officer. During his career he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the George Medal and the Aircraft Efficiency Medal (AE). Jim received the George Medal for bravery after his plane ditched in the sea off the coast of Norfolk. His navigator was trapped and Jim swam back to rescue him.

Today he spoke about the need to remember the war dead.“"There was many a mission I flew that I honestly didn't know if I would return home from. I lost so many dear friends during the Second World War and to have colleagues recognised with these special memorials is marvellous."

The memorial at Halam is one of a number of RAF crash sites that have been recognised by Nottinghamshire County Council through their Local Improvement Scheme. Over the last eight years the Council has spent around £500,000 to fund the restoration and creation of more than 35 war memorials across Nottinghamshire, including the village of Staunton near Newark, and Milton near Retford.


Friday, 21 September 2012

Event - Family History Fair (Doncaster)

LEARN how to equip yourself to delve back into your family history at this year’s “bigger and better” Family History Fair.

The Doncaster and District Family History Society is putting on the fair with even more stallholders and family history society groups than last year.

Among those bringing stalls to the event will be the Toll Bar History Project, Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery and supporters of Epworth Old Rectory.

There will also be a beginners corner and help desk for those just starting out in family history.

Talks will take place at 11am from Karen Walker on how to start researching your family tree, at 1pm Ian Mardson will explain how to use wills and other documents to further your family history.

Finally, there will be a talk from Paul Dryburgh at 2pm about the Cause Papers database and what it means for family history.

Where: Doncaster College For The Deaf, Leger Way, Doncaster
When: Saturday, 10am to 4pm
How Much: £1, under-15s free with an adult
Contact: Tel. 01302 854809


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Event - Rethinking Luddism in Nottinghamshire (Nottingham)

Talk by Dr. Matthew Roberts - Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, Sheffield Hallam University

This talk revisits the Luddism of the Nottinghamshire framework knitters. As is well known, the epicentre(s) of Luddism was not in Nottingham itself but in the surrounding villages. Many of these villages were still essentially rural communities. The Luddism of the villages was part of a repertoire of protest acts (arson, poaching, even robbery and attacks on rural property), the origins of which were to be found in the traditions and customs of the English rural community. The Luddites were not semi-professional criminals divorced from their wider community. Rather, Luddite cells grow organically from kinship, neighbourhood and trade connections. The talk will also challenge the view that Luddism in Nottinghamshire was constitutional and moderate.

September 22, 2012 14:00 at The Sparrows' Nest (St Ann's - Nottingham).  For directions please email peopleshistreh [at]


News - Church says notices were on display (Warsop)

FOLK are demanding answers as to why they were not informed about the removal and destruction of an ancient font from a church.

Those living in Warsop are questioning why the 19th Century stone font was removed from St Peter and St Paul on Bishops Walk and broken up.

The Victorian Society recently inquired about its whereabouts and contacted the Southwell and Nottingham Diocese, which said its removal was agreed last October as part of a ‘minor re-ordering’.

In an email correspondence with the Victorian Society, a spokesman for the diocese said: “Although other areas of the church were considered for the font to be moved to, the parish felt in the end that nowhere was suitable.

“As happens in these cases the font was ordered by the chancellor to be broken up and buried in the churchyard.

“This was all done with the approval of the architect and archdeacon and the Diocesan Advisory Committee and the final judgement of the chancellor.”

The Victorian Society says it had no record of being consulted on the move and locals say they would have objected, had they known.

Resident Adrian Hardy said: “My concern is that they have demolished heritage which they have a responsibility to preserve for future generations.

“When they have the begging bowl out they contact everyone, but when they want to demolish our heritage its all done in a rather cloak and dagger manner.”


Monday, 17 September 2012

Event - The Cutlers' Company: its history and function (Sheffield)

A talk by Joan Unwin on the Cutlers in Hallamshire, who have maintained the standards and quality of Sheffield manufactured cutlery and steel products since 1624

Wednesday 19th September 2012 starting at 6.30pm

Jackson Room, First Floor, Central Library, Surrey Street, Sheffield, S1 1XZ

Book your place for this free event: Tel. 0114 203 9395 or e-mail

Event - Riverside Heritage Walk (Sheffield)

On Saturday the 22nd September at 1pm and Sunday the 23rd September at 2pm Ron Clayton will be carrying out a ninety minute riverside walk down stream from Kelham Island Industrial Museum as part of their Down By The Riverside Festival. The walk is included in the admission price and the tour will set off from the Bessemer Converter outside the Museum and return to the Museum for the rest of the entertainment on offer. On the way the walk will look at some industrial archaeology, the Great Inundation Of 1864, the infamous Charles Frederick Peace, a pub or two, bits of medieval Sheffield, a privy or two, and explore the ' wattre of Doun, the Sheaf and Poandes'. On sale will be the only book specifically written about a Sheffield river, the River Loxley, written by Ron and beautifully illustrated by Mark Rodgers.

