SchooIdays - Memories and History
                     Pre 20th. Century

REMINISCENCES OF SHEFFIELD by R. E. LEADER

CHAPTER 08 - STREETS, SHOPS, WELLS, AND MARKETS.

WE have the testimony both of strangers and of residents as to the outward state of Sheffield and its streets in the eighteenth century. Horace Walpole, in a letter dated I760, speaks of the place, through which he had passed, as " one of the foulest towns in England, in the most charming situation." Long before the era of steam it had achieved that unenviable reputation for smokiness which, ever since, has been so sedulously fostered. As early as I747, it is spoken of affectionately as " Old Smoky Sheffield." In I764 the Rev. E. Goodwin noted that " from the great quantity of smoke occasioned by the manufactories, the newest buildings are apt soon to be discoloured"; and at the beginning of this century, when the futile talk which has contined to the present year of grace about compulsory consumption of smoke had already begun, Dr. Inchbald described it as a scene Where sooty tops of clacking tilts arise, Which heave their smoky volumes to the skies, Miss Anna Seward, too, who was born at Eyam Rectory in I742, and who died in I809, had written of " Sheffield smoke- involved, where dim she stands encircled by lofty mountains," and had indignantly called for blushes from the " venal genius " which had permitted its beauteous groves to be outraged, and Dryads and fair-hair'd Naiades to be frighted away by the hammers' din and the hoarse, rude throats of rattling forges. Mr. Hunter, writing from personal knowledge, speaks of the town of his youth as " but a mean place "; and Mr. Samuel Roberts (born I763) remembered the streets as in a very rude state in every respect. A few dirty, dull, oil lamps, far apart, and just within sight of one another, often not lighted or blown out, and supplemented at times by a farthing candle stuck in a shop window, served to make darkness more dark. The foot- paths were flagged with " grindle kowks," or stones of all shapes and sizes, except square, and often loose. From the house-roofs spouts projected, discharging their water in streams into the streets, or on to the heads of passers-by. Pigs were the principal scavengers, and they revelled in the garbage accumulated in the open channels, or gutters, which ran down the middle of the thoroughfares.* These were sometimes wide enough to need a bridge across them. A " little bridge " with a " rayling " was made at Barker's Pool in I622, and a stone bridge in I664. Truelove's Gutter also had its bridge, as we know from the repairs done to it in I697, and again in I7I4. James Wills, contrasting, in glowing terms, the improved state of things in I827, and appealing to those "veterans of Sheffield " whose memory went back for sixty years, refers to the open gutters thus: You remember the sinks in the midst of the streets; When the rain poured in torrents, each passenger greets His fellow with " What a wide channel is here, We shall all be drown'd I'm greatly in fear." For lately two lovers were sat on a rail On the edge of the sink, fondly telling their tale, When the flood wash'd them down in each others' embrace, For no longer the lovers could sit in that place; And hence True Love's Gutter,+ the name that was given, Because by the flood those two lovers were driven. ------------------ * Autobiography of Samuel Roberts, pp. I3, I7, 24. + The poet has here allowed his imagination to betray him into the very common sin of manufacturing fancy origins for place-names. True- love's Gutter was not so called from any such romantic incident, but, like many other streets, after one of those families which lived here, year in year out, for generations; and although we do not know which particular Truelove it was, who, through constructing the gutter or living in the street, had his name attached to the locality, there can be no doubt that this was its origin. A James " Trulove'' was a Burgery tenant as early as I596; Trueloves were regularly employed in the years from I707 to I735, doing smith's work in connection with repairs at the Church Gates, the Almshouses, the Workhouse, the Lady's Bridge, the Irish Cross, and other places under public control. The traditional family business of white- smith and locksmith, perhaps then, certainly from 1774 to at least I8I7, was carried on in High Street, a few doors above George Street, where the late Alderman Saunders had a music shop (afterwards absorbed in Messrs. Parkin's china warehouse), with a room up the court in whlch, before he had plunged deeply into public life, he instructed the youth of Sheffield in the intricacies of the mazy dance. That court was long known as Truelove's Yard. No Sheffield Directory from I774 to the present time, has been without its Trueloves. The I894 edition shows eight and that for I900 seven inhabitants still bearing this name. All old Sheffielders have been nurtured in the firm and unquestioning belief that the Castle Street of the present represents the Truelove's Gutter of the past. It has recently been suggested, as a deduction drawn from the order in which the streets were arranged for the rounds of the rate collectors of I790, that Truelove's Gutter was not Castle Street but Waingate. But there are certain peculiarities in the old rate books which prevent this from being regarded as by any means a sure guide; and the evidence that definitely proves what we now call Castle Street to have been Truelove's Gutter is overwhelming. The testimony of old street lists, old Directories and old inhabitants, no less than what is known of the residences of such well- known citizens as the Staniforths who lived in the same place both when it was called Truelove's Gutter and when it had been re-christened Castle Street, all make it impossible to admit any claim on behalf of Waingate to the name. That has always been Waingate, and nothing else. --------------------- A prominent place on the list of Sheffield's benefactors should be given