Wardsend Cemetery Anniversary Event Saturday 22nd June 2019 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm

The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery were delighted to be one of this year’s recipients of the Duke of York Community Initiative Award for our work with the local community.
Our ‘theatre in the woods’ Photo credit Christopher Smith


Our current projects include local artists and writers working with Hillsborough Primary School, Burton Street Foundation and Drink Wise Age Well who will be exhibiting their artwork, stories and poetry at the Friends’ annual anniversary event on Saturday 22nd June 2.00 pm till 5.00 pm at the Wardsend Cemetery Heritage Park at the end of Livesey Street. Parking for this free event will be at the Hillsborough campus of Sheffield College.
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Last year the sun shone on our wooded cemetery on the banks of the River Don.

The Friends group, who are all volunteers, encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to be inspired by its history and the nature that resides within and around, this once forgotten cemetery.

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We’re delighted hat the Loxley Silver Band will be joining us for the third year running.

We’d like to  invite everyone to join us in celebrating the cemetery’s 162nd anniversary to reconnect Wardsend with the local and wider community and to help conserve this remarkable place for future generations.

There will be performances throughout the afternoon in our ‘theatre in the woods’. Our good friends the excellent Loxley Silver Band will be joining us again, local band Rophonic will be performing their own songs inspired by the stories of some of the people buried at Wardsend and Malc Gibbons will be performing a set which will include his wonderfully evocative ‘Soldiers of the Hill’ which can be found on our website. https://wardsendcemetery.wordpress.com/soldiers-of-the-hill/

With local history, nature and art exhibitions and activities for all ages, we look forward to seeing as many people as possible in our wooded cemetery on the banks of the River Don.

We are extremely grateful to the Graves Trust and TDE Whites who have helped, along with donations from our friends, to fund this year’s event. 


The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery run regular heritage and nature events throughout the year as well as monthly volunteer sessions and hold a Remembrance service on 11th November. Details of our events can be found on our website.


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Heritage, nature, creativity and community at Wardsend Cemetery Heritage Park

Wardsend Words and Pictures

We would love you to join us if you have any connection with, or interest in, any aspect of Wardsend Cemetery and the surrounding area. Do you have childhood or teenage memories? Was it part of your cross country run at school or your play ground when young? Did you fish in the River Don under the bridge or know any stories handed down by relatives who worked or lived nearby? Do you remember Club Mill Road when it was a proper road and the bridge that got washed away by the flood of 2007? Do you have family connections with ancestors buried in the cemetery? Have you been to any of our history and nature events and felt inspired by what you discovered or were you one of the youngsters that was chased out of the cemetery by the legendary Ivor the grave digger? Or maybe you have never visited but are intrigued by this haven of heritage and nature which has started revealing its stories after years of neglect.

This is an opportunity to be creative with stories, poems, art, photography and a chance to reminisce. The course is free and is for anyone over 50.

The work produced will be exhibited at the anniversary event in June and it’s hoped that we can at some point put a book together something like the excellent Don Catchment Rivers Trust’s ‘Voices of the Don’.

Wardsend Words and Pictures

The first session will be at Wardsend with a tour and picnic in the cemetery, weather permitting. Alternative arrangements for the free lunch and workshops to be announced. Please share this with anyone who you feel might be interested.

You can secure your place by calling freephone 0800 032 3723.


We’re very disappointed to inform you that we have reluctantly made the decision to postpone this morning’s Flood Tour. Although the early snow is clearing there is a yellow weather warning of further snow in place until 11.00 am. As most of you will know the cemetery is on quite a steep slope and the safety of visitors and volunteers is paramount. Apologies once more and please look out for the rearranged date.

World’s End

By Laura Brinson

On the edgelands

between river and rail line

a long abandoned cemetery

where I picked my way

step by step

beneath ivy cloaked trees

teetering black tablets

with chatty epitaphs

and signs of early bluebells


a sacred place with a back story

of tragedy and scandal

skies darken

the temperature drops

rain waves over the land

like still fresh grief

a soot-black stone

with a catalogue of names

and honeysuckle in a jam jar

From St Philip’s to Wardsend 1855-1857 by George Proctor

St. Phillips Church, 1850
St. Phillip’s Church, c.1850

It is only a short distance from the site of St Philip’s church to Wardsend cemetery. A mile and a half at most, but it took two years from 1855 to 1857 to do the same journey from a legal and organising prospective. Most people know that Wardsend is the extension to the burial ground at st Philips but few know about the two years that were hard fought and at times problematical to achieving the move.

