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Our History

The Site | Public Meeting | The Opening | Wartime
Ministers | Preachers | Sunday School

 

Shiregreen, was once the southernmost part of the ancient parish of Ecclesfield, derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon word "Scir" meaning a shire or division. The division possibly served as a neutral ground to mark the boundary between two jurisdictions. Moots or assemblies took place, usually at points marked with a tree, cliff, brook or green, hence the name "Shiregreen."

For many centuries Shiregreen was a small part of a thriving agricultural community and was the site of a number of large farm houses; Shire House, Broadfield Nook, Greg House, and Hadfield House (Which was the likely birthplace of the famous antiquarian Joseph Hunter) to mention but a few of them. Apart from agriculture the area had a high reputation for the manufacture of forks which were sent into the nearby town of Sheffield to be finished by the "Little Mesters." At the turn of the century the whole of Shiregreen had a population of around 1500 and had changed in real terms, but little for centuries.

The position was soon to change with the passing of the 1919 Housing Act by the Lloyd George Government. This provision of Government aid to meet the scarcity of homes "fit for heroes to live in" was the forerunner of a series of acts which for the first time encouraged the massive provision of council houses for the working classes.

Shiregreen Estate had its foundations under the provisions of the 1924 Housing Act which gave a Government subsidy of £9 per year for 40 years to the local authority in respect of each house completed.

The rapid northward expansion of the city in the late twenties marked the end for rural Shiregreen and the start of the estate and the beginning of what was to become the city's largest building development. It has been quoted that it was perhaps the largest grouped housing scheme (at that time) in the country. The houses of mainly 2 and 3 bedrooms were built in the Georgian style and upon the completion of the estate in 1934, 4,472 dwellings had been completed.

The many people who moved into Shiregreen were provided with solid housing, with front and rear gardens, hot and cold running water, and it was a far cry indeed from the appalling housing conditions from which many of them had come, and as quickly as possible facilities, shops, schools and churches were planned.

The Site
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Shiregreen Congregational Church, was opened in its original form in October 1933 did not come to fruition without some frustrations.  The sites committee of the Sheffield Congregational Association had been formed in 1926 and had been singularly unsuccessful  in providing churches in any of the new estates then being built in Sheffield since 1908.

The breakthrough came in 1931 when Oliver Wilson, who had been on the sites committee for some years, and probably frustrated by the in action, became the Chairman of the Sheffield Congregational Association. In the same year there was a new treasurer, Mr. Edgar Jenkinson, and these two people became the driving force for the provision of a new congregational church in Shiregreen. They were determined not to miss this opportunity with the support of the finance and sites committee they advised the purchase of a site for a new church. At a special executive meeting on the 30th November 1931 a scheme was approved making use of the George Tucker bequest.

Public Meeting  
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A public meeting was held in Hadfield House Lane Council School to enlist support for the provision of the church. A suitable site was inspected in Valentine Crescent which was then followed by the formation of a Shiregreen Committee, which consisted of Oliver Wilson, the Reverends Dennis, Moxley, and Williams, Councilor Bennett and Messrs. Dickson, Holmes, Smith, Watson, and Wheeler. By the end of 1932 (after a long delay) an agreement was made between the Sheffield Congregational Association and the Local Authority for a site to be provided.

In the beginning of 1933 a temporary Sunday School was provided and our church joined in its first Whitsuntide gathering in Firth Park.
This was shortly followed by the initial stone laying ceremony. The church itself, built by James Bertram with bricks from the Woodside brick co. Ltd., was opened on Saturday, 8th October 1933. The first part time Minister was called Rev. Harold Thomas, who shared his time with Carlton Road Congregational Church. By the end of 1933 the church had 39 members, 20 Teachers and 330 Sunday School pupils. A measure indeed of the rapid expansion of the area.

The Opening  
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The "Sheffield Daily Telegraph" reports that at the opening Councilor Wilson said that the cost of the building together with furnishings was £1400 but at the moment of opening the church required a further £800 to free it from debt. The string across the door of the church was severed with a pair of inscribed scissors presented by the architect, Mr. Mansel Jenkinson, to Mr. W. f. Wrigley, ex chairman of the Derbyshire Congregational Union. The service in the building was conducted by the Rev. James, Chairman-elect of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, who said that "Many people regarded superficial excitement as being the joy of life. The happiest people were those who linked themselves up with a big cause."
The dedication prayer was offered by the Rev. Thomas and the Rev. Eason and at the tea time conference, presided over by Councillor Wilson, greetings were extended by Mr. Wrigley, the Rev. Whitty of Shiregreen Methodists, Mr. Mansel Jenkinson, the Rev. Moxley, representing the Sheffield and District of the Yorkshire Congregational Association, Mr. F. Derbyshire, Sunday School Superintendent, and Mr. G. E. Holmes.

Also present was the well-known local composer, Sir Henry Coward, and a collection at the close of the day amounted to £80.

Wartime  
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Shortly, Following the opening of the extensions, war broke out and apart from the provision of stirrup pumps and the noting in the church minutes of the presentation of a church member, Vin Langton, to the King for bravery, Little mention of world events or their local effects is made. However the church had been designated as an emergency refugee centre and the provision of extra toilets was made. During the war, the church was used as a W.V.S. Rest Centre and participated in helping rehabilitation of the survivors of Dunkirk. Fortunately the toilets were never needed for bomb victims, and for many years they languished as the store for our anniversary platform - this platform, eventually sold for scrap, was obtained from the first Sheffield United Football Club stand, according to Harold Duckworth. The toilets were changed during 1981 into our new kitchen block.

Minister  
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The church can lay claim to having its spiritual home at the Lee Croft Chapel which was in existence during the latter part of the 18th century. The original records of the history of this Chapel, for long kept at Shiregreen, are now in the hands of the Sheffield City Library Local Studies Department. Lee Crofts closure meant the transfer of its assets to the Tabernacle, and from there came as part time Minister Rev. Stephen Tredinnick, who served our church faithfully, with love and care.

Treddy was our Minister for the very long period from 1935 to 1962 when he retired due to ill health, but he maintained his keen interest in everything concerning the church until his death in 1970. He served in a part time capacity, but he gave us a great deal of his time, both in preaching and pastoral work.

Many people on the estate knew him though they did not attend the church and he would always have a cheery word with everyone as he went about the estate. He always wanted to help young people, giving many references for job interviews, and making himself available if any should be in trouble. He was very pleased to be asked to conduct wedding services of those connected with our church and took a personal interest in them, as indeed he did with all members and friends of the church. We all knew him as "Treddy" and greatly appreciated his long and devoted service. 

Preachers
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We were served by many lay preachers through the Sheffield Congregational Association and all became friends as they came so often. Our thanks are due to them for the time they gave in travelling across the city for morning and evening services, especially in the winter weather.

Thanks are due especially to Mr. Roy Wilson who has been coming to Shiregrreen since he was a very young preacher from Meersbrook Church. He has preached throughout the years and has conducted many of our Anniversary services. He acted as our Lay Pastor for some time until the Rev. Victor Sheldrick gave pastoral oversight to the Church from March 1974 until his retirement in July 1978. Our Church shared the services of Mr. Sheldrick with St.James United Reformed Church during this time.

From then until the present time, the Rev. Ian Lucraft has given willing, friendly and thoughtful service to all of us at Shiregreen in addition to his work as Minister of Pitsmoor and Lopham Street Methodist Churches. We thank him for all that he does and for all the interest he takes in Shiregreen.

We also thank Dr. Vincent and all connect with SICEM (The Inner City Ecumenical Mission) who have welcomed us into their group of Churches and Fellowships. We are very pleased to meet the many preachers who visit our Church from other churches or from the Urban Theology Unit. They bring us fresh thought, and it is good to hear them and get to know them.

Sunday School
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Our Sunday School Anniversaries were happy days of singing special hymns so ably conducted by Mr. Tommy Gilbert, who worked very hard to produce the end result, assisted greatly by our excellent accompanists - Mrs. Foster, Mrs. Peggy Jones, Mr. Arthur Kemp, and Mrs. Gwen Dalton. The Sunday school was led by Mrs. Foster and Mrs. Gilbert and Mr. Gilbert was the Bible Class Leader.

Mrs. Stocks was the primary school leader until her illness prevented her doing this work, and then Mrs. Sybil Chilvers took over. Mr. and Mrs. Stocks were very active with the young people and arranged weekly socials with Mr. Foster playing the piano. These were very enjoyable and helped us to learn various dances.

There were also the lovely Saturdays at the Hartley Brook Tennis Courts, where we learned to play tennis, spending the afternoon and evening just being together. The May festivals were an important feature of the year, and everyone looked forward to the concert by the young people and to the pageantry and colour of the crowning ceremonies.

Since those days our Church has carried on, not always easily, often with little support, but the faithful character of the Church members and their willingness to look to new ideas has ensured its development into the future.........

This excerpt was taken from our Golden Jubilee Booklet.
©Shiregreen United Reformed Church


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