Sheffield man John Askham shares happy memories of Carbrook childhood

The organiser of a regular Sheffield school reunion has written about his memories of those days.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 6:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 12:17 pm
John Askham's grandparents, Bob and Polly Askham

John Askham grew up in Short Street and his schooldays lasted from January 1948 to December 1957.

The next get-together of Carbrook Church of England School takes place on Wednesday (December 4) at the Noose & Gibbet pub on Broughton Lane, opposite the arena, from noon to 3pm.

John writes: “Carbrook, where I was born, was a triangular piece of suburban housing, bordered by Weedon Street, Carbrook Street and Attercliffe Common.

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An aerial view of Weedon Street, Carbrook - John Askham has spotted washing hanging up in his yard

None of the houses had any garden so to speak of. In fact all any of us had was a back yard, with the front door straight on to the street.

The house that I lived in was pretty much unique. It didn’t even have a front door. The house was so tiny, that there just wasn’t any room to fit one in.

Carbrook was, and still is, slap bang in the middle of the East End industrial area. All the time there was smoke from factory chimneys, with giant drop hammers banging away through the night, making the house shudder.

Sunday nights it was hard to drop off to sleep. This was the only night that the hammers weren’t working.

Boys at play in Carbrook Street in Sheffield before demolition in the 1960s. This is near where Sheffield Arena is today

The yard where I lived was a courtyard and had eight houses. My grandparents lived in the same yard as my mum and I. Their house had just one bedroom, and they reared eight children, four boys and four girls. How they managed is anybody’s guess.

Other neighbours in the yard were the Windles, the Websters, the Goddards, the Cassidys. The Turtans lived to our left and the Pipers on our right. As far as I know, everybody got on well.

I well remember my first day at Carbrook C of E School. My mother took me for the first and only time. My teacher’s name was Mrs James.

I do remember that I was very good at reading. I could read before I started school. One day the teacher took me into the higher class so they could hear me read. This was really embarrassing.

My progression through school was nearly all without any undue incident. I did fail the 11-plus. At the time I didn’t think this was any kind of drawback.

Mr (Pop) Caisley was the headmaster. The only time that I came into any kind of contact with him was when I was sent to his office for some kind of misdemeanour. I don’t remember what for.

I do remember that I got two strokes on each hand, so maybe it was for something really bad. My hands were very sore but I never told my mum. I would have got another pasting.

Incidentally, Pop Caisley, when he retired, went to work for a short time at Arthur Lee’s at Wincobank. My uncle Dave was his boss. He was also a pupil at Carbrook when Pop was headmaster.

My grandad, Bob Askham, at one time used to help out with the school football team. The team’s nickname was The Natch – I think that this was due to the fact that the school was once called Carbrook National School.

Pop Caisley didn’t like the team to be called this, so he banned it. I bet that those on the touchline at matches still would shout the team on with “Up the Natch”.

All of my uncles and aunts went to the C of E, and I don’t think any one of them passed the 11-plus. Likewise my classmates, of which there were 44. That seems a lot in one class nowadays.

If I remember correctly, as I progressed into the senior classes, we got a new headmaster, Mr Cornthwaite. He really turned the school around.

One of the things that he improved on was, sports equipment. He also introduced theatre to us (not for me). I remember that once the school put on a production of Treasure Island.

The curtains for the stage were borrowed from the Palace on Attercliffe. As far as I know the play was a big success. Our neighbour’s son, Trevor Turton, played the part of Ben Gunn.

n There’s more memories to come from John soon, and some from his aunt, Joan Harris.