From village to township

Mosborough Castle - 1973
Mosborough Castle - 1973
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Our Retro A to Z of Sheffield and surrounding areas this week stops off in Mosborough, a once rural area that was redeveloped in the 1960s.

According to Mosborough Online, the name comes from Moresburgh, which means ‘fort on the moor’.

Aerial view of the Owlthorpe Estate, Mosborough - 1994

Aerial view of the Owlthorpe Estate, Mosborough - 1994

The lands of Mosborough and Eckington were once owned by an advisor to Saxon king Ethelred the Unready but following the Norman Conquest they were handed to Ralph Fitzhubert, who became Lord of Mosborough in 1086.

For centuries the area was mostly farmland, both arable fields and grazing land.

There were also several pits in the area.

George Foster wrote in 1886 in his Reminiscences of Mosborough, quoted on “A Mosborough man will have to travel many miles from home before he can find another village equal to his own for beauty of situation, the grandeur of its aspects, the healthfulness of its climate or the convenience of its streets.”

Foster’s romantic glens and steep precipices covered by “lofty forest trees” may have long gone but the place still has the air of a village.

At that time it lay within Eckington in Derbyshire before the Mosborough Townships of Waterthorpe, Owlthorpe, Southall, Westfield, Oxclose and Halfway were created by the city council in the 1960s but took two decades to complete.

They are said to be based partly on other new towns of the same period, such as Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Warrington.

The townships were each planned to have a centre with shops, a school and community facilities, with the edges marked by the parkway roads that linked them all.

Industrial estates were establsished at Holbrook and Oxclose and Crystal Peaks and Drakehouse were home to commercial, retail and leisure developments.

Most of the private housing that was built from 1980 onwards is based on interwoven cul-de-sacs, featuring a variety of detached and semi-detached housing.

Mosborough Hall, which is now a hotel, dates back to medieval times, although the building has been much altered and added to over the centuries.

It features in many ‘most haunted’ listings. One of the most popular stories concerns the ‘white lady’, said to be the ghost of a 16th-century governess who was made pregnant by the squire.

He refused to take care of her and the child and eventually killed his lover.