I moved to Kelham Island in May 2012, fell in love with the place instantly, and have enjoyed living here ever since. But one thing that I’ve always been fascinated by, wherever I’ve lived, is the local history.
As someone who grew up in Sheffield I’ve always known a fair amount about the city’s history, but Kelham Island was something of a mystery, including to many Sheffielders who rarely went down that way. That’s not to say you can’t find out about some of the individual buildings, especially its factories, but there wasn’t any single book or online resource that brought together the area as a whole. Perhaps that’s unsurprising when until the 1990s there’d been around 50-60 years when no one, apart from a few publicans and caretakers, lived in the area. I decided I wanted to do something about it.
To some extent, Kelham Island’s history is the story of the city as a whole, but there’s so many individual buildings, people and stories that are unique and worth telling to a wider audience. Rather than embarking on a book, although that’s definitely my longer-term aim, I’ve decided to begin by pulling together as much of its history as I can in a public forum in more bitesize chunks.
I should add here a note on what I define as Kelham Island and Neepsend. These two areas have long been linked, but even more so today with them sharing a community group, and with the Kelham Island conservation area including parts of both areas. Historically, Kelham Island was purely the man-made island in the river, but now the name is applied to a much wider area. Neepsend, on the other hand, was quite an extensive area that stretched much further up the River Don than today’s residential area. The definitions vary depending on where you’re looking, communities often blur in to the ones next door, and other names have sometimes been used entirely, such as Bridgehouses, Shalesmoor or St. Philip’s. For the purposes of this blog however, the area I’ll largely concentrate on is between the railway line and Shalesmoor/Penistone Road, and from the Gardeners Rest pub to Corporation Street. That won’t stop me from straying outside this area from time to time though if it’s relevant. The map below shows each part of the area.
Finally, I’m always keen to hear from people who have information, memories and/or photographs to contribute.
Kelham Island, Sheffield