Astounding Inventions & Innovative Minds – HODS 2022

For Hertiage Open Days 2022, our Burial Research Team uncovered the stories of inventors and innovative thinkers buried here at Sheffield General Cemetery.

Information about Heritage Open Days 2023.


It wasn’t until the late 1830s that toothbrushes were mass produced and people became more aware of the need to care for their teeth. The best toothbrushes had silver handles and badger hair bristles, but ivory or wooden handles were more common with various hair used. Before then, if people cleaned their teeth, it was using water and a twig or a rough cloth as a toothbrush.

As sugar became much more available during Victorian times this contributed to tooth decay and loss. If you had toothache the local barber or silversmith often doubled as a dental surgeon. The tooth would be pulled out with pliers or forceps with no pain relief offered. A way of replacing your teeth was needed and this led to the development of more affordable dentures.

First Dentures

The Ancient Egyptians were the first to use dentures in about 1500 BC. These early dentures were made from human teeth threaded together with gold wire. Around 700 BC the Etruscans in northern Italy made partial dentures out of human or other animal teeth fastened together with gold bands. In Mexico too, the indigenous tribes replaced their missing teeth with wolf ones and Ancient Mayans replaced missing teeth with carved stones, bits of bone or even seashells.

The Japanese are credited with inventing the first full wooden dentures around the early 16th century. Softened beeswax was inserted into the patient’s mouth to create an impression and it was then filled with harder beeswax. Wooden dentures were then meticulously carved based on the beeswax model. Early examples were entirely wooden, but later versions used natural human teeth or sculptured pagodite (similar to soapstone), ivory or animal horn for the teeth.

This was an advanced technique which wasn’t replicated in the West until the late 18th century and continued in Japan into the 19th century.

The first ‘operators for teeth’ began advertising themselves as specialists in dental work in the late 17th and early 18thcentury. They were often professional goldsmiths, silversmiths, ivory turners or barber-surgeons.

Porcelain dentures appeared in the late 18th century with the first British patent granted in 1791 to Nicholas Dubois De Chemant for …

“a composition for the purpose of making of artificial teeth either single double or in rows or in complete sets, and also springs for fastening or affixing the same in a more easy and effectual manner than any hitherto discovered which said teeth may be made of any shade or colour, which they will retain for any length of time and will consequently more perfectly resemble the natural teeth”

George Washington’s dentures

George Washington (1732-1799) had problems with his teeth all his life. He lost his first adult tooth when he was 22 and had only one left in 1789. He had several sets of false teeth made, including the set made when he became President which were carved from hippopotamus and elephant ivory, held together with gold springs. Prior to these, he had a set made with real human teeth.


The current, popular understanding of the term “diorama” denotes a partially three-dimensional, full-size replica or scale model of a landscape typically showing historical events, nature scenes or cityscapes, for purposes of education or entertainment.

The first Diorama was a popular entertainment that was invented by Charles Marie Bouton and Louis Daguerre, and first exhibited in Paris in July 1822 and at The Diorama, Regent’s Park on September 29, 1823. An alternative to the also popular “Panorama” (panoramic painting), the Diorama was a theatrical experience viewed by an audience in a highly specialized theatre. The word literally means “through that which is seen”, from the Greek di- “through” + orama “that which is seen, a sight”.

Charles-Marie Bouton

Charles-Marie Bouton, (1781– 1853), was a Troubador painter who also worked at the Panorama and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, (1787–1851), was formerly a decorator, manufacturer of mirrors, painter of Panoramas, and designer and painter of theatrical stage illusions. Daguerre would later co-invent the daguerreotype, the first widely used method of photography.

Daguerre’s and Bouton’s diorama consisted of material painted on both sides. Each scene was hand-painted on linen, which was made transparent in selected areas. A series of these multi-layered, linen panels were arranged in a deep, truncated tunnel, then illuminated by sunlight re-directed via skylights, screens, shutters, and coloured blinds. Depending on the direction and intensity of the skilfully manipulated light, the scene would appear to change.

When illuminated from the front, the scene would be shown in one state and by switching to illumination from behind another phase or aspect would be seen. Scenes in daylight changed to moonlight, a train travelling on a track would crash, or an earthquake would be shown in before and after pictures. The effect was so subtle and finely rendered that both critics and the public were astounded, believing they were looking at a natural scene.

As many as 350 patrons would file in to view a landscape painting that would change its appearance both subtly and dramatically. Most would stand, though limited seating was provided. The show lasted 10 to 15 minutes, after which time the entire audience (on a massive turntable) would rotate to view a second painting.

A second diorama in Regent’s Park in London was opened by an association of British men (having bought Daguerre’s tableaux) in 1823, a year after the debut of Daguerre’s Paris original. The building was designed by Augustus Charles Pugin. Bouton operated the Regent’s Park diorama from 1830 to 1840, when it was taken over by his protégé, the painter Charles-Caïus Renoux.

The Regent’s Park diorama was a popular sensation, and spawned immediate imitations. British artists like Clarkson Stanfield and David Roberts produced ever-more elaborate (moving) dioramas through the 1830s; sound effects and even living performers were added. Some typical diorama effects included moonlit nights, winter snow turning into a summer meadow, rainbows after a storm, illuminated fountains, waterfalls, thunder and lightning, and ringing bells.

An early, and exceptionally large example was created between 1830 and 1838 by a British Army officer, William Siborne, and represents the Battle of Waterloo at about 7.45 pm, on 18 June 1815. The diorama measures 8.33 by 6 metres (27.3 by 19.7 ft) and used around 70,000 model soldiers in its construction. It is now part of the collection of the National Army Museum in London.

Natural history dioramas seek to imitate nature and, since their conception in the late 19th century, aim to “nurture a reverence for nature with its beauty and grandeur”. They have also been described as a means to visually preserve nature as different environments change due to human involvement. They were extremely popular during the first half of the 20th century, both in the US and UK, later on giving way to television, film, and new perspectives on science.

Joshua Dyson

Joshua Dyson was born in Glossop, Derbyshire in 1851 but by 1871 had moved to Sheffield and was following in his father’s footsteps by becoming a pork butcher.  In September 1873 he married Elizabeth Moorhouse and in 1881 the couple were living on Cemetery Road with Joshua working as a ‘Loan Secretary (Bill Discounter)’.

