‘The child ran nearly three quarters of a mile enveloped in his burning clothes’

On October 2, 1852, the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent reported:

On Friday afternoon, the deceased and a boy named John Fish were amusing themselves in a field of Mr Appleyard, the Ash farm, Upper Heeley, and which adjoins that in which Robinson was murdered a few weeks ago. There was a fire in the field to consume the litter, and the children employed themselves in carrying ‘twitch’ to feed it with. Whilst doing this the clothes of the deceased caught fire, and he immediately started home in great alarm. The child ran nearly three quarters of a mile enveloped in his burning clothes, but, when within a few hundred yards of home, he sank down exhausted in a field. The little sufferer was carried home, and Mr Taylor, surgeon, sent for, but the child was beyond the reach of help, and died the same evening. His body was blackened by the fire, and the place where he had lain in the field was distinctly perceptible from its scorched appearance. It appears that there was a man in the field where the accident occurred at the time when it happened, but he did not see it, as the deceased made no alarm, but as soon as his pinafore had taken fire hastened off in the direction of home.


Ash Farm was situated above the Ball Inn at the top of Myrtle Road. It was demolished only when the building of new houses on the former Ball Inn recreation ground (Sheffield United’s old training ground) was commenced in the mid-2000s, having stood derelict for many years. Common side, where the boy lived, was probably the area known today as Gleadless Common, which ties in with the report as it is about a mile away from the site of Ash Farm. The murder of ‘Robinson’ mentioned in the report was an infamous case in Sheffield's history. He was murdered by a James Barbour, a crime that led to his execution

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