Walkley History

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

Victorian Walkley Book Launch


Walkley has a new book about its history, and it travels back in time to the very start of the Sheffield suburb in Victorian times.

Called ‘Victorian Walkley: origins of a Sheffield suburb,’ the book is launched on Friday 20th March, 7pm, at Walkley Community Centre, Fir St. The launch event will feature short talks about different aspects of Walkley’s Victorian history, refreshments and traditional music from Peter Smith and Friends. There is also the chance to buy the first copies of the book at a special launch price of £10. Copies will be available later to buy from Beeches of Walkley and Walkley Library.

Front Cover

It has been a three-year labour of love for members of Walkley Historians. They have pored over old maps, looked into archives, traced historic photographs and scoured Victorian newspapers to piece together the early history of Walkley. The book is the first time this important part of Walkley’s history has been published in one place.

First Spread

Walkley rapidly changed from quiet fields and farms in 1850 to a busy, thriving garden suburb by 1900. Building work was continuous during these 50 years. As well as thousands of houses lining a network of streets, the suburb featured churches, chapels, schools, shops and pubs. The driving force was a new type of society that wanted working families to own their own houses. Called Freehold Land Societies, they were formed by committees who bought land and issued mortgages for people to buy a freehold housing plot. Owning freehold was important because only freeholders could vote at the time. These Societies increased the numbers of people who could vote and meant more working-class people became voters, helping to change politics. Walkley put Sheffield at the forefront of these social changes.

The book introduces the Freehold Land Societies and traces the history of a sample of streets and the people who lived there, then it looks at work and play, health, transport, churches, schools and pubs. The subjects and places included reflect the interests of the Historians who have researched and written the book, many having personal connections to the streets, schools and churches that are featured.

The book has been funded by Lottery Players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is part of the Walkley Historians’ three-year Streets of Walkley project. As well as the book, the Historians have held a Victorian Fair, storytelling sessions about pubs in pubs, a series of temporary exhibitions, school activities and the Walkley History Mystery whodunnit trail, which is available from Walkley Library.


About Bill Bevan

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

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This entry was posted on March 9, 2020 by in Events, Victorian Walkley.
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