The history and development of Religion, Schools, Sport, and Railways in the district have their own dedicated sections on our website; therefore we will only briefly refer to these subjects in this section as applicable.
The modern town of Stocksbridge may only be able to trace its history back to the mid-19th Century, but the area from which it developed has been part of the ancient Manor of Bolsterstone for hundreds of years.
This valley between the Pennine hills of Hunshelf and Waldershelf would once have been be thickly forested.
Always on the very edge of whatever centre of administration governed it, Stocksbridge grew from a tiny hamlet at the crossing place of the Little Don river, into a thriving industrial centre. Although this development began on the north of the river in the Hunshelf Township, of the Penistone Parish, it eventually extended onto the south side, which was more accessible.
The river running through the valley, originally known as Hunshelf Water, was later given the name Little Don. Its alternative name, of the Porter was thought to refer to its colour, probably caused by the seepage of Peat into the water close to its source, even the name Don was originally Dun, again believed to be due to its colour.
The bridge, which is associated with the Stocksbridge name, was a wooden footbridge over the river, the latter having always formed a boundary between Hunshelf and Waldershelf, and the Parishes of Penistone and Bradfield. It was located at the junction of Ford Lane, Hunshelf Road (leading up Hunshelf Bank) and the continuation from Smithy Hill.
In 1716, John Stocks occupied a Fulling Mill which was located at this junction in the parish of Hunshelf on the north side of the river which at that time curved round to the Hunshelf side of the valley bottom, and he is reputed to have constructed the bridge. This gave rise to the place name of Stocks Bridge as first recorded on a map in 1772 by Thomas Jeffrey
The bridge was destroyed by the flooding of the river on various occasions and it was eventually replaced by a substantial stone bridge in 1812 in order to cope with heavier wheeled traffic and it still remains in-situ to this day.
The stretch of Hunshelf Road which is a spur off Manchester Road and descends into the valley bottom is known locally as Smithy Hill and this is derived from the smithy which was located behind the Coach and Horses inn.
The bridge at the bottom of Smithy Hill would have been constructed at a much later date (1870s ?) to suit the development of the Steelworks, the necessary diverting of the river to the south side of the valley bottom, and ultimately the development of the local railway system.
Initially he used water power from the river which had been also serving the nearby Hunshelf and Deepcar Corn Mills.
Later, coal seams were discovered in the hillside, the coal being used to power the developing steam driven machinery.
These articles describe some aspects of the mining in and around the locality.
Lead ore was being extracted from the Bitholmes and the Ewden valley, Joseph Kenworthy in his Handbook Number 4 describes these activities in detail. An article by Jacqueline Stafford published in the Fox Magazine in the spring of 1961 also gives an account of the search for lead ore.
Thomas Brooke started his own pipe works at Bracken Moor after previously working for John Armitage at the Henholmes in Deepcar.
In 1902 Thomas’s son William Brooke left his father’s works to set up his own pipe works at Pot House in Stocksbridge, they were located opposite the Stocksbridge Infants School on Alpine Way on the Alpine Lodge site.
Joseph Kenworthy in his Handbook Number 4 gives an account of the local works which manufactured products using the clays and ganister mined in the area and gives information about the Pot House works.
From 1650 to 1758 glass was being produced at the Glasshouse at Bate Green and pottery was being produced, for a short period, in another section of this works.
You can read about the local glass industry and view photograph of items of Bolsterstone Glass in other sections of the Website. Should you wish to see the actual glass items they are on permanent display at the Stocksbridge Library.
The ridges of sandstone forming Hunshelf and Waldershelf were covered by a thin layer of clay soils, so the land was never particularly fertile.
The resulting poor agricultural yield provided only subsistence for the scattered farms which were situated within the valley. However, an attempt was made in the late 1890’s to grow fruit at Hoyle House, and then at Oxley’s Fruit Farm with some success.
Thomas (Jammy) Oxley donated the land, which now makes up Oxley Park, to the people of Stocksbridge, the monument shown in the photographs can be found adjacent to the path at the top of the park.