However, in the mid-1880s, Joshua had a complete career change and began to advertise his ‘Light and Truth Entertainments’ which used Dissolving Views to entertain the audience.

Initially he produced his shows in various hall around the town, combining his entertainment with that of a local choir such as Mr Brogden’s Swiss Choir. The shows became very popular and by 1887 Joshua had formed his own Gypsy Choir, consisting entirely of local ladies and gentlemen, to accompany his light show. He was able to fill the New Vestry Hall, Westbar, every night for 3 weeks with a different programme of slides.

“Dyson’s Gypsy Choir and Dioramas” travelled around the country attracting large audiences with the novelty mobile entertainment including live singing, narration and specialist lighting.

The Gypsy Choir was always well-trained and of the highest standard, the instrumentalists highly skilled and the presentation and continuity of the show was professional and first-rate.

Dyson was cleverly able to manipulate the lighting and the painting to make people believe that they were seeing a real scene that transformed before their eyes. He delivered a lecture to accompany whatever was illustrated by the effective dioramic views including anecdotes, legends and other interesting stories.

Audiences enjoyed the variety that Dyson’s programme offered and the wholesome family entertainment it provided. There was no vulgarity or sensationalism about it, and there was interest for all ages.  Through the virtual tours, people ‘visited’ places that otherwise they may never get to see. The shows became informal advertisements for places like the Peak District, where people might be inspired to visit through Dyson’s representation of its natural beauty.

Dyson’s innovative approach made him a most successful entertainer. He realised what people wanted when they were being entertained and was able to deliver it in a high-quality show which appealed to a wide range of people. By changing the programme of his show on a nightly basis, he could encourage people to return for more that one visit and not be disappointed.

Joshua Dyson died, aged 59, on November 30th 1910 and was buried in plot DD 54 in the Nonconformist section of Sheffield General Cemetery. By this time the days of the dioramas as entertainment were coming to an end, being overtaken in popularity by silent films and cinemas.

Chemists & Druggists

One of the first chemist’s shop in Sheffield was that opened by John Kirkby on Hartshead in 1750. Before this, the only compounder of medicines in the town would be a travelling apothecary accompanying a physician.

Apothecaries had filled the gap left by the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth century with the resulting disappearance of the herb gardens and dispensaries administered by the monks. Originally members of the Grocers’ Company, they formed their own Society in 1617 under the patronage of James I, but constantly incurred the wrath of the physicians by practising medicine as well as dispensing.

The first chemists (who prepared their drugs from chemicals) and druggists (who used plants) appeared in the eighteenth century and were noted for their ‘shops’. By 1791 there were ten such establishments in Sheffield, three on the High Street, and seven more between Fargate and West Bar. The chemists and druggists were joined by some of the ‘dispensing’ apothecaries and together, in 1841, they founded the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. At that time Sheffield had fifty-six chemists’ premises.

The introduction of plate glass windows during the 1830s enabled the chemist to display his goods in the window surmounted by show carboys containing coloured water alongside brightly-painted specie jars to attract the customer’s eye. These latter containers became the traditional sign of the English chemist. The photograph of William Ward’s shop at the corner of The Moor and Thomas Street shows some of these features in about 1890.

Inside, the typical Victorian chemist’s shop was dominated by the chemist’s counter with the dispensing bench hidden behind a high mahogany screen. Along the walls at the rear, tall shelves carried ‘shop rounds’ (round bottles 8½ inches high with close-fitting glass stoppers and recessed or varnished labels) for liquid preparations and powders, above earthenware or stoneware jars for creams and ointments. From chest level down were the ‘drug runs’, rows of drawers with glass or wooden knobs and painted labels, containing powders, herbs and roots. Under the dispensing bench were sacks and barrels of well-used items. A prominent fitting in the dispensary was a high desk supporting a large prescription book in which formulae for medicines were entered meticulously in Latin. The tools of the trade completed the picture: pestles, mortars, scales, weights, measures, bottles, corks, scoops, spatulas, tablet makers, cachet machines, powder papers and folders, pill makers, suppository moulds, ointment pots, etc.

The Victorian chemists and druggists sold patent medicines and their own ‘nostrums’ (a medicine whose effectiveness was unproved and whose ingredients were usually secret; a quack remedy) while counter prescribing and dispensing family prescriptions but very few physicians’ prescriptions came their way

Some individual secret remedies merited large-scale production and achieved national recognition. Lea and Perrins of sauce fame were Worcester druggists, Arthur Oglesby, a Barnsley chemist, introduced ‘Nurse Harvey’s Gripe Mixture’ and Alfred Bird, a Birmingham chemist and druggist, invented Bird’s eggless custard powder. In Sheffield, Robert Roper found success with his own-name plasters and pills as did Joseph Leslie with “Leslie’s Diet Drink”.

Robert Roper

Robert Roper was born in Sheffield at the end of the 18th century and married Mary Greaves in 1820. In 1841 Robert was operating his business as a Druggist at No 5, Broad Street, Park.

The Victorians believed in applying a prepared plaster or patch to the skin as a remedy for many ailments and Robert manufactured and sold ‘Roper’s Royal Bath Plasters’ from his premises. The preparation of these plasters would have been kept secret but he advertised them as ‘one of the most important discoveries in Pharmacy’. He claimed that they were an invaluable remedy for ‘Coughs, Hoarseness, Indigestion, Asthma, Palpitation of the Heart, Spinal Affections, Croup, Hooping (sic) Cough, Influenza, Rheumatic Affections of the Joints and all Diseases of the Chest’ but gave no evidence to support the claim!  His adverts often included glowing references from clients who had made amazing recoveries having applied his plasters. Robert also advertised Roper’s Woodland Cream, prepared from ‘the essence of wild flowers’ as a remedy for many hair conditions and Roper’s Egyptian Tooth Powder as invaluable for preserving teeth and gums.

Robert must have convinced his customers of the benefit of his preparations as they sold well and he continued to work as a chemist into his seventies. He died in 1873, aged 76, and was buried in grave M 72 in the Anglican section of the Cemetery.

