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The following article is from Barry Jones of Sheffield Road.
Some of my memories of Killamarsh
My mind recently went back more than 60 years to the Killamarsh opencast, not the one that produced the now Rother Valley Country Park, but the one in the late 1940s where a group of us young children used to visit to watch.
This opencast radiated from the farmland near Wales Bar in a South Westerly direction down to the County dyke, where its route was similar to that of today. Some equipment that was used was similar to that of today, dumper trucks, bulldozers, loading diggers, painted yellow bearing the word CAT usually above the radiator.
The biggest attraction by young and old alike was a very large American dragline machine called a “monogan” (I think I have spelt it correct), which had a bucket with a capacity of about 15 tons. It did not have wheels or tracks to move it, but two large rectangular blocks or shoes one on either side and operated in a circular motion by large cams and the whole thing just “hobbled” along by lifting itself up, moving forwards or reverse and then sitting down. As the whole opencast operation was in the hands of the Americans it was a Mecca for the young people who collected cigarette packets, a popular trend in those days, to add Lucky Strike etc, to their collection. These workers were a very friendly set of men who integrated well into the village life.
After watching the activities of earthworks by fascinating large machines it was time to make our way home over the rough terrain towards the county dyke, which ran colours of the spectrum, the most vivid of all, was an orangey red. Contact with clothing was a scourge for our mothers as the Rinso washing powder had little effect as I remember; modern detergents had not been invented! From there it was to cross the river at “Pile Bridge” usually on the underside like commandoes did during the war. This bridge carried the single track rail line from the chemical works now an environmental firm at the bottom of Wales hill to the main railway lines.
Then it was to pick ones way up the marshland meadows usually getting our feet wet, over the council refuse top to the Juniors Club to stand in the corner near the silent air raid siren and watch a few over’s of cricket. Then home to bed ready for school and the start of a new day untouched, happy times!
Christopher Barry Jones
The following story about Killamarsh Feast is from Brian Green
by Brian Green
I am led to believe that before the start of the Second World War the site of the annual Killamarsh Feast was held on a field behind the 12 houses of nos. 211 to 233 Sheffield Rd. At this time the houses had no numbers and were known as “Hutchby Cottages” after the name of Mr.Hutchby (a director of Killamarsh Gas Company). During the early 1940`s there was a shortage of food due to the Battle of the Atlantic when German U boats were sinking many ships carrying food to the UK, the government started the campaign “Dig for Victory”- one local result was that this field was given over to the tenants of the 12 houses to convert to allotments to grow vegetables to feed their own families. My father, Horace Green, was the tenant of no. 233 and together with the other 11 tenants set out and measured the field, dividing the land up into 12 strips or allotments. I remember father, who worked shifts as a colliery stoker at Kiveton Park Pit, coming home from work and “double digging” his allotment. This was essential because the field surface was covered with several inches of cinders or coal ash which had been put there so that the fairground vehicles would not sink into the ground when it was wet. After the top soil had been returned to the surface, plenty of manure from George Leah`s Farm was dug into the ground. All 12 plots had vegetables grown on them, no space was wasted as every household had a family of hungry mouths to feed. My father died in 1996 aged 89 yrs and right up to his death he dug over a small piece of his garden and grew vegetables in it.
The following is from John Hewitt
With reference to Harness’s Feast, which I believe visited Killamarsh in September, I too lived in Hutchby’s Cottages, and well remember Brian Green and his sister Pauline and their parents, Mr and Mrs Green as we called them – no first name terms for older people in those days!
Brian is a few years older than me, and Pauline a couple of years younger.
I remember Horace had a large greenhouse which he used to grow tomatoes and every year he would set a fire going in the yard to sterilise the soil he was going to grow them in. He was a keen gardener and his garden was always well tended. Another very keen gardener was Herbert Goodlad from 219, he used to do his own garden and part of Grandma Sharp’s at 221, and sometimes part of Alice Tesh’s at 217
I cannot remember the feast being in the field behind the houses; as Brian said, they were gardens when I was growing up there. My memories of the feast are from when it was on the “rec” between the canal on the houses on Sheffield Road.
My Dad, Jack Hewitt, built a pigsty at the top of our garden and kept a couple of pigs, which he killed and cured to supplement the (rationed) meat available during and after WW2.
What I can remember is that years later, when I was old enough to dig the garden, which were then still predominantly ash, despite the farmyard manure dug in every year, we used to find odd pennies or ha’pennies in the soil, no doubt dropped by people playing the slot machines or roll a penny games.