The circumstances and conditions that led to the move are varied and reflect the social conditions of the time. The burying of the dead in Sheffield was a very disorganised and chaotic mish mash of solutions that were sought as and when they were needed. We had a private cemetery from 1836 in Sharrow but that meant if you didn’t bury in the churchyards then you had in some cases to go all the way across the town to perform the burials. In the 19th century, Sheffield, a major industrial town, was suffering from the plight that affected all industrial cities and towns, population overcrowding, disease and insanitary conditions.

The prospect of typhoid, cholera and other diseases was always prevalent. That and the total lack of health and safety at work leading to horrendous deaths and injuries at work, for example a grinder was lucky to live past his mid thirties, the job was well paid but the risks of pneumoconiosis or silicosis, better known as grinder’s disease was great and lots of grinders died a lingering and painfully short breathing death. The town was a pall of black smoke over the industrial regions which affected the health of everyone living in those areas. Add to that infestations of vermin and such like it is no surprise that the three ‘D’s’, dirt, disease and destitution caused a high mortality rate from infants to adults. Building laws were virtually non-existent as regards sanitation.

Reports at one time condemned the parish church, now the cathedral, with instances of the dead meant to be buried underground actually buried above ground covered with the clay like soil with a perpetual miasma of effluents and smells that were very unhealthy.

St Philip’s churchyard like others in the town was filling up and it was not ideal to be carrying the dead across the cities and town areas. In response to this  in 1848 the government brought in the ‘the nuisances removal and disease prevention act’. This was followed by the 1852 (for London) and 1853 burial acts, the closure of burial grounds and churchyards acts.  But let’s stay with St Philips. Rev Livesey and his churchwardens knew something needed to be done and in 1855 called two meetings at St.Philip’s  to discuss the matter..

The first meeting in April of that year was cut short by protests over the lack of publicity given to the meeting. By law all that was needed was a notice put on the vestry door. Very few people turned up. Those that did complained that it was too important an issue to discuss at such a small meeting especially when the intention was to pay for it from the poor rate, ratepayers money. Sheffielders even then did not like to see their rates put up! It was said that Sheffielders ‘were for the gainest’  That shouldn’t always be assumed to be a compliment. The second meeting in October of that year saw a full anteroom of the church with others unable to get in. Listed as among those attending were several councillors, Crowley,  Ashberry, Harvey, Robson and Wood and among those also listed was James Ball (later of Burgon and Ball), Mr  Hudson (a druggist of West Bar), George Hides (table knife manufacturer), George Ramsden, James Radcliffe, Mr I.Ironside and a stonemason named Heathcote (a stonemason buried in Wardsend has that name and has a freemasons symbol on his footstone).

The meeting was chaired by Rev Livesey. He proposed a burial board for the St Philip’s chapelry and the creation of an extension to the churchyard to be paid for out of the poor rate or general township rate. He stated that the boundaries of the parish begin at Green Lane works following the Don up to where the Ecclesfield parish starts then southwest to Malin Bridge where the rivers Rivelin and Loxley meet then to the bridge on the Stannington Rd and on to Steel Bank and Barber Nook along Crookes Valley Rd, down Watery lane to Meadow St, Hoyle St, Burnt Tree Lane, Dun St and back to Green Lane Works. An argument ensued about the rights of ratepayers to vote if they lived outside the parish. Mr Hudson wanted to know where the money was coming from.  Replying Rev Livesey stated that it should come from the poor rate. Such was the tone of the meeting with ratepayers complaining about being taxed for something that some of them thought the town didn’t need. Rev Livesey answered that under the 1853 burials act the churchyard would be closed to all except those with vaults or enough space in earthen graves for the burial. Those for the idea stated that it wasn’t right that people should have to  have to take their dead across the town for burial complaining that it would cause hardship for people. They cited the widows who had taken in washing to pay for a single grave for their late husbands and then not been able to pay for their own. Inevitably the question was raised, ‘Why don’t you raise the money yourself?’ Livesey had been looking at three possible sites one at Somerville Terrace, known as Cundy’s farm, 12 acres at £300 per acre, a site on Penistone Rd near the New Barrack Tavern and a site on Club Mill Rd past the Old Park Mill. Cundy’s farm was rejected as being too near the town and the meeting was adjourned.

