Forge Dam Café

This is an excerpt from my History of Fulwood – a book in the making!

Forge Dam Café

An alternative source of amusement  and refreshment was the café established by the Maxfield family at the Old Forge which offered boating on a large lake, swings, boats and in December 1890 readers of the Telegraph learnt that there was splendid skating to be enjoyed at Forge House which was 10 minutes from the Ranmoor Bus! One would have had to sprint from the bus but fortunately there was accommodation for tea. A further advertisement in January 1891 informed readers that Illumination of the ice by torchlight was in place.

Herbert Maxfield had been a file cutter for much of his adult life but around 1886 he and his family had moved from Brightside to Forge House. In 1891 he was described as a farmer, so it is likely that Mary was running the café. Maxfield’s farming activities were located at Redmires rather than near the old Forge. In 1888 he was advertising ‘Good Pasturing’ there. In 1890 he was able to offer Grouse Shooting at Fair Thorne Farm and indeed on the census night a year later, three of the Maxfield children were at the farm.

The café was proving popular, Mrs Maxfield advertised in 1886 that ‘School parties and visitors [would be] supplied with hot water for tea’ and in yje same year Maxfield applied for a licence to sell beer. In September when the application was considered by the magistrates, amongst whom was Alderman Gainsford of Whiteley Wood Hall, he said that he estimated the value of the property was £20. This proved fatal to his application as the opposing solicitors pointed out that the minimum requirement was property valued at £30. A few days later a letter from James Wing, the solicitor acting for Maxfield, appeared in the Telegraph that stated the rateable value of the property to be £22 and so the value for licencing was £50. A year passed before the application was made again and the question of value was the main contention. The overseers had set the rateable value at just under £35 for the property but this included the dam which covered half the land. The magistrates again refused the licence. Maxfield was certainly tenacious. In 1906 and 1907 he applied for a billiard licence which was refused on both occasions.

An article in the Independent in 1933 about the Sharrow Wesleyan Church noted that the original ‘Tin Cathedral’ was sold in 1900and became the tea room at Forge Dam.

In 1915 Maxfield was accused of poisoning a hen in a field on Brookhouse Hill. The case was that two men who were working on 181 Brookhouse Hill which is at the junction with Whiteley Lane saw Maxfield drop a parcel over a wall into the field. When examined by the public analyst, the parcel was found to have a sufficient quantity of arsenic to kill 50 people. Some of the parcel’s contents were eaten by the hen belonging to Mrs Fox. Maxfield denied the charge and Mrs Fox said she had been on friendly terms with Maxfield for many years and could not offer any reason as to why he should wish act in this way. The defence solicitor pointed out that there was no motive and suggested that the parcel had been on the wall and Maxfield had flicked the parcel with his walking stick. The magistrates said it was serious case and fined him £10. This must have been felt grievously by Maxfield who had an ‘unblemished character.’

Maxfield had tried to sell the business in 1913 without success but was successful in 1917. The advertisement for the sale described a successful venture covering six acres. There was extensive catering facilities and the dam had 13 boats including a motor launch along with fishing. There were also gardens with 1500 rose trees. This sale, caused by Maxfield’s ill health was successful and he and his wife moved to Eastwood Road. His retirement was short-lived as he died a year later ‘in his 80th year’. He was buried in Fulwood graveyard

William Knight was the proprietor in 1919. The café has continued to prosper down to the present time.

John Gordon Byrne

Early Years

John Gordon Byrne, the third of four children, was born in the summer of 1920 into a family of butchers. His father Armel and his Uncle Frederick were both the sons of a master butcher. Armel had served in the first world war, joining the Royal Fleet Auxillary in 1917. Armel married Annie Boardman in 1914 at Thirwell Road Methodist Chapel in Heeley.

By 1924, The Byrne family had moved from Heeley into 100 Brookhouse Hill. one of the many new houses that were springing up in Fulwood, John attended King Edward VII school (KES) between 1932 and 1937.

He was working as an Insurance Clerk at the outbreak of war in 1939

War Service

John Byrne outside the church, possibly St Peter’s Abbeydale, where he married Beryl.

Byrne joined the RAF soon after. He was rapidly promoted through the ranks before gaining his first officer ring as a pilot officer in November 1941 and a second on eleven months later. He was a Flying Instructor, having been on numerous military operations.

At the end of 1942, Byrne was stationed at RAF Atherstone-on-Stour and flying Wellington bombers. On the 28th December he was the pilot of a Wellington with five others crew, none of them older than 26 years. The flight should have been routine and short; its purpose, recorded as an ‘Air Test (Medical)’, was to check that Byrne who had been ill was well enough to fly. There was no wireless operator on board, perhaps because the planned flight was short, Byrne would not have had the navigation support provided by wireless operator who would receive and understand transmissions by radio beacons that were used to locate the aircraft’s position.

Last Flight

Byrne and the crew left RAF Atherstone-on-Stour, which is 30 miles north west of Banbury, about 11.30 am. For reasons which will never be fully understood, the bomber hit an elm tree and crashed into a valley to the west of Bodicote, a village just south of Banbury. Just before midday a boy and his mother in Bodicote saw the aircraft flying very low from the south-east, with one engine smoking. When they got down to the crash site, they saw wreckage which was still on fire and the bodies of several airmen.

