Retro: Bronze Age of steel city

Crookes traffic - 1st July 1990
Crookes traffic - 1st July 1990
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A suburb whose history can be traced back at least 3,500 years is the next one we’re visiting in Retro’s A to Z tour of Sheffield and surrounding areas.

Actually, we’re looking at both Crookes and the adjoining suburb of Crookesmoor.

Crookes aerial view in 1981

Crookes aerial view in 1981

Sheffield’s project of tracing the city’s history in 100 objects features the Crookes urns, now in Weston Park Museum, that link the area back to the early Bronze Age.

The urns were found on Easter Sunday 1887 by Mr H G Watkinson, who was walking on Cocked Hat Lane, later Tinker Lane, near Bole Hill in Crookes.

The smaller urn was inside the larger one and cremated human remains, a small pottery vessel and a bronze knife were found inside.

Metal smelting is also known to have taken place in the area around the same time.

The name is thought to be old Norse and was either originally Krkur or Kokor, which means a nook or secluded area.

Later on, there was thought to be a Roman road through the area, leading from Derbyshire to Templeborough fort near Rotherham. The road, now Lydgate Lane, was later used as a medieval packhorse route.

Crookesmoor, which was then moorland, was very well known in the 18th century as the home of Crookesmoor racecourse. It was open from probably 1711 to 1781 when the open land was enclosed by the local gentry and prominent families.

According to William White’s 1834 History and Gazetteer of Sheffield, the deep Crookesmoor valley, “where the sides of the hills abounded in fresh springs”, attracted the attention of businessmen seeking to increase the city’s water supply.

They set up several reservoirs in the valley for this purpose and eventually built the Hadfield reservoir at Crookes in 1833.

As the city became more heavily populated, Crookes became known as a home for artisans who lived in its close-packed terraced houses climbing the steep hills.

Singer Joe Cocker, who died last December, is one of the most famous sons of those terraces. His family lived in Tasker Road.

Crookes Valley Park is one of three local green spaces and was once the site of an old reservoir called the Great Dam. The others are Weston Park and the wonderfully-named Ponderosa at Crookesmoor.

These days the area is popular with students from the city’s universities.