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Memories of Heeley with Sid Wetherill

A lifetime in Heeley for Langtons Antiques

One family has been trading in Heeley for over a hundred years, retaining a sense of the timeless through a century of social, political and economic change.

“My Great-Great-Great Grandfather James originally came to Sheffield from Manchester” explained Centre Manager Jill Mitchell. “He opened a clog shop on Duke Street in 1870, and after his sons had built the business up they were able to purchase the building in 1898”.

“It started off with a hay barn at the back and shoe shop at the front, and Langtons manufactured shoes until the 1920s. My father took over after the war and I first became involved with a Saturday job as a 12-year-old. At one stage we had sixteen shops across South Yorkshire, and were very well known for our boots”.

Above: The newly-built Northcote Estate in 1936

We were the first to move in on this estate in 1936, advertised as the nearest private estate to the city centre, close to schools, shops and country walks. My father bought 13 Northcote Ave a three bedroom semi for £410 with a deposit of £10, and a further £30 on completion, with a mortgage repayment of £2.10 shillings a month, and all legal fees paid by the builder. A two bedroom semi was £370, but a third bedroom could be added for £5, and some buyers on Northcote Rd paid this extra money.

My brother was the first boy born on the estate in 1937, delivered by local midwife nurse Rackham whose father had a pork butchers shop in Heeley Green, and a pig farm at his home Carfield House on Carfield Lane.

The estate was built on the site of Northcote Brickworks, the kilns and tall chimney were between Raleigh Road and Cat Lane, formerly Lees Hall Lane. No 1 and 1a Northcote Ave was built on land owned by the G.P.O for the storage of wooden telegraph poles, and opposite our house was a tip and the river which at that time had fish in it. To get to Carfield School, my wife living on Romney Rd would sometimes take a short cut with her cousin through the brickworks, but then chased off by the watchman who they nicknamed Bobby Blower. At the top of our garden was Geldharts jam factory that atttracted wasps. If you lived at the bottom of the estate there were three shops just round the corner and eleven on Rushdale Road.

Over time the business began to decline, eventually


trading back in 1998. Left with the building, the Langtons changed direction.

“We opened as an antiques centre in 1999” continued Jill. “We’d never done anything like it before but relished an opportunity the same way our ancestors did.”

“We started renting out the space to Drummonds Beer micro-brewery and have gone from strength to strength. Every display and every room serve as individual units which can be rented by anyone. We’ve developed a partnership with Freeman College to support young people with learning disabilities - they love coming here and it’s a really positive environment for them”.

Above: Jill Mitchell at the Langton’s Antique Centre on Heeley Bottom.

Adults with learning disabilities have also been drifting in over the years, becoming permanent fixtures and assisting with the day-to-day running of the centre in exchange for a meal at the cafe and a warm, supportive environment.

“Our staff are for life” added Jill. “We’ve never had a bank loan or an overdraft - we make enough to keep the family going and we don’t owe anything to anybody”.

14 New Heeley Voice December 2013 Issue 59 0114 250 0613

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