to one whose name has been familiar for centuries, and is destined to live for centuries yet to come, but of whom we know absolutely nothing. In Barker, or Barker's, Pool, we have the first attempt to give to the inhabitants, beyond the wells situated in various parts of the town, a constant supply of pure water. The tradition is that one Barker, of Balm Green, took steps to make some sort of reservoir for the storage of the water supplied by springs, and it puts the date of the enterprise in the year I434. All we know certainly is that in the year named there was a " Barker of Balm," and that there had been a " William Barkar " in I379. " Barker Powle" is mentioned in a deed of I567, and in I570 the Burgery was "amerced" in the sum of 3s. 3d., paid as a fine, or rent, to the Lord of the Manor, for the pool. From this date until I786, the cleansing and keeping in order of the pool was acknowledged as one of the specific charges upon the town property. Indeed we may bring it to a later date than this; for after the pool, superseded by a more efficient water supply, had been removed as a nuisance in I793, the Town Trustees (I825) put up a pump near, and this remained, though in its latter days unused, until I876. PLAN OF BARKER POOL. goes here A glance at the plan on page 153* explains far better than words the topography of the space we call Barker Pool as it was when on the eve of being rebuilt. The pool was not, as many suppose, where Pool Square is. It was on the site of the property above (west of) that; bounded by the square on the east; by the main thoroughfare on the south; and by what lS now called Balm Green, but which is properly Flint Well, on the north. Across its west end ran a passage leading to Flint Well. This still exists. There abutted on the north and west walls of the pool some mean tenements, insanitarily suggestive. The pool was an oblong, walled space, about 36 yards by 20, not quite right-angled, for it was slightly wider at its upper than at its lower, or eastern end. It did not run exactly on the lines of the present erections, which were placed over it corner-wise, with a frontage due south, not south-west, as was the case with the pool. Thus its lower, or south- eastern corner, where the entrance gate was placed, facing Fargate, projected over what is the present footpath, opposite the offices occupied by Messrs. Cocking formerly Alderman Mycock's house. Above the pool, and separated from its western wall by the narrow lane before mentioned, two detatched blocks of property, divided by a " jennel," filled the space to Blind Lane (Holly Street). The southern of these was of erratically irregular shape. Starting opposite the west corner of the pool, it ran sharply, in a south-westerly direction, to the top of Coal Pit Lane. It will thus be seen that it lay right across what was destined to be the entrance to Division Street. As a matter of fa~, it obstructed direct access to that street later than I823. This obtrusive block had at some time been dumped down in promiscuous fashion on Balm Green, despite --------------- . * KEY TO PLAN OF BARKER POOL. P. 153. 1. John Smith. 8. Jonathan Moore's Tenements. 2. Thomas Sayles. 9 James Creswick's Tenements. 3. Thomas Lennet. IO. Malin Gillot and others' Tenements. 4. Edward Brownell. II. Allen and White. 5. Christopher Oates. 12. Richard Ibberson. 6. Edward Alanson. I3. John Lindley's Freehold. 7. Thomas Maxfield and others. 14. Tenements on Town Land ---------------- the wise resolve of the Burgery to keep the sources of supply free from contamination by decreeing (I658): " That the parcel of ground lying and being before the newe dwelling house of George Flint, and at the south end of John Stones house, in Balm greene, shall not bee lett to any person whatsoever, nor be made use of at any time hereafter for any purpose whatso- ever, but that the same henceforth shall continue wast as formerly." It took more than a century to wipe out the ill consequences of a departure from that decision, and to get back the open space we see to-day. After the encroachment on " the waste," the old name was applied, as is shown on the plan, to two sides of the obliterated green. As early as I572 we read of expenditure in walling the pool, in making a shuttle to run off the water into the channels by which it was conducted to the lower parts of the town, and so to the river. This channel necessitated the provision of a "little bridge," railed, by which foot passengers could cross; and the maintenance of this, together with repairs to the pool, and " feyinge," that is cleansing it, was a constant duty. In I6I5 Ellis Young, who had been Town Collector and Churchwarden, gave £5 if the people of Sheffield would make a channel to convey the water from Barker Pool down the town, where need shall be. And the accounts show that considerable work was done at the pool at that time. "Worke about Barker poole sough" and " Opening the sow at the poole" are subsequent entries, and on old maps the space in Fargate, about the position of the Monolith, is marked as ~ Sough mouth." The corner hard by, of Pinsoncroft (or Pinchercroft) Lane (Pinstone Street), was known as Colley Nook. In I63I Robert Rollynson, mercer, a notable benefactor, made improvements in the pool so extensive as to amount to a reconstruction. Accorz,ding to the tablet to his memory, formerly in the chancel of' the Parish Church, he, " at his own cost, made a large pool, walled in, at the upper end of the town, to receive water from certain springs, which may be let out to run down the channels upon any occasion of fire." In I672-4 large sums were laid out in further enlarging and improving this important source of supply, and frequent charges for locks and keys show how jealously it was guarded against intrusion and defilement. At the same time, "The way against it and the trowes in the Colepitt lane " were put in order. lt would appear that Barker Pool was, on occasion, used for ducking termagants, for in the constables' accounts