Story: Elizabeth Shaw
Image: Keith Farnsworth
With the funding confirmed to improve Burngreave Recreation Ground, I decided to have a look at the history of the area.
Although aware of the adventure playground by the cemetery gates, I had not realised that there was more land beyond. Walking along the paths was a pleasant surprise –at the top of the hill, there are extensive views across the Don Valley in one direction and turning round looking beyond Parkwood Springs across open countryside.
A visit to the Local Studies Library revealed that, in 1887, the Duke of Norfolk gave land to the town for the purpose of Recreation Grounds at Burngreave and Nottingham Street, to commemorate the Royal Jubilee. The original site at Burngreave was 3 acres and 3roods (3.75 acres). An old Ordnance Survey Map of 1903 shows the Recreation Ground as bounded by Burngreave Bank, Catherine Road and Danville Street. Danville Street no longer exists and the Recreation Ground now extends over where it used to be.
The lost street
Danville Street ran from Grimesthorpe Road up towards the cemetery, parallel with Earldom Road. Most of the houses were back-to-back on both sides of the street giving way to terraced housing at the top end. Whilst the old map shows lots of back-to-back housing on the other side of Ellesmere Road going towards Gower Street, there are no more back-tobacks shown around Danville Street.
A sale plan, dated May 28 1918, shows that Duncan Gilmour & Co Ltd auctioned off properties in the area. Lot 3 comprised of, ‘Sales shop and dwelling house 61 Grimesthorpe Road and 1 Danville Street, formerly Danville Hotel. House no. 59 Grimesthorpe Road and 10 houses numbered 3,5,7,9, 11 Danville Street, 6,7,8,9, and 10 in courts 1 Danville Street with yard and WCs. Gross annual rental £152 15s 0d.’
A trawl through the Kelly’s Directory in the Local Studies Library shows that in 1972 there were only 13 properties listed – nos. 95,99,101,103,107 and nos. 92.94,98,100,102,104,106 and 108. These would have been at the top on what is now part of the Recreation Ground. Courts 2,4,6,8,10, 12, 11 & 13 were still listed in 1957. By 1959 only Courts 11 and 13 appear to be left and these finally went somewhere between 1963-65
A study of the 1891 Census shows 479 people living on Danville Street, with a further 292 people living in the 9 Courts behind. More than half of these were born in Sheffield; some came from towns in neighbouring counties – Boston, Matlock, and Leeds. Blacksmith, Joseph Godley was born in Sheffield but his wife was born in Cincinnati, USA and 27 year old Mr Johnson, a bricklayer’s labourer, seems to have moved around a bit, he was born in Kettering, Northants – his wife in Hepworth, Lincolnshire and their two sons in Cardiff.
Back to back
Back-to-back houses were usually one room up and one room downstairs; those on Danville Street may have had an attic and cellar as well but, even if they did, there would still not be much room for a family and little chance of privacy within the home.
One property on Danville Street was home to 54 year old William Wootton, a coal miner, and his wife; 25 year old son – also a coal miner; 23 year old daughter – domestic servant; 16 year old son – wire flattener; a grandson aged 6 months plus lodger – 34-year-old John Brown – also a coal miner. Where did they all sleep? There were three men in the household working as coal miners, a very dirty job. Where would they wash after a shift down the mine? I am sure that most of us in this day and age would find living in such close proximity would be difficult enough without the further strain of taking in lodgers!
Work to refurbish Burngreave Rec is due to begin after Christmas. Contact Amie Rowland on 273 6952 for information.