My Mother, Ethel Hewitt, used to make huge quantities of her own recipe pickled marrow for Mrs Harness; filling several big glass spice (sweet) jars which most sweets came in back then; she also used to do some of their washing, and they would fetch water from our houses as well. I can just remember getting free tickets for the fairground rides from Mrs Harness.
Brian. do you remember playing cricket with the others in the yard, Terry Doxey from 211, Derek Tesh from 213, Keith Sharpe from 215, me from 223, and occasionally Margaret Goodlad and your Pauline, using wickets chalked on the coal house wall, running to the doorway in what was the midden’s.
I seem to remember that you and the other older boys had to bat left handed and we all used to bowl underarm as there wasn’t room to run up for a conventional overarm bowl. A clean hit over the coal houses was a 4 and for the bigger lads, over the houses was a 6! The batsman was out if they were caught, but it had to be 1 handed off the coal house or toilet block roofs!
We always had a bonfire in the yard behind our houses, between the toilets and coal houses, and the women in the yard used to make parkin, bonfire toffee, and mushy peas (Mam’s speciality). All the kids in the yard used to go “bonfire wooding” through the summer holidays picking up anything which would burn and as a few of the men in the yard were miners, there was always plenty of coal to set the fire going, which resulted in hot embers at the end of the night, ideal for roasting potatoes and chestnuts.
Mr (John) Oldfield lived at 225 and he had a big shed on his garden where he used to cobble boots and shoes. I can remember having “pit boots” from a very early age and as soon as they were bought (from the Co-op Menswear Department at the bottom of Bridge Street), the first job was to get him to nail clippits on the toes and heels and steel studs on the soles and heels to stop the leather soles wearing out. They were great for sliding on in the winter and if you caught them right, you could make sparks fly if you scuffed the heel on the concrete Pre-Fab road.
The following article was written in October 1988 by three sisters, Jean Shipp, Rita Hoar (nee Shipp) and Brenda Palmer (nee Shipp), and gives their memories of an idyllic childhood living in the Lock House on the canal at Norwood. Jean now lives in Ollerton.
It was around 1939 that my father William Shipp went to work for the London and North Eastern Water Way Company and moved with my mum to 12 Lock House, Killamarsh.
It, and the adjacent land including the blacksmith’s shop which was originally used for repairing barges, were rented to my father as part and parcel of his wages.
My two sisters and I have wonderful memories of our childhood. It was a beautiful and natural place to grow up and we were safe and relatively free to roam the fields and woods and enjoy all the natural beauty.
Dad had a field over the railway on which he grew vegetables one year and wheat the next. Harvest time was great. We did not have a combine harvester. The work was carried out by the old thrashing machine method with the sacks hung to catch the wheat. We would play for hours with the stalks making houses, indulging in hide and seek and sliding down the tarpaulin that was pulled over the machine to keep it dry.
The straw would be taken to the blacksmith’s shop which was the dry dock for repairing the barges.
We would while away hours in the repair shop playing in the straw. My dad kept pigs, hens, ducks, geese and goats and we had a horse called Bob. He was used to pull the plough and occasionally we got a ride on him.
The blacksmith’s shop had huge chimneys for the fire. The land round the building was an orchard with apple, plum, damson and crab apple trees. The water wheel had been at the back but had gone at the time we lived there.
Dad stocked the ponds and bays with fish and spent many a peaceful hour with a rod.
The house was the toll house and one of the bedrooms still contained a safe. One of the bedrooms had metal plates on the door for extra security. It was a splendid house but quite basic. We had an eslan toilet at the bottom of the garden. There was no electricity and only cold water for most of our years there.
During the later time my dad bought a generator for electric lighting but was still candle power or an oil lamp for bedtime when the generator was switched off. We also put in a fireplace with backboiler so we could have hot running water.
It was hard work for mum with no mod cons but she did not mind about any of that as we were all happy living in such a lovely place.
Almost opposite the house were the stables which were used in the old days of the barges on the canal. The canal was opened in 1779.
Mr Robinson had the stables pulled down quite a while before the house was demolished.
In April, 1968 we received a latter from the British Waterways Board informing dad of the proposed sale of the house and land to Mr Robinson of 2 Ellison Cottages, Killamarsh. This came as quite a shock and we were very disappointed that we had not been given the chance to buy.
In July, 1969 we had a letter informing us that the sale of the house and the adjacent land was complete.
On 10th April 1972 we received a letter from Mr Richardson of Manor Lane, Sheffield, and that was the first notification we had of the property being transferred from Mr Robinson.
