Teaching Ideas. The Power Points. The power points can be used in various ways: as an initial ideas fund for teachers pictures and prompts can be selected and simple power points for pupils built up
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There are numerous ways in which the Five Weirs Walk can be used, whether through primary experiences of visiting, walking and observing or through secondary information.
Teachers are bound to a degree by the demands of the National Curriculum, and there are many easily-identified strands with which the Five Weirs Walk could help in a way which should stimulate pupil interest.
Some of the more obvious and relevant National Curriculum areas are contained in the following slides, arranged by subject:
Paula Richardson (GA Field Studies Working Group)
Fieldwork is an important and magical part of work in geography. Going outside the classroom whether to get wet in the rain, go to a restaurant to see how pizzas are made or visit a farm, brings home to youngsters the reality of our world through first hand experience. It provides that much needed different perspective on every day things and challenges them to develop and use a whole range of new skills which otherwise might never see the light of day! It is also important that pupils are exposed to more than just the local area, important though that is. Have you ever thought that a contrasting area might just exist on the other side of your town for example?
This sort of simple idea could easily be adapted for less-able pupils to identify human and physical components of the river corridor along the Five Weirs Walk.
Analysis of the elements of the riverside landscape can range from very simple ideas for younger or less-able pupils to sophisticated investigative work which demands observation, recording and analysis skills from older and more able pupils.
The Five Weirs Walk provides a good opportunity to introduce the idea of local environmental care.
The following slides provide prompts which could be used to introduce the idea of urban zones and land use.
Using the walk and observing the character of the surrounds and what can be seen from the walk could enhance the pupils’ idea of different parts of the city having different land uses and therefore different demands in terms of care and regeneration.
Shops and Offices
We can often see 5 types of zone in large towns and cities
Zone 1. City Centre
Zone 3. Suburbs
Zone 5. Transport Routes
Zone 4. Greenbelt
(means built up area)
means how people use land
The Five Weirs Walk takes the visitor through a slice of Sheffield’s industrial history, so there are all sorts of possibilities for active study in the area, not only of the industrial legacy but also of the pre-industrial history of the area.
The National Curriculum section on Maths is non-specific regarding topics, but there are obvious possibilities for work connected with the walk.
This idea about writing a song can be adapted to tell the story of the walk or the Don; one local school has already done it!
This could be adapted in order to study places with good and poor growth at various locations on the walk.
Even the example of the fig tree could be used!
At GCSE level, there are possibilities in a range of subjects for project work relating to the walk.
Of course, not every teaching plan or educational activity need have reference to specific parts of the National Curriculum, and the extra ideas which follow are ones which could well provide the basis for interesting experiences which do not necessarily lend themselves to be easily pigeon-holed.
“Sheffield”, by Edward Carpenter
Pick out some phrases from the poem which show how badly polluted Sheffield was.
Pick out some phrases from the poem which give us clues about what caused the pollution.
What evidence is there about the effects the pollution, as well as the working and living conditions, had on the people of Sheffield?
How does the poet make sure that his description of Sheffield is really effective?
“The Stirrings in Sheffield on Saturday Night”, by Alan Cullen
What hints are there that old Sheffield could be a dangerous place to be?
What does Isaac Ironside see as part of the answer, and why?
“The Road to Wigan Pier”, by George Orwell
Make a list of reasons why Orwell thinks Sheffield could be “the ugliest town in the Old World”.
“Sheffield’s East Enders”, by Keith Farnsworth (including the extract by Joe Ashton)
Why and how did Attercliffe and the rest of Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley (often called Sheffield’s East End) change so dramatically in the 18th and 19th centuries?
What were the good points about living in Attercliffe in the 1930s?
What were the bad points about living in Attercliffe in the 1930s?
Keith Farnsworth (1987), Sheffield’s East Enders: Life as it was in the Lower Don Valley, Sheffield City Libraries, Sheffield.
If, like me, you’re an old East Ender you’ll know that you can never go home again because the place no longer exists as we knew it. Your old house has gone, and so have the old school, the church and hall, and your favourite cinema. The works in which so many of your family were employed: they , too, have gone. Whatever happened to all your schoolpals and neighbours? In many cases you will even find it impossible to establish exactly where a once-familiar street was, for it has disappeared without trace and with such finality that it might never have existed except in your imagination.
Sheffield stands on the lower slopes of the Pennines. There is only one break in the circle of hills, one route out of the central area along which the traveller can avoid an incline of any significance, at least for a few miles; and this is at the north-east corner. This is the route taken by the River Don, which changes course at Castlegate; and it was the direction taken by the packhorses in those 18th-century days when the first local merchants were establishing trading links beyond the seas for Sheffield goods. This flat route along the lower Don Valley was the pathway along which the canal link with Tinsley was built in 1819 and on which the first railway was laid in 1838. Thus Sheffield’s East End has a shape and character which separates it from the rest of the city. One has only to pass through the Wicker arches to note the contrast in the landscape, for while Spital Hill rises steeply to the left, Savile Street remains flat and continues so all the way to Brightside.
