Community focus: Rural feel part of Loxley's charm

With a view of rolling, green hills as a backdrop to a fresh, stiff breeze blowing in your face, Loxley has more of a rural English feel than most Sheffield suburbs.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 1:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th January 2017, 10:56 am
Loxley's watering hole, the Admiral Rodney

The village can be found almost five miles from Sheffield city centre, on the road to High Bradfield.

Loxley was once an important part of the area's industry.

Loxley's rural atmosphere is part of the charm

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Steel works and rolling mills lined the Loxley River, and some of the mill ponds serve as a reminder of what once stood there.

Industry in the village took a huge hit in 1864 in the Great Sheffield Flood. Seventeen people died in Loxley on March 11 when the Dale Dyke Dam broke while being filled for the first time.

Many of the village's victims are buried in the grounds of the Loxley Old Church, located just off the main road. It had a disaster of its own last August, when a fire ravaged the building.

Local campaigner Ron Clayton has renewed his call for it to be restored, and for the graveyard to be cleaned up, but he's concerned his words are falling on deaf ears.

Loxley is about five miles from Sheffield

He has more people in his corner this time, including Dunford Bridge resident Mick Drewry.

Mick last visited the cemetery in August 2016, and said it was so bad that he couldn't even find his grandmother Lillian Pridmore's final resting place. She died in 1959.

"I was astonished at the state of the cemetery," Mick said.

The news is taking its toll on Mick's mother Jean, who is 85. She has mobility problems, and hasn't seen it for herself.

Ron Clayton urges Sheffield to do something about the Loxley Old Church

"It's of concern to her, emotionally," Mick said.

Jean had been involved setting up a friends of the church group.

Mick's grandfather Ernest Pridmore died in 1985, and is buried in the same cemetery.

Restoring the church and its grounds would be a huge step forward for the community, and Sheffield, according to Ron.

Loxley's rural atmosphere is part of the charm

He wants to see Sheffield take more of an interest in its history, and Ron takes a keen interest in an outlaw who many might not even know has links to the area.

Like most legends, that of the swashbuckling Robin Hood divides people to this day, though many are keen to offer .

Was he really a sword-wielding, heroic outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, supporting Richard the Lionheart, who was away fighting at the Third Crusade? Or was he, like some of the earliest references suggested, much further down the social scale?

Did he even exist at all?

While Nottingham is the region of England which comes to many minds when referring to the story, Loxley is also close to its centre. Robin Hood is said to be from the area. He is sometimes referred to as Robin of Locksley, and the spelling isn't all that different from the village's name today.

Ron isn't letting the truth get in the way of the story, but that's part and parcel of stories like these.

Loxley is about five miles from Sheffield

"My opinion is that it's a piece of folklore," Ron said.

"It's about good triumphing over evil."

Less than 50 miles away, Nottingham embraces its link with Robin Hood. Ron said it was time Sheffield did the same.

Plans for a sculpture or a statue in Loxley have been talked about, but never materialised.

Ron said more needed to be done to embrace it.

"This city hasn't got the interest," he said.

Robin Hood's supposed lieutenant, Little John, isn't too far away. He is buried at Hathersage, Derbyshire. It's about a half hour's drive from Loxley.

These days, Loxley's main road is popular with cyclists. Plenty of rugged up riders were out on Tuesday, struggling up the long incline and zooming down on the way back into Sheffield.

It's not just cyclists who get out and about. The Purcey Pud 10 kilometre race happens every year in Loxley, adding to the community feel.

The runners gather post-race to sip on a coffee, or a beer for the brave few, at the Admiral Rodney on the Loxley Road.

The watering hole's assistant manager, Tom Townsend, said most stuck to just caffeine.

"A couple of people had a beer," Tom said.

Tom lives on the other side of town, on Handsworth Road, but loves working in Loxley.

It hasn't taken long to make an impression on the 22-year-old. Tom has only worked at the pub for about eight months.

"It's lovely, actually," he said.

"It has a nice community spirit."

Former Sheffield Lord Mayor Vickie Priestley remembers her time in Loxley with fondness.

She is now at Walshaw Road, Worrall, but Vickie has a soft spot for her former village.

"It's that sense that really, you're almost in the countryside, if you like," Vickie said.

"It's a small place. You know everybody."

There are too many stories to recount of the people in the town, according to the Stannington Ward councillor.

"You always get your characters, don't you," Vickie said.

Vickie, 60, and her husband Lloyd considered their options carefully before moving on. It took the couple three years.

Ron Clayton urges Sheffield to do something about the Loxley Old Church