Delighful Darnall, 23rd March
I was first introduced to Darnall when I was a student in the ‘70s. Having taken a couple of days off from my summer job as a swimming pool attendant to come up and sort out some accommodation for my second year, the nice lady at the Poly accommodation office offered me a short-life house 2-up 2-down on Nidd Rd (The area was awaiting an enveloping scheme, taking out some of the terraced house to create some open space and putting bathrooms in, not before time - these houses had outdoor privies and no bathrooms although a tin bath was supplied - I’ll show you how it panned out)
Hardly your standard student area but it did have some advantages - it was cheap, it kept us away from the student fleshpots when we were supposed to be studying (although then as now the trusty 52 bus would get you from there to the city centre and the University and back in quick time even late at night for 6p (although the conductors had trouble figuring out whether we’d said “Darnall” or Town Hall”) and the pubs looked interesting. So me and my two pals went for it. Selflessly I took the front room as my bedroom.
And it turned out to be a pretty good place to live - at that time it was still a traditional white working class area, the steelworks were running so it was pretty prosperous, the pubs were good fun (on a Friday night everyone went down to the Wicker to drink) and we discovered Bowden Houstead woods. It was an easy walk or bus ride to Tinsley to start hitching as well. What’s more, if you had imbibed certain substances the unlit outside privy became a kaleidoscope of colours. Then there was the pleasure of the Sally Army band striking up on Sunday morning when you had a vicious hangover! Taking the bus into town you could lay bets on what colour the canal would be that morning or was it just something you took the night before? In the evening you could hear the chorus of ‘Night Luv” as everyone came home from the pub.
A year passed by quickly, baking bread and pretending to study and as we parted for the summer, one of the guys was heading to Bristol for a year’s placement and I made my other housemate promise that he would keep the upstairs rear bedroom for me and my girlfriend who was coming back up with me. Sure enough, when we got back as well as his g/f he’d installed a couple of people he’d met and their Mynah bird in there. We soon decided that the house wasn’t big enough for the 7 of us so we sought slightly more spacious accommodation elsewhere. That’s another story….
Returning to the area now what’s changed? Well it’s much more diverse for a start. The housing is much improved with a lot of new build. It’s more cycle-friendly - back in the day the roads were completely clogged with trucks, whereas now we have the 5WW, the New and Old Darnall cycleways which we will explore. Staniforth Road and many of the other streets are traffic calmed and bus lanes on Attercliffe Road. Down at the Don Valley end the heavy industry has gone taking many jobs with it of course but allowing for more green space and the sports facilities for which the area has become renowned. Many of the pubs have gone, sadly, although a lot of them have found other uses.
We will delve into the history of the area, have a look at some of the buildings old and new, follow the canal that had such an impact on the area back to the city and in the tradition of the area end our evening in a hostelry that is nearly on the Wicker- the Dorothy Pax!
Reminiscing about the 70’s? Watch this…
More Facts and Memories…
“Further up Darnall Road we have the old school. In the 70’s when I was an electrician, I had to go up in the loft when installing a Fire Alarm system. Apart from dozens of dead pigeons I found three large boxes, which appeared never to have been opened. You guessed I couldn’t resist,so with Stanley knife in hand I opened them. I doubt you would have guessed the contents.............new flat caps from 1920”
Sheffield Football Club, 20th September
(Notes are by Mick - Jonny to update)
They are the oldest football club in the world and currently play in Dronfield - that may be a bit far for a SNFR (though the pub next door is pretty good as I recall) but they have nine previous grounds in Sheffield. In the order they played on them rather than the one we should cycle to them they were 1. Strawberry Hall Lane Park (somewhere near East Bank Road apparently now home to the bus depot on Olive grove) 2. Newhall Athletic ground (east of the city somewhere) 3. Old Forge ground (Brightside Lane) 4. Ecclesall Road (don't know where exactly) 5. Bramall Lane 6. Abbeydale Park 7. Hillsborough Park 8. Owlerton Stadium 9. Don Valley Stadium. Some of these have been built on/ may have been demolished by the time we get there and a couple would require a bit of research as to exactly where they are but that is what the web is for.
 Memories of drinking on the Wicker in the ‘70s from Sheffield Down Memory Lane (Facebook)
“Used to sit in the car outside the Big Gun. Waiting for mum and dad. I never felt unsafe in the early 60's.”
“ DRANK IN ALL DOWN WICKER IN 70s WITH MY BROTHERS DICKIE ARCHIE PLUS THE LIKES OF RAY BELLAMY WAFER COTTON TUMI HANK AND ENO”
“The Station was a popular stop off on a Friday neeet.”
What about the viaduct and hole in wall, Alexander a man called Walt hattersley used to run it with his wife and he also used to run a second hand car business on queens road in the sixties and seventies and when he died his wife kept the public house on for a number of years after.