The plaque attached to the monument is inscribed with the following words but looks as if it is in need of a bit of TLC.
"These 34½ acres of land were presented by Mr Thomas Oxley to the inhabitants of Stocksbridge for the purpose of a Public Park or Recreation ground.
The cost of laying out and the maintenance therefore being borne by Messrs. Samuel Fox & Co. Ltd"
In his book "History of Stocksbridge", Jack Branston gives his account of the development of the Hoyle House Estate and the areas we now know as Garden Village and Oxley Park along with the formation of the Fruit Farm that flourished there.
Only a few of the original homesteads have survived as working farms, many of the others having been demolished to make way for modern housing, or converted for residential or business use.
Remains of 14th and 15th Century cruck barns can still be found at Green Farm, Pot House, Windhill and Watson House.
The breakup of the Bolsterstone Manor in 1802 brought the Manorial system virtually to an end, and more responsibility devolved onto the Parish.
During the 200 years encompassing the history of the district, the area was administered in turn by a Board of Guardians, a Local Board, and then the Urban District Council, all responsible to the West Riding County Council.
In 1974 The Sheffield Metropolitan District Council came in to being and the Stocksbridge UDC becoming the Stocksbridge Town Council, with its responsibility limited to parochial affairs.
A handful of Stocksbridge families can claim descent from those named in such documents as the Poll Tax Returns of 1379 and Hearth Tax Returns of 1672 in Bolsterstone, Bradfield, Hunshelf and Midhope.
Of the family names recorded in the 1779 Waldershelf Valuation, some descendants can probably trace an unbroken line back through more than 200 years.
Hundreds more can certainly claim to have descended from those who were drawn to this area by the prospect of work in the new industries of the last 150 years.
The Censuses of 1851 to 1891 show that they came from every part of the British Isles and from almost every County in England.
While the national population trebled during the 19th Century, that of Yorkshire as a whole increased fourfold and the West Riding alone, almost fivefold.
By the middle of the 19th Century, more than a third of the working population of Bolsterstone Parish were still tied to the land.
The Agricultural Depression of the 1860’s and 1870’s forced many to turn their hands to work in the new industries; they were joined by refugees from the Holmfirth flood of 1857 and the Lancashire Cotton famine of the 1860’s.
The building of the reservoirs in Ewden and at Midhope and Langsett in the early 1900’s brought even more settlers into the valley
Even In 1950 appeals were still being made for lodgings for workers of the Samuel Fox & Company Limited.
Many traditions were based on the Agricultural year and the Church calendar.
One which survived until quite recently was Caking Night, which was celebrated originally on the night of November 1st, the tradition being that soul cakes were made and given to callers for All Souls’ Day. This tradition has now been taken over by ‘Trick or Treat’ on Halloween.
Ploughing matches were held locally from 1880 to 1938, attracting nationwide competition.
A strong choral tradition began in the Churches. Local Christmas Carols had a popular appeal, most having been composed in the early 1900’s.
Choirs 20 to 30 strong toured the outlying homesteads throughout the night of Christmas Eve, a custom which died out in the post war period.
Dr. W. M. Robertshaw’s St. Cecelia Ladies’ Choir competed nationally throughout the 1930’s and the Stocksbridge Congregational (now United Reform) Operatic Society produced Gilbert & Sullivan shows in the 1950’s.
Making music was always part of the local scene, with a piano in almost every household being at the centre of every family gathering.
Organised bands were as popular as the choirs; Stocksbridge Old Brass Band, Stocksbridge Works Orchestral Section, the Salvation Army Band and the Secondary Modern School Band (now the High School Orchestra), as well as a Ladies’ Jazz Band.
Dance bands played at the enormously popular weekly dances at the Victory Club throughout the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, with the annual Policemen’s and Tradesmen’s Balls the highlights of the social calendar.
Dramatic Societies were also a prominent feature of the Stocksbridge cultural scene.
Every Church was a natural nursery of talent, unselfconsciously displayed in parades and festivals which marked each cause for celebration.
