Saturday 17 June 2017

Broomhill Tavern

Broomhill Tavern

The Broomhill Tavern was built as a public house and first opened as an alehouse in 1841. It remains remarkably unchanged on the outside over the past 150 years, though in common with most pubs, has opened up its interior into a single large space rather than the original separate rooms catering for different clientele.

As with all early pubs, the Broomhill Tavern was at the heart of the community and served as a labour exchange, lost and found office and a meeting place as well as a public house. The first mention of the Broomhill Tavern in the local press is in September 1846:

CRICKET. — On Monday last, a cricket match was played by the customers of Mr. Stevens, Broomhill Tavern, Glossop road. After the game, nearly sixty at down to supper, which gave great satisfaction.

These parties could become disorderly. In 1850, the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent reports an attempt by a drunken customer to steal the pub’s salt stand and pepper box:

Edward Hamilton, of Edward street, filesmith, was charged with felony. The prisoner, it appeared, was one of a party who, on Monday night, were celebrating the coming of age of one of their shopmates, at the Broombill Tavern. The party were most of them intoxicated when Mrs. Pryor, the landlady, intimated that they must close the house. Having ascertained the amount of the bill, the prisoner and another proceeded to collect the quota of the others towards its liquidation. The prisoner received about 8s., and instead of handing it to the landlady quietly put it into his own pocket. Neither threats nor entreaties could induce him to part with the money; and at length
the watchman was called in, who on searching his pockets found there a pepper-box and salt-stand, which had been abstracted from the supper-table. He was brought to the Town Hall on the charge of stealing these. The prisoner, in his defence, said, that when he came to count the money
he had collected, there was not sufficient to pay the bill. The rest of the party wanted him to make it up, and when he refused they annoyed him by imputing dishonesty, until, out of drunken stupidity, he refused to pay the landlady. How the salt-glass and pepper-box came into his pocket he did not know, but supposed that some of the party had put them there. The prisoner was discharged on paying 5s. costs, and the amount of Mrs. Pryor’s bill.

In common with other local public houses, the Broomhill Tavern was used to hold inquests into suspicious deaths in the vicinity. There were some particularly notorious hearings held here. In 1849, there was an inquest into the death of the four-month-old infant daughter of Mr J.C.Handfield, one of the wealthy inhabitants of The Mount. The child was poisoned by Laudanum, administered by her nurse, who having had three sleepless nights on account of the child’s teething, decided to give the child laudanum instead of the teething medicine that had been prescribed for her. There was considerable ignorance at the time of the effects of opiates on children; they are almost always fatal at any dose for babies under six months old. Shockingly from the perspective of today, this death was considered to be simply an unfortunate accident and the nurse was just given a warning not to do such a thing again. The case was reported in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent:

An Inquest was held on Monday evening, at the Broomhill Tavern, before Thomas Badger, Esq., to enquire into the circumstances attending the death of Ellen Louisa Juliet, the infant daughter of J. C. Handfleld, Esq., the Mount. Mr. Handfield stated that his daughter died on sunday morning, from the effects, he believed, of laudanum, which had been administered to her by the nurse, Hannah Rutherford, who had been in his service about five weeks, during which time she had been uniformly kind and attentive to the child. The laudenum had not been purchased by the girl, but was some which he had provided against sudden attacks of cholera. It was usually kept in the possession of Mrs. Handfield, but had been lent to the cook to allay the toothache, and had not been returned. Hannah Rutherford, the girl in question, was next examined. She had been nurse to the deceased infant since the 15th January last, during which time it had enjoyed general good health. On saturday night, about twelve o’clock, I gave it four drops of laudenum in some warm gruel. No one told me to give it, but I thought that as the child had been very cross and restless for several nights previous, but more than usually so on that night, the laudenum would cause it to sleep, and allow me to have a little rest also. I told the cook what I was going to do, and asked her for the bottle, which she gave to me. The child went to sleep about half an hour after I had given it the laudanum, and never woke again. There was some medicine in the house which had been prepared by Mr. Overend, surgeon, for the purpose of composing the child, but I thought the laudanum would have more effect. I have been nurse-girl in other families, but never administered or saw laudanum given to children, and was not aware of its fatal effects. Elisabeth Cadman, the cook in Mr. Handfield’a family, corroborated the nurse’s statement as to what transpired on Saturday night. Mr. Barber, surgeon, considered death to have been caused by the effect of the laudanum. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally poisoned by a dose of laudanum ignorantly administered by the nurse-girl “. Rutherford was afterwards warned by the worthy Coroner as to what would be the result were she ever to appear before him again under similar circumstances.

Another extraordinary inquest held here concerned the death of 12 year old Henry Moulson, a schoolboy from the Sheffield Grammar School, several days after a fight that had broken out with William Tasker, a pupil from the Collegiate School. Though the injured boy had appeared to make a good recovery at first, he later became progressively more ill and eventually died a week later despite receiving the best medical attention available. The inquest opened on Wednesday July 10th, 1878, but was adjourned pending the results of a post-mortem on the body of the dead boy, which was to be carried out at the Sheffield Infirmary.