The official accident record stated that the aircraft had flown into cloud and had then crashed attempting to land in bad weather. A more recent report by a group of amateur investigators has suggested the aircraft was flying horizontally and at high speed prior to the crash. The group cited the lack of buried wreckage and the fact that the aircraft continued for around 400m after hitting the tree. It is possible that Byrne was flying low due to bad weather, in order to get his bearings. However, the aircraft was on a direct course to the air station suggesting that he already knew his location. The eye-witness saw one engine smoking but this could have been an exhaust trail caused by the aircraft travelling at full throttle. The recent report suggests one possibility was that Byrne was flying fast and low in order to demonstrate his fitness, a manoeuvre that, as an experienced pilot, he would have completed many times.

Obituary

KES School magazine carried an obituary which noted that “previous to his
appointment as Flying Instructor at a station in England, he had had a successful and eventful career in the R.A.F. Having taken part in many night bombing raids on Germany and the Channel ports, he was transferred to Malta and did much good work over Italy, Sicily and North Africa. He had the honour and good fortune to represent the R.A.F. in an exchange of messages with his family in the Christmas Day broadcast of 1941. At School he was a popular member of Welbeck House and second runner in the team which won the Cross Country in 1936.”

Memorials

CWGC Gravestone in Fulwood Churchyard

Byrne’s body was brought back to Fulwood and was buried on the south side of the church. The grave also received the bodies of his wife’s parents., whilst his parents are burid elsewhere in the graveyard.Byrne’s grave has a CWGC headstone which has the inscription

I Thank My God Upon Every Remembrance Of Thee

In 2012 the residents of Bodicote unveiled a memorial at the point the aircraft hit the ground. Byrne’s widow, Beryl, and brother Armel Philip attended and the local paper reported ceremony. Beryl was the daughter of Hiram and Adeline Herdman and they lived on Whirlowdale Road. Beryl recalled that she had met John when they were both 18 at a college dance when she was taken by his ”absolutely gorgeous smile.” They married in Sheffield in September 1942 just 13 weeks before he was killed. The picture of John Byrne may well have been taken outside St Peter’s Church, Abbeydale, where they were married.

Memorial to the Wellington crew at Bodicote in Oxfordshire

Sources:

http://www.sjbradley.com/memorial/aircrash.htm

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/113114922/john-gordon-byrne

https://sheffieldwarmemorials.weebly.com/king-edward-vii.html#

Samuel Danks – School master

Samuel Danks – a man who was integral part of the community for nearly 70 years, knowing everybody and known by everybody.

Origins

Born in Dudley in September 1841, Danks was the son of Joseph and Harriet who took the infant Samuel to the town church a week before Christmas to be baptised. Life was tough for the family as around the time of Samuel’s birth, his elder brother had died, aged three. By the time Samuel was nine his mother was involved with education in some way as she is recorded on the census of 1851 as a School Mistress. She may well have been keeping a ’dame school’ in the family house and as Samuel grew up, he began to help his mother.  By 1861, Samuel was an assistant School master at Kingswinford, five miles from Dudley. Joseph died in 1856, so Samuel was supporting his mother and two sisters. Their accommodation in Kingswinford was not salubrious as it was sandwiched between two inns and there was a couple living in the same house.

Fulwood School

In 1865, Samuel moved to Fulwood, probably in the summer ready for the autumn term. As the master of the National School, he would be expected to attend the church regularly. He was evidently homesick as he described to reporter when he retired some 45 years later sending a letter back to his friends saying that he would be back within a month. Having travelled from his home to Sheffield by railway, he got a horse omnibus to Brooomhill, then another to Ranmoor and then walked to Fulwood. To post that letter, he would have needed to get to Broomhill.

Family

When he first moved to Fulwood, Danks may well have lodged with the family of George and Harriet Mills who were living at Stumperlowe, a term that includes the area either side of Fulwood Road, just east of the church. Henry was a table blade forger and father of four children, the two eldest being Eliza, a dress maker, and Joseph who was working alongside his father also a table blade forger. Now Eliza was the same age as Samuel so it was no surprise to the Mills that Samuel proposed to her and they were married on New Year’s Eve in 1867. Their child, George Arthur was born in June 1869 but tragically Eliza died two months later. Samuel was able to afford a plot in the churchyard for Eliza that became the final resting place for his family and descendants.

Samuel and George were living next door to the Mills family on Goole Green. On visits to his family back in Staffordshire, Samuel met Anna Hughes whom he married in the summer of 1871 and they returned to the Fulwood. Over the next years, five children were born to Samuel and Anna.

A Community Man

Samuel became well-known figure in the local community with much of his involvement being centred on the parish church. He was also in the background of local politics. In 1876 Samuel Danks and Alfred Dearman were appointed as Pinders at the Court Leet of the Duke of Norfolk. There is something incongruous about the local school master and a banker (as Dearman was described in the marriage register for 1865) being responsible for dealing with stray animals. But this time, Courts Leet originally a medieval court were waning so perhaps these posts were mainly nominal.