Joseph Leslie

Joseph Leslie was born in Cumbria in 1820 and after an apprenticeship with Mr Patterson of Carlisle, and working as assistant druggist in several places in the north, he came to Sheffield and managed Mrs Lester’s shop in Division Street. He married Bathsheba Jane Blackburn in March 1843, the year he also took on William Shaw’s business in Trippet Lane; he paid £95 valuation for the stock.

Bathsheba died in July 1849 and Joseph married Jane Cron later the same year. The couple lived at 60 Trippet Lane where Joseph was a Druggist and Glass & China dealer.

On leaving home his mother had given him the advice to “Remember the poor, and always give a big pennyworth.” Joseph Leslie was very generous and gave away a large quantity of medicine. One special mixture, called “Leslie’s Diet Drink” was a great favourite. The active ingredient was Gentian, and people were invited to come and get as much as they liked for nothing. At times his premises were more like a public house than a shop because people went in great numbers with jugs and bottles for the famous “Diet Drink”. His shop windows were usually decked out with glass bottles containing fearful and wonderful reptiles, tapeworms, etc. The heavier goods, such as casks of vinegar, paints, colours, gunpowder, etc. were taken out in a bogie (a low truck on four small wheels; a trolley) with a donkey attached, “one of the queerest looking vehicles possible to imagine, and certainly the only one of its kind in Sheffield”.

Joseph Leslie gave up the Trippet Lane business in 1878 and it was taken on by his son, Joseph Blackburn Leslie. Joseph, senior, devoted his energies to his Walkley business. Later in life he returned to Cumbria and opened a small chemist shop there.

Joseph Leslie was in business for over 60 years and had returned to Sheffield when he died on April 8th 1900. He was recorded as a retired chemist of 148 Walkley Street when he was buried in Plot RR 34 Ang.

Football & Sheffield General Cemetery

There are many football connections in Sheffield General Cemetery.  Sheffield itself is often said to be the city with the most connections to the origins of the modern game.  This has recently been proved again as Sheffield United ground was one of only a few in the country that wanted to host the Women’s European Cup.  And the city certainly got behind the Lionesses on their way to glory.

Football was played in the public schools and they made their own rules.  In Sheffield, which can claim to have the oldest football club in the country, the two big clubs emerged out of cricket clubs.  There were also works teams and local area teams.  Sheffield Football Club, which is generally acknowledged to be the oldest football club in the world began in 1857.  Obviously, as the only football club in existence, they were starved of opposition so they played against themselves in teams such as ‘married or single’.  William Prest, buried here, was one of those who founded the Club and who helped to design the Sheffield Rules which were widely adopted and were incorporated into the official rules of the Football Association when there published them in 1867.

Another of our football greats is Thomas Youdan, an energetic man with lots of ideas which he hoped would make him money.  He introduced the first ever Football trophy, the Youdon Cup, which has recently been revived.  He was a theatre owner and an entrepreneur.  A man of many schemes!

The gravestone of J B Wostinholm was recently uncovered in a much over-grown part of the Cemetery by two enthusiasts from Sheffield United.  He was one of the founder members of Sheffield United.  Another United star is Charles Stokes, a dentist who was Chairman of the Blades for many years.  In the interest of balance, we have to talk about George Senior, an ex Lord Mayor and an ex Master Cutler who was a Chairman of Sheffield Wednesday and who presided over the club during is most successful period.  We also have player Fred Thompson (U1 156 noncon) and William Stacey, a headmaster who became a player for Wednesday by chance as he was watching a match and on of the players missed the train and so a cry went out, asking for help!  He then played regularly for the Owls.

Charles Stokes  Sheffield United Chairman

Charles Stokes was born in the Steel City on December 30th, 1847 and, until Kevin McCabe’s tenure at Bramall Lane, was Sheffield United’s  longest serving Chairman

He was a dentist and pretty well all of the surgeries he ran were on London Road near to Bramall lane Stadium- in fact the last at number 240 is still a dentist today and it was there that he died in 1913- his son carried on the business when Charles retired.

Stokes’ first Club was the Heeley FC when he was 16, where he not only showed his talent as a player but also rose through the ranks to become its President at a time when they were regarded as one of the then town’s best teams.

He attended the meeting that confirmed the founding of the Sheffield Football Association in 1867 and, in the same year was a committee member that helped to form Sheffield Wednesday FC as well as playing for them.  Charles Stokes was certainly a huge figure in the game as it began to really take shape, becoming more organised.

It seems that he also played a key part in the Wednesday Club securing their first ground proper a short kick away from Bramall Lane at Olive Grove as well as having a role of the Ground Committee, the body who ran the show at the Lane, at the time when the main concern for them was for cricket- some task

He had first begun his association with Sheffield United when he became a member of the Bramall Lane bowling Club in 1869 and the invitation to join the ground committee came in 1875- just two years later he was invited to do the same for the Yorkshire CCC and, as if that wasn’t enough responsibility, he also became the first treasurer of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA in 1887!

Stokes became what can only be described as the father of the Blades more than any of the others involved when, as a member of the Sheffield United Cricket Club Committee, he witnessed Bramall Lane stage Sheffield’s first ever FA Cup Semi Final. Preston North End played West Bromwich Albion here on March 16th, 1889- a record gate at the time for a game of football poured through its turnstiles- it was estimated at well over 22,000- and many encroached onto the pitch as they strained to get a better view of the Invincibles taking on the Baggies as the ground committee made then then colossal profit of around £500.

For anyone who knew the struggles of making the ground pay this must have seemed a gift from the gods, and for a man who loved football, this must have surely been the proof needed for so long to finally convince those colleagues who had been against having their own resident Club for so long that he time, and need for the money, was right

They clearly listened as, a few days later, the famous notice that appeared in the local press and changed the face of Sheffield Football forever appeared:

“Sheffield United Cricket Club- the committee have decided to form a football club for next season for the Bramall Lane grounds- Professionals may send testimonials on or before March 30th to: Mr JB Wostinholme- 10 Norfolk Row”

The famous meeting took place on the 2nd floor of that building on March 22nd that saw, by a majority of 1, the motion to form that very Club. Sheffield United FFC was born there and then- there is a plaque on the wall to this day marking that historic event.  J B Wostinholm is also buried in the General Cemetery – see information for grave HH 106.

