New book tells history of Sheffield's Walkley suburb

Walkley has a new book about its history, and it travels back in time to the very start of the Sheffield suburb in Victorian times.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 10:00 am

Called Victorian Walkley: Origins of a Sheffield Suburb, the book was to be launched on Friday, March 20 at Walkley Community Centre on Fir Street but the event has been postponed due to Covid-19.

However, you can buy the book online if you use PayPal for the price of £10 plus £4 postage and packaging. Visit the Walkley History website for details of buying the book by cheque or using PayPal.

Copies will eventually be available to buy from Beeches of Walkley, Sheffield Scene and Walkley Library, when social distancing restrictions are lifted and they are open again as normal.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Walkley Historians looking at maps during their research for their new book

The book has been a three-year labour of love for members of Walkley Historians.

They have pored over old maps, looked into archives, traced historic photographs and scoured Victorian newspapers to piece together the early history of Walkley.

The book is the first time this important part of Walkley’s history has been published in one place.

Walkley rapidly changed from quiet fields and farms in 1850 to a busy, thriving garden suburb by 1900. Building work was continuous during these 50 years.

Members of Walkley Historians with their new book, whose relaunch had to be postponed

As well as thousands of houses lining a network of streets, the suburb featured churches, chapels, schools, shops and pubs.

The driving force was a new type of society that wanted working families to own their own houses.

Called Freehold Land Societies, they were formed by committees who bought land and issued mortgages for people to buy a freehold housing plot. Owning the freehold was important because only freeholders could vote at the time.

A sign on 69 Walkley Road, saying Freedom Hill

These societies increased the numbers of people who could vote and meant more working-class people became voters, helping to change politics. Walkley put Sheffield at the forefront of these social changes.

The book introduces the Freehold Land Societies and traces the history of a sample of streets and the people who lived there, then it looks at work and play, health, transport, churches, schools and pubs.

The subjects and places included reflect the interests of the historians who have researched and written the book, many having personal connections to the streets, schools and churches that are featured.

The book has been funded by Lottery Players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is part of the Walkley Historians’ three-year Streets of Walkley project. As well as the book, the historians have held a Victorian fair, storytelling sessions about pubs in pubs, a series of temporary exhibitions, school activities and the Walkley History Mystery whodunnit trail, which is available from Walkley Library.

Community spirit - a royal wedding street party in Industry Street, Walkley