Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Chesterfield Road and Norton Hammer

An old quarry exposure of the Greenmoor Rock on Chesterfield Road

Having visited the Bradway Board School and briefly explored the Greenhill Conservation Area, where I photographed several historic buildings for the British Listed Buildings website, I made my way down the Chesterfield Road to the brick built Church of Our Lady of Beauchief & St Thomas of Canterbury, which also required a photograph, before taking advantage of a passing bus to take me down to the Homebase/Dunelm retail units. 
A view of the quarry face at Homebase/Dunelm on Chesterfield Road

These occupy a large quarry that was once owned by the Woodside Brick Company, which exploited the siltstone and mudstone found immediately beneath the Greenmoor Rock. Although I had stopped briefly to photograph it a few years ago, after visiting Norton, I had since explored the Greenmoor Rock and associated strata in many places around Sheffield and, because the geological memoir mentions that it is extremely variable, I wanted to take another look. 
A detail of the Greenmoor Rock
After taking a few photographs, I continued down the Chesterfield Road to find the steps that lead down to Smithy Wood Road and had a quick look at the high retaining wall here, which is built out of large blocks of a sandstone that has weathered away in places to reveal the grey body of the stone beneath the brown surface. 
The retaining wall on Chesterfield Road
Continuing down to Norton Hammer Lane, a part of Sheffield that I had not visited before, I found the three listed buildings that were on my list to photograph – the first of which is the single storey mid C19 cottage at No.10. 
No.10 Norton Hammer Lane

As during my exploration of Greenhill, I was more concerned with photographing the buildings than closely examining the stone and, seeing the dark rusty brown colours that are typical of the vernacular architecture in this part of Sheffield, I just assumed that along with the adjoining Nos. 7 to 9 this was an example of Greenmoor Rock taken from more massive beds in the quarry. 
Nos. 7-9 Norton Hammer Lane

Of all the Coal Measures sandstones that I have seen used as building stone in Sheffield, the Greenmoor Rock is by far the most recognisable. Its very fine grained and laminated nature, which has made it particularly famous for producing the best quality paving and headstones, is usually reflected in the thin beds used to build boundary walls, agricultural buildings and simple houses. 
Another view of Nos. 7-9 Norton Hammer Lane

In addition, around Sheffield, it tends to have a grey/light brown colour, with dark brown concentrations of iron oxides/hydroxides appearing on joint planes, which gives the stonework quite a distinctive appearance that contrasts with more massive sandstones that are generally used for quoins and dressings. 
A view of No.11 Norton Hammer Lane
This pattern is seen quite clearly in the late C18 houses at Nos. 11-13 on the opposite side of Norton Hammer Lane, although the colour of the stonework here is obscured by the inappropriate thick ribbon pointing, which looks like it has red sand used in the mortar mix. 
Another view of No.11 Norton Hammer Lane
In Green Moor, the type locality of the Greenmoor Rock, which is known for the vast quantities of top quality paving that it produced from several quarries, a walk around the Isle of Skye quarry shows that very large blocks of sandstone were extracted here and houses in the village are built with sandstone that is more massive and has a coarser grain size than the flaggy beds. 
A view of 12 and 13 Norton Hammer Lane

Having reached the end of my list of historic buildings to photograph for the day, I hoped to see further rock exposures on the steep sided slopes to the east side of the River Sheaf in Norton Hammer but nothing was visible. Following the river towards Sheffield, there were no stone built historic buildings in this predominantly industrial area but, reaching the culverted stretch at Broadfield Road, I just had to photograph the work of the artist Phlegm, which is named Fossils.

Fossils by Phlegm

Monday, 28 November 2022

Bradway Board School and Greenhill

A detail of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Greenhill Main Road

A few days after my longest walk of 2021 – about 12 km from Walkley to Hillsborough via Malin Bridge and Wadsley – I set out on another fine day in the first week of October to go and have a look at the Bradway Board School – one of four on my list of Sheffield Board Schools that I wanted to visit before the year was out and bring this project to a conclusion. 
Views of the Bradway Board School