Information on Down By The Riverside from Nikki Connelly. Any enquiries regarding the walk or

Article - How deep do the arts council cuts go? (Museums Sheffield)

The Central Library in Sheffield opened in 1934, when my father was four. As a teenager and medical student in the 1940s and 50s, he would work there, an escape from the confined, cramped home he grew up in. It was, he remembers, "state of the art": a grand public building with elegant, deco curves to the custom-made furniture, handsome timber bookshelves and bright brass handrails up the stairs. On the top floor there was an art gallery, named for JG Graves, who had funded the building – a magnate who made his money from mail-order catalogues.

The library and the Graves Gallery are still there. The latter is part of Museums Sheffield, and has a wonderful collection, including a great Paul Nash, a beautiful Eric Ravilious, a Murillo – and, startlingly, two Italian Renaissance paintings found in the basement of the National Union of Mineworkers' headquarters in Barnsley in the 1960s.

But times are hard. The building remains elegant, but is now rather worn and tatty. Some of the 1930s furniture is still there, but much has been replaced by unprepossessing office desks and chairs. The paint is peeling from the toilet walls. It is worth the visit for the art on the top floor, but pick your time carefully: the gallery is open only four days a week, and shuts at 3pm. In common with other councils, Sheffield is wondering about the purpose of libraries in an information (and austerity) age, and is "consulting" on the future of its service. Elegant architects' plans for the building's refurbishment were drawn up some years ago, but put aside when money got tight. This building, built as an act of philanthropy in the teeth of the Depression, now needs another JG Graves, but, says the museum's director, Kim Streets: "I've yet to meet him."

As the triumphal Olympic and Paralympic summer fades, and time is called on the large-scale, knock-'em-dead Cultural Olympiad work that was made to showcase British arts to a watching world, the industry faces a grim autumn. It is now, after Britain's moment in the sun, that the cuts implemented in the spring will begin to show. The picture is complex: England has lost 30% of its arts council budget, but with the proviso that only 15% should be passed on to "frontline" arts organisations. By March, English local-authority spending on the arts and culture will be down by 16% since 2009-10, but with the picture varying wildly: Somerset County Council, for example, has cut its arts provision by 100%. Scotland, notwithstanding damaging rows between artists and its funding body, Creative Scotland, is on standstill funding.

How are people faring on the ground? This spring, Museums Sheffield's application to become part of Arts Council England's national portfolio was turned down, meaning a loss of £800,000 annual funding. Its income from Sheffield council has also drifted downwards, from £2.38m in 2009-10 to £2.04m in 2012-13. At the same time, energy bills – a significant outgoing for any museum – have been soaring.

Along with the Graves, the museums trust also runs Weston Park Museum, which focuses on social and natural history, and the city-centre Millennium Gallery, devoted to art, craft and design. The cuts have had an undeniably large impact on the programme. "If you'd come here 10 years ago," says exhibitions manager Kirstie Hamilton, "you would have seen 30 shows a year. Now we are hoping to do about 10 – and what would have been a 10-week exhibition is now scheduled to last six months." The cuts provoked local outcry, with hundreds of visitors rallying in support, many registering their outrage on the museum's blog. On one wall of the Graves is a Damien Hirst, lent by Jarvis Cocker to his hometown's museum when he heard about its plight.

Staff are being shed, and fast. From a staff of 108, this autumn they will be 70. By far the hardest-hit department is education. Laura Trevis, recently part of a team of 23, is now one of three. They used to run 24 education workshops a week; that's down to eight. To cater to their 14,000 school visitors a year, she tells me, as she walks me through an exhibition on magic at Weston Park (themed around children's literature, with a Narnia wardrobe and faux-fur coats), they will be offering training to teachers, so that they can guide their own pupils round the exhibits. She is upbeat about the possibilities, but admits: "I think schools may look for other places to take their pupils, at least initially."

When I speak to Stephen Carley, who teaches art at Edward VII School in Sheffield, he is more pessimistic: "It's an absolute tragedy. There's no hiding from that." He mentions the museums' Youth Forum scheme, now gone, which his Year 10s could sign up for and continue with through their A levels: it meant long-term involvement with curators and artists, and hands-on museum experience. "Even with the most inspiring teaching, you can't do that in the classroom. It made the world of art and design real." His ex-pupils number graphic designers, architects – the sort of jobs that are supposed to be fuelling Britain's creative, information-based economy. Many, says Carley, cite that sustained contact with the museum as hugely influential: "That's what the younger pupils are going to miss out on." The arts council has given Museums Sheffield money to tide them over the redundancy period, and they have applied for further funds, but the future remains uncertain.

