The Sheffield shop where everything was for sale - even the covers from the family bedrooms upstairs!

Gladys Smith's father and grandmother outside the family convenience store they ran on the corner of Popple Street and Hinde Street in Page Hall
Gladys Smith's father and grandmother outside the family convenience store they ran on the corner of Popple Street and Hinde Street in Page Hall
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Few Sheffielders can claim to have been at the heart of their community for as long as Gladys Smith, who in her own quiet way has led a remarkable life.

The lifelong Page Hall resident, who will turn 93 this month, was born above a grocery store and has played an integral role ever since in the neighbourhood she loves.

Gladys Smith has lived in Page Hall all her life

Gladys Smith has lived in Page Hall all her life

From providing surrounding homes and businesses with essentials as a young delivery girl to creating spectacular wedding cakes for most of her street, via some close shaves during the Blitz, she has always been in the thick of daily life there.

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She has also witnessed huge changes in the suburb, which in recent years has gained an unsavoury reputation among some outsiders but which she says remains a 'friendly and close-knit' place in which to live.

Gladys was born in 1925 above the family shop at the corner of Popple Street and Hinde Street - bang in the middle of the homes at either end of Popple Street in which her mother Laura and father Joseph Hemming had been born.

Gladys Smith as a young girl

Gladys Smith as a young girl

The store was run by her father and her grandmother Elizabeth, who prided themselves on stocking everything you could want - even, much to the rest of the family's frustration, when it wasn't technically for sale.

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"People would come in looking for wedding gifts and Dad would sell them the pots out of our kitchen cupboard or the bedspread from off our bed if that's what they were after," said Gladys.

"I remember Mum one day invited us to us try a pork pie she had made. We said we couldn't see a pork pie, and it turned out Dad had sold it."

Gladys Smith and her husband Frank on their wedding day

Gladys Smith and her husband Frank on their wedding day

Gladys worked in the shop as a girl and when customers bought too much to carry themselves, her father would volunteer her to deliver it to their homes. At that time, she recalls, she could have told you the names of everyone living along Popple Street.

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One of her abiding memories from her time at the shop is of walking in and finding her father, who had asthma and the lung disease emphysema, hyperventilating.

Fearing the worst, she asked him what was wrong only to be told 'you'd better ask your mother', who duly explained with little sympathy how he had ended up in the paper under the headline 'local grocer fined for drinking after time'.

Gladys Smith with her late husband Frank

Gladys Smith with her late husband Frank

Her father ran the shop from the age of 18 until he retired, and the building is still there though it is now just a house.

When the war came, Gladys remembers everyone piling in to the cellar of the old Firth Park Hotel but, hating confined spaces, she would defiantly stand at the top of the steps ready to dash down should a bomb approach.

She had two lucky escapes during the aerial assault on Sheffield.

On the night of the Blitz, she was due to join her mother and her sister Margaret in town for a dance before the sirens sounded. They ended up sheltering under Cutlers' Hall, while Gladys was stuck outside the hotel in her ballgown and dancing shoes. Although Laura and Margaret were unscathed, she says the experience left her mother mentally scarred for the rest of her life.

She also remembers how, having collected her grandparents to escort them to the hotel cellar, she was stranded when she heard the buzz bombs - as the German V-1 rockets were known - overhead.

"I lay down on the garden path that day saying my prayers, and the bomb fell not far away on Barnsley Road," she says.

Hornes, where Gladys Smith worked for many years, on the corner of King Street in Sheffield city centre

Hornes, where Gladys Smith worked for many years, on the corner of King Street in Sheffield city centre

Gladys worked during the war at Spear & Jackson on Savile Street, sharpening saws, and it was there she met her future husband Frank.

They married at St Thomas Church in Brightside, where her parents had tied the knot. The building is now a circus training school, which she jokes is 'very appropriate'.

Gladys went on to work at two of the city's most prestigious shops: first the department store Stewart & Stewart, near where the Peace Gardens are today; and then the outfitters Horne Brothers, on King Street.

She started both jobs as a temporary Christmas assistant but ended up staying for 17 years and 25 years, respectively.

Her working life finished at the opposite end of the spectrum, on a handbag stall in the Rag and Tag Market at the bottom of Corporation Street - a job she enjoyed but which only lasted for one year.

Gladys has witnessed many changes over the years. She remembers how what is today Owler Brook Primary School was once a fancy bowling green which during the war became home to a barrage balloon erected to obstruct low-flying enemy aircraft.

The site later became a streets maintenance depot, with heavy trucks cracking the ceilings of surrounding homes they would rumble past each day - the only compensation being that those roads would be the first to be cleared when it snowed.

Today's litter-strewn streets are a far cry from the pristine pavements Gladys remembers from her childhood in Page Hall, but despite the area's problems she says it remains a lovely place in which to live.

She is a talented flower arranger and cake decorator, whose intricate icing skills have added extra wow factor to the weddings of most of the neighbours on her street and their children.

She never had children and her husband sadly died in 2012, aged 95, but she still has plenty of friends and no shortage of memories to keep her company.

"People sometimes ask 'don't you get lonely?' but I tell them no, because I have so many wonderful memories which I can dig up whenever I want," she says.

Gladys Smith, far right, kneeling behind the counter when she worked at Stewart & Stewart

Gladys Smith, far right, kneeling behind the counter when she worked at Stewart & Stewart

Gladys Smith's old identity card and documents from Stewart & Stewart and Hornes, where she used to work

Gladys Smith's old identity card and documents from Stewart & Stewart and Hornes, where she used to work