After careful consideration my parents sought the help of the Council to get repairs done but in October 1978, a demolition order was placed on the property.
My sisters and I often return the old place with our families. We enjoy the walks around the canal and the woods, but we feel quite saddened by it all.
After all the old house could still be standing and possibly reaching another family such as ours.
RON MARSHALL has given the following lovely memories, which are updated as he adds to them.
Just a few memories from the back of my mind.
As a small boy born at the top of Station Road, the Station and the Goods Yard were a playground. Standing on the iron bridge over the baffle plate when an engine went under was a smoky, steamy, oily sensation I can still recall now.
But the station had its sad side too. My dad had a mate who threw himself off Cat Gallows bridge and was found hung on the front of the engine when it pulled into the Station. Another I can recall myself was a farmer called Cross who put his head on the line. I remember seeing nuns collecting him from the Station in a wicker basket with a pony cart.
A small story about how people at the Station quite often helped out. Seeing the picture of the old bungalow and the length of the grass reminded me that Grandad in later life was employed by British Waterways to keep the towpath tidy. His length was from the bridge at the top of Station Road to Lears bridge.
He limped into the house one day bleeding. Our dog, a big daft lab called Timmy had chased a water hen and knocked him over onto his sythe and cut open his thigh. Mum said run down to the Station and ask Bert to phone Dr Lipp. At that time the only phone in Station Road was at the Station.
By the time Dr Lipp turned up Grandad had taken a sail makers needle, a ball of waxed thread and put in 16 stitches himself, using navy run for antiseptic. I think Dr Lipp said something about wasting his time and was more concerned because Mum had fainted.
Tough old so and so, my Grandad.
Going back as far as I can remember is not as hard as you might think. What I can’t recollect 6 months ago seems odd when I can remember what happened sixty plus years.
Casting my mind back as far as I can, firstly standing at the door holding Mum’s hand and looking at this huge man in an army greatcoat with a rifle on his shoulder, and in his hand something I had never seen before, a bunch of bananas. It was Mum’s step brother, home on leave having escaped from Dunkirk only to loose his life later in Burma. I found his army records last year. Who I thought of as huge was in fact only 5 foot 4inches tall, but still he did his bit.
Secondly being held up to the window and seeing a streak of light, a huge flash and a bang. Dad said it was a V1 or aV2 what had crashed in Bedgreive Meadows.
Thirdly after the war had ended, looking over towards Renishaw and at night seeing the whole sky light up when the blast furnaces were opened. Now one of the things I loved was Old Hall Farm, just over the road from us. It then was owned by Mr and Mrs Dyer. My earliest job was being sent with sixpence and a tin milk jug for the days milk. Watching Mrs Dyer making butter and sometimes cheese meant I always got a nibble of cheese and a cup of milk fresh from the cooler. Sitting with Mr Dyer in later times, watching piglets being born was a wonder, if not a bit scary. We also kept pigs, chickens and ducks, well being next to the canal you would, woudn’t you.
When I said we, I meant my Dad and Granddad. Something I recall was waking up to hear Granddad playing merry hell because a fox had got into the duck house and killed three of them. He followed the trail of feathers up Field Lane but couldn’t find where the fox had gone, if he had, I think we may have had fox for tea!!.
Another thing I recall was a Sow who had two runts in her litter who she didn’t care for. They were raised up bottle fed in a cupboard next to the fireplace. Just like two puppies.
If you walk past Old Hall Farm and up Field Lane there are railway cottages on your left, at the other side of the lane used to be a joiners shop belonging to a man called Horace King. He lived with mother and father in one of the cottages. I spent many happy hours watching him, all done by hand, no power tools and under paraffin lamps. I remember once asking him to make me a boat. His reply was he would put me a mast and a sail on the one he was building, then Dad had to explain to me that he was making a coffin and what it was for. He used to make them for a funeral director whose name was Parkin, he lived and ran his premises up High Street.
Mr Parkin was the man who saw to Grandads funeral, with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. I didn’t know at the time they had been friends for many years.
Going on to early school years, infant and junior, are the times I remember most.
What were we up to in summer time. Well egged on by older boys, eg the Whiston boys John Whitfield and Bill Woodhead, all sorts. Walking across the weir at the back of Ross Foundry was one of them, only when the river was low, you took off your wellies. We all wore wellies and did a balancing act across the sill to what was then Teddy Peats field. I recall cousin Norman dropping one of his into the weir pool and being afraid to go home without it.
