Friday, October 20, 2017

Sheffield’s rich pub heritage revealed in newly-listed documents at City Archives

As part of a cataloguing drive at Sheffield City Archives, aiming to make a backlog of previously unlisted material publicly accessible, a large collection of some 60 boxes of over 740 files of Sheffield Magistrates Court licensing records has recently been catalogued. The result is to reveal a wealth of fascinating history concerning hundreds of pubs and on-licensed premises in Sheffield dating back to the late-nineteenth century.
For many decades, up until c.2005, it appears that Sheffield Magistrates Court kept a licensing file for each pub and on-licensed premises in Sheffield. As well as recording historical details of the licence holders of each premises, the files included architectural plans (detailing proposed alterations and improvements for each premises submitted for the approval of the licensing section of the Magistrates Court). The earliest plan of a Sheffield pub in the collection dates back to 1888, and the latest plans are dated 2005, so the plans span a period of almost 120 years.


The records were transferred to Sheffield City Archives almost 10 years ago where, up until the recent cataloguing project undertaken by staff there, the files remained unlisted with the true significance of their contents unknown.

The cataloguing project has unearthed lost original plans of pubs (including detailed floor plans and exquisite watercolour elevations) by local Sheffield architects, dating back to the late Victorian/Edwardian era, including: Flockton, Gibbs and Flockton of St James Row, Holmes and Watson of St James Chambers, James R. Wigfull of 14 Parade Chambers, J. P. Earle of Norfolk Row, W. H. Lancashire and Son of Hartshead, Edmund Winder of Corn Exchange Chambers and Alfred Appleby of 66 Surrey Street (amongst others).

The architectural plans transport us back to the old ‘Coaching Inn’ days of many of the pubs when they provided accommodation to travellers arriving or passing through Sheffield in horse-drawn coaches. The plans detail the various ancillary buildings which could be found outside the main pub premises including carriage and coach houses, stables, pig sties, manure pits, ash pits, hay lofts, pigeon lofts, coal houses, privies, wash houses, etc.. In terms of interior detail of the main pub buildings themselves, the plans show the size and positioning of dram shops, bottle stores, beer cellars, billiard and bagatelle rooms, smoke rooms, tap rooms, club rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, etc.
Alongside the plans, some of the licensing files also include occasional correspondence from the architects which can reveal intriguing information. For example, a file for the Royal Oak Hotel (now the Beer Engine) on Cemetery Road, Sheffield, includes a letter from the architect, J. P. Earle of Norfolk Row, Sheffield, dated 19 May 1898, enclosing his plans of the pub and explaining the reason for the proposed renovations at the premises: to enable meetings to be more easily accommodated there for up to 400 druids! In the letter, Earle informed the magistrates:
“As there are some 400 Druids hold their meetings at this house, the old club room was much too small and inconvenient. The proprietors, under these circumstances, now ask the magistrates consent to add to the club room, the space that was previously a store room…”
Since this collection of Magistrates Court licensing records comprises files for on-licensed premises (rather than exclusively pubs) it also includes architectural plans (dating back to the late 1960s onwards) for Sheffield’s legendary lost nightclubs such as Fiesta, Josephine’s, Roxy’s,  Sinatra’s, Tiffany’s, etc.
With the decline of the traditional British pub industry in recent years, many of the pubs which feature in the collection have since closed. However, the newly catalogued plans and licensing information at Sheffield City Archives ensures that the memory and spirit of these pubs will live on, allowing us to re-imagine them as they stood in their heyday at the heart of the community, thronging with thirsty steelworkers, weary stage-coach travellers and even congregating druids!
Full details of this catalogued collection of licensing files can be found on Sheffield City Archives online catalogue (series reference: MC/20/5):
The original records can be consulted at Sheffield City Archives (52 Shoreham Street) on any Monday, Tuesday or Saturday (when the archives’ searchroom is open to the public).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

World Mental Health Day

10th of October 2017 is World Mental Health Day. Libraries are the ideal place to visit for their calm relaxing and safe environment, but they also offer a huge amount of books which provide practical support and understanding for those affected by mental health problems.

This year, World Mental Health day is specifically focusing on the importance of workplace well-being, however we would like to show you a brilliant collection of books that we have to support young people.

  • 1 in 10 young people have a diagnosable mental health condition – that’s 3 pupils in every classroom
  • 70% of young people with experience of mental health problems do not have proper interventions at a sufficiently early age
  • It’s estimated that half of all mental health problems will emerge before the age of 141

Reading Well for Young People - Shelf Help Collection:

Throughout Sheffield Libraries we now have a Shelf Help collection which is designed specifically with young people, particularly teenagers, in mind. The collection covers topics such as anxiety, depression, self harm, body image, self esteem and much more. It includes a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, also hand picked by health professionals and teenagers, there's something to appeal, or more importantly to help, everyone. 