Not only had Stokes played a vital part in the formation of the Owls, but also in the birth of the Blades, and it would be the red and white half that became the closest to his heart as well as his home.

He was the first Chairman of the Football Committee although Michael Ellison, the man for who Bramall Lane had been a dream, remained as Club Chairman until his death in 1898 when that role was taken by football’s first knight, the legendary Charles Clegg. Stokes and Ellison together ensured that he football team wasn’t killed off in its first couple of years and was also the man who made the decision in 1891 to bring players such as Billy Hendry in from Preston to add a more professional attitude to Sheffield United FC- a huge and brave move that really paid off

It is fitting that his tenure saw United win the League Championship, two FA Cups (and a runner up) and saw some legendary names such as Foulkes, Needham, Thickett and Johnson write their names in Blades history- what an incredible journey and life

He died in October 1913 at what would be now regarded as the young age of 66- his sons Percy and Harry both went on to serve the Board of Directors which meant that there was a Stokes in a position of power at United from our birth until 1954.  Charles is buried in the General Cemetery in grave R 145 on the nonconformist side.  The family grave gives no mention of the sporting heritage but he is considered a founding father of Sheffield football, particularly of Sheffield United.

R 145 In loving memory of Mary Jane Stokes, born 16th August, 1850, died 29th April, 1904. Also Charles Stokes, beloved husband of the above, born 30 December 1847, died 8th October, 1913.

In loving memory of Amy Lilian, the beloved daughter of Charles and Mary Jane Stokes, born March 16th, 1876, died August 14th, 1876.

Also Elsie Lily, their daughter, born March 26th, 1881, died August 1(hole punched through second number) 1884.

Also Charles Verdon, their son, born August 28th, 1886, died December 27th, 1890.

Thomas Youdan

In Cemetery we have Thomas Youdan, who was responsible for the first football cup, recently re-established, which preceded the FA cup by 4 years.  He born in Doncaster but came to Sheffield to work when he was 18 where he was a silver stamper.  He ran a public house and then built the Surrey theatre which included a concert hall and a menagerie.  He served on the Council for 6 years.  The theatre burnt down in 1865 and Youdan lost £30,000.  He was a philanthropist, giving generously to charity.  He was a man full of schemes.  He organised a tea party for ladies over 60, held in the cattle market on 600 yards of tables.  The ladies could attend free both others were charged and the money raised was donated to those who suffered after the Indian Mutiny.  He also asked the confectioner, George Bassett (also buried here) to bake a cake to celebrate the end of the Crimean War.  The cake was to be sold in portions and there was to be a raffle where some of the portions of cake would entitle the owner to a cash prize. However, Youdon was warned that the scheme might be considered an illegal lottery so the scheme was abandoned. The cake, baked by Bassett was 8 feet by 10 feet high and 9 feel high and weighed about 9860 pounds.  Quite a stunt!

He left his considerable estate to Harriet, the daughter of his brother John.  The tomb calls Harriet the ‘adopted daughter’ of Thomas and this obviously caused considerable upset in the Youdan family and the word were removed by John Youdan with a hammer and chisel.  He was charged with defacing the monument and ordered to pay a fine of £10.  If you look at the tomb now, it is possible to see the strip of granite that was put over the damage caused by the chisel.

William Prest

We also have William Prest. William Prest was born in 1831 and was a wine merchant by trade. He was born in York and lived most of his life in Sheffield.  He was involved in the formation of the volunteer regiment, the Hallamshire Rifles and his obituary describes him as a ‘fine type of volunteer officer.  Firm in discipline and genial in temper and taking interest in everything that interested his men.  He was held by them in the highest esteem and affection.’  He got involved in a newspaper argument when it was recorded that some of the volunteers had been seen smoking in the street on a trip to Skegness.  He defended his men vigorously!

He was a good cricketer, captaining Yorkshire for several seasons,  and was one of the founders of the Sheffield Football Club for whom he played.  It is suggested that he wanted to provide something for young men to do during the winter when cricket was impossible.  He and another Sheffield man, Nathanial Creswick,  helped to codify the Sheffield Rules which were soon adopted by most of the northern football clubs.  They were first published in 1859.  The London based Football Association published its own rules in 1863 and the two sets of rules co-existed until the two were unified in 1877.  The Sheffield Rules had a major influence on how the modern game developed.  In 1867 the world’s first competitive football tournament took place under Sheffield Rules. The Youdan Cup.

The Rules were important.  The oldest recorded football match in Sheffield occurred in 1794 when a game of ‘mob football’ was played between Sheffield and Norton, then a Derbyshire village, which took place at Bents Green.  The game lasted three days, which was not unusual for the time, and it was noted that although there were some injuries no one was killed during the match.

Prest rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Hallamshire Rifles and was buried with full military honours when he died suddenly at the age of 52.  The details of his funeral were announced in the newspaper before it took place, to give people the opportunity to attend and it is said that over 1000 people attended and that thousands more lined the streets and that barricades had to be erected for the safety of the public.

Considering how important football is to some people and that Sheffield considers itself a football city, it is surprising that Prest is not more well known.  He is buried in plot I1 159 and this is the Memorial Inscription:

I1 159 In memory of Lt.Col William Prest, Major 1st Hallamshire Volunteer Battalion of the Yorks and Lancaster Regiment who died 10th Feb 1885 aged 52 years.

This monument has been erected to Lt.Col William Prest by his brother officers of the 1st West York, Yeomanry Cavalry, the 4th West York Volunteers, having completed upwards of 25 years service in Her Majesty’s auxillary forces for the 1stW Y Engineer Volunteers and his own Regiment as a token of respect for his sterling services rendered by him for a long series of years in the volunteer movement.

He never married but was obviously held in great esteem by his colleagues.

J B Wostinholm (Sheffield United founder)

Joseph Beckett Wostinholm was born in Sheffield in 1836 and was a relative of the Becketts associated with the file and saw manufacturers, Alfred Beckett and sons of Brooklyn Works fame, Green Lane on Kelham Island. The famous factory opened in the mid 1850’s as a file and saw producer of some repute with the “Matchless” name as one of their famous brands- the firm closed in the 1960’s after surviving x 2 World Wars and the Sheffield flood for which Beckett put an insurance claim in for damages of £127.

