Remarkable now-and-then images show Sheffield’s changing face

Remarkable images comparing Sheffield today with scenes from a bygone era reveal the extent of change.

Tuesday, 14th May 2019, 3:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th May 2019, 3:52 pm

Conrad Kaye’s picturesque watercolours and sketches chronicled the Wadsley he remembered growing up in as a boy during the early 1900s.

Numerous scenes captured by the man known to many simply as the Major show his home village before it was forever altered by pre and post-war development.

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Looking back at Sheffield over the last 50 years
The Beehive pub in Wadsley as painted by Conrad Kaye, and how the old pub, which is now a Tesco Express looks today (pics: Conrad Kaye/Robin Garside)

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Now a fan of the late artist’s work has set about photographing those spots as they look today, providing a fascinating glimpse of how the elevated suburb has altered over the last century.

Robin Garside, a folk singer/songwriter and artist, who is a member of the Wadsley and Loxley Commoners (WALC) group, was inspired to begin the project after being asked to photograph some of Kaye’s work being placed into storage.

He is due to give an illustrated talk at Wadsley Church Hall, where some of the Major's paintings are hung, showing the results.

The village stocks in Wadsley, Sheffield, as painted by Conrad Kaye

“The biggest changes you can see are the creation of the Wisewood estate, much of which was just fields, and the number of cars on the roads today. Pretty much all the buildings used to be made of stone, too, whereas now there’s more of a mixture,” he said.

“But some things have barely changed from the outside, like the church and most of the pubs. The commons are much as they were, too, except that people used to quarry there and now there’s no industry, and they’re covered in trees where there used to be none.

“I think Conrad was trying to point out to people that not all change is for the good, but on the other hand it’s not all for the bad.

The Wadsley village stocks today (pic: Robin Garside)

“Some of the buildings you see in the old photos and paintings are basically slums, which makes you realise how hard life was for a lot of people.”

Robin said he had enjoyed taking the photos, though the extent of the changes and Kaye’s artistic licence meant finding the exact spot at which to shoot had not always been an easy task.

He has taken around 30 snaps so far but there are still a handful of settings from the Major’s paintings he has yet to shoot as they look today.

Kaye, who died in 2010, aged 100, was a career soldier, who rose to the rank of major, before becoming a teacher. As well as painting his home village, he wrote extensively about its history.

Wadsley Church in Sheffield, as painted by Conrad Kaye

The Paintings of Conrad Kaye, an illustrated talk by Robin Garside, will take place at Wadsley Church Hall on Monday, May 20, at 7.30pm. Entry costs £3.50 (£3 for WALC members), including refreshments and home made cake.

For more information about the event, and the Wadsley and Locksley Commoners, visit www.wadsley-loxley.org.

Wadsley Church has changed little over the years (pic: Robin Garside)
The Beehive pub in Wadlsey, as painted by Conrad Kaye
The old Beehive pub in Wadsley, which is now a Tesco Express store (pic: Robin Garside)