Monthly Archives: August 2020

A Snowy Night In Sheffield

A series of five photographs from a recently scanned strip of negatives. They date from my time living in Sheffield in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Something about the grain of the images and the grittiness of the off-white snow seems to fit in with my memory of the times. There really should be a soundtrack to the slideshow: something by Johnny Hodges perhaps – slow, smokey, slightly aloof. No doubt there is a way of adding such a track to this blogpost; I will experiment, but first I need to warm up, it’s cold out there tonight!

Anti-Vaxxers Take To The Streets Of Wyke

I have been cranking up the random news generator again, and today it has taken me back to the 6th August 1887, and a report in the pages of the Brighouse Echo which, once again, proves that there is little new happening in the world. It tells the case of a certain Sam Kellet, a coal miner from Wyke, which is a village between Brighouse and Bradford. The bailiffs had turned up at his house in order to seize property to meet the unpaid fines which the magistrates had awarded against him for refusing to have his child vaccinated. The whole process of the seizure and sale of goods (“four chairs, two tables and a kitchen dresser”) was watched by a crowd of 50 to 60 people. Mr John Rushforth, of Brighouse, president of the Wyke Anti-Vaccination Society, “mounted a wall and addressed the crowd, vigorously condemning the laws relating to vaccination”.

In the 1880s, thousands of people through Britain took to the streets and mounted opposition to laws that had been introduced to make vaccination against smallpox compulsory. A century later, vaccination against the disease eventually led to its worldwide eradication. If, and when, we get a vaccine against COVID19, let us hope it is as successful, and that the efforts of the modern-day equivalents of Mssrs Kellet and Rushforth are as unsuccessful.

ANTI-VACCINATION AT WYKE – On Saturday morning excitement was caused at Wyke by the seizure and sale of certain household effects belonging to Sam Kellett, collier, Garden Fields, under a distress warrant, which had been issued in consequence of Kellet having neglected to comply with a magistrate’s order to have his child vaccinated. The services of Mr Jonathan Benson, auctioneer, Calverley, had been secured, and the sale of the goods “marked” was effected without hindrance from the crowd, which numbered about fifty and sixty persons, mostly women. The amount of fines and costs incurred by various processes of the Court amounted to 33s, and that sum was raised by the sale of four chairs, two tables, and a kitchen dresser. The dresser and a table were bought in on behalf of Kellett by Mr John Rushforth, of Brighouse, president of the Wyke Anti-Vaccination Society. Kellett himself bought in the chairs and the other table. Sales were to have been effected at two houses in the district, but one of the men paid in at the last moment. The sale was conducted amid a running commentary on the evils of vaccination, and Mr Rushforth afterwards mounted a wall and addressed the crowd, vigorously condemning the laws relating to vaccination.

Layer Upon Layer

I took these two photographs when I was living in Sheffield in the early 1980s. In trying to work out where they were taken from, there are some obvious clues. With the help of maps and archives, I was able to pin down where the Morning Star Patent Flour mill was, and I was able to identify the church (Holy Trinity, Wicker, now the New Testament Church of God). There were, however, two separate railway lines visible in the first of the two photos, and try as I might, I could not come up with a line of sight that would include all these combinations. The solution came, I think, when I realised that I must have been using a telephoto lens, and I must have been stood on the top of the Kelvin Flats in Upperthorpe. The high-rise flats have been gone for more than a quarter of a century now, so such views of layer upon layer of Sheffield are no longer available.