Museums Sheffield is not the only organisation in the city to have suffered. To the dismay of most who knew their work, Third Angel, a small experimental performance company based in Sheffield, has lost 100% of its Arts Council England grant of just over £33,360 – not even peanuts in the big picture of public spending, but lifeblood to them. At the Edinburgh fringe this year, I saw the company's delicate, thoughtful show What I Heard About the World – a meditation on how the world is increasingly within our grasp, and yet all too frequently experienced via substitutes or simulcra.

It is fantasy to think that Third Angel could exist without public support, and yet it is the kind of work that, eventually, trickles through the system to invigorate the mainstream stages. I meet Alexander Kelly – who, with Rachael Walton, is co-artistic director of Third Angel – one day in Edinburgh. He recalls the morning they got the funding rejection letter, in early 2011. "We weren't all that surprised. We'd been at standstill funding and had been turned down for every other stream of funding we'd applied for at least once, so we knew we weren't a priority." He thinks the arts council "didn't really get what we were doing – but there is a much better understanding of that now". There was an outpouring of protest from fans and, though ACE did not reverse their decision, they did offer some support for the year ahead. Despite the huge setback, packing in wasn't an option: "We've always said that we would carry on as long as we want to make shows together, and we still do," says Kelly. There has been soul-searching and some major changes: Third Angel is now company-in-residence at Sheffield Theatres, sharing ideas and office space, a move that is "properly exciting", says Kelly. Their situation is still precarious: they have no funding in place beyond spring 2013. But, assuming these artists are not defeated in one last, exhausting tussle with a funding application form, the work will go on.

At the opposite end of the country, I arrive in a sun-warmed farmyard at the end of a labyrinth of high-hedged lanes: the office of Take Art, an organisation that brings dance, theatre and performance to audiences in rural Somerset. Its neighbours, in the rose-covered outhouses, are an architect and a blacksmith.

But in the office, things are not as idyllic as they look. The workforce has halved since 2010. Against the wall lie banners with the slogan "We value the arts: against 100% arts cuts", left over from 2010's fruitless struggle against Somerset Council. They have lost around £70,000 a year, taking into account cuts from local councils, too. They still have their arts council funding of £159,000 a year (£30,000 less than they asked for). But the result is that they are providing half the shows they used to. They have launched a fundraising scheme, with hopes to raise £10,000 – though chief executive Ralph Lister is unhappy that Take Art was turned down for ACE's Catalyst scheme, which offers support for fundraising and development. And, though he praises Bristol's Old Vic theatre, with whom Take Art is collaborating, he wishes there were more solidarity shown by the big, national companies. "I've heard a lot of talk about the responsibility of the larger organisations to connect with the smaller ones. Why doesn't [National Theatre director] Nick Hytner call up and say, 'Can we work on a proposal for a rural touring show?'"

One of the organisation's most prominent schemes is its Rural Touring programme. It's a way of getting excellent-quality performances to village halls, and serving areas where access to the arts would otherwise be nonexistent: for 30% of their audiences, says Lister, the work that Take Art brings is the only art they get to see. Often this is quite adventurous: experimental theatre company Kneehigh (Brief Encounter, The Red Shoes) was a regular in their earlier days. Lister points out that, in rural areas, getting in the car and driving to Bath or Bristol may not be an option, as fuel prices rise and pressure on household purses increases; meanwhile theatres in the smaller towns, such as the Merlin in Frome, have been hammered by Somerset's cuts and are clinging on to life.

Take Art offers a "menu" of different shows to village halls, and can subsidise the work to make it affordable – theoretically. In some areas, such as Mendip, the loss of council funding means the subsidy is gone, and the villages can no longer take on the risk. Frances Horler, a retired legal adviser from Kilmersdon near Frome, tells me she has been bringing Take Art shows to her village for 15 years – until now. "We built up an audience," she says. "It's all part of the community feeling of the village." For her, it wasn't just about the evenings out, but a way of gathering people together, and making a few quid to keep the village hall going. Max Miller, from Chilcompton in North Mendip, agrees. "It's a way of people getting to know each other, like the church, or the pub, or post office." Sometimes performers would get involved in workshops at the local primary school. "It's been a strong part of what the village is – its identity." Despite the loss of subsidy, Miller plans to book future shows at full price, but he'll be go for the less adventurous stuff. "In the past, we've had musicians from all over the world – Africa, Eastern Europe – and without the subsidy we wouldn't have been able to take the risk."

