Category Archives: Sheffield’s Heritage

Streets in the sky 1


Park Hill Flats, Sheffield (1982)

Few decisions about listing buildings have caused so much controversy as the Grade II* award to Sheffield’s Park Hill Flats in 1998.  Opinion remains divided about whether the late-1950s “streets in the sky” are emblematic of post-war optimism, or an abomination that should have been torn down long ago.

J L Womersley was appointed City Architect for Sheffield in 1953 with the responsibility for redeveloping the bomb-damaged city centre and coping with a massive housing problem. 

Neighbouring authorities, particularly Derbyshire, opposed Sheffield’s threats to invade their territory with boundary extensions, yet overspill populations from densely-packed inner-city areas couldn’t be decanted away into the city’s Green Belt. 

After the mid-1950s development of the attractive low-density Gleadless Valley and Low Edges estates there was nowhere else to build.

As well as the tower-block developments common to many British cities, Lewis Womersley experimented with two deck-access developments, Park Hill (1958-60) and Hyde Park (1962-6), followed after his departure to Manchester by Kelvin (W L Clunie, 1966-9), each a development of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation street-deck concept. 

In execution Park Hill was easily the most successful, partly because of its relative proximity to the city-centre, but mostly because the steeply-sloping site permitted ground-level access at one end to each floor except the topmost. 

The development offered a range of accommodation – one- and two-bedroom flats, interspersed with two- and three-bedroom maisonettes.  Among the up-to-the-minute conveniences, the Garchey waste-disposal system, flushing kitchen waste to ground level, reduced the need for dustbins.

Pubs, shops and a newly-built primary school provided local amenities, and the site is a short bus-ride from the city centre.

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, in the second edition of The Buildings of England: Yorkshire West Riding (revised by Enid Radcliffe, Penguin 1967), made a complacent but prescient comment about Park Hill, that they would be slums within half a century, and he hoped, with breathtaking arrogance, that they would at least prove to be a cosy slum “which people will feel to be their home”.

When Park Hill was listed Grade II* in 1998, the Head of Listing at English Heritage, Dr Martin Cherry, described it as “likened to a medieval fortress, a glittering cliff-face of windows….a magnificent structure of which many of its residents and Sheffield Council are rightly proud”. 

A comprehensive refurbishment by the developer Urban Splash, started in 2009 but stalled in the face of adverse economic downturn, is still not concluded.

When it’s finished, Park Hill will be cosy, and it certainly won’t be a slum.

Attercliffe remembered

Attercliffe Common, Sheffield (1977)

When I recently showed my ‘A Look Round Attercliffe‘ presentation to the Woodsetts Local History Society near Worksop, a lady stood up at the end and gave a vote of thanks in verse.

Enid Bailey had put this piece together while I was lecturing, and she followed precisely the structure of my presentation:

Thank you Mike, for taking us back to 

Our world of yesterday

Where bricks turned black, each chimney stack 

Coughed out clouds of grey 

Thank you Mike, for taking us back 

To mum’s favourite shop – Banners 

We thought it a splendid place to spend 

Our threepenny bits and tanners 

Thank you Mike, for taking us back 

To swap shops, pubs galore 

Where thirsty steel men often went

Eagerly through the door 

Thank you Mike, for taking us back 

To cinemas so grand 

No wonder they called them palaces 

The finest in the land 

Thank you Mike, for taking us back 

To times so grim and hard 

But the children were sent to school 

And played in the old school yard 

Thank you Mike, for taking us back 

To when people had high aims 

To better themselves and earn success 

In education, sport and games 

Thank you Mike, for taking us back 

I could go on for ever

Shall we forget our Attercliffe?

It lives in our hearts – so Never!

No vote of thanks has warmed my heart more in forty years of giving history lectures.

I felt like giving a vote of thanks for the vote of thanks.

Halls and meadows

523/525 Attercliffe Road, Sheffield (1976)

The name of the huge Meadowhall shopping centre, beside the M1 Tinsley Viaduct between Sheffield and Rotherham, is historically significant.  It commemorates a farm, Meadow Hall, which stood where the northbound entry slip-road of Junction 34 climbs to the carriageway.

The valley of the River Don downstream from Sheffield itself remained rural till surprisingly late.

Even after the Attercliffe Common was enclosed in 1811 and the Sheffield Canal opened in 1819, the flat valley plain was thinly populated apart from the three small villages of Attercliffe, Carbrook and Darnall.

When the Sheffield & Rotherham Railway arrived in 1839, followed by the big steel works founded by such names as Firth, Brown, Vickers, Cammell and Jessop, the workers’ housing first went up on the north side of the valley in Brightside and Grimesthorpe.

The terraced housing in Attercliffe itself dated from the 1860s onwards, which is why there were few back-to-backs.  (Sheffield took against back-to-backs because of the lack of ventilation;  Leeds and Bradford people liked them because they were cosy.)

In the valley the earlier villas and houses are now commemorated solely in street names – Attercliffe Old Hall, Attercliffe New Hall, Chippingham House, Shirland House, Woodbourn Hall.

Only two buildings remain from the time when the valley was beautiful – Carbrook Hall (c1620) and the Hill Top Chapel (1629-30), but a couple of other very attractive relics of pre-industrial days survived until the 1960s.

One was Carlton House on Kimberley Street fronting on to Attercliffe Road, built to replace an older manor house that burnt down in 1761.  A polite Georgian house of five bays and three storeys, it appears on a map dated 1777 and in 1819, when the tenant was Thomas Howard, it was surrounded by extensive pleasure grounds and a pond 1½ acres in area.

In the 1830s it was the home of Samuel Jackson, co-founder of the sawmakers Spear & Jackson and in 1839 it was apparently sold to the Duke of Newcastle.  (That title hardly ever figures in Sheffield’s history, and may have crept in as a typo for the ubiquitous Duke of Norfolk.)

For many years it was a doctor’s surgery, and by the Second World War was the premises of Alfred A  Markham & Son, undertakers, joiners and shopfitters.

There is a photograph in the Picture Sheffield collection showing it intact in 1968 but it was later demolished.

Nearby, at the top of Heppenstall Lane, stood 523/525 Attercliffe Road, a semi-detached pair of houses of very much the same style and period as Carlton House, with a rainwater head carrying the date 1779.  I photographed them in 1976 but within a few years they were gone.

Swathes of history can easily disappear, unless they happened to be captured in chance photographs or archive references.

Mike Higginbottom is presenting ‘A Look Round Attercliffe’, illustrating how Attercliffe has changed since the 1970s, in support of the Friends of Zion Graveyard at the Library Lounge, Leeds Road, Sheffield, S9 3TY on Monday March 21st at 7.00pm. Admission is £4.00 on the door, but please pre-book by text or phone-call to 07980-143776.

Full details are here:

Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel

Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel, Sheffield (1977)

In 1977 I made a point of photographing the demolition of the magnificent All Saints’ Church, Ellesmere Road, Sheffield (1869) and, incidentally, took one image of the nearby Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel (1869).

I knew nothing of its history;  I simply thought it looked attractive, surrounded by boarded-up terraced houses that were clearly going to disappear.

Petre Street was the largest Primitive Methodist chapel in Sheffield:  its main hall seated 1,250 and its site on a steep slope provided room for a schoolroom, institute and classrooms in addition.

It had a troubled inception.

Sited on what was then the outskirts of Sheffield, it stood on a bleak hilltop overlooking the burgeoning steelworks in the Lower Don Valley below.

During construction a storm blew away the roof in November 1867, and the contractor repaired the several hundred pounds’ worth of damage.  This was completed on Friday February 7th 1868, when the beginning of another storm obliged the workmen lash themselves to the scaffolding to avoid being blown off.

This second storm over two days and nights caused considerable damage over a wide area, including two fatalities in the centre of Sheffield.

Overnight a section of the gable end of the partly-constructed chapel fell away, and at three o’clock the following afternoon the side wall collapsed, bringing with it the roof and its timbers, filling the interior with debris and weakening the remaining side wall so that it too collapsed. 

This time the repair bill, estimated at £1,200, was the direct responsibility of the trustees, who immediately set about fundraising. 

The church was opened at an eventual cost of £5,000, with a remaining debt of £2,400, on Friday March 27th 1869.

As a community, the Petre Street Methodists lost no time.  Newspaper reports in 1869 show a relentless programme of events in addition to services – Band of Hope meetings, a sale of work, a bazaar, the oratorio Babylon and, immediately after Christmas, a tea for a thousand in two sittings, for which eight hundred tickets were sold.

The trustees’ courage and determination in surviving not one but two storms at the outset is remarkable.

At the start of the twentieth century this congregation was described by the Primitive Methodist Magazine as leading one of the most “aggressive and prosperous” Primitive Methodist circuits in Sheffield.

For a century, the two congregations, Anglicans at All Saints’ and Primitive Methodists at Petre Street, came and went each Sunday within sight of each other.

As the houses were cleared in the mid-1970s both congregations diminished.  All Saints’ had gone by the middle of 1977, and the Petre Street chapel was closed and quickly demolished in 1980, when the two churches moved together into a new building, St Peter’s,designed by the G D Frankish Partnership.

It’s an attractive design, though it lacks the impact of All Saints’ or the quieter dignity of the Petre Street chapel.

St Peter’s Church, Ellesmere, Sheffield

Top Forge

Wortley Top Forge, South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire boasts two of nationally significant historic metal-working sites, the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet on the southern edge of Sheffield and the Wortley Top Forge between Sheffield and Penistone.  Both are scheduled ancient monuments and contain Grade I listed buildings.

They exist because of the foresight of the individuals who formed the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society who recognised the significance of each site and campaigned to protect them from the risk of demolition before the Second World War – back in the prehistory of industrial archaeology and historical conservation.

Abbeydale Works became part of Sheffield City Museums and, along with Shepherd Wheel and Kelham Island Industrial Museum were transferred to Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust in 1998.

Wortley Top Forge, abandoned by 1929, was acquired by the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society in 1953, and the Society continues to maintain and develop the site and open it to the public through its operational arm, the South Yorkshire Trades Historical Trust Ltd.

The leading light of the project was the late Ken Hawley (1927-2014), the celebrated saviour of much of South Yorkshire’s tools and machinery.  His collections are now divided between Wortley and Kelham Island.

The Top Forge, along with the now-obliterated Low Forge, was operating by 1640, though water-powered metal-working was practised in the area from the thirteenth century onwards.

Alongside the remaining original buildings, the Trust has restored and built new structures to accommodate the growing collection of artefacts, including stationary steam engines – a very recent innovation, because the Forge was always powered by water.

A succession of enterprising and innovative lessees imported new techniques to the two forges:  James Cockshutt brought Henry Cort’s reverberatory furnace from Wales to South Yorkshire in the 1790s and in the nineteenth century Thomas Andrews Jnr made Wortley renowned for the quality of its wrought iron for railway rolling-stock axles.  Both these men became Fellows of the Royal Society;  indeed, Thomas Andrews belonged to the Royal Societies in both London and Edinburgh.

Visiting the Top Forge is challenging.  Its site is at least 1½ miles away from Wortley village, deep in the depths of the Don Valley, and access is encumbered by tight bends and the low bridges of the now closed Woodhead railway.  Signage is minimal:  a Yorkshire flag indicates the entrance:  Flag of Yorkshire – Flags and symbols of Yorkshire – Wikipedia.

Those who have the determination to arrive are made warmly welcome, but on ordinary Sunday working days there is little provision for tourists.  The location is beautiful.  The loos are impeccable, but the place is otherwise innocent of visitor amenities.  Donations are gratefully received, guided tours run ad hoc and rides on the miniature railway are free. 

It’s not so much a tourist attraction as a man-cave, populated by friendly, welcoming gentlemen of a certain age in overalls, working with metal and tweaking their engines, who are more than happy to discuss the technicalities of the machinery they tend.

I was shown round by an admirable young guide, Emily, who, once she realised that I know very little about engineering, pitched her tour to my level of understanding.

Open days are a different matter:  then the Top Forge is en fête.  Details are announced on the website events page, which has been understandably disrupted by the pandemic.

The Society’s website provides a detailed history and description of this fascinating place: Wortley Top Forge – The oldest surviving heavy iron forge in the world.

Exploring Canberra: All Saints’ Church, Ainslie 2

All Saints’ Parish Church, Ainslie, Canberra, Australia

My curiosity to visit All Saints’ Church, Ainslie, was prompted not only by its unusual provenance as a cemetery railway-station, but because of a local association between my native Sheffield and this antipodean suburb in Australia’s federal capital.

The sanctuary of All Saints’ is dominated by the east window by Charles Kempe & Co.  The glass comes from St Clement’s Church, Newhall, Sheffield (1914), paid for by a subscription of parishioners and dedicated in 1919 to the memory of the war dead of the parish.

St Clement’s closed in July 1961, as the congregation had dwindled and the surrounding housing was cleared.  The All Saints’ guide-book, A Station of the Cross, relates that the gift was at the instigation of Lady Jacqueline De L’Isle, wife of the Governor-General who served from 1961.  Lady De L’Isle liked to worship at All Saints’, and once brought the poet John Betjeman to a service. He advised her where in Britain she could source glass to fill the east window.

The glass in the All Saints’ east window is not the entire window from St Clement’s:  photographs indicate that John Dodsley Webster’s design for Newhall was taller and the window longer:  http://www.picturesheffield.com/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;y02488&pos=2&action=zoom

It’s apparent that the prophets Joel, Micah, Amos, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi are omitted along with the original inscription “Remember ye with thanksgiving and all honour before God and man those who went forth from Newhall to the Great War 1914-19, and returned not again.”  Canon William Odom’s description of the window in its original form is quoted at http://www.sheffieldsoldierww1.co.uk/Memorial/St%20Clements.html.

Furthermore, some panels of glass at Ainslie are clearly intended to fit cusped tracery, yet the Sydney designer Phillip Handel has mounted all the glass in a single steel frame.  Some of the surplus glass was used in the entrances to the side vestries.

All Saints’ possesses further English glass by Charles Kempe from the parish church of St Margaret, Bagendon, Gloucestershire.

The original bell, which at Rookwood alerted mourners to the departure of the return train to Sydney, had disappeared and was replaced by the bell of an American Shay locomotive that worked at the Wolgan Valley Railway near Lithgow, New South Wales, presented to All Saints’ by the New South Wales Steam Tram & Train Preservation Society in 1958.

Tinsley Towers

“Tinsley Towers”, Blackburn Meadows WTW, South Yorkshire (2008)

Blackburn Meadows Wastewater Treatment Works, operated by Yorkshire Water, is hidden discreetly behind the great steel curtain of the M1 Tinsley Viaduct, which opened in 1968.

Alongside the sewage works dating back to 1886, Sheffield Corporation operated an electric power-station, opened in 1921, to supply the considerable needs of the local steelworks, taking advantage of the adjacent River Don for cooling water, and excellent rail connections to supply coal.

When the station’s capacity was expanded to 72 megawatts, two hyperbolic cooling towers, each 250 feet high, were built in 1937 and 1938.

The power station became surplus to requirements, like many of the steelworks it supplied, and closed in 1980.  All the structures were quickly demolished except for the cooling towers, which stood less than twenty metres from the M1 viaduct – too close to be taken down safely.

Accordingly, the elegant, empty concrete structures became a landmark for motorway travellers and a reassuring symbol of homecoming to returning Sheffielders, who referred to them as the Tinsley Towers.

Despite the support of local MP David Blunkett and the sculptors Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor, proposals to use the towers for concerts or a skate park were floated but sank.

English Heritage refused to list them, arguing that the internal cooling apparatus had been removed, leaving only the concrete shells.  This emptiness was part of their aesthetic appeal – abstract spaces that could only have been constructed for a functional purpose that they’d outlasted.

After thirty years of slow-burning controversy, the towers were blown up during a motorway closure on the night of August 24th 2008, before an appreciative audience of sightseers using the car-park of the adjacent Meadowhall Centre as a viewing platform.

Their site has been utilised for a biomass power station, burning waste wood, operated by E.ON UK and opened in 2014.

This image of the Tinsley Towers is available as a greetings card, either singly or in a pack of five, or as a notelet to order.  For the entire range of Mike Higginbottom Interesting Times greetings cards, please click here.

Blackburn Meadows

Blackburn Meadows Waste Water Treatment Works, South Yorkshire

Sheffield sits in a bowl of hills, drained by five rivers:  the rivers Loxley, Rivelin, Porter and Sheaf each drain into the Don, which flows north-east to Rotherham, Doncaster and the Humber estuary.

There’s only one place to put a sewage works to serve Sheffield – Blackburn Meadows, named after the Blackburn Brook that joins the River Don near to the Meadowhall shopping centre.

Blackburn Meadows Wastewater Treatment Works is nowadays discreetly shielded by the bulk of the M1 motorway Tinsley Viaduct.  Formerly, it was surrounded by steelworks and railway lines, an environment of stygian gloom that was, ironically, essential to the health of the city.

Sheffield stunk for much of the nineteenth century, until in 1886 the Sheffield Local Board of Health completed a main drainage scheme, costing £150,338, including the 23-acre Blackburn Meadows sewage works at Tinsley, which cost £44,730. 

Sewage treatment was rudimentary and didn’t work particularly well.

Sheffield Corporation, the successor-authority to the Local Board, took compulsory powers in 1890 to convert premises served by middens to water closets:  in 1893 there were still 32,362 privy middens in the town;  by 1914 this number had been reduced to 7,450 and hardly any remained by the end of the 1920s.

Through the twentieth century Blackburn Meadows was repeatedly modernised to deal with Sheffield’s industrial and domestic sewage by bio-aeration – oxygenating the liquid to encourage “good” bacteria to digest the offensive matter – and, latterly, the incineration of solid waste.  In the inter-war period visitors came from far and wide to admire and learn about the ‘Sheffield System’ of sewage disposal.

From January 1979 Sheffield’s Victorian sewerage-system was dramatically upgraded by the completion of the gigantic 5.5m-diameter Don Valley Intercepting Sewer. Sewage is pumped into the works at Blackburn Meadows from a depth of 22.5 metres by four 1050Kw and two 540Kw pumps housed in a cream-coloured, clad and glazed pumphouse designed by Hadfield Cawkwell Davison and completed in 1983. 

Blackburn Meadows remains the ultimate and inevitable destination for all Sheffield’s sewage and storm-water.  Indeed, in the 1950s when Sheffield built a housing estate on its southern boundary at Greenhill, which drains south into the Drone valley, the Derbyshire authorities told the city exactly what it could do with its ordure.  Consequently, the Greenhill effluent is pumped back over the watershed to begin its long journey to Blackburn Meadows.

It’s the proud boast of the workers at Blackburn Meadows that the liquid they return to the River Don is cleaner than the river itself.

One day’s itinerary in the ‘Cemeteries and Sewerage: the Victorian pursuit of cleanliness’ (August 25th-29th 2022) tour includes a journey along the course of the Great Sheffield Flood, which killed at least 250 people in March 1864. It starts at the Dale Dike Dam which replaced the one that burst, includes relevant sites including Wardsend Cemetery, and ends with a fleeting view of Blackburn Meadows WTW from the M1 Tinsley Viaduct. For details of the programme, please click here.

Tinsley Viaduct

M1 Motorway, Tinsley Viaduct, South Yorkshire (1985)

The M1 viaduct at Tinsley, almost on the boundary between Sheffield and Rotherham, was an adventurous solution to a complex engineering problem – a double-deck design, taking the motorway on the top deck and a trunk road beneath across a flat valley-floor site riddled with old mine-workings, circumventing an electricity generating station and a sewage works and crossing two railway-lines and two main roads. 

The M1 deck is 65 feet above the valley-floor;  the A631 trunk road is slung twenty-five feet below it.

Colonel Maynard Lovell, the highways engineer of the West Riding County Council, submitted an original design in concrete, built in sections to counteract subsidence and heat-expansion:  its estimated cost was £6 million. 

This proposal was overruled by the Transport Minister, Ernest Marples, in favour of a single-unit steel box-girder design by Freeman Fox & Partners costing £4.6 million.

The viaduct, Junction 34 of the M1, opened to traffic in 1968 – the lower deck, carrying the A631, in March and the upper motorway deck in October. 

Within the following three years three box-girder bridges collapsed, causing fatalities, while still under construction. 

In 1970 the Cleddau Bridge at Milford Haven killed five workers and the West Gate Bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia, killed thirty-five.  In 1971 the South Bridge over the River Rhine at Koblenz in West Germany also collapsed, killing thirteen.  

The Cleddau and Yarra bridges were both designed by Freeman Fox & Partners, who in the same decade designed the first Severn Bridge (1966) and the Humber Bridge (1980). 

It may have seemed appropriate to have a steel viaduct bridging the industrial heartland of the city of steel, but the original flexible concrete design would have avoided the disadvantages of the insufficiently tested box-girder construction, and a concrete viaduct doesn’t need painting. 

However a 2004 Highways Agency calculation indicated that replacing as opposed to rebuilding the viaduct would cost £200 million and involve hidden costs for delay and disruption amounting to £1.4 billion.

Initial modifications to Tinsley Viaduct began in February 1976 and continued with few interruptions for years.  The additional cost was given as £3 million at the start of the rebuilding programme. 

The ugly cross-girders and diagonal reinforcements along the lower deck have destroyed what elegance the original structure had, and their installation in a structure carrying an operational trunk motorway was a logistical nightmare.  The original maintenance gantries had to be completely redesigned, and the previously unrecognised need to inspect the inside of the box-girders required the fitting of permanent lighting and safety rails.  Furthermore, the formerly sulphurous atmosphere of the East End steelworks necessitated frequent repainting (£2 million at 1980 prices).

An £81,000,000 scheme to strengthen the structure further in order to meet EU criteria was completed in late 2005:  European legislation had restricted the motorway to four lanes;  intricate internal reinforcement of the box-girders enabled it to carry 40-tonne vehicles over six lanes and permitted a safer configuration of the Junction 34 slip roads.

It’s difficult, because of the effects of inflation, to ascertain whether the patching of the Tinsley Viaduct was in the end cheaper than knocking it down and building a new one.

Little palaces

Titterton Street, Attercliffe, Sheffield (1977) ~ Huntsman’s Gardens Schools in the distance

In the early months of the lockdown the Friends of Zion Graveyard invited me to write the text for a series of interpretation boards to provide background information and archive photographs for visitors.

When the Friends’ committee was asked to comment on the draft I was justifiably taken to task for giving the impression that the houses in Attercliffe were slums.

I used the formal phrase “slum clearance” that the City Council applied to its clearance schemes from the 1950s onwards.

Indeed, the houses themselves were not slums.  They simply lacked facilities we now take for granted.   

The insulting arrogance of some of the public servants who drove the policy of slum clearance is highlighted in Marcus Binney’s book, Our Vanishing Heritage (Arlington 1984), p 193, where he quotes the civil engineer and planner Wilfred Burns, who changed the face of Coventry and later did the same in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  

In his book New Towns for Old:  the technique of urban renewal (1963) Burns declares,–

One result of slum clearance is that a considerable movement of people takes place over long distances, with devastating effect on the social grouping built up over the years.  But, one might argue, that is a good thing when we are dealing with people who have no initiative or civic pride.  The task, surely, is to break up such groupings even though the people seem to be satisfied with their miserable environment and seem to enjoy an extrovert social life in their own locality.

He wouldn’t have lasted long if he’d aired those views in the Dog & Partridge on a Saturday night.

There’s no wonder that my parents’ generation couldn’t wait to get out of Attercliffe in search of better housing.  They were sick of managing with an outside lavatory, a single cold tap and heating by coal.  Their lives were shortened by the tons of atmospheric pollution that rained down on the valley where steelworks stood surrounded by terraced housing.

In earnest irony, Frank Hartley entitled his memoir of growing up in Attercliffe Where Sparrows Coughed (Sheaf 1989).

The post-war planners’ solution to the dreadful environment was single-use zoning, dividing the city into areas of unified purpose, such as industry, housing or retail. 

The nineteenth-century development of the Lower Don Valley had been dictated by the need for steelworkers to walk between home and work.

By the mid-twentieth century it was possible to relocate housing well away from the smokestack industries, and to expect the workers to commute from leafy housing estates to their work by bus.

Nowadays their children write in internet nostalgia forums with sincere regret for the community they lost.  It’s easy to sentimentalise our childhood while sitting at a keyboard in a modern dwelling that previous generations would have thought forever beyond their reach.

Remembering the good times and ignoring the bad is a lazy way of looking at the past, and it devalues the determination of the women who spent their days in never-ending labour, striving to make their homes into little palaces, and those of their menfolk who put their wage-packets on the table at the end of every week.

Everyone enjoys wallowing in nostalgia occasionally, but for me the most vivid evocation of Attercliffe in my childhood is Frank Hartley’s book, which has been out of print for far too long.