JB was a very bright man indeed and, in adult life, became a chartered accountant, stockbroker and estate agent with premises on Bramall Lane and, most importantly, at 10 Norfolk Row in the heart of Sheffield. He was also a cricket fanatic (and no mean player himself) and he played a key role in the securing of the land belonging to the Duke of Norfolk on its 100 year lease that would become the famous home of Sheffield United to this very day. Joseph Wostinholm presided over the erection of the boundary walls that would mark the land as separate to the area around it, along with the building of the Cricket Pavilion, the expansion of the site and all of the stands and other structures built at Bramall Lane over the period of his tenure. He would also make Yorkshire County Cricket Club the power it was and make sure that Sheffield itself was the home of the game for 40 years. The 28 year old Wostinhold was recruited to Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s as the first secretary George Padley in 1864 following the official formation and the County at the Adelphi Hotel in Sheffield on January 8th, 1863.

The two of them were undisputed rulers of the County and its home for years- as a result of his role of Secretary for the Cricket he also took the same role on the Bramall Lane Ground committee and was responsible for turning the enclosure into a profitable concern by looking at how crowds could be increased and also at bringing a wide variety of other sports in to pay the bills, the main one being, of course, Football and ultimately the formation of Sheffield United FC.

JB was known as being a no- nonsense character who didn’t suffer fools gladly but had a reputation for getting the job done and well. It’s incredible to think that, for the first 20 years of its life, all committee members and paid officials of Yorkshire were provided from Sheffield as well, we were that powerful and that was down to the two men discussed here!

Following the FA Cup Semi-Final at Bramall Lane in 1889 between West Brom and Preston that brought record gate receipts for a game of football at that time of in excess of 500 quid that was attended by a then record crowd for the tie of over 22,000, an incredible number back then and a reflection of the quality of the facilities that Wostinholm had played such a huge part in creating as a result, a decision was taken to hold a meeting at JB’s Offices on Norfolk Row (which were also the offices of the Club) on March 22nd 1889 where the decision was made to form a football club to play at the ground that resulted in the following advertisement appearing in Newspapers the following day:

“Sheffield United Cricket Club

The Committee have decided to form a Football Club for next season for Bramall Lane Ground

Professionals may send testimonials and particulars on or before March 30th to Mr. JB Wostinholm. 10 Norfolk Row”

To all intents and purposes, the Blades were born, and Wostinholm had played a huge part in its entry to the world. He took the role of first Club secretary, and he has been described as our first Manager. There were others involved in coaching and the selection of players, but the signing of players and dealings with the FA were all undertaken by him, and he performed that role until resigning in 1892, only to take the reigns back in 1893, holding the roles with the Blades and Yorkshire until 1902.

He died at his home on Sharrow View in April 1909, and interestingly none of the obituaries mentioned the football club, preferring to concentrate on his cricketing achievements. He left an incredible sum of in excess of £54,000 back then, seemingly most of which went to the Masons with

who he had a long-standing association. He was also a staunch Unitarian and was laid to rest, not in City Road as has been written, but in the General Cemetery, a short hearse ride away from his Sharrow home.”

He was buried in plot HH 106 which was recently uncovered by some enthusiasts from Sheffield United.The memorial inscription reads;

‘HH 106 In affectionate memory of Eliza daughter of Wilfred and Eliza Wostinholme who departed this life Aug 21 1876 aged 36 years. Also of the above named Wilfred Wostinholme who departed this life Sept 19 1851 aged 44 years, and was interred in the grounds adjoining the Upper Chapel. Also the above named Eliza Wostinholme who departed this life Jan 9 1884 aged 74 years. Also of Joseph Beckett Wostinholme son of the above Wilfred and Eliza Wostinholme who departed this life Apr 23 1909 aged 73 years.’


Chartism was a political movement which drew together the working classes to pursue democracy and campaign for improved worker’s rights and conditions in England in the nineteenth century. Disillusioned and betrayed by the Reform Act of 1832 which extended voting rights only to middle class men (ten per cent of the population), workers adopted a People’s Charter aimed at extending suffrage. Famously the Charter had six points: universal male suffrage, no property qualification for MPs, annual parliaments, equal electoral districts, payment of MPs and a secret ballot. By the end of the century all but annual parliaments were in place.

Chartism in Sheffield

In Sheffield in the mid 1830’s there was a re-awakening of the working class and trades unionism was growing rapidly. Local working-class industrial leaders led political campaigns to win basic political freedoms such as the vote and the free circulation of political press, and industrial rights such as the freedom to belong to trades unions. There was no national campaign to win one man one vote for the excluded nine tenths of the population. However, there were moves to establish Radical Associations and one was set up in Sheffield in 1836. Continuing industrial struggles, financial issues affecting the cutlery trades and protests about the introduction of workhouses culminated in the first meeting of the Sheffield Working Men’s Association (SWMA) in October 1837. This was the first local chartist body.

A prolonged economic depression beginning in 1837 further angered the Chartists. In May 1838 the People’s Charter was promulgated in London and the national movement was formed. The SWMA however remained weak despite a visit from Feargus O’Connor the Chartist Leader and editor of Leeds based Northern Star newspaper. In September 1838 a public demonstration of over 20,000 took place in Sheffield. People came from nearby villages as well as Rotherham, Manchester and Birmingham.


1839 was a year of intense Chartist activity. In May simultaneous meetings were held all over England to acclaim the People’s Charter. On Whit Monday a rally was held in Paradise Square attended by 15,000 – 20,000, Samuel Holberry and his wife among them. In June Feargus O’Connor spoke again in the town and a Female Radical Association was formed. In July the Chartist’s National Petition was rejected by Parliament. This initiated a period of crisis in which tensions emerged

between those who were prepared to use physical force to achieve their objectives, and advocates of ‘moral force’. Ebenezer Elliott and Isaac Ironside, both of whom had been key figures in the SWMA, ceased to be active around this time. Those willing to use physical means adopted more drastic measures including arming, to persuade the Government to think again.