Another was walking the plank. If you walked along the river towards the LMS bridge there was an enormous baulk of timber wedged across the river. God knows where it came from, but it gave us a lot of fun. We called it walking the plank and I don’t think anyone fell off. My dad said if you fell in and didn’t drown, you would most likely be poisoned.
So, boys bows and arrows and catapults. The handiest shop in Bridge Street for small boys was Mr Brammalls hardware shop next to the Post Office. All kinds of weird and wonderful things could be bought here for a few pence, strong twine for bow strings, garden canes for arrows and square rubber for catapults.
The old man would shake his head and ask if your Dad had sent you, of course we always said yes, he would say next time Dad came in he would check. I don’t think he ever did. Bows were made from sticks cut from the hedge rows, usually thick lengths of ash using one of granddads saws. A great deal of puffing and blowing got the string attached and the correct bend but in by bending it over your knee. Arrows were made by wrapping a piece of Granddads lead sheet around one end and hey presto job done.
Catapults also came from the hedges, a Y shaped piece of hawthorn, what Dad called a straddle, had square rubber bound to it with string and the sling was a piece of leather from an old shoe. Usually sore fingers and knuckles made sure the job was well done. Tin cans from dustbins were targets for catapults and cardboard boxes stolen from behind Wheeldons shop were targets for arrows.
After that, God help Station Road. The only time we had to scuttle was when the station lorry came up, if we didn’t he would run over the lot, not very fair, at least we thought so. His name was Lol, but more of him later.
RON GEE of Sidcup in Kent has sent us his memories of Killamarsh.
During World War 2, my mother and myself were evacuated to the village of Killamarsh. I was 4 to 8 years of age at the time. Most shopping visits would have been to Chesterfield or Sheffield, but we once went to Worksop on the Booth and Fisher bus route mentioned in a letter in the last edition. The date would have been about 1942.
It was a cold and foggy winters’s day when we arrived at Worksop. One memory was of East Midland buses on the Worksop town service towing trailers – presumably gas producing trailers. En route from Wales Bar, the road ran parallel to the eastern part of the Chesterfield Canal, which must have been still navigable, because I remember seeing from the bus a horse pulling a barge laden with farm produce. The Chesterfield Canal was then divided into two parts by the collapse some years beforehand of Norwood Tunnel. The half which ran through Killamarsh still contained water, but had long ceased to be navigable as far as I know. Norwood was the name of a village about half a mile to the east of Killamarsh and up a short hill out of the Rother Valley.
Killamarsh adjoined the River Rother. Nearby were several coal mines which must have given rise to numerous works journeys, which Booth and Fisher was advantageously able to provide. In Killamarsh, the firm operated a petrol station and garage in Bridge Street at the bottom of the hill which led to Norwood. Even though it was wartime, the firm was fortunate enough to acquire an immaculate 29 seater Bedford coach, which seldom if ever seemed to be utilised, but instead stood every day in the forecourt of the Booth and Fisher garage. In the 1940s Sheffield Corporation double-decker service No. 26 terminated beside the Booth and Fisher garage. Services up the hill to Norwood were covered by two B&F services, one from Beighton to Worksop and one from Sheffield to High Moor via Eckington and Coal Aston. Later Sheffield Corporation service No. 26 was extended to Norwood, but I have been told the two B&F services had protection for short journeys along this stretch.
Another bus service through Killamarsh was that by provided by Abbey Lane Motor Services of Beauchief, although the locals called them “Hogg’s buses”. These single-decker buses growled up a hill through Killamarsh on the way to Ollerton. A departure at about 5.00 pm from Sheffield was usually preceded by two duplicates showing Edwinstow on the blind. The route ran through Spinkhill where the Hogg’s bus had to reverse into a “T” under the guidance of a conductor. The Hogg’s service no longer exists, it became East Midland Service No. 46, but that also perished. The reversal point at Spinkhill is now used by a South Yorkshire PTE route and in order to enable conductorless reversal, the “T” has been turned into a circle.
Apart from buses, Killamarsh was notorious in that a bridge across the river Rother floodplain was and still is only a single lane in width. It was noteworthy that from this location no less than four railway lines followed the flood plain northwards. Today only one line survives (the Old Route to Rotherham in railway fan parlance). However during the war years one could stand on a hill near to Norwood looking westwards and there would always be a train in sight. I have read that the lines between here and Beighton were paralleled by numerous sidings to accommodate the wartime traffic.
Our journeys to the Steel City were always by the Sheffield Corporation service.
