There are four main local history groups in the Ecclesfield Civil Parish area. All of which are involved in the Past & Present Archiving Project and members from each sit on the project steering group. Information about each of the groups is included below.
Chapeltown & High Green Archive
In the beginning ...
Perhaps the seeds were sown in 1979 when Joan Jones led an Adult Education class on the Local History of the High Green Area at what was then High Green Comprehensive School on Packhorse Lane (now Paces Campus). Over 30 people attended (including Ted Bellamy, later to become Chairman of the Archive). The course ran for two years and resulted in the book, Glimpses of High Green’s Past. In 1982 High Green in Times Past was published – a collaboration between Richard Clammer (a teacher at High Green School), Ted Bellamy and Joan Jones. A few years later Ted suggested that a permanent photographic archive relating to the Chapeltown and High Green area should be assembled and kept in the library at High Green School as a joint resource for local schools and the community. This was formally established in March 1987 when a small group of local history enthusiasts met and agreed to form the High Green Archive, named as such because it was located in High Green School.
The aim of the venture was to collect materials in the form of photographs, films, documents, artefacts and oral and written evidence relating to the economic and social history of the area. Due to staff changes at the school the location of the materials in the school became impractical and it was relocated and, at the request of Ecclesfield Parish Council (who gave £300 towards the first exhibition), it became known as the Chapeltown and High Green Archive so as to reflect more accurately the area of interest.
The Archive expands
As time went on the area of interest grew to include not only Chapeltown and High Green but also Ecclesfield, Grenoside, Birley Carr, Howbrook, Tankersley, Thorpe Hesley and Wentworth. Hundreds of people have helped by lending photographs for copying or donating material, by providing information about the photographs, by agreeing to be interviewed or by producing taped or written recollections. The aim was to mount regular exhibitions, to conduct research into local and family history, to publish a range of illustrated books and to provide a local source of study materials for the use of schools and the community. A wide variety of academic researchers also seek information from the Archive. The Archive was, and still is, a purely voluntary venture managed by a small committee – never more than seven and now with only three active members – Ted Bellamy, Joan Jones and Mel Jones. Others who have served as committee members are John Beddus, Anthea Greaves, Beryl Greaves, Trevor Lodge, Chris Morley and Val Sykes. Thousands of pounds have been raised over the years by charging small entrance fees to exhibitions, through the sales of books and photographs and through small grants. This has enabled us to fund the copying, printing and mounting of material purchase display stands and publish books.
Our first exhibition was held in October 1987 in High Green Comprehensive School. We put up a display of photographs donated by the family of the late Alan Boulton of Thorncliffe Lane, a draughtsman with Newton Chambers and a keen photographer together with copies of old photographs already collected. The support and interest from the community was overwhelming with over 400 visitors. Many residents brought additional personal photographic collections for copying. Refreshments were served (and cakes baked) by members of the Charles Square Centre in High Green – Clara Johnson, Freda Woodhead and Freda Sanderson. And so it all began.
This provided the impetus for the Archive’s first publication, Chapeltown and High Green – The War Years and an exhibition on the same theme in November 1988. The first film night took place the following year when films taken by the late Willie Thorne, a Chapeltown dentist, and donated by his son, Alan, were shown to a capacity audience. The programme covered the Festival of Britain Week, parades, War Weapons Week, a Home Guard pitched battle in the centre of Chapeltown, Whit sings and entertainment provided by Newton Chambers with performing dogs, trick cyclists and a memorable firework display. Other successful film nights followed. These films are now housed in York with the Yorkshire Film Archive. Many have been digitally enhanced and used in the television series, The Way We Were.
Little did the committee know how the collection would expand, how much support it would receive from the community and how its publications would be sent to all parts of the British Isles, to Canada, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. And 27 years after the formation of the Chapeltown and High Green Archive it has produced twenty-four illustrated books and the essays to accompany four Alan Godfrey Edition O.S. maps on Thorncliffe, Grenoside, Ecclesfield and Thorpe Hesley.
Most books (listed separately on this website) are now out-of-print and many are treasured possessions. Local newspaper reporters (Pat James from the South Yorkshire Times; Peter Harvey and Martin Dawes of The Star and Stephen McClarence and Malcolm Barker of the Yorkshire Post) have been very supportive and fulsome in their praise. Jane Tadman writing in the Sheffield Telegraph said of A Geography of Childhood by Jean Huddlestone that the book evoked ‘a rural upbringing .... a simple near idyllic childhood’ which was impressive ‘in its writing style and recollection of detail’. Pat James noted that Jean had ‘brought to life in the most charming fashion her family, friends and acquaintances and the customs and activities which filled her life with the descriptive powers of a poet ... she introduces us to the aromas of baking day, the inconvenience of wash day and the perfume of stored apples .... the book is a must for anyone’s shelf’. Another best-seller was The Remarkable Gatty Family of Ecclesfield. In his opening paragraph in the Yorkshire Post Stephen McClarence says ‘They lived in a vicarage in a Yorkshire village, spent much of their time writing, endured poor health and were among the best-known authors of the 19th century. And their name wasn’t Brontë. They were, as the title of an impressively researched book about them proclaims in its title, ‘remarkable’. This resulted in Joan and Mel being interviewed by Claire Jenkins for BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour in May 2003 and a 4-page illustrated article in the colour magazine of the Yorkshire Post. One other book which must be remembered is Voices of Ecclesfield, Grenoside, High Green and Chapeltown published to celebrate the Millennium. This book describes some of the social and economic history of Ecclesfield Civil Parish told with relish, great good humour and affection, and without a whiff of sentimentality by nearly 90 contributors.