The act to which they referred was the 1853 burial act designed to remove burial sites away from town and town centres on the grounds of the removal of nuisances and prevention of diseases under the act of 1848. This act was in effect the first public health act in Britain and covered everything from sewer installation to highways, and amenities such as a water supply and toilets on housing sites. The act lasted five years, due to it being unpopular with certain interested parties and was replaced by another version in 1858.

Notice was duly given that St Philips along with other Sheffield churchyards was to close under the burial act (In the case of St John’s, Park it took thirteen attempts to close their churchyard due to resistance from the parish). In 1857 the third meeting was held, this time in the vestry. Rev Livesey announced to a very full audience that he was offering land at Club Mill Rd to the parish for a burial ground. The site got the full approval of Dr Holland the Government inspector on all counts. Reverend Livesey had bought it from Mr Montague George Burgoyne of London, an owner of lots of land in the area. There was a donation of £100 from Miss Rawson of The Hawthorns, a regular benefactor to causes,  and industrialists such as George Dixon of Hillsborough Hall. It cost Livesey £2000 plus the donations to buy the land formerly known as Stacey Spring Wood.  The cost of outer fencing and buildings would cost £700. Burgoyne under the agreement provided a road and bridge from the main road to the cemetery for a fee of an old 6d per funeral that crossed the bridge by the 1920’s this was a shilling.

The act of 1848 had been passed in response to the growing cholera epidemic that was spreading across Europe and by that year had reached Germany from Russia. The Government was desperate to stop it affecting Britain hence the Nuisance Removal and Disease Prevention Act followed by the Public Health Act. The act is still in effect today as modern churchyard closure law still has the original 1853 date on it.

So finally in June of 1857 St Philip’s churchyard closed to all but vault and some earthen burials. On the 21st June of that year Wardsend Cemetery saw its first burial. The rest as they say is history, the colourful and at times scandalous, story had begun. The churchyard is no more having been removed during super tram construction in 1991. if you want to visit the remains of most of the churchyard burials then a trip to Abbey Lane cemetery is in order (section H the rough ground near to the front trees). The church was destroyed by enemy action during the Sheffield Blitz.

A Criminal Ancestor; Samuel Swinden. A guest blog post by Sarah Kentzer.

Sarah Kentzer recently attended one of our Heritage Open Days tours. Afterwards, over a coffee, she told us the fascinating story of one of her ancestors who lies buried on the hillside at Wardsend. Here it is.

Earlier this year I was pleased to discover that the final resting place of my Great, Great Grandparents, Samuel & Sarah Swinden is Wardsend Cemetery.

Many years ago, after the release of the 1881 Census, it was with much excitement that I discovered I had a criminal in my family.  After lots of research & of course later with the help of the internet I have been able to find out a lot more about my Swinden family and Samuel’s life of crime.  The idea that Samuel was stealing to support his family in times of hardship were soon quashed.

Samuel Swinden was born on 17th March 1849 at Wentworth Street, Sheffield, to John Swinden and Mary Daff. On the 1851 Census he is listed with his father a Table Blade Forger, his mother and two older siblings Elizabeth & Thomas.  On the 1861 Census the Swinden family are living in King Street and 12 year old Samuel has been joined by two further siblings, Mary Ann & Ann. By the time this Census was taken, Samuel’s life of crime had already begun!

Samuel’s Catalogue of Crimes!

At the age of 11, Samuel was caught stealing a box of Dominoes.

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Sheffield Daily Telegraph January 1860.

At age 13, Samuel was charged with stealing Boots; he was fined 2s 6d.

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Sheffield Independent November 1862

In December 1863 he was also sentenced to 2 Months imprisonment for stealing Pigeons.

In 1864, he was convicted for stealing a flute and served 2 months at Wakefield and five years at reformatory; the article below erroneously states this as 4 years.