En route it would pass the tram terminus at Intake, where if I had known more about trams at the time, I would have observed a trolley reverser. All of the trams in Sheffield were spotlessly clean and so were the Corporation buses. One tram route from Sheffield to Rotherham was operated by double-decker, rectangular trams that I learnt later were single-ended and in Britain at the time were unique.
I pleaded with mum to ride one, so one day we waited in Exchange Street. When a Rotherham tram came along, we boarded and I was surprised that it did not reverse. The journey to Rotherham took about 30 minutes and ran through the many steel works in the Don Valley. Suddenly I noticed the tram overhead was paralleled by trolleybus wiring. Later I leant that the trolleybus wiring commenced at Templeborough, at which location was situated a purpose built triangle, where short workings of Rotherham trams could also reverse. The trolleybuses terminating here turned on a loop in the wide carriageway. The carriageway needed to be wide because at the time the Rotherham trolleybus fleet was composed of single-deck, six wheel trolleybuses. We continued to Rotherham where I expected the tram to reverse and that the driver would go the rear of the tram where a controller was located. To my disappointment he did not. We got off and the tram then went on to my bafflement. Up until then every tram that I had seen was double-ended and turned on stub-ends. I had never seen a loop, nor a single-ended tram before.
Back to Sheffield and its buses, the terminus of the No. 26 route to Killamarsh was not on the Pond Street standage, but in a side road to the north. This terminus was also shared by Corporation routes Nos 25 to Beighton and 30 to Eckington. The latter would have competed with East Midland route No. 3 to Clowne. Now the 30 has gone. Conversely there are now more South Yorkshire routes to Killamarsh than was the case in the forties. At that time Pond Street bus stands were full of buses of all hues:- green from Chesterfield, blue from Doncaster, red Yorkshire Traction from Huddersfield, mustard yellow and brown operated by East Midland etc. Some buses were in blue and white like those of the Corporation but carried the name LMS and LNER as these were railway owned fleets in the Sheffield Joint Committee fleet.
I have since returned from time to time to Killamarsh and explored the routes. At Wales Bar in 1960, I noticed that the totem on a bus stop pole was provided by Rotherham Corporation. On this summer’s day it was possible to stand at Wales Bar, look over the Don and Rother valleys and see the many steel works in use at the time, together with an octet of steam locomotives simmering and smouldering below in a depot. Following the demise of railway services on the former Great Central line in the 1960s, a new East Midland Service was introduced to replace the abandoned rail services and now runs from High Moor and Killamarsh to Chesterfield. Booth and Fisher have now been taken over by the South Yorkshire PTE, although the two routes survived for some years without much change.
Below is Ron’s second instalment of his memories as an evacuee in Wartime Killamarsh
I would have been 4 years old in 1940 when my mother elected to evacuate from Sidcup in Kent to Eckington. The cause was the bombing to smithereens during the blitz of a house opposite to where I lived. My father had to stay behind in Sidcup, where he served in the Fire Service. So one autumn day we set off for Eckington. I write “autumn day” because I was too young to read a calendar. On exit from Sheffield Midland station, I gazed upon a scene of a desolate bombsite, my parents first tried to hire a taxi and then had to make do with a bus to Eckington. Even at that tender age, I wondered if we had moved from a frying pan into a fire. So hindsight would fix the date as soon after 12th December 1940 when Sheffield as well as London received the attention of the Luftwaffe. I believe that we were supposed to be evacuated to Eckington in the West Country, but somehow the geography got mixed.
From Eckington, digs were found in Killamarsh, noteworthy for its four railways and also a canal to convey the outputs from the several collieries which bordered the Rother Valley. Due to the collapse of Norwood Tunnel, the Chesterfield Canal was moribund as far as being able to convey goods through Killamarsh. However it still held water and there was a lock next to the Sheffield Road. Reservoirs at Norwood and Harthill still fed the canal. In fact the supply of water was such that when my mother and I first walked along the canal in Spring 1941 between Cat and Lock Hill Bridge, the level of the water was such that the canal overflowed across the tow path via a Weir, which channelled the water into a sluice that led to the Sheffield Road next to the Booth and Fisher Garage. Although the level of the water overflowing the towpath was about two inches, my mother baulked at crossing the weir with a 4 year old son. Not so was the case of a senior gentleman walking towards us, who nonchalantly strode across the weir. This was the only time that I saw the water level to be high enough for the weir to drain surplus water from the canal.