for I654 there is a charge for "bringing the cuck stoole (from Lady's Bridge) up to Barker Poole." Apart from Barker Pool and pumps on their own premises, the townspeople were dependent on the public wells for water. It was largely the fear lest, with a growing population, these should be exhausted by the coal pits in the neighbourhood, which "are daily in the habit of laying dry the wells and pumps," that stimulated attempts to obtain a larger and more constant supply. Throughout the eighteenth century efforts were made to this end. The first efficient step was to convey water from the dams at Whitehouse (Upperthorpe); then the natural capacities of Crookes Moor were utilised; and these were the germs out of which our present great system has grown, every extension of the town being met by pushing further and further afield for sources of supply. Towards the end of the century Barker Pool had fallen from its high place as a reservoir for drinking purposes, and had become merely useful for flushing the open channels which served as sewers, and for extinguishing fires. James Wills describes what it was in its last days: The Barker's Pool noted for nuisance indeed, Green over with venom, where insects did breed, And forming a square, with large gates to the wall, Where the Rev. Charles Wesley to sinners did call.: We get our best description, however, of the part played in the local economy by the ancient pool, at what was called "Top o' t' Town," from the autobiography of Mr. Samuel Roberts. There he gives a vivid account of the excitement caused among the residents in the streets down which the channels passed when the periodical flushings afforded opportunity for a general cleaning-up: " All the channels were then in the middle of the streets, which were generally in a very disorderly state, manure heaps often lying in them for a week together. About once ever quarter the water was let out of Barker Pool, to run into all those streets into which-it could be turned, for the purpose of cleansing them. The bellman gave notice of the exact time, and the favoured streets were all bustle, with a row of men, women, and children on each side of the channel, anxiously and joyfully awaiting, with mops, brooms, and pails, the arrival of the cleansing flood, whose first appearance was announced by a long, continuous shout. All below was anxious expectation; all above, a most amusing scene of bustling animation. Some people were throwing the water up against their houses and windows; some raking the garbage into the kennel; some washing their pigs; some sweeping the pavement, youngsters throwing water on their companions, or pushing them into the wide-spread torrent. Meanwhile a constant, Babel-like uproar, mixed with the barking of dogs and the grunting of pigs, was heard both above and below, till the waters, after about half an hour, had become ex- hausted. " On the occasion of fires, the water was also let off; and to make it available leathern buckets were hung in the church (also given by Robert Rollynson) and in the Town Hall. By I703 the Town Trustees had improved on this by providing a fire engine. This costly and not very efficient instrument, constantly in need of repair, was kept in " an old deformed building" on the north side of the chancel of the Parish Church. It was occasionally taken out for practice at the cost of one shilling, with another shilling for " filling the engine with water when played." Other engines, no doubt of an improved type, were provided from time to time, until in the present century they were handed over to the Fire Insurance Companies, and ultimately were sold at a break-up price of £30. The sites of some of the notable wells, which formed an important part in the life of the community, are now completely lost. Where, for instance, were Bretland (or Brytlande), or Burntland, or Robinson's, or Webster's Wells ? Others are still remembered, or can be identified by their names. There was the Townhead Well; the well at the Church Gates; Burnt Tree Well, and Brocco Well (near the Barrel Inn, Edward Street). In Water Lane there were a well and troughs; also in Newhall Street, near the Horse Dyke; and at Upperthorpe, where Addy Street now is, supplied with famous water from Crookes Moor. What is sometimes called " the well by Colston Croft side " is probably the Bower Spring Well, for this is occasionally described as in Colston Crofts. It, too, was noted for the excellence of its water, which came down Furnace Hill. The Westbar Green or Workhouse Well had a memorial until recent times in the old pump; and in New Street there still is, or was until very recently, a dilapidated pump marking where had been what was sometimes called New Street Well, and sometimes Figtree Well. The Barker Pool pump may be taken as a dual repre- sentative of Barker Pool and of Flint Well. There were wells, too, in Scotland Street, also marked in later times by a pump; and at Tobacco Box Cottage, in St. Philip's Road; and at the Ponds. Broomhall Spring was, until the beginning of the present century, a wood of fine oak trees, extending from Wilkinson Street to Broomhall Park, and perpetuated in the name Broom Spring Lane. A spring remained long after the trees had gone to make heart-of-oak battleships, and on the stone over the trough was, up to I836, this inscription: " Spring Garden Well. To the public use, by the Rev. James Wilkinson and Philip Gell, Esq. Freely takeÑfreely communicateÑthank God." Its site is now enclosed in the garden of the house at the corner of Gell Street and Conway Street. Little Sheffield and High Field had their wellsÑthe former, at least, being superseded in I827 by a pump, erected chiefly through the exertions of the Overseers, and by subscriptions, Earl Fitz- william contributing £20. " This pump," says a contemporary record, " will be a great accommodation to that part of the town, they having had to procure their supply of water from an open well, which was often subject to nuisance. A reservoir has