CLOSE THE PUBS...OR DON’T
EHH, it makes you proud to be a Sheffielder. Perhaps. Exactly 150 years ago yesterday, a chaotic meeting was held at the Temperance Hall, in Town Head Street, to consider a Parliamentary bill proposing to close pubs on Sundays. The gathering, on April 21 1848, was called by Mayor John Brown to show support for the law. Reverend Cannon Sale spoke to say he was appalled people could booze on the holy day, while John Unwin urged Sheffielders to petition for the bill to be passed. Yet the meeting threatened to descend into chaos when, after the speakers had finished telling of the evils of alcohol, a show of hands was requested. The result? The vast majority of people were very much against Sunday closing.
And, while we’re on anniversaries, 165 years ago yesterday, the city’s first penny news room opened. The little venue - location unclear - provided a cheap place for people to read the papers, including The Times, Punch and The Star’s forerunner, the Sheffield Iris. “This is a good sign,” reported the latter. “Would the working classes become more extensive readers they would soon understand their own rights and duties better and would be less likely to be made the dupes of the designing or the fanatic.”
What a ter-traffic idea of Shelley Cockayne. She’s the Sharrow Vale Market co-ordinator who came up with cost cutting inspiration when it came to the road cones needed for the event. Instead of paying Sheffield City Council £60 to hire a set, as reported, she simply went to various homes where she’d seen the markers littering the garden and asked if she could have them. Genius. And good to know, too, the student tradition (most of the houses had students living there, obviously) of swiping street furniture is alive and well. It’s a right of passage which has become so common, one could almost believe it has become a prerequisite of getting into university: “two A’s, one B and a stolen traffic cone”.
A friend of this column actually went one better back in her misguided youth. She woke from a particularly heavy night to find a cone complete with warning light flashing away in her room. Not big. Not clever. But mildly funny.