This is the third of four posts giving a brief history of Ringinglow
A little away from Ringinglow along the road to Burbage Bridge and at the junction with Oxstone Dale Road there stood an old two-up two-down cottage. Mr Preston built the cottage and had a business processing locally dug peat that was pressed to form potash manure with the aid of an engine and small boiler. He sold the potash manure from his premises.
Preston employed an Irishman, Henry Kelly and his wife, Bridget, who moved into the house when Mr Preston left the country after the business failed. Kelly was supposed to pay rent but never did. Preston returned briefly but soon left again after taking a watch from Henry Trotter’s sister, Mrs Flint of Bower Hill (and several others) which he promised to repair but never returned.
Kelly kept chickens and goats and cleared a patch of moorland where he attempted to grow oats, which ever grew to more than 6 inches high according to Henry Trotter, and potatoes. It seems that if you were a mate of Kelly, you could ‘send for a drop of good watter fro’ Kelly’s’. The excise men never did discover the illicit still.
Kelly also worked at Brown Edge quarry and carried slates on his back in a saddle padded with straw to a spot where they would be exposed to frost and would ‘weather’ before ‘scabbing and striking’ (scaling and splitting) into the required sizes.
Kelly’s house seems to have been a popular place with the local quarrymen . There were several ‘sprees and beanos’ at the house or at the quarry. When at Kelly’s there were ‘usually several fetchings of beer’ presumably from the Norfolk Arms.
There was a tradition amongst the Brown Edge quarrymen concerning the first bumblebee of the summer. When the first bee of the year was seen, the owner of the quarry, Henry Hancock, put five shillings to the men’s two shillings and somebody was detailed to take an empty barrow to the Norfolk Arms and return with several gallons of beer.
Kelly’s son, Barney, played the concertina with a ‘band’ made up of a fife, tin whistle, and a Jew’s harp. There was plenty of singing, shouting, and clapping by the 40-50 quarrymen. Kelly sometimes felt that they had overstayed their welcome and they would play Irish songs to try to ‘bring him round’. When that failed the party would be ended by Kelly fetching his old carbine gun! The quarrymen could get rowdy and once flew a black flag from Kelly’s chimney and then hid in the heather to watch the bemused occupant’s reaction.
One year the men were at Kelly’s, larking with Kelly’s two buxom daughters, Catherine and Mary Ann, and his two sons, Pat and Barney when Kelly returned home and tried to turn them all out by brandishing a steel bar. Two men were saved from physical injury by the intervention of Henry Hancock the owner of Brown Edge Quarry, who held Kelly’s head up the chimney, over the peat fire, ‘until he cried for mercy.’ Once released, Kelly did eventually drive them all out with the aid of his steel bar and his trusty carbine.
Eventually, the freehold owner of the land (the Duke of Norfolk) was demanding payment due to him as the freeholder which was much in arrears. At this time Kelly was seen taking brass and scrap parts of the old peat engine and boiler away for sale in a cart pulled by his old donkey. The police followed him to the Hammer and Pincers once but could not succeed in a prosecution because the whereabouts of the owner of the machine, Mr Preston, was unknown and Kelly maintained that he had been ‘dead these twenty years’. Eventually the Kelly’s were evicted in 1876/7 and the property fell into disrepair.
Trotter retold story that Kelly tried to get rid of his old donkey by trying to get it to back itself into an old Moss Coal pit. The donkey refused to co-operate. Its subsequent fate is unknown.
Kelly’s son, Barney, was not averse to a little poaching. A gamekeeper, William Fox, of Far Bassett Farm off Andrew Lane (now Andwell Lane) had long suspected him and hid in the heather and waited for Barney to appear. Barney duly shot and picked up the dead bird. The gamekeeper stood up and Barney not only fled the scene but went straight into the army where he remained for the next twelve years!
Robert Trotter and Moorcock Hall
Robert Trotter was Herbert Trotter’s great-grandfather. He was born in Berwick in c 1784 and he and his parents moved south to Durham to work a corn mill. The story goes that young Robert was kidnapped by coalminers and taken to Barnsley to work in the mines there. He escaped and found work with a Sheffield farmer. He helped to sink his first coal pit in Ecclesall. Trotter spent some time developing a coal mine at Ringinglow. This story will be picked up in the next post.
In 1872, Charles Staley, a quarryman, of Ringinglow was charged with a serious assault on a prominent industrialist, the manager of Bessemer & Co in Sheffield. Charles Staley was arrested for the assault because his sister had been dismissed as a cook at the industrialist’s home in Endcliffe Crescent only a few days before. His alibi was that he was at the Norfolk Arms at the relevant time. Ten witnesses went to Court to testify on his behalf and it seems the men made a collection to help the recently widowed mother of the accused who was totally financially dependent on her son who was living with her but unable to earn anything while he was being remanded in custody. Thanks to their support Charles Staley was found Not Guilty.
On July 1912 Sarah Helen Silcock was aged 23 and helping on her uncle’s farm at Yarncliffe when she was struck by a sudden bolt of lightning that killed her instantly. The others present felt the blast and were thrown to the ground but all survived. Most of her clothing was burned and one stocking was reported to be still smoking when the survivors went to her body. The field where this happened was never mowed again during the Silcocks’ occupation.