An interview with Lilian Haywood about Heeley History Workshop
Interviewer: Kimberly Marwood. Date: 9th April, 2013
L: I’ve been a member of this group now longer than anybody else. And I joined it in September 1982. And at that time it was a class of the Sheaf Valley Adult Education sector of the Education Department in Sheffield, so there was a class tutor for the group and it had been started the year before and there were only five members who were part of it at the beginning. Now, of those five members, they are not all dead yet – two sisters came, as far as I know, the eldest sister is now eighty-seven, she is a couple of months older than me, she is now in a nursing home but she’s got Alzheimer’s and she doesn’t remember any of that history. Her younger sister no longer lives in Sheffield and that’s why she doesn’t come. Mr Chapman died and he’s the one that we produced the book about because he did live to be a hundred and three – no a hundred and two and he died in 2004.
It was while Oliver – that was the name of the class tutor, was still running the group that the Sheffield Libraries first ran a local history fair in Sheffield to which they invited all the local history groups and invited them to produce any books on display or to have a table displaying things they’d researched and we produced a little booklet for that fair. I think the date was 1987 and we sold it for 10p and it was about eight pages long and it was just stapled together with a staple. And Oliver had the use of a part-time secretary and she typed it up for us and we just wrote a few articles in that little leaflet about what used to happen in Heeley. But we found so many folk interested in it they said why don’t you produce another, so then when we produced the next one we had to call it number two but the first one wasn’t even called number one. And so when they closed the Sheaf Valley Adult Education Department down – that was when they closed down most of Sheffield schools sixth forms and when they opened up more colleges of further education in Sheffield and so they allocated us to a tutor from what was then called Granville College. Now this tutor didn’t even live in Sheffield and he certainly didn’t know Heeley. We were sort of educating him about the history of Heeley but we went on producing the leaflets, but then when they reorganised some of that we decided that because we could only meet for ten weeks of the term time and that most of the members of the group were retired and they wanted to go on meeting all year round, so we said we don’t want to be a college group anymore, we want to be independent – and the other thing was, they wanted to charge us fees and we said that if we declare independence we can run it ourselves and we don’t have to pay any fees – so we took over running it ourselves. And altogether we then produced thirty-six of the leaflets and eighteen of them, I think, are on the internet, but the others, we still have copies of them so we are still selling them if we can. So we produced thirty-six regular ones and we produced ‘Heeley at War and the Anniversary of VE Day’ and then we produced another ‘Heeley at War’ – the ‘Heeley at War’ we first produced covered the last war, the Second World War, but the last one, we did a bit about the Boer war, a bit about the Crimea war and we did something about the First World War in that one. We also produced a ‘Sporting Heeley’ and we previously helped to produce a book about Meersbrook Park and we produced a follow-up to that because a lot of folk said if I’d known you were doing something about Meersbrook Park, I’ve got a picture of the bandstand you can have and I’ve got a picture of this…or I’ve got a picture of the football team playing or whatever, so we produced a leaflet about – a subsequent Meersbrook Park supplement and…
K: What is it that you enjoy about the group?
L: It just brings back some happy memories of the way things used to be because people were more caring about each other – when they look back, what they call the good old days, I mean some of it wasn’t good – you know, most people in Heeley were not very well off, most people lived in quite small terraced houses, it had a cold water tap at the sink – if you were lucky. It didn’t have a bathroom you had a tin bath and had a bath on a Friday night, you know, in front of the fire and you had a loo at the bottom of the garden and unless you were Mr Chapman – he could remember back to 1902 before people got WCs – they had privies then – at least it was a WC but you know you remembered having to put a Kelly lamp in the loo during the winter otherwise it would freeze up – a lot of people didn’t have a great deal of money to spend and yet they were a lot more content that people are today. It wasn’t a materialistic world – you know, if somebody was ill or if there was an old lady whose husband died and she was left living on her own and she had a job to cope – folk would say – I’ve got a bit of broth left love, I’ll give you some broth for your dinner and they would help, you know and they would say, I’ve got a new bread cake I’ve just baked – you have the bread cake and I’ll use the bread. And if a woman had a baby and she wasn’t very well for a few days after the birth of the baby they’d help her out and look after any other family she had and whatever – and it’s that sort of thing that people look back to in the good old days and you know, a lot of people think well, today, you go home, and your neighbours go home and they lock the door and you don’t see them and you don’t even know your neighbours and you don’t know their names or anything else. In some ways you can be really isolated and lonely even though you are surrounded by people living in houses and that is so sad, isn’t it?
K: Do you think there was more of a sense of community?…
L: I’m sure there was a sense of community way back – and very often you’d have families living quite close to each other – you know somebody would say, my grandma lived just around the corner, and my auntie lived just across the road and my uncle lived here and so you’d have family get-togethers quite frequently and everybody would go and see their mother on a Sunday afternoon and this sort of thing and so you had much more of a sense of community…
K: Do you think that is also why people come to the group – to socialise as well as reminisce?
L: Oh, I’m sure most of them come to the group not just because they live locally or had ancestors that live locally, I mean that’s the reason why they say they’ll come but it’s the social fellowship here that they get which is why when I plan what I’m doing if we are getting another book ready, then I still allow some time for everybody just to talk so they get the social fellowship – it does make a difference, you know. And sometimes you don’t realise when you start talking about family way back, you will suddenly find that this persons uncle was married to that persons sister or cousin and that they are related to each other almost and we get that quite frequently.