In the summer of 1881, Danks won first prize for his cottage flower garden at the Hallamshire Floral and Horticultural Society. He was at the annual dinner early in September alongside his neighbour Daniel Coupe who occupied the chair and Captain J W Dixon of the Hallamshire Rifles.

Danks was a regular attendee at meetings of the Upper Hallam Conservative Association and his name is amongst the landowners and industrialists who lived in the area. He was at the committee dinner in September 1883 when John Bingham, later Colonel Sir John occupied the chair along with the recently promoted Major J W Dixon and Daniel Coupe.

In the 1890s the perceived threat to National Schools which were run by the Church of England from the newly created School Boards exercised the minds of Danks and his fellow conservatives. They held meetings to support sympathetic candidates to the Board, one of which took place in November 1894. Chaired by Col John Bingham, those at the meeting bemoaned the potential cost if Board schools took on the pupils of National Schools but more significantly the secular nature of these schools. Henry Ashington, a Fulwood resident and one of the candidates, pointed to ‘the absurdity of talking about teaching religion without doctrine’ commenting that ‘they might as well try to make apple dumplings without apples.’ These views have echoed down the years and are still raised regularly today.

Danks was elected a churchwarden, a position from which he retired in 1899 when he was appointed a sidesman.

Retirement

Samuel Danks on his Retirement

When Danks retired as headmaster in 1909, the Telegraph printed a ‘Special’ article This began by stating that during 44 years at the school he had taught the young how to shoot! Danks, wrote the journalist, had seen mischievous boys and angelic girls grow to be men and women and had taught their children the same lessons. He had also taught ‘less useful lessons imposed by the whim of educational authorities and fads of inspectors.’ One example of the latter type was ‘lectures given by peripatetic scientists to a mixed class on their insides and how to feed and dress a baby’ which had the boys grinning up their sleeves and afterwards laughing and talking about it to the girls. Danks dismissed such teaching as ‘a shear waste of time’ and would be, no doubt, be turning in his grave if he heard about sex and relationship education of today. He bemoaned the change in examinations from individual to collective which he claimed destroyed the competitive rivalry among children and made a teacher’s life more difficult.

The Special ended by Danks was compared to Goldsmith’s Schoolmaster – the man who is an integral part of the community who knows everybody and who is known by everybody. His retirement home would be that which he and Mrs Danks had occupied since their marriage where he tended his numerous roses when not traversing the Derbyshire Hills.

He was, thought the reporter, ‘good for a century’ a thought that was not far off the mark as he celebrated his 90th birthday, still living at Goole Green Cottage.

Reading the article prompted Urban Swift to write to the paper. Swift was an old pupil, along with William Parnell, W Brightmore and William Wall.

Thomas Wilson of the snuff mill family and son in Law of Henry Dixon of Stumperlowe Hall, alerted readers of the Telegraph to the desire of the school managers to mark Dank’s retirement with a testimonial. Was this the result of Sift’s letter? Wilson invited people to attend a meeting to appoint a committee to carry out the idea. However the event was organised, it was a great success. A ‘great many old scholars, some past the prime of life’ were present along with the ‘leading members of the community’ (my emphasis) such as Laycock, Dixon, Wynn and Wilson. The speakers took a ‘pop’ at the unreasonableness of requiring a man of 67 years to retire and Danks himself expressed again his views on the state of education.

Danks was clearly held in great esteem. He was presented with a cheque for a substantial amount which had been collected by the committee. The evening concluded with a concert programme.

After retiring, perhaps not surprisingly, Samuel Danks almost disappears from the records. He maintained a connection with education through his role a trustee of the Fulwood Education Endowment. He represented the ratepayers of the district, a role he relinquished in 1930.

The final two mentions in the Telegraph were on his diamond wedding anniversary 1931 and on his death just under a year later. Both articles rely heavily on the one published back in 1909. Towards the end of the article in 1932, there is mention of Samuel’s children and a brief survey of the records shows their history.

The Next Generation

George Arthur, whose mother was Elizabeth, was a blade forger in 1891 but 20 years later he was an engine driver with the Grand Central railway. He married Clara Fletcher in 1909 and there were four children of the marriage. All the other children were the offspring of Samuel’s second marriage. Charles Edward was a cutlery works manager when he married Edith Clarke at Woodhouse in 1908 and there were three children. Their home was in Nethergreen Road. Laura married Arthur Schofield, a ‘car conductor,’ of Crookes in August 1906 and there were five boys, two being born before the first world war and two afterwards.

The other children were all married at Fulwood in 1920. Helena was 36 when she married Ernest Horatio Jones, a widower, on 5th April, followed three days later by her brother John Ashton who married Annie Mason of South Grove Farm. Then, in early September, Thomas Reginald (born 1883) married Hilda Lee who was 15 years his junior. Thomas was the only child of Samuel to stay in Fulwood. In 1939, he and Hilda were living in ‘White Cottage’ on Brookhouse Hill.