In those days the canal held water as far as the Norwood Tunnel. Just before the canal passed under the road to Rotherham, to the north of the canal was a small agglomeration of factories, some of which were linked to a railway line. The site had its own steam locomotive for shunting. One Sunday, I was admitted to the small depot that housed the locomotive and watched the driver and colleagues giving the locomotive some maintenance. The single-track railway line that ran to the north of the works, crossed under the Rotherham Road, and then continued eastwards closely paralleling the canal. The rails looked rusty and I never saw a train use this line. However it would seem to be an LMS owned line diverging from the “the Old route” north of Killamarsh West station and then running under Great Central line, and next continuing to Kiveton Park colliery. A photo of a train on this line in 1954 appears in “Railways of Sheffield” by S.R. Batty (P53).
During the 1940s Killamarsh West station had 2 or 3 trains per day to Chesterfield and to Rotherham. Killamarsh West station was manned, as was probably the case for other stations on the line to Chesterfield. Today it is unusual to have any rural station manned at all, so it is remarkable how during the man and womanpower shortages in WW II, such manning survived on the Old Route in competition to the ex-GC line that ran almost in parallel to Chesterfield along the Rother Valley. One of the LMS trains departed the West Station at about 09.30, so mum and I would occasionally catch this train to Chesterfield. The West station did not have a footbridge, so passengers had to cross on the level to the southbound platform. One morning the train arrived early at the West station, and a childhood memory is that of fear as we crossed the lines in case the train started. This line (the Old Route) survives to this day. It has no regular passenger service, although occasionally diverted passenger trains traverse the line.
A more frequent service ran to Chesterfield from the Killamarsh Central station. Even if we went LMS to Chesterfield, we would have to return LNER as there were no convenient trains back to Killamarsh West. The return tickets were interavailable. We never travelled northwards by train. If we had, we would have seen the 8 parallel tracks that constituted part of the ex GC line between Killamarsh and Beighton. Readers who wish to know more about the agglomeration of not just tracks but also lines between Killamarsh and Beighton are referred to “Sheffield Victoria to Chesterfield Central” by Ken Grainger.
Situated a few yards to the east of Killamarsh Central Station and a significantly greater height was the closed Upperthorpe and Killamarsh station of the former LD&EC, but in WW 2 part of the LNER. Access to this closed station was not easy, so I was delighted to see photos of this station in the Society’s archive. It still had a frequent service of freight trains, and even occasionally troop or special passenger trains. With respect to the latter, Spinkhill station was still maintained to an exemplary standard, perhaps because at end of terms it hosted special trains from the largest Roman Catholic College for boys in Britain. The notorious Lord Haw-Haw (Germany calling, Germany calling) apparently was a former student here. Part of his harangue was to the effect that Spinkhill would never be bombed. Well it never was, but then again Spinkhill was hardly such a tempting target as the steel works of the Don valley. After WW II the LD&EC line sometimes accommodated expresses such the boat trains between Harwich and Manchester. A photo of one of these appears in Grainger’s book.
The words “Always a train in sight” could well describe the wartime freight traffic along the railway lines that ran through the Rother Valley. One could see over the Rother Valley and watch the Killamarsh Junction traffic from the Canal near to Lock Hill Bridge. Another good vantage point was near to Cat Gallows , which would seem the name given to the pedestrian bridge about 200 yards south of Central station. A symbiosis was created between the need to carry coal and the need of the steam locomotives to burn it.
A book on “Sheffield Transport” by Charles Hall contains in chapter 9, some facts on bus services and operators in Killamarsh. On P210, he writes that in 1929, Mrs Booth of Killamarsh started a service from Ellin Street, Sheffield to Killamarsh via Woodseats, Meadowhead, Coal Aston, Marsh Lane and Eckington. The firm already operated a service to Worksop. The chapter further reports that during 1932 an application for a new bus service between Sheffield and Ollerton via Killamarsh, Spinkhill, Whitwell, Cresswell and Cuckney, was made by S.B. Hogg trading as Hogg’s Express Motor Services. In 1936, Abbey Lane Motor Services took over Hogg’s Express Services. On pages 221 and 222, photos are provided of the Abbey Lane luxury coaches including a view of the interior of such a coach. The photo of the interior shows a coach fitted with a Clayton heater. Such an aid to passenger comfort was almost unknown in the 1930s, but I have a vague recollection of seeing such an item once on a trip by “Hoggs” to Sherwood Forest. During 1953, Abbey Lane Motor Services was bought out by Sheffield United Tours. The route to New Ollerton then passed to East Midland, who first operated the service on 20th June 1953, the bus carrying a notice to the effect that it was on hire to Sheffield United Tours. Thus EM service No 46 commenced.