been made connected with the pump, capable of containing about IO,OOO gallons, which will afford a supply for the summer months." Up to the beginning of the seventeenth century the duty of keeping the streets clean was thrown upon the inhabitants individuallyÑwith very unsatisfactory results. The records of the Sembly Quest, or Great Court Leet, are, in I609, full of penalties incurred by those who neglected to "scowre" the ditches by their houses. Thus: " Item, a payne laid that those howsholders dweling in Church layne, between Widow Jackson's howse and George Fox, his howse, before Penticost next shall remoove take and carry all such myre, smythie-sleck and filth, being in the townes streate against ther howses, every one so far as ther howse reacheth. And from this tyme forth keepe the said street clensed every one against ther own howse, and not to cast any sweepeinges of ther howses, smythies-sleck, or other things that shall hinder the water passage, in payne of every one of them to forfeit xs. . . . Item, a payne laid that no howsholder within the towne of Sheffeild shall leave any dung hils before the dores, either in streets or laynes, but scower and carry them away before Penticost next, in payne of every default iijs. iiijd. It is not until I623 that indications appear of a recognition of corporate responsibility for sanitary arrangements, and these are limited to paying, first four shillings, then six, and after- wards seven shillings a year " for sweeping the Lady Bridge and the pavement at the Church gates." At the beginning of the next century a scavenger, otherwise " scafinger," was employed at the munificent yearly salary of I3S. 4d., but there were special charges also for " leading away " the rubbish he accumulated, for cleansing channels, for buying a " muck dragg and cow-rake to fey the Truelove's Gutter with," and so forth. In I769 there was paid to "some colliers for cleaning True- love's Gutter £I IIS. 6d.," and by I775 James Turton received £2 IOS. a year for cleaning the streets. Later on, more was done by the authorities, and less left to the personal efforts of the householders: so that by I795 the yearly contract was for £80 and the manure, and in I8IO this was increased to £Ios. Nay, by that time there were even germinating some elementary ideas as to street watering. In I80I John Hall was paid 8s. "for fitting a,~ old cask for the scavengers to water the streets." It is not surprising that the streets were badly made, for under an Act passed r3th George III., "for the amendment and preservation of the highways," we find inhabitants liable to be called upon to give personal service for their repair. Thus, in I783, one Joseph Frier is " required by yourself, or by one sufficient labourer, provided with a mattock and a spade, to attend at the market cross, within the town of Sheffield, on the II, I2, I3, I4, 15, and 16 days of August next, by six o'clock in the morning of each day, in order to perform for eight hours of each day such duty upon the highways within the said township as shall be required by the Surveyor, and for every day's default therein you forfeit one shilling and sixpence." The first mention of street lamps occurs in I734, when they were resolved upon at a meeting at Mrs. Horsfield's, with the amelioration of 4s. 6d. spent in celebrating the occasion in drink. They began in a very modest way. Oil was an important element in the cost of their maintenance, and lighting them was so serious a matter that John Fymar had to be provided with " a frock to light the lamps in " at a cost of 8s. 3d. When increasing the number of lamps in I747, the freeholders decided that " for the more effectually lighting the town and preventing any disorders being committed in the night, such a quantity of oil shall be agreed to be used in every one of the lamps, as well new as old, as that the lights thereof may continue all the night or the greatest part thereof. And it be likewise agreed that the person employed by the Town Collector for the time being to light, clean, and take care of the lamps shall be allowed a yearly sallary of four pounds." We read of lamp posts being bought in I752, and by I778 the yearly upkeep amounted to £72 sS. But even in I809 the lamps, inefficient as they were, were only lighted in the winter monthsÑfor one hundred nights between the I9th September and the 25th of March. The streets remained in darkness when, by the calendar, there was expected to be a moonÑa state of things which continued, as many of us can remember, long after the introduction of gas. By the year just mentioned the number of street lamps had increased to 599, and Mr. Thomas Milner contracted to light them for the hundred nights, to furnish them with good and proper cotton, oil, tow, and any other requisite, and to take the risk of all breakages of glasses, repairs of taps, etc., at IIs. 4d. each lamp for the season. But away from the very centre of the town, if the inhabitants desired the luxury of feeble oil lamps, they had to provide and keep them by their own exertions. The Town Trustees subscribed five guineas annually in assistance to the inhabitants of th~ Wicker to light lamps there, and they gave donations of a like amount towards lighting the lamps in Ecclesall Bierlow and " on Bridgehouses." Mr. Thomas Walker, tinman, who bought and refronted the Angel Inn after Peech's decease, was the pioneer in the introduction of gas. It needs some effort of the imagination to realise how few, towards the end of the eighteenth century, were the shops of the town. Those with any pretension were all situated in some half-dozen streetsÑHigh Street, Market Place, the Irish Cross, Truelove's Gutter, Bull Stake, and Pudding Lane. In Waingate, Westbar, Fargate, Campo Lane, and Church Lane there were, indeed, a few shopkeepers; but while what we now know as the CTofts were the chief seat of the staple trades and the habitations of those engaged in them, the streets just named were, for the most part, also occupied by