Activity in Sheffield increased, creating an atmosphere of confrontation across the town. Magistrates banned the use of Paradise Square, so the Chartists organised meetings elsewhere and held several ‘illegal’ meetings in the Square. 12 August was a whole day of disturbances including rallies, meetings and marches leading to the arrest of two Chartist leaders the following day and the banning of all meetings. The dragoons were called in and 70 people were arrested following running battles with troops and the police. The Chartists then adopted a new tactic known as churchgoings reflecting their hostility towards the established church. They marched to churches singing Corn Law hymns and filled them ‘to the exclusion of the majority of respectable seat -holders’. The SWMA continued to expand and held small ‘class’ meetings when Chartist meetings were banned. In September a ‘Camp’ meeting on Hood Hill, 8 miles north of Sheffield, was attended by 10,000 -15,000 Chartist sympathisers. Others took place in Attercliffe and Loxley Chase. Feargus O’Connor addressed one last meeting of the SWMA but after this it focussed on ‘classes’ and educational and social activities.

In the absence of a co-ordinated nationwide plan of action by ‘physical force’ Chartists, a series of outbreaks occurred around the country. One of the most notable was the armed uprising in Newport in November 1839. Chartist sympathisers marched into the town where troops opened fire and killed 22 people. The rest fled. Three of the leaders were arrested and sentenced to death, later commuted. In the wake of this several other uprisings were planned across the country. The one in Sheffield was led by Samuel Holberry.

The Sheffield Rising

Holberry was among a group of activists in Sheffield. They began planning and preparing for a rising in late 1838 including by testing explosive shells in the countryside and firebombing St Mary’s, Bramall Lane. The night of 11/12 January was fixed on as the date of the action. Holberry had already been involved in efforts to mount a rising in the West Riding. He had made firebombs and grenades in the garret of the back to back house he lived in in Eyre Lane, trying them out in Edge Bottom. He spent time touring towns and villages in South Yorkshire and the north midlands to mobilise support. Contact had also been made with groups in London, Birmingham and Tyneside.

Drawing on his experience in the army, Holberry had formed a careful military plan. The rising would start with diversions on the outskirts of the town: firing at isolated magistrates’ houses and the barracks and putting a bomb in the Police Office. These would draw the military out of the town at which point two chartist assault groups would seize the town hall and nearby Tontine [coaching] Inn and barricade themselves in, creating ‘Chartist forts’. At least eight ‘classes’ would rise in Sheffield support by ‘friends’ from the surrounding areas (Eckington, Attercliffe and Rotherham).

On 9 January 1840 local leaders, including those from Dewsbury, Barnsley and Rotherham, met for a planning meeting. However, one of their members had agreed to betray them. James Allen was a Rotherham Chartist and on hearing rumours of a possible rising, the Rotherham police chief had approached him. Allen was in regular contact with the Sheffield Chartists and he had told the police of the plan. Earlier, the Chartists had had suspicions about Allen and begun to exclude him from their meetings. But the police chief, John Bland, persuaded him to tell the plotters that he was fully converted to the cause and would mobilise 150 men in support of it. This secured access to secret

meetings in the days leading up to the action itself. At the last of these on Saturday afternoon 11 January, Allen got details of the precise timings, leaders, arms and ammunition stores and meeting places. He took them to John Bland, now accompanied by Lord Howard, a West Riding magistrate.

At 8pm Lord Howard galloped at full speed from Rotherham to the Sheffield Police Office arriving at about 10pm to tell the Sheffield military and magistrates that what they had been warned of (and dismissed) was now upon them. The Police swung into action. A detachment of soldiers was called out. At midnight Samuel Holberry was arrested at his home, 10, Eyre Lane, along with his pregnant wife Mary. Other leaders were also arrested. The plot had been foiled. Police ringed the Town Hall where the captive conspirators were held.

Afterwards Allen, whose life was thought to be in danger, was resettled in the south of England under an assumed name. However, he was spotted by someone from Rotherham and subsequently disappeared. In order to protect him the role of the Rotherham police was hushed up until 1864 when the Sheffield press began to reveal the truth.


Samuel Holberry was arrested and tried for conspiracy and sedition. On 21 March 1840 he was sentenced to four years imprisonment in Northallerton House of Correction. He was badly and illegally treated there: put on the treadmill for five weeks, despite the fact that his sentence did not have labour attached to it, and kept in solitary confinement for several months. Clearly the authorities wanted to make an example of him as a warning to other Chartists. The Governor of Northallerton was known to be a law unto himself and prisoners at Northallerton were the worst fed and hardest worked. Holberry’s friends and Chartist groups agitated about conditions in the prison and petitioned against his unjust treatment. Letters sent to him while in jail are held in Sheffield City Archives. His health deteriorated and in September 1841 he was moved to York Castle and to a hospital ward in the winter as consumption (TB) took hold. He died in June 1842.

Samuel Holberry

Samuel Holberry was born on 18 November 1814 in a village near East Retford in Nottinghamshire, the son of an agricultural labourer. Times were hard during his childhood and youth spent in a rural village, doing seasonal agricultural and other unskilled work. His education was limited and when the family could no longer afford to keep him, he had to leave home. At age 16 Holberry enlisted. His 3 years in the army coincided with a period when the State was anxious to curb and control the political and industrial demands of the emerging working class. Towards the end of his time, in Northampton he attended a night school. Holberry became disgusted with army life and bought himself out in 1835, destroying every reminder of it. He moved to Sheffield and became a rectifying distiller. Following redundancy, he worked for 10 months for a London distiller until his Sheffield employer invited him back. It was during this time that he became immersed in working class politics. In autumn 1838 he joined the Sheffield Chartists at a time when activity was beginning to intensify. The following year, after the rejection of the National Petition by Parliament, Holberry who was a Baptist by origin, became a leader in the Sunday churchgoings.

On 27 June 1842 Samuel Holberry was given a public funeral. Between 20,000 and 50,000 people lined the route of his funeral procession from Attercliffe to the newly opened General Cemetery. Shops were closed. Holberry’s life and death became a Sheffield legend, inspiring new generations of Chartists. A street in Broomhall is named after him and he is commemorated in Sheffield’s Peace Gardens where a plaque bearing his name is a reminder of Sheffield’s contribution to a momentous period in history.