There were formal drama groups, a Pierrot Troupe and Deepcar Follies.
Annual Carnivals were held in the 1920’s. The Stocksbridge Works Amateur Dramatic Society is one of the oldest sections of the Stocksbridge Works Social Services, continuing almost without interruption throughout World War II.
SOME KEY DATES
In 1541 NICHOLAS GREAVES & his brother JOHN (sons of THOMAS del GREVE de HUNSHELF) took off the 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury a piece of pasture land in Hunshelf at UNSHRYVEN BRIDGE (Unsliven Bridge) called SMYTHGROUND to hold for30 years.
There was a fulling mill at SHREVYNHAIGH in 1539 and there was probably a wooden bridge near this mill.
A rent of 34s. was to be paid and they had to find “a man and a horse armed for service of the 3rd Earl when the King shall require.”
1802 The sale of Bolsterstone Manor, the only property which was identified as being in Stocks Bridge itself was 17 acres, 36 perches, occupied by Matthew Walker and comprising a house, small barn, beast, house and land.
Sheffield Solicitor John Rimington bought the Estate from Lord Melbourne, for £35,000. He raised the money by offering the freehold to leaseholders.
Many tenants took advantage of this opportunity, but others who would or could not, were evicted.
1805 The Wadsley and Langsett Turnpike road was opened.
Previously roads had been maintained by the manual labour of parishioners, who were compelled by law to spend a certain number of days a year in repairing the damage done to dirt tracks by weather and horse transport.
1812 The wooden footbridge at Stocks Bridge was replaced by a stone carriage bridge, so vehicles no longer needed to ford the river.
1817 A Terrier (a list of Church properties) includes "a half acre at Stocks Bridge bounded on the west and north by a small river, on the east and south by the farm of Jonathan Hawke".
1837 The Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths was made compulsory.
1841 The Census showed that the population of the Bolsterstone Chapelry in the Bradfield Parish was 871 and that, 34 people lived in 5 households in Stocks Bridge.
William Jubb was now described as a farmer, John Webster as a coal merchant, Jonathan Hawke still as a shoemaker.
There were also Edward Askew, blacksmith and a household of five single men and a boy in what seemed to be a boarding house.
1848 A Local Board of Health was appointed to implement the requirements of the 1842 Health of Towns report.
1851 The Census shows that the population of the area had grown to 987 in 199 households, of which 36 lived in the 7 homes labelled Stocks Bridge.
The Askew and Hawke families and a widow, Ann Webster were now joined by George Batty, carpenter, a widowed shopkeeper Hannah Broadhead, two brothers and sister named Helliwell, who we know occupied the cottage and workshop at the bottom of Nanny Hill and the house of Independent Minister George Spencer.
Only 16 of them were born locally, including 75 year old Jonathan Hawke, still described as a shoemaker.
Samuel Fox, his wife Maria, their son William Henry, their nephew William, two lodgers and a servant were living near the mill on the Hunshelf side of the river, therefore they were in the Penistone Parish.
Mr. Fox was described as a Wire Manufacturer.
1851 The only Ecclesiastical Census ever taken, showed the comparative attendance at the Parish Church of St. Mary, Bolsterstone, and the Congregational Independent Chapel, Stocks Bridge.
A Parochial Valuation of the Township of Hunshelf described the extent and value of his property as being in Stocksbridge.
1858 Stocksbridge Hall was built by Amos Ridal, on Horner House land, although that district and the whole of the western part of Bolsterstone Parish were still identified as the District of Green, after Green Farm at its centre.
1860 Saw the formation of the Stocksbridge Band of Hope, Industrial Cooperative Society, which first met at a cottage in Gibson Lane and subsequently at the Friendship Inn, and was later to give rise to the Stocksbridge Temperance Society.
1861 The Census population was recorded as 1,628 who were living in the properties named as Stocksbridge, the New Inn which was described as a beer house, had been built and the Henholmes Farm was also included.