Here are some of the titles in the Shelf Help collection. All of these titles, and more, are available across Sheffield Libraries so please feel free to ask a member of staff for any particular requests you may have. Books can be sent to any library of your choice free of charge! 

Alongside this fantastic collection of books, we have many other titles to support adults and young people with health and well being so don't hesitate to pop in, take a look around or chat to a member of staff for some suggestions. 

Here are a few useful links.
Mental Health Foundation:

We are here to help and hope to see you at a library very soon!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dyslexia Awareness Week

Dyslexia Awareness Week ran from the 2nd October to the 8th October 2017. The British Dyslexia Association had a theme for each day:

The hashtag for the week was #positivedyslexia2017, and it sounds like the week was a resounding success in raising awareness.

If you’ve been inspired by what you’ve seen this week and are looking for a book to kick-start your own reading, or helping your kids to get started, Sheffield Libraries have a wide range to choose from, including:

·         Audiobooks
·         Graphic novels
·         Non-fiction
·         Quick reads
Central Library also carries daily newspapers, including The Guardian, The Mirror, and the Sheffield Star.

We also have an e-library with e-books, e-audiobooks, and e-magazines, which are all available here: It’s free to set up an account with your library card.

For younger readers we have books specifically designed for children with dyslexia created by Barrington Stoke, The Little Gems series is particularly appealing for children, along with graphic novels, puzzle and audio books.

If you’re not sure what to pick and want to find something quickly, most libraries have displays with particular themes which you might like and you can always ask a member of staff if you would like some suggestions. Books are loaned out for 3 weeks, but can be renewed if you need more time to finish.

And remember that you can always bring a book back and try something else if you’re not enjoying it. There’s no charge to borrow, it’s all completely free!
This week is Libraries Week, so take the opportunity to pop in, register and see if there's anything that takes your fancy!

We hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: Notes from a big country by Bill Bryson

This book is a compilation of a series of articles originally written for The Mail on Sunday, and I adore it.

Bryson manages to capture the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances of life in the United States and conveys them with humour, wit, and a playful sense of fun. He covers topics such as the ritual of getting the Christmas tree decorations out of the loft, the arrival of autumn, filling in tax forms, diners, and why nobody walks over there.

Each article is designed to stand alone, so the book allows for the pleasurable act of dipping in and out when time permits. I have my favourite articles which I re-read from time to time and they always make me laugh. 

I hope you find some favourites too.

If you like the sound of this, you might also like:

Review written by Ann Brook (Library and Information Assistant)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sheffield Children's Book Awards 2017!

The Sheffield Children's Book Award is back and brilliant as ever. 2017 sees a new shortlist of dazzling titles, for which the votes are now in, and frantic preparations have begun for the award ceremony which will take place on Friday 10th November. School classes from around Sheffield will be invited to come along, make a lot of noise and meet some of their favourite authors and illustrators. It's an exciting, fun and brilliantly book lead day.

This year's shortlist contains a varied mix of the best titles from 2016 releases and a special category featuring independent publishers. So would you like to see who we have for you this year? Then settle in for book heaven!

Baby & Toddler Books:

With the baby and toddler books this year we have a wonderful strong nature theme, some baking fun, caring and one very greedy goat. This selection of books is really bright and beautiful.

➸123 A Walk in the Countryside
Rosalind Beardshaw

➸ Hoot's Twilight Adventure
Rowena Blyth

➸ Fingertrail Playbook
Fiona Watt & Stella Baggott

➸ Baking With Dad
Aurora Cacciapuoti

➸ The Greedy Goat
Peter Horacek

➸ Kiss it Better
Smriti Prasadam-Halls & Sarah Massini.

Picture Books:

We teach you how to survive bear spotting this year in the picture books, along with a bear who likes his own adventures and one book nibbling monster who we perhaps won't be inviting into the libraries to eat our books!! We also have some crazy clothing, with bright pants, odd socks and a stripy scarf I think we'd all love to wrap up in! The shortlist this year veers from the ridiculously funny to the ridiculously adorable. 

➸ Odd Dog Out
Rob Biddulph

➸ Otto the Book Bear in the Snow
Katie Cleminson

➸ Prince of Pants
Alan MacDonald & Sarah McIntyre

➸ A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting
Michelle Robinson & David Roberts

➸ Odd Socks
Michelle Robinson & Rebecca Ashdown

➸ Nibbles the Book Monster
Emma Yarlett

Emerging Reads & Shorter Reads:

The emerging reads and shorter novels this year really show off the increase in fantastic illustrated fiction for children. We have a silly mix of pirates, pigeons and pumpkins and some fantasy action with funfair fun, time travel and a beetle loving boy!