Arriving on the No. 25 bus from Sheffield in bright sunshine, once the children had gone inside, I just took a few quick photos of the principal elevations of this very simple school, which was built in 1903 for the Norton School Board to the design of an unknown architect, without examining the stonework. Looking at my photos, however, its general texture and thinly coursed walling is like the Crawshaw Sandstone from Bole Hill, but its blackened surface prevents me from making any firm conclusions as to its provenance.
A detail of the Bradway Board School

With very little of architectural interest, except the pediments to the front and rear elevations with their alternating stone and herringbone brickwork – including a carving of the Chantrey Memorial Obelisk on Norton Green – I headed along Bradway Road to photograph The Cottage, before following it further towards Greenhill. 
The Cottage
The area is largely dominated by brick built inter-war houses set in spacious gardens, with later post-war developments, but the terrace of houses forming Nos. 46-52 (1769) and the early C19 Bradway Lodge are both built out of local sandstone, with stone tile roofs. 
Views of sandstone houses on Bradway Road

The underlying geology mainly comprises thin bodies of unnamed sandstone, which alternate with mudstones of the Pennine Lower Coal Measures Formation - as well as the Grenoside Sandstone. Although small quarries are marked nearby on the 1883 Ordnance Survey map, the very thin courses and the dark brown iron staining are very characteristic of the Greenmoor Rock. This was quarried extensively at Meadowhead, now the site of Morrisons supermarket, which is less than 2 km away as the crow flies, and has been used for most of the historic vernacular architecture that I have seen in the area. 
A geological map of the area around Bradway and Greenhill

Continuing along Hemper Lane, which is lined with more inter-war houses, I came to Greenhill Main Road, which  is marked on the 1883 map as a substantial village surrounded by open countryside. Although I had a list of ten historic buildings to photograph for the British Listed Buildings website, which should have given me clues what to expect during my exploration of the area, it still came as a great surprise to discover such an attractive place in this sprawling suburb of Sheffield – as had nearby Norton a few years earlier. 
Various listed buildings in Greenhill

Wandering around the Conservation Area, which is centred on Greenhill Main Road and School Road, the oldest of the Grade II Listed buildings is the rendered late C16 The Manor, with several others dating to the C18 and also the C19 village water pump. These provide further examples of the use of Greenmoor Rock, as do miscellaneous boundary walls, with what looks like yellowish Grenoside Sandstone being used to build No. 59 Greenhill Main Road (1829). 
The Greenhill Conservation Area
Continuing with my walk around the Conservation Area, I noticed that other buildings were built in sandstones that I could not obviously identify as being Greenmoor Rock, with the course heights of the walling being higher than would normally be expected in this typically fine grained and laminated stone; however, I didn’t stop to look closely at any of the building stones that I saw and these need further investigation. 
Examples of sandstone walling in Greenhill

The Wesleyan Methodist Church on Greenhill Main Road, in particular, is built with quite large blocks of a greyish sandstone that hasn’t weathered particularly well and which also doesn’t look very much like the Greenmoor Rock I had seen in the village and, furthermore, the dressings are slightly pinkish in colour. 
I haven’t been able to find out much about the Wesleyan Methodist Churches in Sheffield and the architects who designed them but, as seen in Mosborough and Maltby, the sandstones used stand out against the materials used for the vernacular architecture in the village. 
No. 80 Annesley Road

Returning to School Lane, I stopped briefly to take a few photographs of the houses and attached workshop at No. 80 Annesley Road, c.1800, before continuing to Greenhill Drive, where I asked the owners if I could photograph Grange Farmhouse and its attached cottage, before making my way down to Woodseats along the A61. 
Grange Farmhouse

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Wadsley Parish Church

The west elevation of Wadsley parish church

During my walk around Wadsley, to photograph various historic buildings for the British Listed Buildings website, I had spent no more than a couple of minutes at each building to record its principal architectural features, but I took more time to wander around the exterior of the Grade II Listed Wadsley parish church, built in 1834 to a design by Joseph Potter. 

