Book looks at how Sheffield entertained itself in Victorian times
A new book looks at Victorian Sheffield amusements such as theatre, music hall, concert halls and other entertainments.
The book, Victorian Sheffield Entertainment, has been published by Sheffield Theatre History Research Group. It is based on exhaustive research by the late John Smith, to whom the book is dedicated, and was completed by Mike Gardner and Pat Braunton.
The book is full of fascinating characters that appeared at long-gone theatres such as the Theatre Royal, the Adelphi, the Surrey and the Alexandra, and at the city’s many music halls.
On a festive note, Mike said that a pantomime football match, with players in full costume, took place at Bramall Lane in 1886 in front of a crowd of 20,000. A repeat match the following year was banned by the ground because of the mess that was left!
So they played the city’s Licensed Victuallers, who dressed in their barman’s aprons, at the Sheaf House. Some of the women performers strolled among the crowd, selling kisses for charity.
As well as hugely popular theatre pantos, travelling circuses appearing over the Christmas period put on their own pantos. As they had no theatre licence, dialogue wasn’t allowed but they did feature spectacular special effects, trapeze artists, animal acts and clowns.
Mike said that the book was a follow-up to one that the theatre history group, an adult education class that he set up for the University of Sheffield, wrote about Georgian Sheffield entertainment.
He paid tribute to John’s incredible work and said it had taken him and Pat more than six years to edit into book form.
So far the independently-published book has made £1,000 which has been donated to Sheffield Theatres. It is on sale for £9.99 at Sheffield Sceme on Surrey Street or for £7.50, including postage, from Sheffield History Research Group, 49 Bingham Park Crescent, Sheffield S11 7BH. Inquiries: 0114 268 6387.