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Sheffield Independent 16th August 1864

In 1865, Samuel was sent to Calder Farm Reformatory School in Mirfield, Yorkshire.  Calder Farm reformatory opened in 1855 and closed in 1922.  It was one of the first ‘reformatory’ schools in the country and was very much an experiment into reforming and educating young offenders rather than putting them in prison where afterwards they would usually return to more serious crimes.

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This picture of Calder Farm features boys at the reformatory and would have been similar to Samuel’s experiences there.


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Some of Samuel’s Reformatory record
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More entries in Samuel’s Reformatory record

Lots of documentation exists about Samuel during his stay in Calder Farm including his medical records & vaccines.  His residence in Sheffield was recorded as the Corner Pin Beer house on King Street. It states he’s unable to read or write, he’s in good health and that his parents are of good character & didn’t harshly treat him.  During his time there he was reported for stealing potatoes, hiding tobacco & misconduct during prayers amongst other things.

Whether at Calder Farm or later in life, Samuel must have learnt to write at least because on later documents he is able to sign his name

Marriage and Family Life.

In about 1869 Samuel left Calder farm & picked up his life in Sheffield again. He worked as a Table Blade Forger and at the age of 22 he married Sarah Ann Taylor at St George’s Church, Sheffield.

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At some point, the couple moved to Martin Street and continued to live there.

In 1872 their son George was born, followed in 1873 by a daughter Emily, another son Harry was born in 1875, followed by my Gt Grandmother Lucy in 1876. Another son, John William was born in 1879.

Samuel unfortunately didn’t stay out of trouble for long. In 1874, he stole some Steel rods from his master and got sentenced to 3 months in prison.

Sadly in 1877, Samuel & Sarah’s eldest son, George died of Typhoid Fever age just 4 Years old. He is also buried in Wardsend Cemetery.

In 1879, Samuel’s crimes continued when he stole 4 chisels and got 6 months in prison.

In 1880, he was again sent to prison for 5 Years for stealing a box of 100 cigars ‘with force and arms’. He was first sent to Wakefield Prison, then to Brixton and then to Pentonville Prison.  It was here in the 1881 Census that I first discovered my criminal ancestor.

Samuel Swinden, M, 32, M, Convict, Convicted Felon, Sheffield, York, England

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Samuel’s Prison photograph from Pentonville Prison.

In his prison records there are detailed descriptions of Samuel’s appearance, his many scars and his height of 5’3/4”! It records his crimes of ‘picking up paper with tobacco in it’ and ‘having Horseradish concealed in his slop when searched’ The correspondence he sent and received is also detailed.

Whilst Samuel was in prison, Sarah and the children appear to be living with her parents, John & Harriet Taylor. They also lived on Martin street and Sarah is working is a Charwoman.

During his prison sentence in 1882, Sarah’s mother Harriet Taylor died and is also buried at Wardsend cemetery (E227) . A year later, 1883 their youngest son, John William died age 4 of Phthisis (Pulmonary tuberculosis). John William is also buried in Wardsend Cemetery (M394).


EnThe 1891 Census, 42 year old Samuel is once again the head of the family living at 77 Martin Street

Another daughter Lilian has also been born to Samuel & Sarah.  They also have their Grandaughter Nelly Pawson living with them.

Nelly, the daughter of Emily Swinden the couple’s eldest daughter was born in 1888 and is thought that she may have been illegitimate. Emily & her husband Henry weren’t married until 1890.

More tragedy struck the family in 1892 when Emily died age 20 of Enteric Fever & a miscarriage.  She is also buried at Wardsend Cemetery (F180).  It seems that her daughter remained living with the Swinden family.

Samuel’s life of crime continued;

In 1893, Samuel was sentenced to 3 months for stealing money from the person.

In 1899, he got 12 months for stealing a purse and 1s 9d from the person.

In 1900, he got 15 months for stealing a purse and 3s 5d form the person. Further to this he was also caught four times frequenting, twice remanded at large on suspicion of stealing.

When the 1901 Census was recorded, Samuel is once again in Prison, this time he was in Wakefield prison. Sarah is 50 and living at 77 Martin Street with her widowed father John, her daughter Lilian and her granddaughter Nelly (Ellen).   Her other daughter Lucy had started her own family after marrying John Walton in 1897.

In 1903 Samuel & Sarah’s remaining son died in India whilst serving in the Army there.  He had enlisted in 1892.

Nothing else is known about Samuel’s criminal activities, maybe he was getting too old!  He continued living on 77 Martin street with Sarah and his family.


By 1911, Sarah & Samuel’s daughters Lilian is shown here, married to Fred Cooper with their son Harry.

Their other daughter Lucy (my Great Grandmother) is living close by at 73 Martin Street with her family including my Grandma, Florence.


Samuel died age 67 on 30th May 1916 at 77 Martin Street of Pleurisy & Pneumonia. He rests in plot NP966 at Wardsend Cemetery.  Despite his crime riddled past and the conditions he must have lived in, he outlived four of his six children.

Sarah lived to a grand age of 79. Her life at times must have been very difficult and marred by sadness and tragedy.   She died at 77 Martin Street on Christmas Day 1928 and rests in Plot NP 235 in Wardsend Cemetery.

From Barracks to Burdall’s – Guns to Gravy

A guest blog post by George Proctor


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Photograph of Hillsborough Barracks taken by W. T. Furniss who is buried at Wardsend With thanks to Picture Sheffield

Hillsborough Barracks is a name long associated with Wardsend Cemetery, its military connection is well established with over four hundred soldiers, wives and children buried there. But after the army left the barracks then what? From 1930 to the present day the fortunes of the barracks have taken several turns. In 1930 the 29th Howitzers left the barracks ending eighty two years of active service that saw several well known regiments founded there including the Warwickshires who became the South Wales Borderers, who made history at Rourke’s drift winning 11 Victoria crosses in the Boer War.

The site was bought by Burdall’s Manufacturing Chemists

The years following start with two years unoccupied before in 1932 the site was put up for auction by the war office and auctioned by Eadon and Lockwood however when the bidding stopped it had reached only £12,000 and was withdrawn from sale. Later that year the site was bought by Burdall’s, manufacturing chemists, they were run by Herbert Moses Burdall and are best known for their gravy salt but made many other goods besides. Alongside him was his son Herbert Alonzo Burdall. They opened there in 1935 after a fire at the Gibraltar St. works. They let out other parts of the old barrack’s site to others  including Sheffield Insulations, the site became known as Burdall’s buildings and the housing section as Burdall’s tenements.

The man himself was born in Lincolnshire in 1857 and was described in Sheffield as a dry salter. Dry salting concerned the making of dyes, varnish, wallpaper paste, paint, soap and glue. In the same year he bought the barracks he was elected to the council representing Hallam where he served until the 1940’s. One habit of his was that he had two hats  a straw boater he wore in Spring and Summer and a more serious hat he wore in Autumn and Winter, changing from one to the other on certain dates each year regardless of the weather!

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The later development of the site maintained the barrack’s character

The works was sold in 1976 and closed. After a spell where  the site was mainly empty the site was sold in the 1990’s to Morrison’s supermarkets and is now the thriving commercial centre that is part of Hillsborough’s fabric. Morrison’s used the old parade ground as their supermarket covering it over, inside the supermarket are the frontages of the buildings that once looked out on the open parade ground, the outside was now inside. Here we should mention that Morrisons have thoughtfully and genuinely kept the barrack’s character and history in a conserved state. The old Burdall’s door sign is still there behind the offices that run down to Morrisons from Llangsett Rd. on one of the turrets. Also by the Llangsett Rd. entrance is the old Burdalls painted sign on the stone wall by the car park.

Burdall’s best known product was gravy salt. It contained no gravy!

Herbert Alonzo took over after his father’s death and was in charge when the firm closed. Their best known product was gravy salt, it contained no gravy! It was caramel and salt combined! If you had a cough you could take their syrup of squills (sea hyacinths). Clean your teeth with their carbolic tooth powder or use their denture cleaner. Rhuematics, no problem they had salts for that and ointment for your chilblains. They supplied eczema and dermatitis paste, fuller’s earth ointment, Glauber’s salts (no idea what that was for!). You could if you wish clean your hair with soapless shampoo powder or use their hair cream on it. They made suntan oil and perfume. Your stomach could be eased by carbonate of magnesia or Dr Hugh Maclean stomach powders (does anyone remember trying the good doctor’s powders?)