A general view

When approaching this church – which is quite unusual that it is not dedicated to a saint - I immediately noticed the great contrast between the blackened sandstone ashlar of the original church and the buff coloured sandstone used in the new office and toilet block (2003). 
A view of the north elevation

These extensions have apparently proved controversial amongst local residents, for reasons not yet fully explained to me, but I am just surprised that no effort had seemingly been made to follow established stone matching practice in the building restoration industry – which would most likely be undertaken using resources such as the Triton Stone Library, rather than follow the impractical and academic Historic England guidelines that were published  a few years later in 2006. 
A general view from the north-east

As a geologist with specialist interests in identifying and matching stone, first learned in the building restoration industry in London, I know that a typical conservation architect will specify that “all materials used for repairs shall match the existing as closely as possible” – with this being equally applicable to extensions of listed buildings.
The chancel
I had spent the day observing the colour and texture of the sandstone used in a wide variety of historic buildings walking up to Wadsley from Malin Bridge. The Loxley Edge Rock used for most of these has some very wild colour variations, with various shades of grey to orange/brown giving it a distinctive ‘patchy’ appearance. 
The vestry

Although I have no documentary evidence to reinforce my observations, the church is very likely to have been built in the Loxley Edge Rock from Wadsley Quarries and, although the sandstone in the original building is very blackened, the vestry (1897) clearly shows this colour variation. 
Loxley Edge Rock in the chancel

On the east end of the chancel, there are places where the characteristic very coarse texture and extreme colour variations of the Loxley Edge Rock can be seen in the relatively clean stonework with the naked eye. Presumably, the architect, English Heritage (now Historic England) case officer and the stone contractor all had the opportunity to undertake a simple stone matching exercise here, with samples of potentially suitable stone. 
A detail of the Loxley Edge Rock (21 mm diameter coin)

This would have clearly shown that the stone selected for the new extensions was a very poor match and scant regard to the prominent iron banding in the original has been made. Perhaps the fact that the church was not going to be cleaned affected the choice of the uniformly coloured sandstone, which is from the Millstone Grit Group of Derbyshire or West Yorkshire; however, although I think this goes against established practice, I have been informed that this was actually a delibrate decision, which was approved by all parties concerned.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones

Having had a good look at the fabric of the church, I noticed a few Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones and went to see if there were any regimental crests that I did not know. The headstone of Private L. Jessop of the Non-Combatant Corps was the first example of Darley Dale sandstone that I had seen, with that of Corporal T.E. Addy of the Royal Army Medical Corps providing an example of the use of Italian Botticino marble.
A detail of the Darley Dale sandstone headstone of Private L. Jessop

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Historic Architecture in Wadsley

A detail of a damaged gatepier to the entrance of Loxley House

With my very brief investigation of the Malin Bridge Council School completed, I set off on my task for the rest of the day – to photograph various historic buildings in around the suburb of Wadsley for the British Listed Buildings website, starting with the sewer gas lamp at Oakland Road. 
The view from Oakland Road to Walkley Bank Road

Although of no interest to this Language of Stone Blog, from here there is an excellent view of the topography that I had so far encountered since starting my walk at Walkley Bank Road, which illustrates the steepness of the hills in this part of Sheffield. 
Views of the Dial House Club

Walking up to Ben Lane, my first stop was the Dial House Club (1802), which I assume is named after the sundial that has been placed above the front door. It is built with sandstone from the Loxley Edge Rock that has considerable colour variation, from buff through shades of orange/brown to dark brown, but I didn’t get near enough to have a good look at its texture. 
The lodge to Loxley House
Continuing up Ben Lane, after noting the blackened very coarse grained sandstone at the lodge to Loxley House (1795), I went to see if I could get any photographs of the house and its service wing (1826), which are now converted into apartments and took a few quick snaps before one of the occupiers, leaning out of a top floor window, made an objection to me examining the stonework on ‘his’ private property. 
Loxley Edge Rock at Loxley House

Waiting for him to come down and give me a ‘stern lecture about how that I was on private property and I wouldn’t like to have someone taking photographs of my house’, I replied that ‘I lived in a humble terraced house that nobody except myself would want to photograph and not in a very interesting Grade II Listed building', shrugged my shoulders and retreated to the nearby football field to photograph the front elevation. 
Loxley House

Retracing my steps to the bottom of Rural Lane, I carried on until I reached Wadsley stocks and took a photo, before continuing uphill to Stour Lane and photographing the Rose & Crown public house, dating to the mid C18 and providing another example of the Loxley Edge Rock. 
The Rose & Crown public house

