We’re back in Sheffield on our Retro A to Z tour of the city and surrounding areas but Heeley was once border country.
According to the excellent Heeley History Workshop, Heeley means High Leys, ior High Meadows.
The area used to be referred to as Heeley Duffham or Dff’em, a direct reference to its border background.
In the days when the Meersbrook divided Derbyshire and Yorkshire, this nickname referred to the locals’ attitude to debts.
The history group website describes how, whenever debt collectors or bailiffs arrived, neighbours would tap on the walls of their terraced homes to let the neighbours know they were around.
In the days when official jurisdiction ended at county borders, Sheffield debtors could avoid paying up simply by skipping into Derbyshire!
As Retro reader Doug Barker very kindly pointed out, the Shirebrook was actually used to mark the county borders in Gleadless. My apologies for mistakenly referring to the Meersbrook.
A toll bar once stood at Heeley at the bottom of what is now Albert Road, intercepting the traffic making its way to Chesterfield.
Apparently the county border was again indicated by the change in name of the main road that was called London Road on the Yorkshire side and Chesterfield Road on the Derbyshire side.
The waterways at one time attracted industry to the area and Heeley Corn Mill stood on a dam fed by the River Sheaf near Little London. It dated back to at least the 16th century.
Other mills on the Sheaf included Heeley Wheel, used to run cutlers’ wheels from the 17th century.
A mill on the site was finally was demolished by the Victorians when they built the Midland Railway.
A third, Heeley Tilt, near the present-day Guernsey Road, was used to power cutlers’ wheels and as a wire mill. Later a steam-powered rolling mill stood on the site.
The railway station that once stood at Heeley Bridge has been the subject of several campaigns to reopen it.
In the 1920s and 30s it transported steelworkers on mass to the East End.
Trippers used to travel from the station for seaside jaunts in the inter-war years.
A relief road that never appeared is responsible for both Heeley City Farm and the Millennium Park. Thousands of homes were demolished in the 1970s before the plan was abandoned, so the farm and park eventually used the spare land.