The arts are not yet at crisis point. There is no apocalypse, but the damage is real. There will be changes, some of them obvious: a local museum reducing its hours and programme; a local theatre having more dark nights, and fewer shows of real imagination. Other changes will be less tangible: a teenager not getting the spark of inspiration that makes her decide to train as an architect, a village community less bound together by shared experience. Arts organisations are, for the most part, putting a brave face on things, working out how to adjust, not wanting to admit there will be any diminution in what they can do; artists like Alexander Kelly will find ways to make art because that is their life's calling. Walking round the busy, impressive museums in Sheffield, it's clear that those who work here are coping as well as they can. It's still a great place to visit.

But I wonder: how long can you chip away at what a museum does before it starts to look down-at-heel? How far can you cut an exhibition programme before the place feels static? How far can you strip away a staff and still expect them to perform a crucial role in the education of a city's young? What is the point at which a museum, at some quiet, unmarked moment, stops being a questioning, contemplative space at the heart of its city's intellectual and imaginative life, and becomes an irrelevance? The fear is, here and everywhere, that this autumn's hardships are just the beginning: there will come a point when no amount of ingenuity, flexibility and cunning can stand in the way of empty coffers.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Event - The Hidden History of 1066 (Oldcotes)

Mike Kelley comes to Oldcotes Village Hall to talk about what happened to the north after William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066. 

Based on his book 'The Rape of England' Mike talks about what happened to local communities and the harrying of the north.

Talk starts at 19.30 on Monday 22nd October. Tickets cost £3 or only £2 to members of Priories Historical Society. Price includes tea/coffee and a free biscuit.

Event - Pilgrims Way Talk (Blyth)

Sue Allen will be giving a talk about the "Pilgrims Way" at Blyth Parish Church on Friday 21st September at 19.00.

Tickets are available priced £5 which includes a glass of wine and nibbles from

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

News - Cannon sculpture unveiled to mark Newark's Civil War history

A SCULPTURE of a rusting steel cannon has been placed on top of a 17th Century earthwork in Newark to provide a stark reminder of the town's strong links with the English Civil War.

Newark and Sherwood District Council commissioned sculptor Michael Condron to produce the cannon, which is made to look like it has sunk into the earth on the Queen's Sconce – an earthwork that was used to defend the town during the Civil War, and which is still intact and visible in the town's Sconce and Devon Park.

Mr Condron drew ideas from children at Holy Trinity RC School, which is next to the park. The design of the cannon includes Latin phrases as well as imagery associated with the war such as feathers, roses, weapons and other conflict imagery.

The steel sculpture will rust with age, as Mr Condron intended, to give the impression of an abandoned cannon, the ghost of a battle which raged some 400 years ago.

The chairman of the district council, Councillor Marika Tribe, officially unveiled the sculpture to the public, councillors and park friends groups at the end of last week.

Councillor Nora Armstrong, the district council's cabinet member for clean and green, said: "Michael Condron's striking sculpture serves as an attractive and clear reminder of Sconce and Devon Park's inextricable links to the English Civil War.

"The Queen's Sconce would have provided Newark's primary defence from invading Parliamentarian forces, who would have struggled to scale the slippery slopes to overpower the well-armoured Royalist forces on top of the earthwork.

"The sconce is still very well preserved and this sculpture provides a tangible link for visitors wanting to learn more about the history of the area. It also fits well with our firm belief that the role of parks has moved on. They're now community hubs for learning, history and entertainment, as well as a free resource for play and exercise."

The £20,000 piece of public art was funded as part of a £1.6 million regeneration of the park largely completed two years ago, after the council successfully applied for Heritage Lottery Fund money.

Believed to date from 1644, the Queen's Sconce is considered a heritage feature of international importance and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It covers three acres of land and is distinctively star-shaped when viewed from the air. It is one of nine siege works remaining in a recognisable state in and around Newark.

During the Civil War Newark came under siege three times. Part of the defence system for the town was a series of sconces - fortifications made of earth. The sconce served as a platform that could provide covering fire in all directions, as well as helping to prevent advance of the enemy, and to protect the town.


Book - New Sheffield history book very ‘old school’

IT was one of the biggest and most ambitious civic projects ever undertaken in Sheffield; a scheme so huge it would change the face and life of the city forever.

Plans announced in 1870 would eventually see some 64 major public buildings – described as “like castles” – go up in almost every suburb.

They would cost close to £1 million and an estimated 500,000 people have passed regularly through their doors since.

