Burngreave byways: From Spital Hill to Ellesmere Green

Corner of Ellesmere Green.
Corner of Ellesmere Green.

Spital Hill mapStory by Graham Jones. Photos by Polly Perkins.

Let’s continue our walk up Spital Hill. On the left hand side, you can see that some of these shops here were originally houses but shop premises were built on their front gardens.

The car wash is on the site of the Coliseum Cinema which was opened in 1913 by the Gent furniture company. It had a lavish auditorium that seated 1,400. It was decorated with plaster cherubs and scenes from around the world were painted on its walls. It was damaged in the Blitz but repaired and finally closed in 1963. A petrol station was built on the site.

The building on the corner of Spital Hill and Hallcar Street, the Ashram now occupies part of the ground floor, is full of history: this was once a pharmacy and in 1878 Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, worked here as an assistant for a short while. However, he did not get on with his boss, Dr Richardson. He later wrote that people in Sheffield “would rather be poisoned by a man with a beard than saved by a man without one.” The upper floor of the building was featured in The Guardian in the 1990s. It housed the Margaret Ardern School of Dancing. It was like stepping back into the past. The wood panelled interiors had not been changed since at least the 1930s. Miss Ardern herself taught dancing there for many decades. Her brother’s building firm was in the same premises.

John Heath and Sons
John Heath & Sons, today on Ellesmere Road

Further along you will see the 1920s ‘Poirotesque’ early Art Deco building of John Heath, the funeral directors. Six generations of Heaths make this the oldest family business in Sheffield. John Heath was a carriage maker, cabinet maker and undertaker before he set up his own business on Earsham Street in 1880. Their premises had large stables and the company ran horse buses to Burngreave from the city centre. They had an extremely busy period during the flu epidemic of 1919, digging graves through the dark hours. They produced car bodies in the early days of motoring but in the 1930s they paid a handsome sum to dispose of their fleet of Rolls Royce as they were so unreliable!

In the mid 1850s Wicker Congregational Church decided to move from the premises which they shared with a performing bear and built the Wicker Congregational Church on what is now known as Ellesmere Green. It was known as the Wicker Congs. It was demolished in 1970.

Corner of Ellesmere Green.
Corner of Ellesmere Green.

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