In about 1958, I was invited to a meeting at the Marrison and Catherall factory in, if I recollect correctly, Forge Lane. I have memories of the manufacture of magnets in the factory and being taken for lunch to a pub in Spinkhill. By 1958, almost all tram routes in Sheffield had been abandoned, including that along the City Road to Intake. The tram route from Attercliffe to Elm Tree ran along reserved track to the top of Prince of Wales Road, and had not long had elapsed since this last stretch of route had been abandoned, so perhaps tram tracks could still be seen at this time at the junction with City Road.
Now turning to other memories beside transport, there was a small cinema in Sheffield Road just to the west of Bridge Street. I do not notice anyone else mentioning this source of recreation. Maybe this comment will bring some more memories of pre-television evenings from older residents.
Now to conclude, I recount some memories of the Church of England school located about 100 yards up the hill from the Canal. Frankly it was a cruel school with much caning of the infants. Whilst I have no objection to a bit of corporal punishment for truants, late-comers, lesson disrupters etc, the sanctions imposed in this school were distinctly unchristian. e.g The woman teacher of the class of 7 year olds despaired of the ability of some of the children to understand her teachings. Some of the pupils were from families of 12 or more children. Doubtless the parents were not bright enough to plan a family, nor with a family of this size would they have time to tutor the children. So the woman brought in the headmaster to cane the boys and girls on the hand if their pencil books were not up to scratch. Soon afterwards I was moved to the 8 year old class. Here writing books were scrutinised weekly and each blot in one’s book led to a stroke on the hand. Sorry but I do not see that a blot deserves a caning. I was glad that VE day came and we returned to Sidcup.
VE and VJ day were memorable. After years of rations, the mothers of the children emptied their cupboards of corn beef tins and goodies which they had kept in case the war got worse and rations got smaller. So on VE day a memorable feast was held in the school. In the days of plenty that we now experience, the thought of rations is but a distant memory. In Britain we were fortunate to have the merchant navy and its brave men to import food as the Island was never self sufficient in home produced food. Yet whatever the humorous moans that you might see in Dad’s Army, Britain actually had more food than was the case across the channel in Europe, especially in the occupied countries.
Below is Ron’s third instalment of his memories as an evacuee in Killamarsh
First let me set the scene with respect to rations. As far As a 5/6 year old at the time can recall, these were adequate, if not so generous compared to today’s peacetime fare. Such rations were owed to the men of the Merchant Navy who bravely crossed the Atlantic bringing corn and other food from Canada. It must be remembered that many such crewmen died due to U-boat attacks. Also if one reads about the war in Russia, 20 million Russians died in WW2, many because they were left to starve and die in a scorched earth policy, so as to render occupied lands useless to the Germans. Many of our allies (e.g. in Poland, Belgium and Norway) during occupation were fleeced to feed the Third Reich. One comment from an escaped Allied POW in Poland about the bravery of the local population was to the effect that “they had nothing, but they gave us half of what they had”. So as part of the scene, what one can watch in “Dad’s Army” about housewifes bartering ration coupons in Mr Jones’s butcher’s shop may be humourous now, but the UK had better rations than most of occupied Europe.
Nevertheless, food was still scarce, so such scarcity would have a dire impact on the men of Killamarsh and elsewhere, many of whom worked hewing coal. During WW 2, it was not only a case of keeping house and home out of a miner’s wages, but somehow getting enough food to replace all the calories sweated and expended at the coal face. Apparently there were no extra ration coupons for miners, although pubs in industrial areas did get extra supplies of beer compared to less deserving areas.
So what solutions might have been available? Well one food source was a British Restaurant. Apparently these were introduced in 1940 to help people bombed out of their homes during the blitz. According to Wikipedia these offered affordable meals (maximum 9 pence) without the need for ration coupons. In Killamarsh, according to my recollection, one was established in Sheffield Road, almost opposite to Bridge Street. The Ordnance Survey maps dating from the 1900s to the 1930s show a building marked as a Mission at this location, so maybe the Mission was commandeered and turned into a British Restaurant (BR). Quite where the ovens would have come from is unknown to the writer. Mum did send me down to the BR once or twice to eat. However eating out was a scarce treat on an evacuated family’s income, so I did not go often to the BR. My recollections are that most customers were not dressed in workmen’s attire, so perhaps the restaurant did not cater for many mine workers. As it only opened from 12 noon to 2.0 pm, this is not surprising. The miner’s shifts were from 6.00 am to 2.00 pm, or from 2.00 pm to 10.00 pm or from 10.00 pm to 6.00 am. Thus it was not possible for two out of three shifts for a miner to finish work, get washed and then walk a mile from the colliery to the restaurant for dinner. However with respect to the third, nocturnal shift, if a man woke up at midday to go out and buy a BR dinner, then there is every reason not to wear his workday clothes, but instead dress in cleaner clothes for comfort, convenience and to enjoy lunch with his mates or his spouse.