“And yet when we think of Sheffield’s architectural treasures we often overlook them,” says Valerie Bayliss.

“It’s a great shame because not only were they designed to inspire us, there’s an argument it’s the finest collection of such buildings anywhere in the country.”

So, what are they?

None other than the city’s very first state schools built in the 40 years following the 1870 Education Act which made schooling compulsory for the first time ever.

Today, 46 still survive with 28 in such good condition they are still schools.

No other city in the country outside London has so many. Manchester has only nine of such original institutions still standing.

“Almost all of us have one on our doorstep,” says Valerie, chairman of The Victorian Society’s South Yorkshire Regional Group. “But I don’t always think we appreciate what gems they are.”

It is something the society is seeking to put right. It has just released a delightful new book which charts all 64 of those schools built between 1870 and the start of World War One in 1914.

Above all else, Building Schools For Sheffield 1870-1914 shows how quick the city was to embrace universal education (21 schools went up in just 10 years) and how much emphasis was placed in making the buildings inspiring and often beautiful places.

As Liberal MP David Chadwick noted in 1875: “The School Board have persuaded the ratepayers of Sheffield to tolerate the extravagance of spending £100,000 in the building of schools as substantial as castles.”

Valerie, of Muskoka Avenue, Bents Green, says: “It’s not been easy researching them all but we felt this was an important part of the city’s history which we should be proud of and which needed rediscovering.

“You’ve got to remember in 1870 there was no compulsory education, no state schools.

“To go from that to 21 by 1880 was civic construction on a scale which is unimaginable today – and yet all the schools are incredibly well designed. That’s why so many remain in use today.”

A little of that history then?

Schools existed in Sheffield long before 1870 but these tended to be charity, church, voluntary or fee-paying institutions.

When the 1870 education Act was passed, promising universal education, this Liberal-run city was very much in full support.

The government’s announcement that elected city school boards would be formed to roll out the new system and new schools was greeted with enthusiasm. Prominent citizens voted on to that first board included steel magnates Mark Firth, Charles Doncaster and Sir John Brown as well as draper Skelton Cole of Cole Brothers fame.

“They brought an energy to the whole process that really helped Sheffield hit the ground running,” says Valerie.

“An interesting fact is that the first school in the entire country to be built after the act was passed was Newhall in Attercliffe. Unfortunately for the board’s pride, strikes delayed its opening so it wasn’t the first to welcome children.”

Land was chosen in prominent positions where the building would inspire the importance of education in children, perhaps the best example being Pye Bank Board School which overlooks the city from its position in Andover Street.

And the designs – drawn up by various city architects, notably 32-year-old Charles Innocent – were grand for the same reason.

“Substantial requirements were laid down by central government as to how the buildings should be,” explains Valerie. “It included the layout, cost and technical specifications which all new schools had to adhere to but it didn’t mention style.

“Charles Innocent had a clear view on how he thought the buildings should look and his predominant style was English Domestic Gothic.”

This meant castle-like bell turrets, ornamental stone carvings, arched windows and multi-storeys.

“How well they functioned, on the other hand, was something of a debate” notes Valerie.

“One early inspector noted that although the buildings were handsome, they were so full of drafts he had to wear a hat for the full visit.

“One wonders what effect the cold would have had on the occupants.

“But the fact many are still schools shows something was done right.”

Building Schools For Sheffield 1870-1914 by The Victorian Society is released through ALD Print and is available from book shops and at uk now.

Sheffield Schools 1870-1914

Opened 1873
Newhall, Sanderson Street (demolished early 1970s).
Broomhill, Beech Hill Road (still a school).
Netherthorpe, Netherthorpe Street (still a school).
Philadelphia, West Don Street (demolished early 1970s).

Opened 1874
Attercliffe, Baldwin Street (demolished 1950).
Carbrook, Attercliffe Common (hotel).
Crookesmoor, Oxford Street (community building).
Lowfield, London Road (still a school)
Walkley, Greaves Street (part school, part apartments).

Opened 1875
Darnall, Darnall Road (youth centre).
Park, Norwich Street, (demolished 1967).
Grimesthorpe, East Marshal Road (council building).
Pye Bank, Andover Street (empty).
Springfield, Broomspring Lane (still a school).
Norton, Mundella Place (still a school).

Opened 1876
Manor, Manor Lane (part converted, part still a school).

Opened 1878
Fulwood, David Lane (council building).
Langsett Road, Burton Street (community foundation building).

Opened 1879
School Board Offices, Leopold Street (hotel).