cutlers. Church Lane, in I774, was mainly occupied by makers of files, scissors, razors, spring-knives, edge-tools, shears, and the like. The Directory of that year shows two grocers and a milliner in Fargate, one or two factors and merchants, but a score or so of the fabricators of cutlery and allied wares. From the prominence of the names of shopkeepers in places of trust and public enterprise, it is evident that they ranked quite as high as local manufacturersÑperhaps almost higher than any but the largest. The trade of "mercer" seems to ' have been one held in especial respect. But their shops, like the rest of the town, were poor and homely. Until I900 there were still standing, in Snighill, though in a terribly dilapidated condition, the last of the old gabled houses, of timber and plaster, which once gaverthe streets of Sheffield some appear- ance of medizeval picturesqueness. One or two of these will also be remembered at the top of High Street, facing the Church Gates; and at the corner of Change Alley. But already, in the middle of the eighteenth century, buildings of this character had largely given place to the plain and unemotional brick fronts, mere walls with square holes for windows, which were the type of our relentlessly matter-of-fact street architecture until recent years. A few of the more ambitious tradesmen relieved the mono- tony of their frontages, and got greater space for displaying their wares, by indulging, on the gound floor, in the luxury of bay windows, or of windows with curved sashes with small panesÑfor the days of large sheets of plate glass had not yet dawned. Of this description was what had long pre-eminence as the chief draper's shop in the town, Mr. Vennor's, after- wards Mr. Butcher's, at the west corner of York StreetÑin modern days, before the London and Yorkshire Bank put up a new building, Mr. Stacey's music shop. As was not unusual, there were steps leading up into it, but not, as in some cases, projecting on to the pavement. Of similar type were the shop in Church Street, where flour had been sold by the Woollen family, one after another, from before the making of Orchard Street to our own time; Bolland's tinware shop and Whitaker's stationery and patent medicine store, in Far- gate; and the druggist's shop of Mr. Radley, between Change Alley and the George. Shops of this class still linger. There is one at the Norfolk Street end of Change Alley, where the Woodcocks have carried on the business of brushmakers for more than a hundred years. Another is Messrs. Mart and Chapman's, grocers, in Castle Street, long known as Mr. Charles Hoole's. These and their fellows, of a type becoming rarer and rarer every year, betrayed a stern belief in utilitarian convenience, and a shrewd avoidance of an attractiveness which, among the old race of shopkeepers, was regarded as the first step on the road to ruin. The flashy cheapness of to-day would have filled them with abhorrence. They relied on regular customers for support, not always cordially welcoming chance purchasers; but there was that in the appearance of their shops which gave assurance of honest treatment and sound goods at prices fair to both seller and buyer. Any who wanted cheap articles were chiefly dependent on the stalls fixed up in the streets on market days. These were, indeed, the main sources of supply to the working population. There they bought not only their supplies of food, but their pots and pans and their wearing apparel. One much-prized sign of the highest shopkeeping respect- ability was, where the building stood at all back from the street, to have an enclosure of post and chains. Such was the arrangement in front of the Heatons' ironmongery shop at the Church Gates (afterwards Mr. Benjamin Walker's, confec- tioner, where now Pawson and Brailsford's stands), and its neighbours as far as York Street. The premises of the Younges, further down High Street, were similarly dis- tinguished, and so was Mr. Shore's house at the Irish Cross, or, as we would now say, at the corner of Angel Street and Bank Street. The markets, as they existed from the re-building in I786 to I85I, when the Norfolk Market Hallwas opened, have been frequently described, and are remembered by so many of our older townsfolk, that it is hardly necessary to dwell on them here. What, as less known, is of greater interest is to en- deavour to recall the conditions which existed prior to the earlier date. Details of the negotiations between the leading inhabitants and the Earl of Surrey, which led to an Act of Parliament be- ing obtained in I784 for the improvement of the markets, are in existence. Amid a multitude of proposals for the best way of utilising the space, they make clear the topography of the old Market Place, and throw much light on the manner in which it was occupied. The accompanying plan (page I64) will give the reader a far better idea of the curiously irregular arrangement of the old market buildings and the surrounding streets than can be obtained from any verbal description. The lines of the numerous market tenements, and of King Street and the Fruit Market, show a survival of the happy-go- lucky indifference of the old days to symmetry, and of the manner in which houses were placed anyhow, according to the fancy of the builders and the long-suffering of their neigh- bours. The Market Cross stood at the top, not in the centre, but somewhat nearer to Change Alley than to King Street, and below it the wooden sheds or stalls of the butchers ran, some down, then others across. As Wills says: The shambles, most dismal, were then made of wood, The sheds of the stalls, almost closing amain, Form'd an archway for customers out of the rain; Down the centre a channel the filth to convey; And some lighted candles, almost at midday. The more permanent erections, of all shapes and sizesÑsale- shops, workshops, houses, warehouses, brew-houses, and what notÑoccurred below them in the most promiscuous manner, now receding, now projecting, and occasionally separated by narrow passages. One block, the shop of Mr. Robert Lam- bert, grocer, at the north-west corner of King Street, stood boldly detached, with thoroughfares all round. Below it, the buildings on both sides of the present Shambles area trended east by north, making the bottom end of Pudding Lane (King KEY IO PLAN OF MARKET PLACE IN I784, P. I64. I. and II. Robert Lambert's Freehold. III. and IV. Church Burgesses' Freehold. V. Town Burgesses' Freehold. All the remainder, Earl of Surrey's Freehold. Tenants:Ñ I. Ann Genn. I7 William Jeeves. Joseph Hancock. I9. Andrew Taylor. 