A SHARROW VALE ROAD JOKE
“Front Runner?” says a colleague. “Forget that. I prefer Two Steps.”
It’s been a typically pleasant end-of-half-term weekend in Sheffield - but things were somewhat different 240 years ago yesterday.
Then there was violence on the streets and the army had to be called in to deal with rioters. One man was shot dead.
Crowds gathered in Fargate on March 2 1774 to protest against the rising price of coal. As numbers swelled, things apparently turned violent with windows across the city centre being smashed. The army was called. Shots were fired. And a man named Shaw was killed before the authorities managed to regain control of the streets.
And also this weekend gone, though just 170 years ago, was the first time shorthand had ever been shown in Sheffield.
Joseph Pitman showed off his super quick form of writing at the Cutler’s Hall on March 1, 1844. “Such was the interest in this novelty,” reported the Sheffield Independent, “is that when he finished his lecture, he received a spontaneous and warm applause.”
Generations of journalists and secretaries have struggled with it since.
And while we’re on anniversaries, here’s another...
It’s 175 years this Friday since Ebenezer Elliott, the famed Corn Law Rhymer, was blackballed by the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society.
His radical political views, it seems, were not in accord with those of other members. It’s fair to say, though, that Elliott - who was born in Rotherham, lived in Sheffield and died in Barnsley - had the last laugh: his poetry was considered so fine there is now a statue of him in Weston Park.
If you have to explain a joke it’s not funny. But for readers unfamiliar with Sharrow Vale Road, Two Steps is quite the opposite of a running shop. It’s a chippy. Ba-boom.