Sheffield author shows thirst for local history with book about water

A new book on Sheffield history looks at one of the vital natural resources for life – water.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 12:00 am
Updated Thursday, 17th October 2019, 1:40 pm
The Sheffield Cholera Monument in Norfolk Park

The History of Water: The Sheffield Reflection is Stannington GP Dr Jenny Stephenson’s second local history book.

The first was a historical account of Walkley House and Stannington Medical Centres, based on patients’ stories and covering medical history.

Jenny said a city tragedy caught her interest: “The stunning figure of 402 Sheffield deaths from ‘King Cholera’ in 1832 stood out, as the main cause of the killer was contaminated water supplies.

Sheffield author Dr Jenny Stephenson with her new book, The History of Water: the Sheffield Reflection

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“This demanded further study of this precious resource which we all enjoy every day, essential to our very existence – water.”

She continued: “The book starts with a brief basic science of how water works in living things and the world around us, followed by a background history of the importance and development of civilisation based around water – starting of course with the Romans who had very sophisticated ideas.

“The book moves on to various disasters relating to water out of control, including Dale Dyke (1864), and from there to an account of waste water and sewers, and the history of the toilet.

“Inventive Victorians follow, who save the day, and then a pageant of our local reservoirs and fountains near and far, illustrated by my photographs and paintings.

Boats on Damflask Reservoir in Low Bradfield, Sheffield

“The future concludes the book, with questions over plastic and contamination, ending with a ray of hope that positive changes are afoot, and a plea for us all to do our part in environmental sustainability.”

The book will be launched at Stannington Community Library, Uppergate Road on Friday, November 1 from 4-6pm. There will be a book signing, a short talk, a quiz and cakes.

The Walkley House book will be available to buy at £5, and the current book at £13. All proceeds go to Water Aid, Cavendish Cancer Care and other charities.

The books will be available from The Famous Sheffield Shop and Beeches in Walkley and from Amazon. Copies may be obtained from Walkley House and Stannington Medical Centres, or in writing to Dr J Stephenson, Stannington Medical Centre, Uppergate Road, Sheffield, S6 6BX.

An early flushing toilet design by Joseph Bramah of Stainborough, Barnsley