Happy memories of Sheffield community hub, beach holidays and sporting tournaments from years gone by

A Retro story about Burngreave Vestry Hall (February 26) has sparked happy memories for reader Bill Betts.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:00 pm

Bill wrote: “Reading about the Vestry Hall immediately brought back memories of my surprise encounter with my Grandad. He was coming down the stairs from one of the vestry rooms above as I was exiting the door from the vestry main hall on the ground floor. This also brought back my own additional memories.“I was 11 years old when my Nan died in 1951. The loss of his wife hit Grandad very hard. For the first six months he use to visit her grave every week to replace and arrange new flowers, slowly the pain eased. Some years later he joined the Spiritualist Group, becoming a very active member."After Nan passed away my father, having a car, started including Grandad (who died in aged 85 in 1979) in most of our holidays. He was always popular with the friends and children we were with out and about and on the beach, Scarborough, Skegness, Cleethorpes.

"We always had lots of beach games to play, adults and children. The one we children always looked forward to was Grandad’s race, we had to line up on the beach with our buckets, run down to the water’s edge, scoop up sea water. First back to him would win an ice cream.

“He then dabbed the sea water on his nose & face, telling us it was good for his complexion. The winner then got the first ice cream (in Scarborough it would always be Jaconelli’s ices.) He then bought ice creams for the rest of the losers.”

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Bill, back left, in a mixed league badminton team

Back to the Vestry Hall: “During the 1960s to 1980s there were few badminton clubs who had their own courts. To organise and run a club I used to approach the necessary secretaries/contacts of buildings who had courts to hire out for one evening per week. These were generally The Vestry at Burngreave, also church halls, firms canteens, social halls or school halls.

"These rooms and halls were available for any organisation or family groups to hire, making it possible to carry out any type of get-together, birthday parties, receptions, indoor sports or any type of activities in a warm and dry environment.“The Sheffield Badminton Committee used to organise an annual men’s open singles tournament which I use to enter, unfortunately I never made it to the quarter finals, but enjoyed the experience.

"We were given our opponent’s contact name and address to arrange the time and venue to be played.The result of the game would be returned to the tournament organisers.

"The winner would then be given details for the next opponent. This would be via public phone or your own land line, if you had one.”

Left, Bill Betts' Nan and Aunty Dolly on his father's motorbike in James Street, Darnall in 1940. Right, Bill's Nan & Grandad in Torquay, 1949

Bill explained that he met his grandad in the vestry hall when he had just won a third-round game there: “Meeting Grandad on the vestry hall stairs was a real joy - I recognised his voice before I saw him. I did not know that one of the Vestry rooms above was used for their Spiritualists meetings.”

He added: "I have many fond memories of meetings similar to the ones described, and also thankful of the opportunity to use the various venues available to us at that time.”

A message from the Editor:

Bill Betts, holding the cup, with the men’s league winners of 1965

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor