From Barracks to Burdall’s – Guns to Gravy

A guest blog post by George Proctor


Barracks Furniss
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the war office and auctioned by Eadon and Lockwood however when the bidding stopped it had reached only £12,000 and was withdrawn from sale.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!

riding  school r, barracks store L.JPG
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

old jailhouse now pub.JPG
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 

Barracks 2
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

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.

BioBlitz Banner Image.jpg

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:

Wardsend Home and Away 9th June 2018

The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery have two fixtures tomorrow, home at Wardsend for The Riot Tour and away at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club for the Sheffield and District Family History Society Fair.

Below the posters for these events is a suggestion about how you can enjoy them both while also having a walking tour of the area and appreciating the wider links with the communities located in the Parish the cemetery served from its opening in 1857.


Suggested itinerary for tomorrow:

10.30 Wardsend for the Riot Tour.

12.00 Cuppa and a chat.

12.15 Walk up Livesey Street past Owlerton Stadium built on Birley Meadows where Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show visited twice. This was also very nearly the location for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.

Crossing Penistone Road walk up through the lovely and historic Hillsborough Park (You might want to take a picnic or head up to the Riverside café for lunch).

1.15 – 1.30 Family History Society Fair at SWFC South St and suites. Come and say hello to us at the Wardsend stall to hear more about the cemetery and our links with Sheffield Wednesday, nearby Hillsborough Primary School and the wider community. We have some great news about the memorial for Wednesday’s first superfan Tom Wharton thanks to the generosity of the Wednesday fans.

From then on times are flexible to suit you.

You may want to visit the beautiful Hillsborough Walled Garden and the headstone of Louis Bacon who was ‘so ruthlessly disinterred’ that you will probably have heard about on the tour in the morning.

Walking towards town through Hillsborough you will cross the Loxley which runs down from Dale Dike Reservoir. It was the breaching of the dam wall in 1864 that resulted in the devastation and over 300 deaths in what was often referred to at the time as The Inundation but is now better known as The Great Sheffield Flood. Some of the flood victims are buried at Wardsend.

Carrying on up Langsett Road you will come to the barracks where George Lambert VC died. George is buried at Wardsend along with several hundred other soldiers and their families.

Continuing on Langsett Road you will come to a row of old buildings which includes Andy’s Carpets near the old Burgoyne Arms (The name Burgoyne also features it the early days of Wardsend) It was here that local photographer W. T. Furniss, buried at Wardsend, produced countless photographs of the local area as well as team and individual player photos of the successful Wednesday side of the early 1900s.

From there on I would recommend dropping back down to Penistone Road via Cuthbert Bank and Bamforth Street turning right on Penistone Road and crossing Hillfoot Bridge (the other end of Club Mill Road to Wardsend Cemetery). On Neepsend Lane Walk past the historically important (in terms of The Flood) and recently purchased Farfield pub and make your way along Neepsend Lane to the Gardener’s Rest, or Head Office as we call it. Here you can partake of your preferred beverage (I like the Five Rivers) looking over the wonderful River Don and watch the trout rising as the sand martins fly up and down the river.

From then on you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at Peace in the Park on The Ponderosa which coincidentally isn’t very far from the site of the now demolished St Phillips Church where the whole Wardsend Cemetery story began.

It was only while writing this as a bit of fun for our Facebook group that I realised that part of it might make a nice guided tour starting and finishing at The Gardeners Rest taking in Club Mill Road and the riverside walk up to Wardsend.

I would appreciate any comments as to whether or not you think this is a good idea and please feel free to add suggestions regarding other locations or alternative routes.

‘Greater love hath no man’ – Who was William Fish Groves? A guest blog post by Nathan Staniforth


Nathan Staniforth, picking up the trail in America. confirms William’s identity and his tragic end.

William Fish Groves, was born on the 11th December 1850 to Samuel Groves, a saw manufacturer, and Eliza Fish. Strangely enough, his baptism isn’t recorded at St. Philips until the 29th September 1872. Due to his baptism occurring when he was already an adult, his occupation is also included, he is an Engraver living at Watery Street, Sheffield.

A few years later William Fish Groves set sail on the S.S. City of Chester bound for New York in the United States, the immigration record states that he paid for himself, and the immigration date is 13th September 1875.

The next time we find mention of William, is two years following his immigration date when tragedy strikes in the town of Concord, New Hampshire. On August 5th 1877 it was first reported in the Burlington Daily Hawk Eye Gazette:

‘Henry Groves of Concord, New Hampshire while assisting in saving goods at a fire at Straw’s Point, on Saturday, was overcome by smoke and burned to death’

Henry Groves? This surely wasn’t Sheffield’s own William Fish Groves?

A few days later on August 8th 1877, the New Hampshire Patriot and Gazette featured an in-depth article on the event:

‘Fire At Straw’s Point

Distressing Fatality:

On Saturday night news reached the city that the cottage of B.A. Kimball, Esq. of this city and Dr. E.M. Tubbs of Manchester, at Straw’s Point, had been destroyed by fire during the afternoon of that day, and that Mr. W.F. Groves had been burned while endeavoring to rescue from the flames some of the contents of Mr. Kimball’s house. The sad news quickly circulated through the city and expressions of sorrow were heard from all lips. The dispatch stated that Mr B.A. Kimball had been seriously burned, but have meagre information of the matter. There was a universal hope among the community that the report might be wrong or exaggerated, but the telegraph on Sunday morning brought more details, confirmatory of the first melancholy tidings.

Various stories regarding the fire and fatality were reported during the day, but on Monday reliable information was obtained from the papers and from Mr. W.G.C. Kimball who came up from Rye Beach on the morning train. The circumstances in brief, were as follows: At Straw’s Point, one end of the great beach, a mile from the cottages and main settlement of Rye Beach proper, is a group of handsome cottages owned by gentlemen from Manchester and Concord. The ocean cable telegraph is near. Gov. Straw also has fine buildings here; then, on the other side of the road, which ends in a few rods at the seaside are the cottages of Dr. Tubbs of Manchester, Mr B.A. Kimball of Concord and others. The Tubbs cottage this season was occupied by Mr. W. G. Ladd’s family of Portland, Oregon.

At a quarter after two o’clock on Saturday afternoon, fire broke out in the stable of Dr. Stubbs’ cottage with a fresh breeze blowing; the house adjoining with Mr Kimball’s across the yard, were soon in a blaze, and all the three structures were wholly consumed. The cottage and barn of Mr. B.F. Martin of Manchester was in the greatest peril. The entire side toward the fire was charred like charcoal. Probably the force of the wind swept the flames from long contact with the wood, feeling mostly the intense heat. As soon as the alarm of fire was given a crowd collected, but nothing could be done beyond saving the furniture and apparel, most of which was got out.

Mr. William F. Groves of this city, who lost his life in the flames, had for some weeks past been staying at Fosa’s Beach. Saturday morning he went from the hotel where he was living to St. Andrew’s Espicospal Church, in the musical exercises at which, he had during his stay at the seaside taken an active interest, to assist in the rehearsal of the choir. He had previously composed a musical score for the Litany responses which was to be sung on the following Sunday. On returning from the church he stopped at the house of Governor Straw to dine, in accordance with an invitation received. At the cry of fire, he rushed out and worked assiduously to rescue the contents of the houses from the flames. After most of the goods had been removed from the cottage of Mr. B. A. Kimball, he, with Hon. John Kimball of this city went into one of the upper rooms. Here they became alarmed for their safety and went into one of the lower rooms. The flames had made such rapid progress that they at once saw that their lives were in danger. They were entirely surrounded by the fire and Mr. Groves excitedly asked how they could get out. Mr. Kimball replied he was going out “this way” and immediately rushed out through a door, across the piazza, on the side from which the wind was blowing, and escaped into the air. His face was badly burned, his whiskers scorched nearly off and his hands were seriously burned. Mr. Groves did not follow Mr. Kimball, but instead attempted to escape over the piazza on the opposite side of the cottage. He jumped out of a window through which Mrs. B.A. Kimball who was ill had been taken. On this side of the house the flames were blowing and raging with great violence and it is probable that Mr. Groves was overcome and fell to the ground, as where he was found after the fire was some ten feet from the house and about two feet from the piazza.

About the time that he attempted to escape a lady saw the flames part for an instant when a black form, which she thought to be a bundle thrown from the window, shot across the piazza. That so horrible an accident had occurred was not known till all was over, when at the place on the lawn stated above, something thought to be the remains of a human body was seen. This was taken out by some gentlemen present, and by a watch in the pocket was identified as the remains of the unfortunate Groves. His arms were burned off, one at the elbow and the other between the wrist and elbow. The legs were burned off at the knees and the body and head were shockingly burned and charred. The remains were brought to this city on the morning train on Monday and were interred with funeral services at the First Baptist Church by Rev. Dr. Eames at 12 on Tuesday.

Mr. Groves was a member of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, this city, but the Baptist Church was kindly offered for the funeral, as St. Paul’s is undergoing repairs. The church was largely filled with people to pay their last sad tribute to the memory of their late friend and companion. A delegation from Straw’s Point came up on the morning express, and were present in a body, among whom were Capt. William Walker, Phinehas Adams, Wm Webster, B.A. Kimball, J.C.A. Hill, Harry Parker and Mr. Green. The Carwen Harmonic Society of this city, which was organized last January by the deceased, also attended in a body, as did the employees of W.B. Durgin’s silverware manufactory, where Mr. Groves was employed as an engraver. The floral tributes were very beautiful and profuse. The pulpit as well as the platform, contained elegant and choice bouquets of flowers, and the casket bore a great many wreaths and bouquets, placed there by loving hands. One of the most beautiful floral devices was a lyre, composed principally of white roses and green, and on a green background in letters of white were C.H.S. This was a gift from the Carwen Harmonic Society.

The service consisted of the beautiful and impressive burial service of the Epicospal Church. Mr. G. Prescott, the organist of the Baptist Church, officiated at the organ, and a select choir consisting of Messrs. Howard and Andrews and Mrs. W.G.C. Kimball and Miss Georgia Morse, sang, finely, “I heard a voice from Heaven” and “Dear Father, bear my prayers” during the services.

At the conclusion of the burial services, Rev Dr. J.H Eames who officiated, made some very beautiful and touching remarks in memory of the deceased. He briefly mentioned his introduction in this country and this city, the many and true friends he made by his gentlemanly bearing and affable manner, the connection existing between employer and employed, his musical ability and endowments and the peculiar tact which he had for imparting his musical knowledge to his pupils. Dr. Eames mentioned his dignified and pleasant address and genial conversation in society and his willingness to instruct and elevate his fellows. He spoke of his moral and religious character and pointed to his past life as one for young men to follow. Dr Eames said that prior to the advent of Mr. Groves in this country he was a member of the English Church and when he first came to our city he immediately took an active interest in the affairs of St. Paul’s as being the nearest approach of the English Church in the country. He remarked of his musical connection with the church. The last time communion was administered to him at St. Paul’s and his last meeting with him on the street. Dr Eames then graphically described the fire at Straw’s Point, the heroic and generous conduct of Groves, his sad and lamentable death and the effect that it would likely produce on his kind and devoted mother and grandmother. At the conclusion of these remarks the dead march from Saul was played and the remains were borne from the church.

As the funeral procession passed through the streets the dead march was played on the bells of St. Paul’s, the remains were taken to the old cemetery and deposited in a tomb with the usual committal services. The funeral was conducted by Horace A. Brown Esq. and the bearers were Messrs. F. Reed, F.W. Smith, F.E. Knight, W.J. Green, J.R. Saye and T. Woodward.

The home of the deceased, Mr. Groves, was in Sheffield, England, where he has a mother, grandmother and uncle living. He would have been 27 years old in December next. He came to this city four years ago last winter, and during his residence was employed as an engraver at Durgin’s on School Street. He was a man of exceedingly upright character, affable and agreeable in manner, of passing presence and always a thorough gentleman. His pleasant and gentle ways, charitable heart and generous impulses had gained for him large circles of warm friends in this and other places in the state. He was possessed of fine musical taste and ability and the many entertainments in the city of which he was the author will be a pleasant memory to many in this city who are called upon to deplore his terrible fate. His relatives abroad, particularly his mother, who is nevermore to look upon the face of her tenderly loved son, but must henceforth bear this great burden of sorrow, with no anticipation of a reunion on earth, will receive the heartfelt sympathy of our entire community.’

Finally, word must have reached home, as on August the 25th, 1877 the Sheffield Daily Telegraph posted the following report:


A promising citizen, Mr. Willie Fish Groves (nephew of townsman, Mr. John Fish), has lost his life in New Hampshire, Concord, under very shocking circumstances. Mr. Willie F. Groves was native of Sheffield, and worked as an engraver at the silver-plate manufactory of Messrs. Bradbury, Eyre-street. About four years ago he went to America, going directly to Concord, and commenced work at Mr. W. B. Durgin’s Silver-ware Manufactory, where, New Hampshire newspaper informs us, “he was a genial young gentleman, ever ready to lend a helping hand to every good enterprise, and made many warm friends.” Mr. Willie Groves’ death occurred in this manner; — On the 8th inst. fire occurred at a villa at Straw’s Point, owned by Dr. Tubbs, Manchester. A stable connected with the house took fire, and communicated with ex-Mayor Kimball’s house. Mr. Kimball and Mr. Groves went into the second story of the house to get something that remained, and descended to a room on the lower floor, where they encountered sheet of flame. Mr. Kimball escaped creeping on his hands and knees: Mr. Groves made his way to a window, through which he had assisted to save the sick wife of Mr. B. A. Kimball. Mr. Groves then got through the window safely and struggled across tho verandah, where ha sank down from exhaustion and perished near to the house, which was burned down in about twenty minutes. The deceased was distinguished not only in commerce but in music. At the County Hall exhibitions on two occasions he obtained the gold medal for engraving on gold and silver ware. But it was as a musician (according to the lengthy notices which appear in the New Hampshire papers) that Mr. Groves excelled. It appears he was one of the finest tenor singers in Concord, and also a composer. He had recently composed an invocation to use in St. Andrew’s Chapel; on the Saturday he attended the rehearsal, on the Sunday assisted the service, which was conducted by Bishop Cox (who has since paid fitting tribute to his memory), and on the Wednesday following he was no more. The deceased was leader of the choir of the Universalist Society for a number of years; he formed a class for the study of music on the Curwen system, and was also a Sunday school teacher, in all of which offices was very popular. Mr. Willie Groves was accorded a public funeral, which was largely attended by leading local citizens, who formed in procession to the First Baptist (Episcopal) Church, where the service was conducted by Dr. Eames. The coffin was covered with an elegant floral cross, wreaths, lyre, and harp, and the platform and pulpit were adorned with flowers. Mr. G. D. Prescott presided at the organ, and the service was very impressive. Dr. Eames alluded in a touching manner to the character of the deceased—of his advent to the city and the useful and upright life he had lived there, of his love of music and devotion to it as an art, of his method of teaching it, his social qualities, his prominent moral characteristics, his fidelity to religions duties, and his readiness to assist in church singing. In his efforts in that direction at the little chapel by the sea-side where he was seeking rest, his chivalric soul (said Dr. Eames) was sent home to Heaven in chariot fire. The learned doctor concluded by expressing sympathy for deceased’s relatives and friends in England, and the remains were then convoyed to the Old Cemetery, where the service was concluded.’

In conclusion, researching this gentleman was a privilege despite the fact he met such a tragic end, the headstone in Wardsend Cemetery still remains in great shape, with the inscription:

‘William Fish Groves

Who died August 4th 1877

At Concord U.S. Of America

Aged 26 Years’

Although it was difficult to find mention of this man online, I felt like I was bringing a forgotten figure back to the forefront, and I am proud to be able to put this man’s story into words, one of many Sheffielders that travelled across the ocean and touched many lives.

The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery would like to thank Nathan for his assistance in following up this story from the other side of the Atlantic and for writing this blog post. He is currently making enquires about William’s last resting place in the old cemetery in Concord, New Hampshire.

Photo Hugh Waterhouse

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch at Wardsend

RSPB and FOWC committee member Elton Beale spent an hour at Wardsend Cemetery today as part of the Big Garden Birdwatch. Here’s what he found.

This weekend has been the RSPB’s Garden Birdwatch. The idea is you record the largest number of each species of bird seen in a 1 hour window. So for instance if you see 2 blackbirds, then 10 minutes later you see 1 and then a group of 3 a few minutes later you would record the total as 3. Anyway, I decided to monitor not just my own garden, but also spend an hour at Wardsend (half an hour bordering the river, the other half hour in the old part of the cemetery up to the railway line. The list of species/ numbers seen within the hour were as follows:-

3 Magpie,

2 Carrion Crows

1 Blue Tit

7 Long tailed Tit

2 Mallard

2 Wood Pigeon

3 Greater Black Backed Gulls

1 Peregrine Falcon

1 Grey Wagtail

2 Great Tit

2 Robin

1 Blackbird

2 Moorhen

1 Buzzard

Elton’s sightings of a wide variety of birds in just one hour along with recent sightings of kingfishers, dippers, cormorants, heron woodpecker and starling murmurations is further confirmation of Wardsend Cemetery’s role as a haven for wildlife. Look out for this year’s nature events and guided walks on our website, Facebook and twitter.

Don Network Grant

The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant by The Don Network.

With Wardsend located on the banks of the Don the river is an integral part of the area’s cultural and natural heritage and this is reflected in the varied and increasingly popular events which make up our annual programme.

We are very grateful to the Don Network for their generous grant which will be used to purchase equipment and resources that will enable us to carry out volunteer days, events and guided walks, to promote the natural heritage of the area. Our diary of events will be released shortly.

You can read more about the Don Network here:


Don Network logo

Respect for a Great Sheffield Wednesday Fan of Days Gone By

Tom Wharton

A  guest blog post by Wednesday fan Glenn Poulton.  Sincere thanks for your support from FOWC 

Having been lucky enough myself to have be selected by Jason Dickinson to be in The Owls 150th anniversary book, ‘WAWAW fans memories through the generation’, I was quite fascinated to read the first person mentioned was of a Mr Tom Wharton….