Opened 1880
Central Schools, Orchard Lane (restaurants).
Heeley Bank, Heeley Bank Road (derelict).
Brightside, Jenkin Road (still a school).
Woodside, Rutland Road (demolished 1967).
Beighton, School Road (still a school).

Opened 1881
Burgoyne Road, Burgoyne Road (apartments).

Opened 1883
Duchess Road, Duchess Road (demolished 1982).

Opened 1884
Huntsman’s Gardens, Attercliffe, (demolished early 1980s).
Hillsborough, Parkside Road (still a school).
Wincobank, Newman Road (still a school).
Intake, Mansfield Road (still a school).

Opened 1887
Sharrow Lane, South View Road (community centre).

Opened 1889
Owler Lane, Owler Lane (demolished in 1990).

Opened 1890
Abbeydale, Abbeydale Road (still a school).
Neepsend, Hoyland Road (demolished 1958).
Heeley, Anns Road (derelict).

Opened 1891
Carlisle Street, Carlisle Street (demolished unknown date).

Opened 1892
Woodbourn Road, Woodbourn Road (Pakistani Centre).

Opened 1893
Hunter’s Bar, Sharrow Vale Road (still a school).
Firshill, Barnsley Road (still a school).

Opened 1894
Meersbrook Bank, Derbyshire Lane (still a school).

Opened 1896
Bole Hill, Bole Hill Road (commercial units).
Coleridge Road, now Tinsley Park Road, (empty).

Opened 1898
Gleadless, Hollinsend Road (still a school).

Opened 1899
Woodhouse East, Station Road (adult training centre).

Opened 1900
Pomona Street, Pomona Street (still a school).
Upperthorpe, Daniel Hill (demolished 1990).
Woodhouse West, Station Road (demolished date uknown).

Opened 1901
Western Road, Western Road (still a school).
Morley Street, Morley Street (still a school).

Opened 1903
Meersbrook Bank, Derbyshire Lane (still a school).
Norton Lees, Argyle Close (still a school).
Bradway, Bradway Road (still a school).

Opened 1904
Ranmoor, Fulwood Road (still a school).
Greystones, Tullibardine Road (still a school).
Hammerton Street, Ouseburn Road (being restored as an educational building).
Malin Bridge, Dykes Lane (still a school).

Opened 1905
Woodseats, Chesterfield Road (still a school).

Opened 1906
Carterknowle, Carterknowle Road (still a school).
Wadsley Bridge, Penistone Road North (demolished 1997).

Opened 1907
Highfields Special School, Sitwell Road (youth centre).
Lydgate Lane, Lydgate Lane (still a school).

Opened 1909
Salmon Pastures, Warren Street (demolished 1998).
Whitby Road, Fisher Lane (still a school).

Opened 1910
High Wincobank, Bracken Road (demolished mid-1990s).


News - Pit head baths set to be demolished (Kiveton

THE fight to keep Kiveton pit head baths has been lost after councillors approved its demolition.

The historic landmark on Colliery Road was paid for and built by miners in 1938, so they could shower before going home after work.

The Grade II listed building has been at the centre of controversy in recent years and since the pit closed in 1994, the building has fallen into serious disrepair.

At a planning meeting last week Rotherham Council’s planning commiittee considered an application by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) for the building demolition.

Councillors heard that there is considerable recurring cost to the tax payer in keeping the structure safe and that a viable alternative for the building has not been found.

They agreed to grant permission for the building to be demolished, subject to approval from the Secretary of State.

In 1999 Yorkshire Forward, the defunct development agency, applied for the de-listing of the Grade II building so that it could demolished to allow for open casting at the site, but permission was refused.

Several years later Kiveton Park and Wales Community Development Trust, working in partnership with Yorkshire Forward, took forward the development of the project to turn the baths into a multi-use community centre, but they never developed.

Then in 2005 the Guardian reported news of a £4 million revamp including business workspaces and a mining heritage centre - but again it never materialised.

In 2009, permission was granted for 18 apartments, an office and cafe, but the development was never pursued.

The report which went before the planning committee said that owing to the unsuccessful attempts to secure a future for the building there is no viable future use for it in the medium term.

A HCA spokesman said the pit head baths were transferred to them in August 2011, as part of the closure of Yorkshire Forward.

He said: “The HCA has continued the work of Yorkshire Forward to find a suitable long term use for the building and adjoining land, however we were unable to identify a viable alternative use for the building and there is no potential purchaser, but there is considerable recurring cost to the tax payer in keeping the structure safe.”

“Following discussions, both English Heritage and Rotherham Council agreed that the building could be demolished, subject to approval by the planning committee. The application for demolition was considered by the committee on 30th August and approved subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State.”