2. Robert Swann. 20. Thomas Longden, or Robert 3. Joseph Vickers. Lambert. 4. John Bingley. 2I. Isaac Birks, or Robert Lambert. 5, 6, IO, I4, 28. Empty. 22. Isaac Birks, Brewhouse 7. William Woolmer. 23. Joshua Roberts orWm Wright 8. John Barber. 24. Samuel Goodlad 9. Late Hannah Firth's (Grocer) 25. William Champion. Warehouse. 26. Geo. Swan and Alex. Smith or II. John Hardy. Jos. Matthewman and Wm. I2 and I8. Peter Cockayne. Burton. I3 John Swinden and John Wilson 27. JosephMachin I5. William Walmsley. 29. William Wiley. I6 Dan White, or Thomas Hirst. 30. Robert Lambert, Grocer. Other tenants, sites not indicated: George France, Joseph Mower,Ñ Gregory. N.B.ÑAlternative names represent changes in tenancy, or perhaps tenant and owner. Street) very narrow where it joined Bull Stake (Old Hay- market), while on the other (now Fitzalan Square) side, the buildings receded so far as to leave an open space used as the Swine Market, and opposite to this (afterwards Market Street) stood the gruesome slaughter-housesÑ" a nuisance to all that pass'd by the place." The ownership was not less mixed and complicated than the planning. To the Town Trustees belonged the whimsically shaped holding, V., which, with frontages Lo the Swine Market on the one hand, and to King Street on the other, meandered through the Town Burgesses' plots, numbered III. and IV. on the plan. Then Robert Lambert held the freehold of I., and of a block (II.) completely wedged in, except for one small corner, by the buildings of the Earl of Surrey, who owned all not above specified. The claims of four owners had lhus to be reckoned with before any harmonious improvement could be carried out. Eventually, by exchange or purchase, the whole came into the Earl's hands. Various schedules were prepared showing the numbers of persons who had shops, houses, stalls fixed, and standings removable in the Market. It is not always possible to har- monise the figures in the different statements, nor is it perhaps of much consequence. What is of interest is the various avocations of their occupiers. Thus the tenants of houses included dyers, coopers, fruiterers, hardwaremen, hatters, gardeners, breeches-makers, and flax-dressers. There is rmention, too, of an inn called " The Coach and Six," on the site of which it was proposed to build corner shops. Stalls and standings were occupied, in addition to the trades already mentioned, by pelt-mongers, shoemakers, tanners, hucksters, hosiers, hatters, fishmongers, staymakers, one bookseller, and, of course, butchers. Seventy-six stalls are enumerated as standing in the streets adjoining the Markets, and High Street, up to the Church Gates, was lined with the stalls of vendors of many of the commodities above specified, but more especially of earthenware, interspersed with old shoes, ginger- bread, cheese, and bacon. There stood, too, carts with fruit and garden-stuff. Each tradesman had his position exactly defined. Thus there were three " before the front of Mr. Bayley's house," four in front of Mr. Wreaks's, and so on. These, with the addition of farmers' wives, with their baskets of butter and eggs, round the Market Cross, indicate the state of things on market days. At the fairs there were, in addition, 28 cheesemongers and farmers with cheese, 60 clothiers, linen-drapers, sellers of gingerbread; toys and hard- ware " too numerous to mention." One list has been preserved which indicates the whole of the salesmen in the town occu- pying the property of the Lord of the Manor, and it is worth quoting. Shops in the Shambles, 38; stalls in the Market, movable, 45; shops in different parts of the town, 5; stalls in the public streets, 7; shops under their dwelling-houses (in High Street, Fargate, Burgess Street, Townhead Cross, etc.), I3; total, I08. There is a notion that the market arrangements above des- cribed had come into vogue as an improvement on the earlier state of things existing up to about the middle of the century. It has been asserted that prior to that time the parish stocks (afterwards removed to the Church Gates), and the pillory, had been contiguous to the Market Cross, which is said to have been rebuilt in I568, and again in I74I about the time when the Townhead Cross was taken down. This, how- ever, is tradition rather than history, and all we can say with certainty is that any earlier change in the markets must have taken place before I736, because Gosling's plan shows the state of things which continued until I786 as already in exist- ence in that year. We are not, however, wholly without glimpses of more ancient trading incidents. Thus, in I578, the town miller was punished heavily by the Jury of the Sem- bly Quest for using a toll-dish of more generous dimensions than was allowed by ancient'custom, and so taking an undue share of the corn brought to him to grind; and about the same period Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, although enforcing resolutely the privilege of requiring his tenants to have their corn ground at the lord's mill, showed himself in other res- pects to be an enlightened free trader; for, in I608, he issued this edict: " Whereas the town of Sheffeld consisteth of handicrafts- men in greate numbers who have no means to make their pro- vision but only in the markett, and that the cuntrie there- aboutes affoardeth not sufficient stoare of white meates, chiefly butter and cheese to serve that towne, and that