So what other options were available. First there was a Fish and Chip shop in Sheffield Road, and our fishermen still braved the sea, despite enemy action against them as well as wind, weather, diesel shortages and other problems. Now in these postwar days the EU has decimated the UK’s fishing fleet more than the Luftwaffe did in WW2. Still fish and chips were available and doubtless many a wife walked to the fish shop, and then queued before returning home with her husband’s dinner. On Fridays, a man with a van brought fresh fish to the village. Maybe he got a petrol ration to deliver fish during WW2. However there were no household refrigerators in those days, so a housewife could only buy fish for one or two meals.
One extra that was perhaps coupon free was rabbit. Because of mixamatosis, rabbit is seldom available in butcher’s shops these days. However Mum often served up rabbit for dinner, so perhaps this tasty dish was a useful addition to wartime and post war diets. Corn beef and spam were also available and probably hoarded as items which might be kept for an even more severe fall in food supplies. Otherwise Britain coped during WW2. Ironically enough food and coal became more scarce after WW2. This was because devasted European countries had to be rebuilt by the victors. Bread Rationing was introduced for a while after WW 2. Sweets stayed on ration until about 1954. In 1960 at my place of work (the Ministry of Defence), I was placed to work under a new boss, a former German who had been arrested and transported to Britain after the fall of Germany in order to be interrogated about his knowledge of German munitions. He elected to stay in England because life and food was better here than it was in Germany after the fall. He did state that in the middle of WW 2, food supplies were better in Germany because they could pillage conquered countries. Then during the last few months of war and after the fall, Germany starved. From 1945 onwards, the burden fell on the UK to rebuild and feed Europe. In writing the above, what I am really stating is that the UK coped reasonably well during WW2, and certainly better than most of Europe for food and clothes.
Ironically until about 1943, ice cream was available in Britain and also petrol to propel a van to deliver and sell it. On the last day of sales, mum bought an ice cream for me from the van, which had parked next to the swings and roundabouts in a playground that was then located near where the Library and the Coop now stand. Not all the rides were available. A slide had had all the steps removed so that it was a foolhardy child who would ascend the slide using remaining bolt heads as foothold. In those days there were no Health and Safety Regulations. After all life was quite dangerous anyway, with blitzes in Sheffield, Coventry and other northern cities.
Still Sheffield recovered enough after the 1940 blitz for the two theatres to stay open or reopen. One Christmas, I was taken to a pantomime there. Chesterfield also had a theatre in the south bound road that still leads up a steep hill from the former Central Station. One of the stars of the shows at the Chesterfield theatre was Leon Cortez, whose act dissected and described plays such as Romeo and Juliet, written as he put it by “Me and Bill Shakespeare”. I went to ask for his autograph and commenced to speak with “Wotcha Cock” in my best London accent. “Are you pinching the act?” he retorted.
Chesterfield had a large department store. Well into the war years, the toy counter still offered Hornby toy trains including the 4-4-2 locomotives that my parents were unable to afford in those days. I used to gaze at these with longing. I still have my train set, some given to me before WW 2 and some afterwards, including the addition of a 4-4-2 locomotive and the less sharp curves to run it. The war years hit all wallets. Maybe that is why the store could still offer Hornby trains in wartime.
One summer afternoon, Mum took me to a circus at Staveley. We probably went by LNER train from the Central Station, as there was not a direct bus service at the time. Back to the Circus, the fact that this had staff, food for the animals and diesel fuel for the lorries showed that despite all the conscription into the Forces and the mines, it was still possible to devote some resources in the UK into entertainment.
If Britain did not starve in WW2, unlike mainland Europe, Russia and other occupied countries, this was only made possible by the efforts of the Merchant Navy, His Majesty’s Forces, and the countries in the British Empire which joined the struggle for King and Country . e.g. Canada, India, Rhodesia, Malta, Falkland Islands, Australia, New Zealand to name just some. Another factor was that the population and the mouths to feed were lower in WW2 than it is now.
This concludes all I can remember to add to the previous two chapters about an evacuee’s life in Killamarsh in WW2.