My last stop on Rural Lane was another sewer gas lamp and then the house at No. 239, which is at the end of the adjacent terrace. It is Grade II Listed, like all the other buildings that I had photographed on my walk to date, but I have wondered why only this house in the terrace is considered to be of architectural significance.
No. 39 Rural Lane

Walking down Well Lane to Worrall Road, the next building on my list was the Wadsley Almshouses, a terrace of six single storey properties built c.1845 in the Tudor revival style but, being private property set back off the main road, I had to find a place in the adjoining churchyard from which to photograph them. 
The Wadsley Almshouses

Looking at the stonework on my photographs, when zooming in to see the details, the finish of the horizontal tooling looks quite rough, as would be expected if the sandstone is very coarse grained. Tooled finishes like this tend to obscure the true colours within the stone, unless wetted, but I could now see what seems to be the typical colour variation of the Loxley Edge Rock – as also seen in the former school (1838) next door, which is now a clubhouse.
The former Wadsley school

Stopping next at Wadsley parish church, which I shall describe in my next post, I made my way down to Wadsley Lane and up to The Drive to take a couple of photos of Wadsley House Club (1823) from the entrance gates. From this viewpoint, I could see that the local Loxley Edge Rock has not been used for the ashlar masonry and that the uniform buff colour suggests that it is probably from the Millstone Grit Group in Derbyshire, although my photos show some unusual bedding structures when enlarged. 
The Wadsley House Club

Further down Wadsley Lane, I took a short diversion up Far Lane to photograph Wadsley Hall (1722) and Wadsley Hall Farmhouse, only to find that these were set back of the road and tall hedges obscured the views. Although I managed to get a couple of photos of Wadsley Hall, which is built in blackened ashlar sandstone, I could not see the farmhouse and therefore continued my walk down Wadsley Lane to Middlewood Road.
Wadsley Hall

The Malin Bridge Council School

A view of the former Malin Bridge Council School from Morley Street

Having seen several examples of both the Loxley Edge Rock and the Crawshaw Sandstone, when walking down from Walkley to Malin Bridge, I continued my investigation of the historic architecture and building stones of this part of north-west Sheffield by having a quick look at the former Malin Bridge Council School. 
The 1910 extension on Dykes Lane

The school was built in 1904 to a design by the Sheffield architect HI Potter, who I had never heard of before, with an extension by Potter and Sandford on Dykes Lane in 1910 – both of which are built in the usual Crawshaw Sandstone from Bole Hill, with Stoke Hall stone from Grindleford in Derbyshire presumably used for the dressings. 
Another view of the 1910 extension on Dykes Lane
As with all of the still operational schools that I had visited to date, access to the buildings is very limited and I could only take a few record photographs from vantage points behind locked gates, which provided a very limited view of the rear elevation of the principal block. 

A view of the rear elevation of the original school

Making my way round to the rear entrance of the school on Norris Road via Ellenboro Road, I stopped very briefly to photograph the caretaker’s house, which has unusually prominent gables with parapets to the front and rear elevations and very tall chimney stacks. 

The caretaker's house

Viewing the east elevation from a distance, apart from the tall octagonal domed turret, I couldn’t see any features of particular architectural interest. The plain fa├žade has rectangular windows, with large lintels and segmental arches above, which are separated by pilasters on the ground floor of the two central bays. 
The east elevation of the original school

Zooming in with my Canon Powershot G7X II camera to the upper part of the two central bays, the arched window heads are composed of a very large lintel, voussoirs of varying sizes with a hood mould and a large keystone forming a feature of the middle window of each bay. 
A detail of the east elevation

Above the central windows, there are two large panels into which the name and date of the school have been carved with large lettering in relief. Although I had seen many examples of the name and date carved into band courses and other decorative panels made of Stoke Hall stone or a similar massive sandstone, these are unique among the Sheffield Board Schools. 
Details of the lettering in relied

After the Sheffield School Board radically reduced the costs of building in 1881, the lavish decoration seen in the schools by CJ Innocent rapidly disappeared and the early C20 schools are mostly very austere; however, as particularly seen at Hammerton Street and Lydgate Lane - designed in the Arts and Crafts style by WJ Hale - finely cut lettering still remained as a decorative feature and another good example of this can be seen on the entrance gatepiers.
Arts and Crafts style lettering in relief at the school entrance