Walkley History

News, events and discoveries of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project.

One or two stones out of place: detective work on Walkley rooftops


This is the ‘join’ in the roof line between two businesses on South Road.
On the left, Beeches of Walkley.
On the right, the Rowsha restaurant.

Behind the chimney you can just see the coping stones (on the gable of Beeches) crossing the ridge.

But… you can only see them because they have changed direction and headed off to the left.

In the shop at street level you can see the same angle in the wall behind Chris Beech’s counter.  Look in particular at the ceiling tiles to see how the space narrows towards the back of the building…


Squinting into the window of Rowsha’s you can see the reverse effect.

Lots of buildings in Walkley have quirky angles and curves. Is this one down to an eccentric builder, an incompetent surveyor, or does it have some other significance?

Take a look at an 1890 map…


The boundary curving down to South Road is what now divides Beeches and Rowsha. The Beeches building was built up against this boundary. The rear portion of the building had to be at an angle to respect it.

But where did the curve come from in the first place?

Back to 1873:


On this fairly poor map (the dark line is an old fold in the original) you can see the curve at the end of a long boundary which separates the Carr Road properties from Industry Street. This the boundary between two Freehold Land Societies, Fir View (1848) and 1st White House Freehold Land Society (created a few years later).

Now look at 1853…


Now the curve can be seen as the corner of a field which would soon become part of the White House Land Society.

Note the shape of the fields, and then look at this map:


This is William Fairbank’s 1795 map, based on his own 1791 Enclosure Map. In the centre of this rural landscape you can see the same fields, including the curving boundary at one corner.

One last step…


This is a detail from Martin Olive’s re-drawing of the enclosure map itself, with the field names and owners marked. If you are eating in Gerties or Rowsha’s you are in ‘Ten Acre Field’ (or one of them). If you are shopping in Beeches you are in ‘Great Lees Field’. (I‘m not sure why the field names are duplicated; owners: JC=Joseph Clay, CB=C Cope & Wm Bamforth).

So those shifting coping stones on the top of a late 19th century building are a ghostly survival of these old boundaries, which are probably centuries older than the oldest map shown here.


One comment on “One or two stones out of place: detective work on Walkley rooftops

  1. Wonderful research, thank you for this. Old maps and plans don’t get enough outings in my opinion. A pleasure to read.

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2013 by in General, Photographs.
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