TitleSheffield Township - The Crofts and fields to the north west of the town
DescriptionRoughly to the North West of High Street lay The Crofts where lanes and buildings had developed in a confused way during the fifty years preceding the period covered by the maps. A croft means simply a piece of enclosed ground, used for tillage or pasture, and examples can be plainly seen on Fairbank's map of 1771 where Long Croft and Colson Crofts are still open country. On the same map, the outlines of Storehouse Croft (not named but probably the whole area between Fargate, Church Lane and Blind Lane) and Vicarage Croft can be seen, though these had been built over. Here the pattern of development was building along the lanes round the edges of the croft and then, from force of necessity, driving a road through the middle. The development of Brelsford Orchards (Orchard Street) in Storehouse Croft is a good example (ACM/SheS/1588). The confused building on Vicarage Croft before the making of Vicar Lane is seen in (ACM/SheS/1576 and ACM/MAPS/1581).

On either side of West Bar Green, street development had proceeded somewhat further, even at the time when Gosling mapped the town, and long narrow lanes, called by Gosling Pea Street, White Fields and Hollis Charity Street ran nearly parallel to each other in a north-west to southeast direction. In Fairbank's map of 1771 these have become Pea Croft, White Croft and Hollis Croft. The term Crofts stuck to them and has given rise to a notion that all crofts had this long ribbon-like appearance in Sheffield, and were remnants of strips in the open fields. It seems fairly clear that in this particular area the enclosed properties followed the form of the old strips and were long and narrow. The plan of Sims Croft and School House Croft shows the layout well (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1422). The plotting of the streets here was already over when the Fairbanks began their work. There is, however, one of the Norfolk maps which shows, in 1768, a property formerly called Swifts Dole (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1527), a long strip running from West Bar Green, probably lying between Pea Croft (modern Solly Street) and Scotland Street. Noteworthy features of this strip are its varying width, and its division among a number of tenants, who held there smithies, yards, gardens etc., though there was no proper access to a road. North of Lambert Croft development was taking place a little later. Here the plan (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1525) for a new street (Furnace Hill) shows admirably the old strips, the development that had already taken place before the street was cut - rather specialised in this instance, including Samuel Shore's steel furnace and a Meeting House and the proposed re-apportionment of the properties in blocks along the new street. It would appear from these examples that the notion of the streets being originally made through unenclosed cornfields is entirely erroneous. Instead, a haphazard rash or urban undergrowth - gardens, yards, workshops and narrow jennels - must in most cases have preceded the streets. This was the district where the old free schools and workhouse lay.

An interesting survival of the old open field pattern is seen in the long tapering triangular piece called Shaw Tongue where the plough lands had formerly met in an awkward corner or gore.
Beyond The Crofts subsequently so called, lay other enclosed fields which either had never been in arable strips or had previously lost that pattern. By the end of the 18th century street plans had been drawn up for the whole of this area from Broad Lane as far as Shalesmoor, though in some cases they remained schemes only. The development of Garden Street is recorded in particular detail, showing the street through the middle of the close, and allotment gardens laid out on either side with subsequent building, (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1532, ACM/MAPS/SheS/1533 and ACM/MAPS/SheS/1535).

The arrangement of the Catalogue entries for this wide area has presented difficulties. The older crofts near the town have been arranged alphabetically and are followed by the later developed area further north, and west, from Broad Lane to Shalesmoor. In The Crofts subheadings, it has been impossible to avoid mixing street and field names, e.g. Shaw Tongue and Scotland Street; in some cases no street marks the old field, and in others the field name superseded by the later street is not known.
Date1738 - [1816]
Extent125 items
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