They had products for making ginger wine, get rid of insects with DDT, use their bath bricks, bake with their bun flour mixture and if you are really in trouble use their Castorvims chocolate laxative. There were many more products they made, too many to mention. As one of Hillsborough’s biggest employers they hold a special place in our local history employing lots of local people, mainly female. They and Bassetts have had a big impact on the area’s commercial and personal outlook.How many of Hillsborough’s residents past and present have been employed there? How many ex workers are buried in Wardsend?

Hillsborough barracks have played a big part in our lives locally from 1849 when the army moved in up to Morrison’s supermarket its large and characterful edifice has overlooked the lives of many local people. What next? We shall see.

George Proctor

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The Garrison Hotel which lies within the old barracks walls houses a memorial to George Lambert VC. He was awarded the the highest military honour for bravery during the Indian Rebellion in 1857. He collapsed and died on the parade ground (now Morrisons car park) and is buried at Warsdend Cemetery 

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Hillsborough Barracks, St Georges Day, 1913.  Another photograph taken by W.T. Furniss who is buried at Wardsend Cemetery

For more wonderful photographs from Sheffield’s past please visit Picture Sheffield http://www.picturesheffield.com/

Picture Sheffield is provided by Sheffield City Council’s Archives and Local Studies Service.

Discoveries from the 2018 Wardsend Cemetery Bioblitz

A big thank you to Don Catchment Rivers Trust and everyone else who made this another special day and strengthened Wardsend’s reputation as a home to a wide variety of plants and as a haven for wildlife.

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Wildlife organisations, experts and scientists came together on Saturday 11th of August to survey, identify and record the wildlife at Wardsend Cemetery, with the aim of counting as many species as they could within one day.  This year’s grand total was he grand total at the end of the day was an incredible 190 biological records, counting 131 different species of plant and animal (click here for the Bioblitz species list). Check out last year’s blog to compare our finds!

38887148_10155700562955382_8996289758636277760_o Photo credits: Kinder Kalsi

What is a biological record? A biological record documents the sighting of a plant or animal, in a place and at a time. A record includes four bits of essential information: the name of the person that  saw the species, what the species was, the location it was found in and the date it was seen – the Who, What, Where and When.

Collecting this…

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Luke Reaney ‘Cricketer’ – A guest blog post by Joy Bullivant

I have a feeling that Luke would have been more than happy with the title of this blog post. Having read a little about him in the newspaper archives he strikes me as a modest man who loved his sport, a man who gained satisfaction from imparting his knowledge of the game and encouraging young talent. A man too who never realised just what an impact he had made on those who were fortunate enough to have made his acquaintance or been coached by him. 

In an obituary in the Sheffield Independent – Tuesday 05 July 1892 Luke was described as ‘One of the best of fellows that ever donned the flannels.’ It is one of my favourite quotes about anyone buried at Wardsend.

A big thank you to Joy Bullivant for this guest blog post which tells us more about Luke Reaney, another of Wardsend’s, and possibly Yorkshire’s, unsung heroes.

Howard Bayley


The Yorkshire Cricket Team of 1875

On 28th June 1892 they buried Luke Reaney, a table blade hafter. He left four daughters and an invalid wife living in the court where he had lived and worked for over 30 years. Buried in the same graveyard as his 28 year old only son was buried 4 years before. The papers said that they stopped the local cricket match during the funeral.  Reaney’s obituary in the paper said,

“Luke  Reaney was a great favourite with all who knew him, and the Yorkshire County Committee thought very highly of him not only as an admirable judge of the game, but for many good personal qualities, and his excellent character.”

So why did a lowly table blade hafter have an obituary in the paper? Luke was a player. In cricket there were Players and Gentlemen. Gentlemen were amateurs and Players were the paid professionals. There weren’t many gentlemen in Sheffield who could afford to take time off work to play. Most of the players were working men like Luke.

Luke started out in a club called Broomhall. For a while it was the Reaney brothers John and Luke. It became pretty obvious that Luke was a much better cricketer than John. In 1864 he hit the headlines playing for the MacAlister club as best batting average for the season, and man of the match. He was called a promising player He was 27 years old. That’s when he really started picking up professional cricket work. Luke was a great all rounder and his bowling and his fielding saved many a match.