there is one Elizabeth Heywood, of Sheffeld, widowe, an honest substan- ciall woman, who resoarteth to the toune of Ashbourne, and diverse other markettes where there is extraordinary quantities of those kind of vi~ualles by reason of the fertilitie and good- ness of the soile adjoyninge; and there buyinge such stoare of butter and cheese as shee is able, bringeth the same to Shef- feld, where she uttereth them, whereby she benefitteth both the places where she buyeth them, and likewise the saide Toune of Sheffeld, where she uttereth them. And yet never- theles is troubled by certeyne promoters who rather seeke their owne benefitt than any good to the cuntrie. I have thought good att the said widowe's request, hereby to signifie to the better sort that my opinion is shee doethe no harme, but much good in this her soe doinge, and doe wish that shee might not bee anie more causlesly troubled as heretofore shee hath beene. " Given at Sheffeld lodge this fourteenth daie of February, " G1LL. SHREWSBURY " If the markets had undergone beneficial change before the middle of the century, they were assuredly fully ripe for further extension and amelioration in I784. The Shambles (using the word, as was and is the Sheffield custom, in its original sense of a place not for killing, but as the stalls where meat is exposed for sale) were swept away, along with the slaughter-houses, which were relegated to Lady's Bridge, while the cattle and swine were sent to the Wicker. All the old tenements were removed, the streets were widened and lheir frontages straightened, and there arose the buildings so many of us remember as exisling prior to the erection, in I855, of the Shambles of to-day. The curious reader may see the west front of the I786 Markets, in Martin's engraving, repro- duced in Mr. S. O. Addy's fac-simile reproduction of Gales and Martin's I787 Directory. It was not an imposing edifice. One story high, it had, close together in the middle, two doors, with semi-circular fanlights, leading into shops, in one of which Messrs. Thompson sold books, while in the other Mr. Burden dealt in toys. The windows, broad but low, with small panes of glass, were separated from the doors by two attached pillars supporting an architrave, and forming a central compartment. Beneath the cornice of this, above the doors, was a tablet bearing a Latin inscription recording the erection of the Market and the removal of the killing shambles to the river- side. The architrave was surmounted by a figure of Justice, blindfolded, holding in her left hand scales, and in her right a spear. This was executed by one Waterworth, of Doncaster. She was afterwards removed to watch over the Corn Exchange, which, built in I830, has in turn given place to a larger structure. Beyond the windows, on either hand, came the archways leading into the Shambles. The whole elevation was completed by two small shops, connected with the central frontage by a cornice, at the corner of King Street and opposite Change Alley respectively. In the former of these, Mr. William Cockayne, grandfather or great-grandfather of the drapers in Angel Street, sold flax. It was the rende~vous of so many of the town gossips that it came to be known as " the weighhouse "Ñthe place where the concerns of their neighbours were discussed and criticised by the knowing ones. When Mr. Cockayne crossed over to what was the nucleus of the present huge ere~ion in Angel Street, the shop at the Shambles head was occupied by Mr. Stokes, a cheesefactor. The corresponding corner, opposite Change Alley, was a butcher's shop. In much later times, in these corner shops were Messrs. Fisher, Holmes, and Co., and Mr. Fisher Godwin, nurserymen. In front of the west facade, thus described, a semi-circular space was enclosed by chains, suspended from posts. Here, early in the day, the Corn Market was held. That over, the vendors of all manner of wares took possession. The butter- women had been, for the most part, sent from the site of the removed Market Cross to the bottom of the Shambles. The south side was most largely affected by vegetable dealers, and the north by the fishmongers; but mingled with them were the stalls of the sellers of many heterogeneous articles. The new market buildings had not, in fact, greatly altered the outside merchandise. At the bottom of High Street, the prentice lads and cutlers could accommodate themselves with " leather dicks " (breeches) at Davenport's stall, placed in front of his shop, or they could get them at Ellis Grant's, within the chains at the top of the Market. In Pudding Lane (King treet) the Johanna men sold paper-covered trunks in close proximity to old Milly Lowther's fish stall. Molly Rawson, another fishwife, sold her wares facing Change Alley end, wbile Billy Wright stood mending shoe buckles or knee buckles, and matching odd ones, opposite the Hartshead Passage. There, too, were old women, wearlng great coats and leather pockets, with their meal tubs, selling meal by the peck. As Wills has it: Not fifty years since at the Market Place head Were the broad shallow tubs to sell oatmeal for bread. The BarkersÑthree little men in top-bootsÑwere well known among the keepers of shoe stalls, which congregated at the top of the Shambles. Even books could be had here by the few who cared for them. Old James Cade, who kept a stall of this kind by the right-hand gateway of the Market, and who lived in the " King and Miller " Yard, Norfolk Street, was a well- known character, with a reputation for uprightness which died with him. So much for the outside of the Market. As to the inside- the shopping housewife, going in either by the front or the lateral entrances, found herself in the meat market. The chief butchers' shops, running along each side, were under a colon- nade, made by a projecting upper storey, supported by pillars. In the middle were two rows of wooden stalls, where inferior meat, or offal, was sold. The bottom end was appropriated by the vendors of butter, eggs, and poultry. This