The Great Sheffield Flood  -  Photo Gallery

-  The Trail of Destruction  -

The Old Blue Ball Inn - Bradfield Road - Hillsborough (1864) The Old Blue Ball Inn - Bradfield Road - Hillsborough (1999)

Bradfield Road - Hillsborough

'The Old Blue Ball Inn, kept by William Cooper, was a good deal damaged. The stable and other outbuildings were destroyed. Cooper and his family escaped by getting up stairs. In a house close by lived George Cooper and his wife. The house was nearly knocked down, the gable end and other parts being washed away. A tree was washed into the oven in the kitchen. Cooper and his wife escaped by getting to the top of the house, and after the flood had subsided, they waited in the chamber till some persons came and took them to another house.' (GFAS)

'Having reduced parts of Malin Bridge and Hillsborough to rubble, the flood reached Owlerton--a point near which the Loxley runs into the River Don. . . . ' (CDDD)


Hawksley's Mill - Bradfield Road - Hillsborough Site of Hawksley's Mill (car park) - Bradfield Road - Hillsborough

The ruins of Hawksley's Mill on Bradfield Road (situated a little further along, and on the opposite side, from the Blue Ball Inn). That site today is occupied by the car park which is situated directly opposite the petrol station - in the modern photograph, the site lies between the trees, and the buildings on the right. Beyond the trees can be seen the upper stories of the Regent Court Flats, and the road junction seen on the extreme left is that of Hawksley Avenue - named after the old Mill owner. This area was then the boarder-line between Hillsborough and Owlerton:

'Owlerton is a long straggling village, extending from Hillsbro' for a considerable distance in the direction of Sheffield. Upper Owlerton suffered most severely. Here was the rolling mill of Mr. Hawksley, part of which was demolished, and the machinery injured or destroyed. Mr. Hawksley's house is on the other side of the road. The walls and railings in front of the house were knocked down, and the garden was covered with mud and debris; the only thing which appeared uninjured being a miniature statue of praying Samuel. Mr. Hawksley's kitchen and ornamental gardens were greatly damaged, and a large wooden summer house, with stained glass window, was carried bodily across the road, and deposited in the middle of a dam, where it long remained an object of interest and curiosity to visitors. Against the side of the house was an immense accumulation of ruins, amongst which several dead animals were observable. [sketch below]' (GFAS)

Scene in Hawksley's garden on Bradfield Road (Hawksley Avenue junction) - Hillsborough

This pile of rubbish, and Hawksley's house, stood roughly where the 'Jet' petrol station on Bradfield Road now stands.

Destruction on Bradfield Road - looking towards Penistone Road The same view today - Bradfield Road on right - Owlerton Green to the left

ABOVE:   In the old photograph a group of people can be seen on the pavement of Bradfield Road (right), and beyond them, the chimney of an old 'cementation furnace' standing roughly on the site of the current Hillsborough Working Men's Club. On the left (indicated) is Owlerton Hall, which stood about 20 yards from, and at a curious angle of about 45degs. to the Bradfield Road/Penistone Road junction. The modern photograph shows the same view today, with the Regents Court Flats on the extreme right.  The site of Owlerton Hall lies beyond the large tree on the extreme left. (The road junction in the foreground on the left is that of 'Owlerton Green'.)


'In a small cottage, in a very low situation at Owlerton, lived a family named Dean. Two sons of Mr. Dean, aged 12 and 13 respectively, slept in a bed on the ground floor. In the middle of the night they were awoke by feeling the bed rising up and floating about the room. One of them, the eldest, named Joseph Dean, unfortunately fell out of the bed and was drowned. The other cried out for help, and after some time the neighbours came to his assistance. They found the bed floating up to the ceiling with only a few inches between the lad's head and the top of the room. As soon as the flood had subsided a little the neighbours opened a shutter and took the lad out of the window. Mr. Dean, his wife, and a daughter were in the attic above. They heard the screams of the lads, but could not come to their assistance as the water was on the stairs. This cottage, being whitewashed, showed for a long time the mark left by the flood when at its greatest height.' (GFAS)