Joseph Hinchliffe, farmer and carter, Charles Illingworth, farmer and coke-burner, Joseph Kenworthy, farmer and mason indicate examples of the dual occupations amongst farmers, which were typical of the time.
On the day of the Census, Maria Fox, a manufacturer’s wife, was the head of the household at Townend.
1871 The Census showed the population of the Stocksbridge Sanitary District, which now included parts of Hunshelf, was 3,725.
On the day of the Census, Samuel Fox, Steel Manufacturer, was alone at Townend with a visiting niece and two servants.
Stocksbridge inhabitants included Harriet Batty, Innkeeper (Friendship Inn), Joe Hepworth, Stationer and the Reverend Henry Robertshaw, Independent Minister.
1873 A Stocksbridge Local Board was elected to administer the new Sanitary District of Stocksbridge and they issued Byelaws to regulate the use of the new water supply.
Samuel Fox had campaigned for this change because of the Industrial rate which he had to pay to Penistone Parish, while Bolsterstone Parish had the expense of maintaining access roads to the Works.
Of the 11 members elected, 6 were farmers, proving that Agriculture was still of great importance, while 2 were the principal manufacturers Fox and Armitage.
1881 The Census the population of the Sanitary District of Stocksbridge was 4,660.
Dr. Herbert Ward was the first resident doctor registered at Stocksbridge Hall.
Samuel Fox, Steel and Umbrella Manufacturer, was head of a household with six servants.
Maria and William Henry now lived in Oxfordshire.
1891 The Census the population of Stocksbridge, Deepcar and Bolsterstone had risen to 5,677.
1895 The creation of Stocksbridge Urban District Council with Its boundary now at the top of Hunshelf Bank had an increased population of 1,100.
1896 The Stocksbridge Water Rights were sold to the Sheffield Corporation.
1897 Underbank Reservoir was begun and it was completed in 1907.
1901 The Census of the population was calculated at 6,566.
1902 The Stocksbridge Works Institute, later known as the Miners Welfare was founded as a reading room, with baths and billiard tables.
1903 Tom Batty built a new facade on the Friendship Inn which is now called the Friendship Hotel which offered accommodation to Commercial Travellers. The façade included a plaque over the door showing ‘a handshake’ which became the emblem of the Cooperative Society
1907 Wood Willows was built by Samuel Fox & Company Limited for its workers; George Thickett a foreman, being housed in the villa opposite.
In this article Stocksbridge 1917 Arnold Pears recalls life in the early part of the twentieth century.
1918 The end of the Great War enabled building to re-commence at Garden Village a fruit tree was planted in the garden of each house, the trees being acquired from the former fruit farm.
1921 A national coal strike put many local miners out of work for 6 months.
1923 The Urban District Council took over responsibility for Stocksbridge Fire Brigade, previously manned and run by volunteers.
The Clock Tower War Memorial was built to the memory 107 young people, a nurse, sailors and soldiers, who died in the First World War.
These photographs show the dedication plaques displayed on the Memorial, covering the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 conflicts.
Try this link to view the Souvenir program of the unveiling and Dedication service of the War Memorial.
1924 The first estate of 94 council houses was built at Shay House.
1928 The Town Hall was built to replace the old Council Offices.
1931 The Stocksbridge Cooperative Society opened its Model Dairy in Shay House Lane, pasteurising and bottling milk from local farms; the Dairy was demolished in 1972 to make way for an extension to the High School.
1931 The British school became known as the British Hall and became a focal point in Stocksbridge and was used for various functions and as a source of entertainment until it was demolished around 1962.
1933 The first 20 council houses were built at the Royd on Carr Road.
1937 Work began on the 180 houses of the first phase of the Spink Hall council estate, in 1939 on the 18th of March, the estate was officially opened by Sir John Quarmby, a copy of the Souvenir Programme can be viewed here.
1940 The Sheffield Blitz took place on the night of 12 and 13th of December. Viewed from the safe distance of Stocksbridge it was like Bonfire Night. All told, only 6 bombs are believed to have dropped in the valley, which appeared to be at the end of the bombing run. The bombs may have been jettisoned rather than deliberately aimed at the Works.
