Retro: Dreamland in the valley

Cottages on Gleadless Common
Cottages on Gleadless Common
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Our A to Z Retro meander around Sheffield and surrounding areas takes us today to Gleadless Valley.

This area for thousands of years was woods and farms.

Gleadless Valley - 31st July 1963

Gleadless Valley - 31st July 1963

Gleadless Valley was a major part of the city council housing programme to replace the city’s old slum terraces.

That massively increased the population of the valley, next to the far longer established area of Gleadless.

Part of the area lies on the old boundary between Derbyshire and Yorkshire, once marked by the Meersbrook.

The brook runs underneath the Red Lion pub at Gleadless Townend.

I have been farming for the country all my life, and now I’m being turned out of my farmhouse

Farmer EW Marsh

According to legend, back in the days when there were localised licensing laws, customers moved from the part that lay in Yorkshire when time was called to buy more beer in Derbyshire!

Rural life changed completely following ambitious plans to build a new estate.

In April 1959 Gleadless Valley was described as a garden estate that would cover 300 acres and have a school, at least three pubs and new churches, shops and welfare facilities. Words like Dreamland were used about the site at Rollestone, designed by city architect J L Womersley, who was also behind Park Hill flats and Castle Market.

Sheffield Telegraph in June 1959 described “houses among the hedgerows”.

The shopping centre at Newfield Green, Gleadless Valley, is a busy centre for this part of the estate, which includes tenants meeting hall, library, pub and other facilities - 19th June 1972

The shopping centre at Newfield Green, Gleadless Valley, is a busy centre for this part of the estate, which includes tenants meeting hall, library, pub and other facilities - 19th June 1972

Central parkland divided the Hemsworth, Herdings and Rollestone homes.

The incredible views and green spaces are still as Womersley planned them.

Homes, farms and smallholdings had been compulsorily purchased but some of the older buildings survived, such as the former farmhouses on Mawfa Road.

Farmer EW Marsh was dismayed at the fate of his 13th-century Herdings Farm. He said: “I’m fed up. I have been farming for the country all my life, and now I’m being turned out of my farmhouse, the only surviving link with our former 65-acre farm.”

The Gleadless Valley development - 1st June 1979

The Gleadless Valley development - 1st June 1979

Pensioners living near Herdings Farm were dismayed by proposals to turn the building, surrounded by tower blocks, into a youth club.

OAPs said that they suffered nuisance and vandalism from local youngsters, who they accused of breaking windows, damaging trees and gardens and shouting insults at them.

Ten years later, a tenants association member again said that young people were “on the rampage” and creating a nuisance on the estate.

It’s a label that the area has never quite shaken off, especially now that Dreamland seems like a bad joke as a description of the estate.

Gleadless Valley Church - 1st June 1979

Gleadless Valley Church - 1st June 1979

Picture shows the temporary railings round the Gleadless War Memorial outside Christ Church, Gleadless - 17th May 1983

Picture shows the temporary railings round the Gleadless War Memorial outside Christ Church, Gleadless - 17th May 1983

Raeburn Place Flats, Gleadless in the snow - 12th March 1996

Raeburn Place Flats, Gleadless in the snow - 12th March 1996