There was life and industrial activity in these parts long before the dramatic rise of the heavy industries from about 1840 onwards, but it is not difficult to understand how and why the new breed of manufacturers chose to “go east” when they did. It was not simply that the green fields of the East End were ripe for development. The coming of the railway made the step obvious and logical.
Looking at the East End now it takes considerable effort to imagine how it must have been some 250 years ago, or even as late as the mid-19th century just before the dramatic transformation from the idyllic to the industrial was finally completed. The modern eye sees only the desolation caused by the recent decline of industry and the demolition of first the housing, then the famous works. Yet Attercliffe and Carbrook were once largely meadow and farmland and there was a time when Brightside Lane really did live up to its name. The Don flowed clear and clean, farmers washed their sheep in the shallow waters, and salmon swam in the river at Salmon Pastures. The lord of the manor reserved all fishing rights in the Don. When Thomas Jessop began to build his works overlooking the Don at Brightside in the 1830s, his agreement stipulated that he had to return all the salmon caught in the river to the Duke of Norfolk. By contrast, some 40 years later the discovery of a roach in the Don was so unusual that the fish was stuffed and placed on show at Weston Park Museum. Also, the East End was once an attractive place in which to live, and boasted its share of fine houses and illustrious residents.
Perhaps the most famous industrial pioneer associated with Attercliffe was Benjamin Huntsman, the Lincolnshire-born clockmaker who turned steel maker and invented the crucible process which lifted the quality steel industry of Sheffield from obscurity to worldwide fame. Huntsman began his experiments before his 1742 move from Doncaster to Handsworth because he was seeking a better grade of steel with which to make his tools and instruments, and by 1751 he had given up clockmaking and started a steelworks in Attercliffe. At the time Huntsman began experimenting, Sheffield’s production of steel was probably less than 200 tons a year. By 1840 it was 20,000 tons and by 1873 about 100,000 tons. Crucible steelmaking dominated the local scene throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th, so the effect of Huntsman’s achievement was truly tremendous.
Henry Bessemer was a professional inventor whose Bessemer Converter enabled the production of steel in bulk at a time when large-scale production at speed was becoming increasingly essential. In 1858 Bessemer built a works in Carlisle Steet, where he produced steel at between £10 and £18 a ton cheaper than his local rivals.
Robert Hadfield was only 24 when he discovered manganese steel. Perhaps the foremost metallurgist of his era, he lived to see the Hadfields business become one of the giants of the Sheffield scene, and goodness knows what he would have thought of the firm’s decline and closure in the 1980s. The building of the famous East Hecla Works was started in 1897, and by 1914 the firm employed nearly 6,000. By 1919 the figure was 15,000.
The East End filled with such famous works as Firth’s, Brown’s, Cammell’s, Vickers, Spear and Jackson, Arthur Lee’s, Brown Bayley’s, Sanderson’s, Hadfield’s, and Jonas and Colver. These and others, plus the spread of housing across the valley, added up tp a remarkable change in the district. The old East End would never be the same again.
The transformation of the East End in the years between about 1840 and the mid-1870s was truly remarkable. In January 1856 the “Sheffield Daily Independent” commented: “The last five years have produced a more striking change in the character of the manufacturing establishments of Sheffield than has ever been observed in any previous period in our history.” And there was more to come. Many of the firms went on to become household names and to achieve financial success on a huge scale.
The fall of these giants was to come in the mid-1980s. The last success story followed the nationalisation of the late 1960s, which led to the creation of BSC Stainless. The upshot was the completion of the huge £135-million development at Shepcote Lane. The Duke of Edinburgh visited the East End to perform an opening ceremony which, in retrospect, seems to have been the last great milestone in the industrial growth of the area.
The history of work in the lower Don Valley in the past 150 years is filled with stirring tales of high drama and conflict. Life in the works was often rough, tough and dangerous. There were many instances of bitter and often bloody confrontation, remarkable courage and dreadful catastrophe; and the heroes and victims were almost always ordinary workmen. The East End witnessed many industrial disputes, from the disturbances at Tinsley Park Collieries in 1844 to the dramatic scenes in 1980 when mass picketing outside Hadfield’s East Hecla Works during the BSC strike led to scores of arrests. Over the years some appalling tragedies occurred in the East End factories. The work was always dangerous, and when one considers the conditions which existed, especially in the Victorian era, perhaps it was not surprising there were so many accidents. As time passed conditions improved and safeguards reduced the accident rate, but the nature of the work meant danger always existed. Perhaps the worst incident occurred at Vickers River Don Works one afternoon in September 1887. Nine men died and several were seriously injured after an explosion shattered a mould containing 26 tons of metal during casting. The explosion was heard for miles around, and within minutes hudreds of locals were standing outside the works gates seeking to discover whether members of their families had been involved in the disaster. The body of one man was found in the rafters of the roof.