interior, by contrast with what had preceded it, excited the admiration of the enthusiasiic Wills, who exclaimed " But now, who of Shambles can make equal boast?" In truth, however, even the most charitable must, in their re- collections of the past, admit that it was all rather squalid. On the King Street side, facing the old Debtors' Gaol, was " the Roundabout House," where Joesy, alias " Fussy " Eyre, Market Keeper and Constable, held sway, and tolled the bell which signified that the time had come when sales might begin. By that bell hangs a tale which became famous in local annals. The lively young assistants in Mr. Thomas Porter's* gro- cery shop, over the way, tied a string to the market-bell and, late at night when all was quiet, startled and horrified the in- dignant " Fussy " by vigorous ringing. A ballad, long popu- lar,+ poured ridicule on the angry market-keeper by its descrip- tion of his futile efforts, aided by his dog " Turk," to catch the offenders, whom he supposed to be on the premises. " Hey Turk," became a bye-word. It was chalked up so persistently on all the walls, and was heard so continuously in the streets, hat poor Eyre's life became a misery. The old Debtors' Gaol, up to I8I8, when it was happily removed as an antiquated scandal, was the chief feature on the north side of King Street. The Wharncliffe Hotel now occu- pies its site. Built of stone, it was the prison for the Liberty of Hallamshire, and the property of the Duke of Norfolk. There were windows facing the street on two storeys, and from each of these an inmate, told off by his companions for the purpose, solicited the contributions of passers-by. From the ground-floor window a tin box was thrust for the coppers of the charitable, and a similar receptacle from the upper floor was hung by a string. People were incarcerated there for ridicu- lously small debts, and often for alehouse scores. In spite of the filthiness of the gaol, the prisoners, who were allowed to receive visitors so freely that the place was often thronged, took their lot very philosophically. They could, if they liked, carry on their trades; and you might hear cutlers and file- cutters hammering away as if in their own shops. Friends brought the materials, and took away the articles when ----------------- * Mr. Porter is described as a chandler and flax-dresser in the I774 Directory. In I787, the firm was Porter and Newton grocers. In I797, they are grocers and chandlers." + Reminiscenccs of 01d Sh~cld, 2nd edition, p. 92. ---------------- finished, and they also supplied the prisoners with food. The latter were divided into two classes, the fees for what was called the " High Court " being 25S., and in the " Low Court " only 6d. There was, in addition, "garnish," 2S. 6d. for the High Court, with which coals, candles, and soap were bought for the common benefit of the prisoners. The Low Court garnish was IS. 2d., but there the inmates found their own straw and firing. There were men and women whose debts did not exceed 40s., an incarceration of three months being held to exonerate them from their liabilities. They both worked and slept in two small rooms; and Nield, who visited the place in 1802, says these were " filthy beyond description." He found the little courtyard, with damp earthern floor, into which the windows of the rooms looked through iron gratings, occupied by prisoners of both sexes; and at the time of his visit, on a Sunday, they were sifting cinders, the ashes of which they sold for three shillings a load.* The High Court prisoners were accommodated slightly better, in rooms which, though still squalid, showed some improvement on the state of things reported upon by Howard, the prison philanthropist, at an earlier period, when there were only two rooms, used at night for inmates of both sexes. Nield found that not only was there no chaplain, but the prisoners received no religious attention whatever. It was the duty of Mr. Moorhouse, surgeon to the Overseers of the poor, to visit the sick. There were stirring times at the prison in I79I, when the rioters who burnt the library of Vicar Wilkinson, at Broom Hall, and set his stacks on fire, attacked the gaol, destroyed the doors and windows of the house of the gaoler, Godfrey Fox, and liberated the prisoners.+ This was the Godfrey Fox who had been landlord of the Rein Deer, at the top of Waingate. Being unsuccessful there, the Duke of Norfolk made him " gaoler and liberty bailiff," in succession to one Matthew Pollard, also landlord of the Norfolk Arms. Fox was succeeded by Thomas Smith, constable. He, like Pollard, combined with ---------------- * Remarks on the Prisons of Yorkshire" Gentleman's Magazine, I805 (IXXV. p. 30I). + See ante, p. 60. ---------------- his official duties the responsibilities of vi~tualler, at the Royal Oak, just below. This, with the shop of Mr. Newham, chemist, remains yet as a memorial of the King Street of the past. When the Gaol was pulled down, Smith and the prisoners were removed to premises in Scotland Street, con- verted from a merchant's warehouse into a Gaol, and still standing, although long ago turned to other purposes. Smith lived in a house adjoining, until, becoming landlord of the Blue Boar, Westbar, Joseph Kirk succeeded him at the Scotland Street Gaol. After I8I8, the space King Street Gaol had occupied was used by fruit dealers and fish salesmen, and was called " The Green Market."

******************************************************************************** * This out of copyright material has been transcribed by Eric Youle, who has * * provided the transcription on condition that any further copying and * * distribution of the transcription is allowed only for noncommercial * * purposes, and includes this statement in its entirety. Any references to, * * or quotations from, this material should give credit to the original * * author(s) or editors. * ********************************************************************************

 
Back to Chapter Index

Home Page