William Flockton 1804 – 1864 by Joan Flett. First published in Undertakings Jan 2002 (Issue 20)
Nether Edge Hospital, now private housing, was originally a workhouse – the third in Nether Edge – and was built as a result of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. This Act stipulated that individual parishes would no longer be responsible for their sick, aged and poor residents but that a Union of parishes should take on that duty. The local Ecclesall Bierlow (an old Norse word byjar-log, meaning of the town law) Union set up at that time comprised Ecclesall, Upper and Nether Hallam (the Crookes area), Beauchief, Dore, Totley and Norton. At that time the Government issued a recommended plan for workhouses. This was a great slab sided four storey building with a ground plan in a similar form to the Legs of Man. Fortunately the local Guardians of the Poor, responsible for the running of the Workhouse and collecting the Poor Law Rate to maintain it, rejected this plan, and , in 1839, chose William Flockton.
William Flockton was born in 1804, the son of Thomas Flockton, a joiner, carpenter and builder of Rockingham Street. William trained with his father and his obituary records how, as a boy, he scampered on the wall plate of Carver Street Chapel during the roofing of that building. He also used to boast of the excellence of the floor of the saloon of the Music Hall which he had laid. By 1841 he was calling himself Architect, Joiner and Builder and had an address in Devonshire Street. He later moved to Victoria Buildings, 27 Fargate, which he had designed and built himself. Marks and Spencer is now on that site.
Over the years Flockton was responsible for a number of churches, including the design and building of the Anglican chapel (also Grade II) in the General Cemetery, and the demolition and building of Bakewell Church. Today, perhaps, we are most familiar with King Edward VII School (pictured above) and The Mount just across the road from the school. He kept the most meticulous records of all his work and we not only know all the details of the actual building of Ecclesall Bierlow Union Workhouse, but all the expenses of the items such as the locks, keys, doormats etc, including the two blue water closets put in for the Guardians. These new fangled items seem not to have been totally reliable – his notebooks record “ Man ½ a day at the Water Closets – 2s 6d.”, “Man ½ day forcing the Water pipes – 2s 6d.” The Workhouse was built to house five hundred people. The work took from 1841 to 1844 and cost £15,000 including the cost of several roads skirting the site. Flockton was paid £1,500.
William Flockton died in 1864 and is buried in plot M3 in the Anglican section. The chest tomb is in an area which is currently fenced off.