'Close to Dean's house was a cottage occupied by a person named Shaw. The flood burst open the door, and washed into the house the body of a man. A lodger named Ashton saw it first, and called out to Mr. Shaw that a pig had been swept into the house. On closer inspection it was found to be the body of a man, entirely naked, the shirt being torn off, and hanging only by the button on the wrist-band. The body was that of Joseph Gothard or Goddard, who was drowned at Malin Bridge [see plastercast death-mask on 'Artefacts and Survivors' page]. Thomas Hague, who lives next door to Shaw, relates the following incident. He says:--I was awoke by the flood, and went to look out of my window. I saw a woman in her night dress carried down by the flood. She cried out, "Save me, save me !" I then saw a young man in his shirt going down. They were holding on to some pieces of timber. I saw them float down to some poplar trees. They were then knocked over, and I heard nothing more. In another small cottage lived a family named Proctor. Mrs. Proctor's married daughter, her husband, and a child, were sleeping in a low bedroom on the ground floor. Mrs. Proctor herself did not go to bed, but sat up reading. Soon after half past twelve she heard a tremendous roar like the sound of many waters, and she immediately went to the door, to see what was the cause of the commotion. Just as she was about to open the door the water began to come in. She ran into the room where her daughter and the others were sleeping, and had only just time to get them upstairs when the door and windows gave way, and the water filled the lower rooms up to the ceiling. Had the inmates been three minutes later they would assuredly have been drowned. Marshall's Paper Mill, which is situated at Owlerton, was greatly damaged. It stood in the middle of the stream, and received the full force of the current. The warehouse and drying room were completely carried away, and a large hydraulic press, weighing several tons, was torn up from its foundation, and washed away some distance. In a cottage close by the paper mill John Turton and his wife were both drowned. The house was lifted bodily from its foundation, and carried down the steam.' (GFAS)


'Two watchmen, who were on their rounds at Owlerton, escaped very narrowly. When they saw the flood coming, they ran away as quickly as possible, but they might as well have attempted to run a race with a locomotive at full speed. One of them escaped into Mr. Hawksley's yard, and when the water overtook him, he managed to climb on to a wall which was near a lamp post. He got hold of the lamp post, and clung to it with all his might. He was at one time up to his neck in the water. At length Mr. Hawksley heard his cries for help, and went to his assistance. He was taken into the house in a very exhausted condition; but restoratives were applied, and he soon recovered. The other watchman ran round up by Hillsbro' park, and got on some higher ground. It may here be mentioned that part of the park wall of Hillsbro' Hall [now Hillsborough Library] was destroyed, and that the flood left a clearly defined mark for about three hundred yards on the wall which remained. An enormous quantity of timber and furniture was washed up to the border of Hillsbro' park; and beneath the debris here many bodies were afterwards discovered.' (GFAS)

THE FLOOD. --- MISSING, from Owlerton, SAMUEL SENIOR, aged 76 Years, Height
about 5ft.8in., is without whiskers; has a slight Scar on the Upper Lip; and both his Hands
have been injured. -- Apply to WILLIAM SENIOR, Old Wire Mill, Thurgoland.
TAKEN UP, on TUESDAY, a Black and Tan SNAP BITCH, with a White Spot betwixt
the Fore Legs. -- The Owner may have her on applying to SAMUEL WHITE, Marsh lane,
near Ridgway, and paying expenses. If not owned Seven in Days will be Sold.
MISSING, and supposed to be Drowned in the Flood, a MARRIED WOMAN,
Light Complexion, Slender Form, one Little Finger deformed, height about
5 feet 2.5 Inches, Age 33. Her Relatives earnestly request that, on her discovery,
Information thereof be given to Mr. Waterhouse, Whittington moor, Chesterfield.


Penistone Road - near Bradfield Road Juncion (beyond bridge on left) The same view today

Here, Penistone Road spans the River Loxley; though in 1864 the carriageway was known as the 'Owlerton Low Road'. Sheffield centre lies behind the camera, and just beyond the bridge, on the left, and behind the New Inn (building with a chimney on each end) is the junction of Bradfield Road (currently making its way to the Hillsborough shopping centre). The New Inn does not exist today, and consequently on the left in the modern photograph can be seen the Royal Hotel (situated at the far side of the Bradfield Road junction) - though even this has now been demolished and replaced with a Kentucky Fried Chicken/Pizza Hut restaurant.

The building marked '*' in both photographs is the same, though today it is minus its roof and top floor. Directly behind and to the right of this building, today, stands Owlerton Stadium.

Geoffrey Amey writes:

'Water tore into the Royal Hotel, dashed against a group of solid looking houses and rebounded with enough force to wreck a factory in which wire was made. Not far away, Herbert Gravenor Marshall, aged two, the son of a Sheffield pawnbroker, was sleeping overnight with Isaac Turner, his wife and two children. All were drowned. Of the Turners, only the man of the house was later identified. A youth named Joseph Dean, sleeping with his brother, awoke to find himself pressed against the ceiling, the bed having risen on the water. In an effort to push himself away, the lad fell out and drowned. His brother survived. Fortunately, the loss of life in Owlerton was small compared with the amount of damage. Mrs Proctor, who was up late reading, testified to hearing a 'great roaring noise' at about 12.30 a.m. She escaped upstairs. The main course of water, after spreading through meadows, was drawn into the route of the Don which flowed directly into Sheffield itself. The flood, now some six miles from its birthplace on the moors, had lost a little of its earlier impetus but, augmented by the Don, prepared to launch itself with renewed fury upon the last mile or so into the near centre of a large industrial town. As the water reached the densely populated districts, so the death rate and injuries again increased.' (CDDD)


'Passing over such things as walls knocked down and houses flooded, we come, a little below Owlerton, to the new and well built barracks. One part of the barracks is situated near the river, and sustained considerable damage. A massive stone wall, nearly a yard in thickness, and of considerable height, was washed away for a distance of some score yards. The married soldiers' quarters were invaded, and damage was done to the clothes and furniture of the inmates to the extent of about £50, besides the injury to the buildings. The sentry on duty had a very narrow escape. The flood came upon him very suddenly, but he retreated to higher ground, where he was out of danger. Unfortunately, two children of Paymaster sergeant Foulds were drowned at the barracks. Sergeant Foulds' quarters were on the ground floor, at no great distance from the boundary wall which was washed away. There were himself, his wife, and three children, aged five, and four years, and an infant. Sergeant Foulds and his wife went to bed about eleven o'clock. Mrs. Foulds was awoke in about a hour by a great noise in the room. She exclaimed to her husband, "The wind is breaking the windows of the room." He jumped out of bed, and was astonished to find himself up to his hips in water. He could see the water rushing in at the window, and he went to the window to look out to discover what was the matter. He saw that the boundary wall of the barracks was gone, and before him a foaming and roaring torrent was sweeping along, carrying upon its waves bodies of men and women, and debris of every description. He particularly noticed a large object like an entire house, or it might be a haystack. Sergeant Foulds, being a stranger to the locality, had not the remotest idea what was the cause of the inundation, and he exclaimed to his wife, "Good God ! the world's breaking up !" He thought that the world was in the throes of final dissolution. The water rose to the height of twelve feet outside the window. Sergeant Foulds then went to the door, and on doing so noticed that his wife had been knocked down by the water, and that the cot was swimming about the room. He could not open the door, on account of the pressure of the water against it. After making several ineffectual attempts to get the door open, he said, "I'm not going to be drowned like a rat in a hole at all events," and so saying he dealt a heavy blow at the door with a large fire shovel. The lock flew off, the door came open, and the water rushed in with such force that it knocked the sergeant down. Of course all this time he had nothing on but his night shirt, and he describes it as having been dreadfully cold and the wind piercing. He got up out of the water as quickly as possible, and went to the rescue of his wife. She carried the infant, and he carried them both, and took them on the staircase out of the reach of the water. He then went back to rescue his two eldest children [Isabella aged five and John aged three], but the door was closed, so that he could not get in, and the room was full of water. When the water had subsided, the colonel of the regiment, the 8th, and all escort, came and let out the water. The children were of course dead, and no doubt they were drowned directly after Sergeant Foulds rescued his wife. Two other soldiers' families had very narrow escapes. They were sleeping on the ground floor in quarters adjoining those of Sergeant Foulds, but they were got out and carried to a place of safety.' (GFAS)

' . . . Nearby, a row of houses crumbled and the body of a man was found wedged between branches fifteen feet up a bark stripped tree. The ghastly experience undergone by so many was expressed by one householder: "I was completely bewildered by the frightful sound that fell upon my ears; it has never been truly described, nor can it ever be. The nearest definition is hissing thunder."' (CDDD)

OWLERTON LOW ROAD. --- The Public are respectfully informed that
&c., may PASS with SAFETY during the DAYTIME. March 16th, 1864.

Copyright © 2001 Michael Armitage

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