Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Boots, Fresh Air and Ginger Beer
Throughout this year a series of events is taking place celebrating 'Ruskin in Sheffield'. The Ruskin in question being John Ruskin the celebrated Victorian art critic and philanthropist. Over the last weekend there have been three performance walks around Totley where, in 1877, Ruskin bought St George's Farm which was to be worked communally by a group of working men and their families from the heavily industrialized city of Sheffield. The performance, which was written by my friend Sally Goldsmith, also included other well known local characters who were connected with Totley and the surrounding area between 1877 and the early 1950s. I went on the final walk on a rather wet and dismal Sunday afternoon. The photo above is St George's Farm as it is today, we were privileged to see it as it isn't visible from the road and the current owners value their privacy. The earliest record that Alan, the current owner, has found is for 1802 but it is older than that I think. He also told me that originally there were three dwellings here, the main farmhouse and two labourer's cottages. I should say here that the experiment with farming was not a howling success and the experiment came to an end in 1885. This is just a record of the walk and one or two of the characters we met on the way round but if anyone is interested there is an article on Totley History Group's website which will tell you more about both Ruskin and the experiment with farming.
article on the history group website written by one of our members whose aunt was Harry Brearley's secretary
Ethel Haythornthwaite founded the Sheffield Association for the Protection of Local Scenery in 1924 which in 1927 became the Sheffield and Peak District Committee of CPRE. She and her husband saved areas such as Edale, Mam Tor and Blackamoor from development and were instrumental in establishing the Peak District as the UK's first National Park in 1951.
In spite of the weather the whole walk was great fun and I now know the route down from Woodthorpe Hall to Gillfield Wood - I knew it existed but I've never found the entrance off the lane before and always had to walk further up to Fanshawegate Hall and down through the fields from there. Oh and the title - boots for Bert Ward and the Clarion Ramblers, Fresh Air for all the outdoor activities and Ginger Beer - well I don't know quite why Sally chose that but it's a jolly good drink to take on a picnic:)