David Price, Sheffield Troublemakers. Rebels and Radicals in Sheffield History (2008)
Holberry Society Publications, Samuel Holberry Sheffield’s Revolutionary Democrat, 3rd edn, (1986)

Scattered Homes

The Scattered Homes system was devised in1893 by John Wycliffe Wilson who was the Chairman of the Sheffield Board of Guardians. Wycliffe Wilson criticised the existing system of cottage homes as he felt it isolated children from the real world in which they would have to eventually make their way.

Isolated or Scattered homes placed small groups of children in ordinary houses scattered around the suburbs of Sheffield. The children attended ordinary local Board schools and there were never more than 30 scattered homes children attending any one school.

Initially Sheffield had nine homes each containing between fifteen and twenty eight beds. Seven were allocated to Protestant children and two to Roman Catholics. Each house was presided over by a foster mother, assisted in the household work by the elder children and occasionally, a charwoman.

Similar schemes were adopted by many other unions, beginning with Whitechapel and Bath. In some cases a union would take over or even erect a small row of ordinary houses in a normal residential area.

By 1914 over 90 unions all over the country were making use of scattered homes system.

John Wycliffe Wilson 1836 – 1921 DD 136 noncon

Wilson was the son of William Wilson of Sherwood Hall, Mansfield and Eliza Read of Wincobank Hall, Sheffield. He was born in 1836 and educated at University College London. He joined the family firm of gold and silver smelting. He worked in partnership with his brother, Henry for many years. Henry was also active in politics and MP for Holmfirth for nearly 30 years.

John Wycliffe Wilson was extremely active in civic affairs. He was a Justice of the Peace, a member of the City Council, and Alderman, a Poor Law Guardian and Chairman of the Sheffield Board of Guardians. He was a life long abstainer and a strong non-conformist.

His obituary states that ‘His gifts were at all times employed to augment the sum of human happiness and while the whole of his work was characterised by meticulous regard for principle and a refuse to condone wrong, no matter how it was disguised, he never divorced practice from precept, nor set for others a standard which he himself was not prepared to maintain’

Mitchell, Turton & Martino

The reign of Queen Victoria, which lasted from  1837 to 1901,  saw  immense  changes, all happening far more rapidly than in previous centuries. Industry mushroomed, attracting what had been a largely rural population to the towns and cities where jobs were plentiful and wages higher than those of agricultural labourers.  Sheffield’s population leapt from 31,000 in 1801 to over 135,000 in 1851.  Population movement, fuelled also by the railway boom, and the growth of the cities was accompanied by agitation for political reform and social change. Northern cities in particular, despite the poverty and squalor experienced by their poorer inhabitants, provided everyone with the freedom to think independently and to explore ideas.

Invention was the order of the day. In a new world, there was opportunity to do things differently. The big steel firms with their immense resources and driven also by circumstance pushed the technology on, created new ways to build bigger and better, one new modification leading rapidly to another. But invention was not limited to big business. The ordinary worker could find himself inventing new tools, gadgets and techniques, often as a result of the work he was doing every day.

Joseph Mitchell

Joseph Mitchell was born in the Park area of Sheffield. He began work as a striker but soon showed an instinctive grasp of engineering and a talent for invention. The Sheffield Telegraph 10 March 1897 reported that in the 1840s Joseph ‘was the inventor of improved buffer springs, corrugated springs, volute and other springs manufactured by Sir John Brown’. In the mid 1850s Joseph opened a works in Napier Street as engineers and machinists, employing a number of men,  which was for several years very successful. Joseph patented a number of his inventions to do with railway springs, punching and shearing machines, and tools of various kinds. Eventually Joseph retired from the business , which was sold. Still active at the age of 79, and still interested in the world of engineering, he had turned his attention to the parts needed for the new motor cars when he died in 1897.

George Turton

George Turton who died in 1907, was the founder of Messrs George Turton Platts and Company, manufacturers of buffers, coil springs, steel file hammers. It was he, reported the Sheffield Telegraph 14th May 1907 in the obituary, who ‘invented the well known Turton buffer, used extensively on the rolling stock of many British and foreign railway companies. ‘

Frederick Martino

Frederick Martino was from Florence: he apparently spoke six languages and was widely travelled. The obituary published in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph 10th October 1903, was headed ‘A great Inventor Dead’. He was best known for the block and lever system breech action Martini rifle (or Martini-Henry rifle) which was in use from 1871 until the end of World War I, but he also improved the framework of umbrellas and was a recognised authority on nickel.

Joseph Mitchell buried in the Anglican section F1 115,  George Turton in V1 153, also and Frederick Martino in S2 52 . The stones are now lost.

Obituaries of Inventors

Joseph Mitchell

Joseph Mitchell and his wife died from smoke inhalation as a result of a fire in their house. A disabled lodger was also killed. The Sheffield Independent 10 March 1897 reported on the event in detail, and  included a summary of Joseph’s working life:

Mr Joseph Mitchell’s career.

The deceased man, Joseph Mitchell, has had an interesting career, and will be remembered by many who were connected with Sheffield’s trade twenty or more years ago. He was engaged in the trade all his life, and was the originator of many developments and improvements in the machines, and other engineering manufactures of the city. He was born in the Park district and in 1842 was working as a striker in Pond Hill. Later, while working at an engineer’s shop in Button lane, he showed a good deal of inventive power and ability to grasp the higher branches of engineering work. About 1846 he opened a smith’s shop and started in business for himself, but he soon gave that up, and entered into the employment of Sir John Brown. At that time Sir John’s career was an employer was but opening; in fact, we are informed that Joseph Mitchell and his brother Thomas were among the first men employed by Sir John when his business was carried on in Hereford street or Furnival street. Joseph was the inventor of improved buffer springs, corrugated springs, volute and other springs manufactured by Sir John  Brown. Forty years ago the brothers Joseph and Thomas Mitchell entered into partnership as engineers, machinists etc, and opened works in Napier street, on the site of which the brewery of Messrs Wheatley and Bates, Limited, now stands. The business conducted by the brothers increased rapidly, and bade fair to be exceedingly prosperous. A good number of men were employed, and the firm had a successful career for several years. Joseph Mitchell was a clever man, of a very inventive turn of mind, and he patented many of his inventions. His attention was  chiefly devoted to the improvement of railway springs, and he also patented inventions in punchng and shearing machines, patent picks and tools of various kinds. A large business was done, and the firm had dealings with manufacturers in many towns, including such large centres as Birmingham and Manchester. The partnership however was dissolved, and Mr Joseph Mitchell, after paying his brother out, took a Mr Tilford as his partner. The business continued to be successful, but there were several changes in the management. Mr Tilford left, and the firm was carried on as J Mitchell and Co Limited. Mr Mitchell’s son James had a share in it at one time. The works were extended from Napier street to Soho street, and finally the concern of J Mitchell and Co was bought over by Messrs Griffiths and Sons who now carry on the same business in Soho street. Prior to the transfer of the undertaking from the Mitchell family, Mr Jos Mitchell had ceased his connection with it. This was about ten years ago when he started some works of his own in Bradfield Park road. He was unfortunate there however and the business only lasted about 12 months. Since then Mr Joseph Mitchell, though living in retirement and not actively engaged in business, still exercised his inventive faculties, and latterly had turned