The newspapers followed the case avidly throughout and there was particular interest when the inquest re-opened at the Broomhill Tavern on the Friday of the same week. Mr Arthur Laver, the house surgeon at the Infirmary, gave evidence that his post-mortem had established the cause of death to be purpura haemorrhagica, which is an indication of a severe systemic infection leading to internal bleeding of the soft tissues. The surgeon testified that in his professional opinion this infection was unrelated to the injuries suffered by the boy due to the fight, i.e. the fight did not cause his death, but an infection that had not manifested at the time of the fight did.

This evidence was met with great relief by all present as it exonerated young Tasker of culpability for the death, and also was seen as protecting the reputation of the two schools involved. Here is how the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent reported the summing up of the coroner:

…The Coroner said he must congratulate the jury and the friends of the boys on the termination of the case. It would have been painful everyone concerned, and especially to the parents, if they had come to the conclusion that the boy had met his death by the violence received at hands of the lad Tasker. They were bound to take the evidence of the medical man, and that evid√łnce showed that the boy had died from purpura haemorrhagica, from natural causes, and not from violence. That was a very happy termination of this case, and it was their duty to return a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. Still if they thought that death had been accelerated in any shape by violence they were bound to say but he was thoroughly of opinion that the evidence would not justlfy such a decision. The medical men would not undertake to say that death accelerated by violence, and he was sure the jury must have great pleasure in saying the same. If any reflection had been cast on the school like this that was doing a good work, and doing it well, he should have been exceedingly sorry. As to the management of that school, he thought it would be unreasonable for any man to expect that fighting could be totally prevented amongst the boys. He went to the school himself for about six years and he knew that during the whole of that he fought more or less. No one could doubt that other boys would do the same, and the schoolmaster could not altogether prevent it. What they ought to prevent was systematic bullying, but he was afraid it was impossible to prevent the lads fighting. To say an event of this kind reflected upon the character of the school was unreasonable, not to say foolish. 

This piece is a good illustration of the benevolent attitudes of the time towards the wealthier classes. For the poor, justice was usually severe and punishments harsh. On the same day as the case above was reported, for example, a young man called John Malone was charged with absconding from the Sheffield Workhouse, and was sent to gaol for 18 days, with hard labour.

Thursday 30 March 2017

Pisgah House is for sale

The University have put Pisgah House up for sale with a price tag of £675k. It is posted as a development opportunity.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

BANG will meet October 7th 2014 at 7.30pm

BANG meetings have changed from monthly to less regular intervals for the time being. So if you have an issue you would like to raise, or just want to catch up with what's going on, get along to the meeting next tuesday evening.

Thursday 29 May 2014

40th Anniversary Broomhill Festival - programme and booking details!

As I know you are well aware, the 2014 Festival is imminent and will be bigger and better than ever.

The printed Programme is available at all the usual outlets, including the Library, the Churches, Williamson's, Oxfam, the Post Office, B&B Office, the banks and most other publicly accessible business and other premises. There are still some printed Programmes available for any outlets which wish to have them.

The programme can be found online at

There is more information and an online booking facility at

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Does Broomhill still need BANG? Come to our AGM and join the debate

BANG will hold its AGM on tuesday, 13th May at 7.30 pm. You can get full details of the meeting on our website

The continuing viability of BANG depends on new people coming forward to join our committee. According to our Constitution the committee is supposed to have a minimum of 10 members but this is getting harder to maintain. Joining the committee is not at all onerous and involves very little in the way of a commitment of time and energy, so if you can spare 90 minutes once each month to keep BANG alive please come forward.

We will debate whether BANG still has a role in the life of our community at the AGM. The following Motion will be proposed :

Motion to the AGM

This AGM directs the Committee to conduct a postal ballot of all registered members to determine whether the society should now be dissolved, in accordance with Clause 15 of the BANG constitution.

If the Committee for 2014-15 appointed at this AGM consists of less than 10 members (as required by the Constitution) then retiring members of the 2013-14 committee shall be requested to remain in post until this action is discharged.

Council approves Taylor Wimpey peoposals for the Tapton site

As expected the Council's planning committee approved the planning application from Taylor Wimpey for the Tapton Halls of Residence site. There was some debate on the points raised by community representatives present, in particular the design and materials and the lack of an affordable housing contribution. One small victory was that the Committee imposed an additional condition that the entire development should be built in stone, rather than a mix of stone and brick. This condition is likely to impact on the profitability of the development.

Watch this space for news.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Tapton Hall of Residence site - planning decision next tuesday 22nd April

The council's planning committee will consider the proposals from Taylor Wimpey to build a housing estate on the site of the former Tapton Hall of Residence and Experimental Gardens next tuesday. The Committee meets in the Town Hall at 2pm and the meeting is open to the public.

Despite hundreds of objections from local residents and from English Heritage, the council's planning officers have recommended that the proposals are accepted. The council has reached a financial settlement with the developer that will excuse them from making any contribution to affordable housing in the city. A section 106 contribution to provide children's play space is earmarked for use off-site, i.e. elsewhere in the city.