Over the years we have mounted 28 major exhibitions and smaller ones too numerous to count. Venues have included the Newton Hall in Chapeltown, Ecclesfield and Chapeltown libraries, Lound School, St Saviour’s Church schoolroom in Mortomley, High Green School, the Gatty Hall in Ecclesfield, St Mark’s Church schoolroom in Grenoside, Kelham Island Industrial Museum, the Central Library in Sheffield and Sheffield Town Hall to name but a few. All our exhibitions have been well attended but the Newton Chambers exhibitions were tremendous with enthusiastic visitors, old work colleagues meeting and sharing stories, visits by local primary schools and super refreshments!
The exhibitions, which have often run for two or three days, have always been well attended with visitors from as far afield as Scotland, Northumberland, Essex, Somerset and Dorset. Local visitors sometimes come on two or three occasions. On the first day they find they haven’t time to look at the exhibition because they meet and talk to so many of their old friends that they haven’t seen for years (one visitor said it was like a Whitsuntide Sing, at which old friends could catch up with family news). On the second day they concentrate on the exhibition but because there are so many photographs on display (up to a thousand) and files of information to look through, and scrumptious refreshments (our caterers, Cynthia and Gordon Hindley, specialise in bacon sandwiches) they have to come on the third day to finish off.
The Archive now consists of more than 4,000 negatives and prints relating to the district, its people and industries. The photographic archive includes the extensive collection of negatives and prints of the late Alan Boulton, a set of forty large exhibition prints by the late Howard Briddon and two small but valuable collections of glass negatives donated by Bryan Dawson and Ivan Martin. Major additions have been made to the photographic collection by many local and former residents who have generously donated photographs or loaned them for copying.
The materials collected have also been widely used to support work in local primary schools and Care Homes, by Sheaf Project Y.T.S. trainees, by local and family historians and for articles in newspapers and magazines. In 2009 Joan assisted with background information for an award-winning BBC Radio 4 programme, Now Wash Your Hands (about Izal) and was interviewed by presenter, Sally Goldsmith. In 2012 we were asked by the Coterie Gallery at Paces Campus to lend them a wide selection of photographs of Newton Chambers for use in a series of art and craft workshops over the summer holidays. Over 100 children attended the workshops and this resulted in a splendid exhibition of the children’s work alongside Archive photographs. In 2013 two local pubs used Chapeltown and High Green Archive material in their refurbishments – the Wagon and Horses in Chapeltown and Meadow Farm in Ecclesfield.
And the next project? Digitising the material for the Ecclesfield District website!
Ecclesfield Conservation & Local History Group
to be inserted
Grenoside & District Local History Group
The Grenoside and District Local History Group was formed in 1997, having started life as a local education class. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in Grenoside and its surrounding area. The group’s aims are to hold events, collect material and publish information to stimulate the interest and knowledge of Grenoside. They also encourage and support individuals in their own research as well as developing group research. As a group they are also interested in hearing from people who no longer live in the area but have memories, memorabilia and photos of the area they would be willing to share.
The group meets every Tuesday between 10am and 12 noon from September to July, with the exception of school holidays, at the Grenoside Community Centre Lower Hall, Main St, Grenoside. Current subscription (2015) is £21 per annum, joint membership £39 per annum. Meetings range from workshops, informal meetings and visiting speakers who cover a wide range of local and family history subjects. The group also have visits to places of historical interest; duration of approximately 3- 6 hours. More information can be found on the group's website Grenoside Local History.
Heritage High Green
A group of people came together in January 2012 to form a local history group which they named Heritage High Green. The group's aims are to record, discuss and share various aspects of life in High Green and the surrounding area for the education and benefit of all. The group feels that by researching our past we can preserve it for the future. Local visits of interest are undertaken by the group enabling them to form a complete picture of the area. The group receives a lot of support and information from the local community. This is incorporated into our research which we display at exhibitions around the Parish throughout the year.
We hold our meetings on the first Thursday of every month through the year at the Ecclesfield Parish Council Offices' Alan Greaves Community Room, Mortomley Lane, High Green from 10am until 12.30pm and at present we have a full membership of 28 members.