1944 The Cemetery was opened on Bocking Hill; here you can see an early view of Bocking Wood.
1945 The second phase of the Spinkhall council estate of some 80 houses was started, the foundations of which were dug by German POW's who were transported from a camp at Bracken Hill, Chapeltown.
Also In 1945 another 51 names were added to the War Memorial and later a Welcome Home Service was held for those who had seen active service in World War II.
1946 Dr. W. M. Robertshaw’s Annual Report for the Ministry of Health revealed that Samuel Fox & Company limited now employed more people than the entire population of 50 years ago, comparative population figures being 6,021 in 1893 to 9,795 in 1946.
Pre-fabricated bungalows were built by the Ministry of Works at Pot House Lane, Whitwell lane, Shayhouse lane and at Wilson Road at Deepcar.
1950 The Stubbin Estate added 388 Homes to the Council housing list.
1953 A Ministry of Health report assessed the population of Stocksbridge as 10,220, an increase of 100 in 12 months.
1960 The East Whitwell estate of 400 houses, completed council house building in the area, these two photos are of the old village to the west of the development.
I962 A new Gas supply was installed connecting the area to the National Grid, as opposed to the service via the Henholmes Gas Works.
1963 The Silver Fox Public House opened on the 19th of April.
1965 The Stocksbridge Rugby Union Club was formed, and the Inman pavilion was opened at Garden Village.
Also in 1965 the new clinic in Johnson Street was opened by the County Councillor Mrs Thompson.
1967 the Stocksbridge College of Further Education in Hole House Lane, was officially opened by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
In this video you can watch a recording of the event preceded by other events from around the district from 1963 up to 1967.
1968 The Central Library was opened by the local Member of Parliament Mr. John Mendelson. Housing at Button Row was demolished to create the space required. Also in 1968 the new market was opened opposite the Welfare Hall, the Lidl supermarket now shares this site.
1970 The Stocksbridge Swimming baths was built off Moorland Drive, largely due to the efforts of local people and the Urban District Council. The Stocksbridge Cooperative building on Manchester road was demolished. In this year, the Horner House farm and surrounding buildings were demolished, the area now being the site of Newton Grange which is a home for the elderly. The date stone shown in photograph fourteen is built in to the Boundary wall of the Newton Grange site.
The conversion to North Sea gas also took place in this year and the Stubbin estate Community centre was officially opened.
1971 saw the completion of the Oxley Close housing development, the official opening of the Fire Station at the bottom of Park Drive, this link will show a video of the event and the construction of the road between Hawthorn Avenue and Ridal Avenue to link Garden Village and Smithy Moor was completed.
In 1973 on the 12th October the Sports Hall building was opened by Walter Winterbottom C.B.E. Director of the Sports Council.
1974 saw the abolition of the West Riding and the creation of South Yorkshire, but the Stocksbridge Urban District and the Civil Parish of Bradfield were now included in the Sheffield Metropolitan District. The Urban District Council became known as the Stocksbridge Town Council.
1985 The Assembly of the Pentecostal Church moved from its temporary home in the Deepcar Community Hall to the top floor of the ex Stocksbridge Cooperative Society building.
1986 The Stocksbridge Rugby Union Football Club bought the old chapel on Manchester Road and converted it into a licensed clubhouse and in 1988 the Stocksbridge By-Pass was opened.
1995 British Steel acquired all assets of United Engineering Steels, the Company began trading as British Steel Engineering Steels.
1998 The College of Further Education was closed and then demolished, this area is now the site of the Cooperative Society supermarket.
Does anyone know what happened to the plaque that was unveiled by the Prime Minister in 1967?
2000 The people of the district celebrated the beginning of the new millennium with a fireworks display; at least one old lady thought that the war had broken out again.
2002 the new Cooperative supermarket opened and the Miners’ Welfare building which was then used by the Stocksbridge Training and Enterprise Partnership celebrated its Centenary.