The Sheldon Family - Tideswell and Sheffield

In January 2019 a reader of this website sent me an e-mail together with photographs. The photographs and text were marvelous and so I asked if I could use them for an article on the site. They kindly consented and so this is the story of the Sheldon family.

"I came across your site whilst looking into my father’s past.

My paternal grandfather James Alfred Sheldon was born on the 5th February 1880 in Tideswell, Derbyshire. During the first part of the twentieth century he had a Coach Building business in Tideswell (I have stationary and a couple of photographs from the period)

On Christmas Eve 1923 he married Alice Blair at Tideswell church; on the wedding certificate his profession is Coachbuilder. Five years later their only child my Father, James Blair Sheldon was born on the 9th October 1928 at 21 Stannington road Sheffield. His profession on the birth certificate is now Master Grocer (shopkeeper).

In the library at Tideswell the Librarian found a book published in 2005 by Tony Hill called Tideswell Traders and photocopied the attached page. It looks like my grandfather sold his business to Emerson Walton before they moved to Sheffield in 1928.


St John the Baptist Church - Tideswell

I can remember my Father saying he was taught at home (Alice was a school teacher), “on Sundays we killed two birds with one stone and read the bible in French”. Before his ninth birthday he started attending Greystones primary school, there are certificates for attendance from June 1936 to 30th June 1939. The certificates are for full attendance for the term. So the 21st October 1937 must have been the only day he took off during his attendance there. It is quite amazing that thanks to your website, I probably know what they were doing and where they were that day. At this time they were living at 957 Ecclesall road. Attached is a picture of my Father and his parents outside this property. The property is now an Arts and Craft shop. 

When it was time to go to Grammar school he was promised the best racing bike money could buy if he did well in his exams. The two pictures show him on this bike in what must have been the summer of 1939. The second picture is of him with his parents at what I think is the junction of Ecclesall road and Rustlings Road . I believe he went to High Storrs boys grammar school (I have his Biological Drawing books parts 1 and 2 from 1939).

At the start of the war James senior moved the family to a holiday cottage at Edale, where I expect he thought it would be safer if Sheffield was to be bombed. He died from a heart attack a week before Xmas on the 17th December 1940. The night he died my Father was alone with him and was sent to get help. I can only wonder at what it was like for a twelve year old boy to go across several fields during the blackout at that time of year to phone for a doctor who wouldn’t come out (and people complain about the NHS). Where Alice was that night has always been a bit of a mystery. Then I came across Operation Crucible and the bombing of Sheffield on the 12th and 15th of December 1940 (including the Marples Hotel story on your site). My mother’s family are from the nearby village of Hope, there were stories of the bombing of Sheffield as well as Liverpool and Manchester during my childhood. From the Hope valley they could see and hear the planes and bombs. James Alfred would of had a good view from Edale on the nights of the 12th and 15th. I think now that Alice might have gone to Sheffield and Ecclesall Road. I believe he had a heart condition, and I doubt if medical assistance of the time would have been of much help. I can only imagine the stress that he must have been going through knowing what was happening to Sheffield.

After the death of James Alfred, my Father’s life changed considerably. Up until then I think he was being brought up as an Edwardian Gentleman (The photograph shows him with his Father in what I think is the construction of Ladybower ). I believe the local farmer (possibly their landlord at the time) became his guardian and there was little love between them. He did his national service in the Navy in 1947-48. On returning to Edale he decided to become a Radio Officer and did a two year course at the Marconi school of Radio in Manchester in one year. He then sailed around the world for four years before marrying my mother in 1954, and taking a job at Portishead Radio in Somerset. 

Alice meanwhile bought the village shop in Edale and died in October 1962. I believe both my fathers parents are buried in unmarked graves at the church in Edale.

My parents divorced in 1991 but carried on living in the same house until my Father died in January 2000. My mother died two years ago, which is when I came into possession of these and other treasures.

I hope you find my Fathers connection to Sheffield interesting.

PS In the mid-eighties before their marriage broke down, my Mother was looking into the family history. There is a link I think on the Sheldon side to York as I can remember seeing some handwritten notes and a couple of ordnance survey maps for York (will have to dig them out).

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This page was last updated on 13/01/19 15:45