Sheffield was once the centre of Cricket outside Lords in London. Cricket really took off in Sheffield when Me. Steer built the first purpose build stadium on a piece of  Darnall Common. Thousands came to the matches which would last all week The great counties came to play Sheffield and wrote complimentary articles about the great ground at Darnall. Two local clubs also played on the grounds on a Wednesday and a Friday and became known as the Wednesday club and the Friday Club. Steer brought in a trainer to improve the playing and Sheffield’s reputation for cricket was born. But after a few great years the Darnall cricket ground was gone and was made into a graveyard and the Wednesday club moved to play at the Sheffield Park ground.

Every works had a club and practically every pub and church. Due to the demand for better facilities in 1855 seven cricket clubs raised funds to build a purpose build stadium next to the sporting grounds of Sheaf House on Bramall Lane. The clubs were Mackenzie, Broomhall, Collegiate, Milton, Wednesday, Caxton, and Shrewsbury calling themselves Sheffield United. Wednesday eventually  became Sheffield Wednesday and moved to Olive Grove to play football and later to Hillsborough.

In 1863 the Yorkshire County Cricket Club was founded as a funding idea to raise more income for the Bramall Lane Ground.  In 1867 Yorkshire were declared champions and again in 1870


In the early days of cricketing Professionals were often only booked per match. The programme of matches could be pretty haphazard too and the cricket season could have matches at any time of the year. Luke was paid about 2 guineas a match and no payments during the winter. Nor was he paid any travelling expenses.

However he started getting booked by clubs per season. In 1874 and 1875 he was booked as Otley’s first professional appointment, and he contracted to serve the club from April 24th to September 11th (20 weeks) for two guineas a week and whatever his benefit match was worth. On every day, except Sunday, he was to be on the ground from two till four and five till dusk, was responsible for the good order of the ground and club equipment, to be present at every Otley match, and he signed that he would use his “best endeavours at all times during the said term to promote the success of the club.”

Over the years Luke is played as professional in Kendall, St Helens in Lancashire and a wide variety of Sheffield clubs. Luke became one of the Sheffield X1 and was based at Bramall Lane.  He played for a variety of local clubs.

By 1883 the Yorkshire team was often described as “ten drunks and a parson”.  At the end of the 1882 season, they appointed Lord Hawke as captain who made several improvements in the team and in the pay and conditions of the players.   The Yorkshire County Committee gave Luke captaincy of the Yorkshire Colts, the junior team which was created to bring in new young talent and in 1883 he was engaged as coach and instructor to instruct 2 likely hopeful young players from each of the local clubs.  The basic problem was that the older players were past their peak and younger replacements were taking longer than expected to bring in high scores. Fielding was especially poor. Something that Luke was very good at.

From 1888 Luke was also umpiring games for Yorkshire and umpired two Yorkshire versus Australia matches. Pay was not great and in December 1891 there was a request for an extra guinea payment by the umpires but their request was turned down.

In June 1892 Luke umpired several matches at Old Trafford grounds in Manchester. His last match was a County Championship on the 23rd June which was Lancashire versus Surrey. He came home feeling unwell due to an infection and died within four days.

Yorkshire improved during 1892, making a good start to the season by being undefeated until mid-June but fading badly to finish sixth. The Yorkshire team began to improve from that year. It is sad to think that the players Luke Reaney trained were not able to share their triumphs with Luke, and that Luke’s contribution to what became a great Yorkshire team is now forgotten.






The Barracks Obelisk by Dan Eaton

This excellent piece of work by Dan Eaton was recently shared by Jim Lambert on Pictures of Sheffield Old and New. It documents the soldiers whose names are inscribed on the memorial as well as family members who, at the time of writing, were known to have a ‘Barracks’ address. It explores possible causes of death of those whose names are on the obelisk as well as other stories associated with this simple but very special memorial.

The obelisk is situated on the site where the chapel once stood and, being the only significant monument in the cemetery, and despite not being a war memorial, provides a focus for our memorial services.

In marked contrast to the vast majority of the hidden or unmarked graves at Wardsend the obelisk stands tall in a clearing. The fine stonework has ensured that the names of the soldiers stand out clearly and that they will never be forgotten.

The obelisk’s iconic shape and position in our hidden cemetery somehow captures the essence of Wardsend and could be said to symbolise the intentions of the Friends group to bring in to the open the names of nearly 30,000 people buried there and to tell their often extraordinary stories.

You can read Dan’s work in full by clicking on this link: