Retro: Meet George Spencer Waterfall of Rutland Park

I happened on today's subject by chance really. I search Google Earth to try and find subjects for my column. My two Amigos are no help as they get lost as soon as they walk out of their homes anyway.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 14th February 2017, 2:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:35 am
House on Rutland Park
House on Rutland Park

The carved date of 1895 and the initials GSW can be found on the office walls of what has now become the offices of BHP Chartered Accountants’ .

I always ask if possible if it’s OK to take photos of my subjects, and the two ladies who were on reception were very helpful and did get permission for me.


George Spencer Waterfall had the house built for himself and his family.

It seems that the Waterfall family were all involved in file making from the 1700s, and the name was still known in 1974 as a supplier of engineering files based on Coleford Road.

I couldn’t find any more references to them after 1974.

The Waterfall family seem to have lived in the same area for more than 200 years, within Carsick Hill, Greystones, Upperthorpe and Commonside.

Mangle, Waterfall and Barber

I’m sure that his father, John Henry Waterfall, who is described as a merchant and steel manufacturer, died on January 9, 1869, at the age of 32, at Clarke Grove.

His cause of death was smallpox. It seems he had been vaccinated, and it was against the law at that time not to get vaccinated as it put the rest of the town’s folk in danger.

A fine of 20 shillings was the punishment for refusing the vaccination.

Thankfully, this terrible disease was wiped out years ago.


In 1879 H&R Waterfall were working out of Court Two on Bailey Lane as steel and file manufacturers.

One of the family, George, was living at 94 Ashdell Road in 1879, and other members of the family, also described as file manufacturers, were living at Carsick Hill.

These were Alfred and William with Mrs Mary Waterfall. I suspect Alfred and William were father and son but who was who I can’t say.

At Commonside on Springvale Road lived Henry Waterfall who was also a file manufacturer. The brothers had a small firm at the Salt Box Works, 36 Dun Fields, producing first-class files for all the trades.

Mangle, Waterfall and Barber

Other members of the family, George Henry Waterfall and his wife, Sarah, were living on Endcliffe Crescent, and another Waterfall, Walter, who is listed as a file manager, was living on Reliance Place just off Winter Street.

Other members of the clan were living around the town: John was living at 130 Upperthorpe Road, Charles who is listed as a warehouseman was living at 46 Cromwell Street.

I won’t cite any more of the family as names and address do get a mite boring.

In 1867 the Waterfalls were taken into partnership with John Kenyon & Sons.

Gradually, the Waterfalls bought out the company but still retained the name, John Kenyon & Co. Sheffield Ltd. merchants and manufacturers of steel, files, saws, edge tools, Mills and Steel Works.

The officers of this company for the year 1867-8 are Master Cutler: Mark Firth, Esq., Senior Warden: Mr George Beardshaw, Junior Warden: Mr David Ward, Searchers: Messrs. Wm. Hill, Thos. Jowitt (of Footprint Tools), Wm. Bragge, John Henry Waterfall, Thos. Turner, and Joseph Haywood.

Kenyon’s was another old firm in Sheffield, being founded in the 1750s.

At one point Henry Waterfall had become partners with a certain Edwin Barber and traded under the name of H & R Waterfall & Barber steel manufacturers, so the brothers had diversified into other products while still retaining the file production at their works on West Street Lane.

They produced files and hammers. But something happened in 1881, as shown in a report in the London Gazette on May 17, that read :

NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership lately subsisting between us the undersigned. Henry Waterfall and Edwin Barber, in the [business of) Steel and File Manufacturers, under the name of H. and R. Waterfall and Barber, at Prometheus Works, Bailey-Lane, Sheffield, has been dissolved by mutual consent; and that all debts due and owing to or by the said firm will be received and paid by the said Edwin Barber, who will hence-forth carry on the said business alone under the name of H. and R. Waterfall and Barber – witness our hands 7th of May 1881 Henry Waterfall / Edwin Barber.

Was Henry bankrupt? Maybe...

Back to George Spencer Waterfall and his home at Rutland Park: it seems that after building this grand home, just 10 years later a Mrs Emily Fairburn is living there and George had moved to 50 Riverdale Road.

He then moved again to 5 Tapton House Road, on March 11, 1938 he died at the Argyll Nursing Home at the age of 69, and for all the wealth he had accrued he left the paltry sum of £1,769 4s 9d.

If anyone has seen any interesting buildings that I have not already covered, please contact the Star so I can check them out,

The buildings must have been built before the date of 1895 at least, I have asked before but to date no-one has got in touch.

During all of my searches through the old directories I’ve discovered one interesting fact (well it is interesting to me) there weren’t any chimney sweeps listed at that time, they are listed as chimney sweepers.

I wonder when that changed as they were always called sweepers right up to the 1920s. Very strange.