[Joe Ashton was born and bred in Attercliffe and after serving on the Sheffield Council became MP for Bassetlaw in 1968.
He has written of what it was like to grow up in Attercliffe about 50 years ago]
“I was born in October 1933 and spent the first 7 years of my life in Birch Road. Attercliffe had some very poor housing then, and it was a rough neighbourhood. Of course, there had been great poverty during the depression. My old man, who was born at Don Terrace at Salmon Pastures, started in the pit and later became a steel smelter, and he spent some years out of work. The housing was appalling. At Birch Road we had to walk 50 yards to use my grandmother’s outside lavatory. She lived right next to the steelworks, and fought a losing battle against an army of crickets and cockroaches which had escaped from the heat of the works. You used to have to go down on your hands and knees with a burning piece of rolled-up newspaper trying to burn out the crickets!
With the soot and smoke there was terrible pollution. You couldn’t hang out washing in the yard, and you couldn’t leave a baby out in a pram. That’s why the public washhouse did such good business. There were no electric washing machines then, and anyway houses were too small to accommodate such things, so everybody went to the washhouse. The washhouse, of course, was the centre of gossip.
With the local furnaces, hammers and mills going all night, you grew so accustomed to the noise that you couldn’t sleep if you went anywhere else because it was too quiet.
My first real memories are of the Blitz in December 1940. It hit the city centre on Thursday, and Attercliffe got it on the Sunday. The Germans came over at dinner-time to look and line up targets; we could see them in the brilliant clear sky. We knew they’d be back, and they were. We were in the reinforced cellar, about 20 of us, when a bomb hit the house above; and when we went out later the whole street had been flattened. The only building left standing was the working men’s club. It got looted because everybody thought it was going to burn down anyway. So Blitz night turned into a drunken party! Hitler did us a favour getting us out of Birch Road.
The Attercliffe area as I know it was a kind of oasis, a self-contained place cut off from Sheffield at one end and Rotherham at the other, and it had everything except a hospital. It was a place with a marvellous, warm community spirit. Everybody knew everybody in their street, and there was a feeling of mutual concern and goodwill such as doesn’t seem to exist today. The working men’s clubs, which were used by the young and old alike, were at the hub of the community atmosphere. They’d organize trips to the seaside for the kids, and the old folks would get an outing in the summer and a bag of coal and a chicken or turkey at Christmas.
In those days none of the houses had bathrooms. In fact, I didn’t live in a house with a bathroom or hot water or an inside toilet until I was 27. So as a youngster it was a case of going to the local public baths on Friday night or Saturday morning. The queues were tremendous, and you’d invariably have to wait for two hours or so. If you wanted, you could sometimes go the showers at Maltby Street School. But we never volunteered, for those showers were a bit of an ordeal, to be avoided if possible. They would either be freezing cold or scalding hot, and there was a woman there who used to push us into the showers like herding cattle into a pen, prodding us in delicate places with a large stick!
I have been very happy representing Bassetlaw, but I would have loved to have been MP for Attercliffe. It is tragic to see the old place pulled down, but if the old communities will never return, I think that time will see the place come back again as some sort of leisure area. I hope so.”
www.iw63.freeserve.co.uk/sheffield.html (photos, description of Sheffield)
www.shef.ac.uk/city (categories, links on Sheffield)
www.made-in-sheffield.com (visitor guide to Sheffield)
For maps and air photos:
www.streetmap.com (good for close-up maps, street patterns)
www.multimap.com (good for close-up maps, street patterns)
www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getamap (now allows you to print maps, old maps and air photos)
More Sheffield & Dist. Photos on web sites:-Coolcontacts Online Creative Gallery - Online creative gallery. Do you practise art, crafts, photography or new media? Show your work here! Get a first months display FREE!David Bolsover Photography - aerial, commercial, industrial photography. 20 yrs service to industry. Site includes regularly updated Sheffield aerial pictures gallery.Fletcher Art Prints - Scenic watercolour prints available to buy.freespace.virgin.net/richard.tetley/shefpics.htmweb.ukonline.co.uk/t.green/photo.htmNeil Fox Watercolour Artist - Vibrant originals and limited edition prints of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, The Lakes and Majorca from the internationally known artist.www.shef.ac.uk/postcards/dlowe.www1.50megs.com/sheffieldpubs.html