(Mr. T. Wharton from Jason Dickinson’s book)

It seems fitting that the first supporter profile should actually be a dedicated fan called Tom Wharton, who passed away in 1933 after devoting his life to Wednesday. The following is an interview with Tom in the Sheffield mail in 1926:

Surely old Tom Wharton is The Wednesday’s most enthusiastic supporter. And incidentally the most happiest man in Sheffield. He is no ordinary supporter, but a supporter who sticks to Wednesday thick and thin. For 46 years he has attended every home match except one The Wednesday have played. The exception was caused through a somewhat severe illness but Tom will let no ordinary illness interfere with his visits to see his team play. He has been ill in bed of Saturday mornings and has got up in the afternoon to get to Hillsborough. But it is not only home matches he has seen. He has been on every ground in England except three with The Wednesday. And he has a pile of programmes three feet high at least, issued in connection with the Wednesday club in different towns. The three grounds he has yet to visit are Stoke, Burnley and Newcastle. 

Old Tom lives at 26 Burnt Tree Lane, Sheffield and for many of a great year was a glass cutter. He has made some thousands of glass tumblers, and decanters, but is now retired and spends most of his time telling tales of derring-do in connection with The Wednesday and at the Sheffield Arms Hotel, Meadow Street, where he is now employed. He organised a party from the hotel to see the cup final on Saturday. The party went down by the Sheffield mail special train, but old Tom had not got a stadium ticket and did not get to see the match. But he has already seen 27 English Cup Finals. His first was in 1890 when The Wednesday played Blackburn Rovers and was beaten by six goals to one. That is a memorable occasion in old Tom’s life. It was his first visit to London, and the one he still talks about, in spite of having seen The Wednesday play over 1,500 times, before and since. His delight in the party played by Hayden Morley, one of The Wednesday backs, has not yet subsided. He stills talks of the enthusiasm with which the crowd carried off Morley shoulder high after the struggle. 

In the early days of his support for The Wednesday a party of about 40 or 50 enthusiasts, including himself, always banded together to see the team play. These enthusiasts have gradually dwindled in number until there are only eight or nine of them left. Some of them assemble in one corner of the Kop each Saturday when The Wednesday are playing a home match. They stand on the Penistone Road end of the ‘new stand’. But Mr. Wharton is doubtless the most consistent and oldest supporter of the lot. He has yelled himself hoarse times without number and has argued in the ground with men twice as big as himself. He will hear nothing against his The Wednesday and when they are down he says they will soon be up. Mr. Wharton is 72 years-old. Recently he and two other supporters had their photographs taken. His friends are George Wood, aged 69, and Mr. J. S. Redfern, aged 74. These three men had followed the fortunes of the team through thick and thin, their ages are total 215 years. Mr. Wood is a lamplighter and Mr. Redfern has lived at ‘the old black pudding shop’ in Meadow Street 

Tom Wharton 2.jpg

Having reading this I later found out via Twitter he is buried in an unmarked grave at Wardsend Cemetery which is located at the end of the seemingly never ending Livesey Street, behind Owlerton Stadium. So over the Christmas period with a bit of spare time I thought I’d seek out this once forgotten hidden cemetery and check it out for myself.

As soon as you cross over the river Don via the blue bridge you can see many of the head stones of the people who are buried there, right in  front of you. All being overgrown by nature. Nearly 30,000 men, woman and children have their final resting place here. As you walk along the path to the top of the incline you begin to see how big this place actually is and with all the trees that now stand there you cannot see the end whichever way you look. It’s also worth noting that Wardsend is 1 of only 2 cemeteries in England that has a railway line running right through the middle of it, so you have to cross a 2nd foot bridge to the top side where you find the resting place of Mr. Wharton.

I spent a good hour looking and walking through this fascinating woodland and taking various pictures including some of Hillsborough Stadium, which is only a stones throw away and can been seen if you follow the River Don up stream and then up to Scraith Wood near Herries Road, which I use to make the rest of my walk home to Parson Cross.

The long term goal of all this is not only to bring publicity to The Wardsend Cemetery and its friends, but also us Wednesdayite’s can give whatever we can and hopefully get Mr. Wharton the head stone or at least the recognition I feel a fellow Wednesdayite deserves. Hopefully we can maybe start a crowd funding page? For just £5 a year membership you can also become a friend of the cemetery which will also go towards the general up keep of Wardsend plus other benefits for you. You can find the application form on the website.

Up The Owls and Friends of Wardsend.

Glenn Poulton. (@PoultonOwl).