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:

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