Blue plaque for Thornton’s home in Sheffield

Historic: Norfolk Park home.
Historic: Norfolk Park home.
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The original Sheffield home of chocolate kings the Thornton’s family is to be plucked from obscurity with a rare blue plaque.

A marker explaining its history will be placed on the semi-detached house at 64 Fitzwalter Road in Norfolk Park by the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society.

It is the home where Joseph William Thornton lived with his family in 1911 when he opened the country’s first Thornton’s shop on Norfolk Street.

The plaque will be unveiled next month by Joseph’s grandson and former firm chairman Peter Thornton along with Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley.

It was while researching a book on the history of the firm that Peter discovered where his grandfather, father and uncle once called home - to the surprise of the people now living there.

The Thorntons rented the house from a New York businessman so there is no mention of them in the house deeds.

The blue plaque will be the first public declaration of its historic relevance and has been timed to commemorate the firm’s centenary.

Bruce Sachs, of the society, said: “The family currently living in the house are very excited about it as are Peter and other members of the Thornton’s family.

“They are proud to have discovered this property because Thorntons is a big name in Great Britain and the fact that this is where the family lived should be a matter of great pride for the city.”

The firm’s centenary year also coincided with an announcement in June that Thorntons was closing up to 180 stores, affecting more than 1,100 employees nationwide.

Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society is now hoping to work with the council developing a blue plaque scheme highlighting places of historic people and events across the city.

“A lot of things happened here in Sheffield and we shouldn’t be in second place to all the other areas in the country who are actively drawing attention to their heritage,” Bruce said.

The blue plaque unveiling will take place at 1pm on Saturday, September 17, followed at 2.30pm with a free talk by Peter Thornton on The Thornton Family in Sheffield at Norfolk Park Heritage Centre.

n Thorntons: My Life in the Family Business by Peter Thornton is available from The Star shop on York Street. Don’t miss photos and an extract from the book in today’s Retro.