“All of the valuable fittings and contents of the baths will be catalogued and stored until a suitable alternative permanent location can be found and the HCA is in active discussions with local organisations about this.”


Event - Vintage transport on show at open day (Aldwarke)

TRANSPORT fans can take a step back in time on Sunday as a museum opens its doors for a display of vintage vehicles.

The South Yorkshire Transport Museum, hosts South Yorkshire Transport Rally on Sunday.

There will be a collection of older and more recent buses, commercial vehicles and cars plus transport-related sales stands.

The rally starts at 11am and finishes at 5pm.

The museum, on Waddington Way, Aldwarke, will be open from 11am until 5pm and a vintage shuttle bus service will run between the rally and Parkgate Shopping.


Event - Priories Historical Society AGM (Oldcotes)


The Priories Historical Society AGM takes place at Oldcotes Village Hall on Monday 18th September at 7.30pm - all members are welcome.

The committee will be elected and the constitution will be reviewed as well as other points which will be on the day.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Event - Roam the Ridge (Wincobank)

Come and Roam the Ridge and find out the facts on Wincobank Hill on Saturday 15th September. A guided history walk round Wincobank Hill Fort and the Roman Ridge with archaeologist Jared Bryson from the University of Sheffield

Meet 10.15am at the Forum Public House, Sandstone Road S9 1AE.   For More information visit the Friends of Wincobank Hill website at

Monday, 10 September 2012

E-Petition - Save Wincobank Hill (Sheffield)

Although Sheffield City Council turned down the planning application for houses on Wincobank Hill, the applicant has now appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn that decision. We have until the 24 September 2012 to submit more evidence justifying why the Council's decision should be upheld. The original petition you signed cannot be resubmitted to the Planning Inspectorate, we have to have a new one. So would you please sign this new petition to the Planning Inspectorate, link below? Many thanks for your help.

Received via Sheffield Community Heritage Forum

Event - Frankie to unveil St Leger memorial (Firbeck)

STAR jockey Frankie Dettori MBE will be galloping in to a sleepy Rotherham village just hours before his appearance at this year’s St Leger meeting on Saturday.

Dettori will unveil a plaque to mark the spot where the founder of the legendary annual race meeting — Major-Gen Anthony St Leger — once lived.

Frankie will unveil the blue plaque at Firbeck Village Hall at around 11am before competing in the event he has won five times at Doncaster Racecourse.

The plaque will mark the spot of the now-demolished Park Hill House where Major-Gen St Leger lived when the first St Leger race meeting was held in 1776 on a giant oval grass track between Firbeck and neighbouring Letwell.

Another plaque will be unveiled in honour of another famous former Firbeck resident, pioneer ecologist Hewett Cottrell Watson.

The plaque will be unveiled by Mr Ian Bonner, President of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.


Events - Jacksdale Area Culture & Heritage Group 2012

Jacksdale Area Culture and Heritage Group hold heritage talks on the first Wednesday of each month at Jacksdale Community Centre.  Doors Open at 7pm and the talks start at 7.30pm. Admission is only £2.00 per person. Profits from the talks go in aid of JACHs 2014 Soldier Day Celebrations Fund.  Call 01773 603440 evenings/weekends for further information


Wed 3rd October 2012 “Florence Nightingale - Lady with the Lamp" By Danny Wells

Wed 7th November 2012 ”The Cromford Canal - Bullbridge to Langley Mill”By Hugh Potter, Friends of the Cromford Canal

Wed 5th December 2012 ”The Victorians & the Christmas Season”By Danny Wells

Organised by Jacksdale Area Culture & Heritage Group

Event - The Luddites (Oldcotes)

Tonights PHS talk sees the University of Nottingham's John Beckett giving a talk over the 19th century near revolution which started in Nottinghamshire during 1811.

the talk is in Oldcotes Village Hall and starts at 19.30. Tickets are £3 for non-members and £2 for members and includes a drink of either tea or coffee and a biscuit.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Event - The Romans are coming! (Doncaster)

St Leger Festival Week is fast approaching with over 200 events running from 7th to the 16th September. As part of the festival, the Romans are coming to town, however this time they are marching through the Frenchgate Shopping Centre which should prove quite the spectacle to the retailers and people shopping within.

On Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September the Romans will set up camp around Doncaster and will begin marching at 12 noon from the Minster. They will then proceed down Baxter gate until they reach the Frenchgate Shopping Centre shortly after 12 noon.

Around 2pm the Roman army recruitment team will be signing up children to join the Roman Army (Suitable for 4-10 year olds); full uniform and training will be provided! Finally at 3pm a range of Gladiators will line up for the grand “Gladiator Contest” and do battle on the Doncaster Minster grounds.

Outside the Minster, there will be displays of drill, Roman coin making and visitors can even learn how to write their names in Latin. Archaeologists are also on hand with genuine Roman artefacts found in Doncaster. Both days should prove great fun for all the family.

Colin Joy, Tourism Manager for Doncaster said “I’m delighted that the Frenchgate Shopping Centre is going to be part of the route for the Roman Army and supporting the St Leger Festival Week celebrations. Shoppers will experience something quite unique, but we hope everyone enjoys the Roman Army’s triumphant return to Doncaster and joins in the fun.”

The Doncaster St Leger Festival Week runs from 7th to 16th of September. Festival Guides, listing all of the 200+ events, are available from the Information Desk inside the Frenchgate Centre and also the Tourist Information Centre on the High Street. Should you require anymore information visit


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Event - Restoring a town house (Crowle)

RESIDENTS are invited to a talk about restoring an 18th century town house.

Andrew Whitham, of the South Yorkshire Buildings Preservation Trust, will be giving a talk on the restoration of 42 King Street in Thorne on Thursday, September 13, at the Crowle Hub, above the Library in Crowle’s High Street, from 7.30pm.

Everyone is welcome.


Event - Take a look around old lace warehouse (Nottingham)

A CITY college will open its doors to the public for free as part of a heritage day.

Visitors will be invited into The Adams Building, in the Lace Market, on Saturday from 11am to 3pm.

The New College Nottingham campus in Stoney Street is a Grade II* listed building and one of the largest surviving Victorian lace warehouses in the country.

Tours start at 11am and run at regular intervals until 2pm.


Nottingham Bygones - The steam rises on a ghost train story

STRANGE things happened at Nottingham's old Thorneywood railway station.

Injured soldiers were taken there during the First World War, along with the bodies of the fallen for burial.

​End of the line: The last train through Thorneywood Station, supposedly haunted by fallen soldiers from the First World War.And the embankment and cutting that once housed the station – off The Wells Road, on the site of the old Kildare Road flats – has supposedly been haunted ever since.

Spooky stories increased after the line was abandoned in 1951 – especially after dark.

The smell of train smoke was reported, flickering lights were seen near the old platform and the clanking of carriage couplings was heard.

Occasionally, a phantom train is said to have emerge from the long-since bricked-up mouth of Thorneywood Tunnel on dark stormy nights.

schoolboy at Morley School, St Ann's, in the 1960s recalls how he and his classmates used the tunnel as a short cut to Colwick Woods for games lessons.

One day, they were convinced they were being followed by a man.

"We stopped and hid in the tunnel recesses to let him pass, only he never did," he said. "Eventually we stopped using it as a short cut.

"Sometimes we would mess about in other tunnels on the line... they never seemed to bother us.

"Every time we entered the Thorneywood Tunnel we would become cold and an eerie feeling would loom over us.

"There always seemed and still does seem to me, something sinister about Thorneywood Tunnel."

This and other tales of haunted railways in Notts are featured in the current edition of Bygones.

There are reports and pictures of the National Railway Museum and mighty engines like the Mallard and Flying Scotsmen.

Wollaton's role in the birth of Britain's railways is explored, along with the role that trains played in local industry and the booming business of days trips and works outings.

And there are rarely-seen archive shots of Nottingham's Victoria and Midland stations.

Bygones is on sale now, priced 70p.


Event - Worksop Library heritage open day

Worksop Library is holding a heritage open day tomorrow (Thursday).

All day in the main library hidden treasures of the local studies library will be on display, including old Worksop photographs, historical maps and much more.

From 2.30pm to 3.30pm there will be a film showing of Worksop People In The 1950s .

The from 4pm to 5.15pm there will be a photographic tour from the library.

On a guided short tour of the local area, you will visit the sites of old photographs of Worksop, learn about their history, and take new photos to record how things have changed.

Places are limited and booking is essential. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

To book your place, call the library on 01909 535353.


Monday, 3 September 2012

book - Nurse turns to history

A FORMER nurse is celebrating both her graduation from a family history course and the publication of her first book.

Mum-of-two Sherelle Hawes, 41, studied a course online and has already set up four family history groups in Hatfield and Conisbrough.

Her recently published quiz book on family history - called Family Quizistory - is now available for £5 at Doncaster Tourist Information Centre.

Enrolment for family history courses run by Sherelle, of Mill Lane, Warmsworth, takes place on September 11 at 11.45am at Cantley Community Centre, September 12, at 9.30am at Conisbrough Library and September 14, at Thorne Library at 9.30am.