The first successful photographic process was invented by Louis Daguerre (1787-1851). A daguerreotype is a single reversed image, made as a direct positive onto a silvered copper plate. The image is made of a combination of silver and mercury, resting on that plate. It is extremely vulnerable to damage, so, they were usually protected with a cover-glass. During the same period William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77) had produced his first successful negative and patented his improved process, the calotype,  in February 1841. The calotype negative was made by projecting an image through a lens on to a piece of chemically sensitized paper fixed inside the camera, where it formed a latent image on the paper, unseen by human eye. When developed, this produced a negative image. In turn, this negative was placed in the printing frame with a second piece of sensitized paper beneath it and exposed to sunlight. This produced a positive image, which had to be fixed with chemicals.

Then in 1851 Frederick Scott Archer (1813-57) announced his new form of photography, the wet collodion process. This was easier and cheaper and  became the foundation of photography for the next 140 years. A glass plate is coated with the wet collodion solution containing light-sensitive silver salts and exposed whilst the plate is still wet. Photographs have to be taken within 15 minutes of coating the plate so a portable dark room is needed; however, the exposure time is less than for daguerreotypes and calotypes, making outdoor photography easier. A sharp glass negative image is created that captures microscopic detail. Positive copies can be made from this, usually of albumen prints on paper.

Also in 1851, the scientist Sir David Brewster (1781-1868) presented lenticular stereoscopy to the world for the first time, at the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace Two slightly differing images are presented separately to the left and right eye of the viewer. These two-dimensional images are then re-combined by the brain to give the viewer the perception of 3-D depth.Both stereo-viewers and images were an instant success with visitors, who were enchanted by the new three-dimensional effect. Hundreds of thousands of stereoscopic images were sold in a major craze which reached every middle-class Victorian drawing-room. Special cameras were developed to make the images, and a variety of viewers produced to keep up with demand. Portraits, scenery, comedic scenes and images of far flung places were all particularly popular.

Two photographers buried in the cemetery are Lawrence Peacock and Alfred Seaman.

Lawrence Peacock

Lawrence was active in the 1860s. He gained fame by taking photographs of the aftermath of the great flood of 1864. He travelled with a portable darkroom on the back of a cart pulled by an often uncooperative donkey and spoke amusingly of the practical difficulties of this:

All the bridges being washed away and the rivers had to be forded, now it is well known that donkeys as a rule have a way of their own and if they think won’t- they won’t, now our donkey was no exception to this rule and when he came to the water at Bradfield he thought he wouldn’t cross – and he wouldn’t. The water was three feet or three feet six inches deep and about 50 navvies were at work round about, some getting the foundations for the new bridge and others were building boundary walls. After having a good laugh at our predicament one of them came to me and offered along with his mates to carry the whole lot across for half a crown, donkey, cart, dark room and three passengers, they got some poles and putting one through both wheels and 2 under the donkey, a man on either end of each pole, that is 10 men carried the whole lot across then 3 of them returned for my boy, the driver and myself, we mounted their backs and were taken across the water (I think they carried 3 each for that job) and so we proceeded on our journey to the broken reservoir, this carrying procedure had to be repeated on the return home.

Information from Malcolm Nunn, Bradfield Archives She Sheffield Libraries Picture Sheffield

Alfred Seaman

Alfred Seaman established himself as a commercial photographer in the 1880s. The Derbyshire and Chesterfield Herald for 29 May 1886, has an article on ‘Mr A Seaman’s Photographic Establishment’ under the title ‘Chesterfield and its industries’. Alfred had premises in Brewery Street and Corporation Street. According to the writer he ‘only came to Chesterfield in a small way in 1880’ but ‘now ranks amongst the first photographers in the county’. He not only took portraits for framing and cartes visite,  formal groups, children and animals, but also hundreds of stereoscopic images of scenes of natural beauty not only in Derbyshire, but further afield,  and had been so successful that he had enlarged his premises more than once. There follows a detailed description of how  each of the room s in the two buildings were used. It is clear that the whole process of developing and printing was laborious and complicated, but also that Alfred was keenly interested and skilled. There are several references to innovations he had made to different stages of the process, since adopted by others, and the description of the photography studio indicates the scale of his aspirations. The studio has ‘all the necessary blinds etc to regulate the amount of light required’ and ‘around the studio are various objects used for the sake of giving effect to the photographs, namely balconies, cabinets, old oak, stones ornamental chairs etc’ There are also ‘ a large number of Seavey’s* celebrated backgrounds taken from photographs, and notably Chatsworth Gardens, with the Emperor Fountain playing…….and by these means the visitor may be taken so as to appear in almost any place he wishes…’  All his equipment was state of the art: he has ‘all the latest improvement in cameras, stands and photographic apparatus’, and a lot of space was needed for the chemicals and equipment needed to create the finished product. It is clear that there was plenty of work; eight of his sons went on to make their living as photographers.  In 1886 Alfred became a founding member of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom, serving on the committee until his death. Further Seaman studios were established in Ilkeston, Alfreton, Matlock, Sheffield Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool, Hull and Brighton, manned by Alfred’s sons. It was however a competitive field and not all survived for long. Alfred himself, always popular, became wealthy and respected.