➸ Dave Pigeon
Swapna Haddow & Sheena Dempsey

➸ The Pumpkin Project
Katie Smith

➸ Pocket Pirates The Great Drain Escape
Chris Mould

➸ The Many Worlds of Albie Bright
Christopher Edge

➸ Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair
Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

➸ Beetle Boy
M. G. Leonard

Longer Novels & Young Adult:

The longer novels and young adult titles are varied also this year with some fantasy adventures and some true life novels that hit home a little harder. All fantastic and compelling reads for older children and teens.

➸ Moth Girls
Anne Cassidy

➸ The Girl of Ink & Stars
Kiran Millwood Hargreave

➸ Time Travelling with a Hamster
Ross Welford

➸ The Art of Not Breathing
Sarah Alexander

➸ The Trap
Alan Gibbons

➸ Orangeboy
Patrice Lawrence

Special Category - Independent Publishers for Younger Children:

Our special category this year celebrates the best releases from independent publishers. The New LiBEARian celebrates libraries in a gorgeously fun and sweet way which can't fail to make you smile. The Tigon and the Liger is a beautiful diverse book about learning to love yourself and embracing differences. The Bean Machine is about the consequences of eating nothing but baked beans (yes you can imagine), it includes machinery, mayhem and some very clever recycling! 
All wonderful engaging reads for young children.

➸ The New LiBEARian
Alison Donald & Alex Willmore

➸ The Tigon and the Liger
Keilly Swift & Cosei Kawa

➸ The Bean Machine
Adam Bestwick

So there you have it, our 2017 shortlisted titles in all their glory. The votes from children throughout schools and libraries are in and being counted and the winner will be kept top secret until the awards ceremony on 10th November, so watch this space until then when we will be revealing the category and overall winner!

Blog post written by Alexis Filby (Library and Information Assistant).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How Sir Arthur Conan Doyle helped save WW1 soldiers

A new exhibition is coming to Sheffield Local Studies Library which tells the tale of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his campaign to save the lives of British soldiers fighting in the First World War.


Sir Conan Doyle is famous as the creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. But he’s less well known for his campaign to reduce casualties during the First World War, when he used his fame to help those 'fighting for the freedom of the world'.

Sheffield City Archives reference: HAD/BOX 57 (Picture Sheffield: arc01674)

The exhibition, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, tells the story of that campaign and Doyle’s call for troops to be protected with armour. It draws on the writer’s personal papers held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds and records of steel makers held by Sheffield City Archives.


It was Sir Robert Hadfield of Hadfields Limited, Sheffield, who suggested using toughened manganese steel for the Tommies’ new helmet because, although it would dent when hit by bullets or shrapnel, it would not shatter. The same steel was later used in body armour.


Dayfield Body Shield 1
Conan Doyle’s campaign started when, appalled by the 65,000 British casualties at the second battle of Ypres in 1915, he wrote a letter printed in The Times (27 July 1915) stating that helmets and armour would reduce the number of wounds caused by shrapnel, rifle and machine gun fire. This was the start of a campaign which lasted throughout the war, attracting the attention of the war time government.


His letters also led to a response from manufacturing firms making armour for private purchase by British officers who boasted that they used only the finest Sheffield steel. Many sent Conan Doyle samples of their armour which he tested in his garden at Crowborough with his own service rifle.



Philip Abbott, Archivist at the Royal Armouries, said: “Conan Doyle’s concern over the heavy casualties being suffered on the Western Front was prompted by his humanitarian nature. His ideas on helmets, body armour and shields were a thoughtful response to the impact on soldiers brought about by trench warfare.

Today most people remember the writer for his fictional work but this was a cause he pursued with great energy and passion throughout the war through the newspapers and lobbying directly with the government of the time.”


Professor Walker's shield
Professor Walker's shield
At the exhibition people will be able to see some of the letters sent to Conan Doyle, a replica of the one of the body armours made for soldiers in Sheffield, as well as photographs telling the story of the famous author’s campaign to save the lives of British troops.


We are also hosting a free talk by Philip Abbott, Archivist at the Royal Armouries


The exhibition includes a free talk at Sheffield’s Local Studies and Archives Library on Wednesday 11th October at 1.30pm by Philip Abbott, Archivist at the Royal Armouries.  Booking your place for the talk is advised at

The exhibition runs from Thursday 14th September through to Christmas 2017 at Sheffield Local Studies Library (first floor, Central Library, Surrey Street).