Walkley History

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

Memories of 1936 – 1948


Mick Dowse and his brother and sister in the 1940s

Mick Dowse writes about his time as a child living at Bloor St, Walkley, between 1936 and 1948. They moved into the ex-Walkley Liberal Club premises, kept the front room for best, shopped in beer-off and grocers ‘s at the top of Blake St and moved to Parson Cross n 1948. Though their house was at the opposite end of Bloor St from the 1941 bomb hit on the corner of Bloor St and Burgoyne Rd, their house was hit with debris.

In 1936, when the Walkley Liberal Club moved from their property at the top of Bloor St., opposite the Blake Public House to a new location, the building was divided into two separate homes, numbers 1 and 3 Bloor St.  Our family occupied number 3, which was then owned by a Mr.E.Wainwright who, I believe, at this time, also owned the Blake Pub.

The house was stone built, or perhaps stone clad, where the rest of the houses in the area were constructed of brick.  The property was surrounded on the street and back sides with a brick wall, probably about 6 feet tall, and topped with broken pieces of glass cemented in. Our part of the house still retained the grand staircase, with fancy sweeping wooden banister and rails. There were two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and downstairs, a large living kitchen, hallway, and the main living room, and a door to the cellar. This front room seemed to be only used at Christmas time and other special occasions, and certainly kept for ‘best’. Although we had a bathroom, the toilet was still outside, across and towards the back of the yard, along with the one for the other house.


Whitehouse’s beer-off, Blake St

Across from us on Daniel Hill Street was the Blake Pub., and opposite that on the other side of Blake St. a beer-off and grocery shop, run by the Whitehouse family.  During the war, my mother worked there, while my father, a sheet metal worker, was employed at the English Steel factory. In the shop, I can remember seeing large rounds of cheese, and huge pats of butter, which were then cut into smaller pieces for resale. In their cellar were barrels of beer, connected to pumps on the upstairs counter. Customers would bring in their own jugs to be filled for home consumption. Vinegar was also sold from similar barrels, but not piped upstairs.

Families and businesses in the area that I remember:

Our next-door neighbour, at number 1 was Alice Simmonite. Her husband had been in the navy and was killed on duty during the war.

Before I was born, there was a family by the name of Ashley living at number 1.  William, Tilly, and their son, Reg., who was manager of Timpson Shoe Shop in town, and daughter Connie who was in the WRAF.  Bill Ashley worked for the Gas Board. He died in hospital after being overcome by gas while repairing a broken main, caused by bombs landing at the bottom of Bloor St. and on Burgoyne Rd. A number of houses were destroyed at this location.

Wragg, or Walker, (not sure) at number 5 Bloor St.

The Conlins lived at number 7 Bloor St.,

The Stopford family lived at number 9.

On the opposite top corner of Bloor St. were the Ibbotsons, although their house actually faced Daniel Hill St.

Just above us on Daniel Hill St., there was a house in which the front room had been turned in to a small shop. I believe Howe was the name there.

Opposite, above the Blake, lived the Wall and Mettam families, and further up Daniel Hill St., were, Ridge (newsagents), Glossop (fish and chip shop), Tyson (tobacconists), and Pawley (fruit and veg) These not necessarily in order.

Further along, at number 2 Walkley St., at the bottom of Fulton Rd., was the home of my Aunt and Uncle, Edna and Archie Prior, along with cousins Brian and Keith.  They had a wallpapering and decorating business there. The front room of their house had been made into a shop.

My sister Sheila was born in 1938, and brother Neil 1939. I was born in 1941, and although I missed being around for the major bombing raids on Sheffield, one of my earliest recollections is getting up one morning and hearing the all-clear siren going off.  In the back yard we had an Anderson shelter half buried below ground. I only remember it ever being half full of water. So I imagine, for this reason, my family took to the cellar in the house when the air raid sirens went off. Although before my time, my sister Sheila remembers the noise of debris hitting the roof when the bombs landed at the bottom of our street.

For years after, at this site, on the left hand side, facing Burgoyne Rd., at the bottom end of Bloor St., where the houses used to be, stood a static brick built water tank, and on the right lay the flattened rubble from the other houses that had been hit.

Nursery school firstly for me was in the old Barracks building on Langsett Rd., then known as Burdalls, where gravy salt was made, and then Springvale School. I started proper school in 1946 at Upperthorpe infants. I actually have a copy of the registration list, showing all the children enrolling in my class at that time.

My sister Sheila, brother Neil and I, were all Christened at St. Mary’s church on South Rd. Our Great Grandfather, Grandfather, and some Aunts and Uncles had their funeral services there, and are buried in St. Mary’s cemetery on Waller Rd. A few years ago, I had did spend a couple of hours looking through the Christening and burial records at the church, and found the entries for these events. We attended Sunday school at Burgoyne Rd. School, later to be known as St. Mary’s.

Visits to town were made by tramcar. We were fortunate enough to be able to walk down from home, to Infirmary Rd. to catch the tram to town, and returned via the tram to South Rd. and down Fulton Rd. back down to Bloor St. Downhill, both ways!

In 1948, our family moved away from Walkley to a three bedroom house on the Parson Cross estate. I remember the lino floor coverings being rolled up, and the wooden floors being scrubbed in anticipation of the move. On moving day our furniture, lino, and a few possessions were loaded into the moving van, which I remember being only half full, and as we all rode in back of the van, off we went to our new home.


Bloor St, circa 1978 during house clearance

By Mick Dowse.


About Bill Bevan

Bill Bevan is an archaeologist, writer, photographer and heritage interpreter.

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2014 by in Second World War.
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