Uncommonly beautiful part of Sheffield

Luke Lane, Wadsley Village, July 1967

Luke Lane, Wadsley Village, July 1967

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We’re just about at the end of our Retro A to Z of places in and around Sheffield, and today’s stopping place is very common indeed.

Nowt wrong with that, of course, but really it’s just a reference to Wadsley Common, which lies in this suburb in the north of Sheffield.

Auctioneer Vincent Siddall waiting to auction pigs at the Wadsley Bridge Livestock Market, July 1962

Auctioneer Vincent Siddall waiting to auction pigs at the Wadsley Bridge Livestock Market, July 1962

Wadsley and Loxley Commmons are part of a much larger area of medieval common land that was lost in the notorious Enclosure Acts of 1784 that allowed wealthy landowners to privatise land that everyone was able to use. In those days Wadsley and Loxley were just villages.

The dedicated Wadsley and Loxley Commoners are the custodians of these beautiful wild areas that are a delight for walkers and nature lovers.

Their website,www.wadsley-loxley.org, tells the story of how the commons came into public ownership almost 103 years ago, in November 1913.

Three sisters, Fanny Phillips, Mary Payne Phillips and Henrietta Harrison, presented documents to the Lord Mayor, Ald Samuel Osborn.

The stocks at Wadsley, returned to their orginal position, outside the Wadsley Jack pub (formerly The Star) in Rural Lane, Wadsley. In the stocks, at the mercy of his wife Ethel, is landlord, Jim Pulfrey, in October 1977

The stocks at Wadsley, returned to their orginal position, outside the Wadsley Jack pub (formerly The Star) in Rural Lane, Wadsley. In the stocks, at the mercy of his wife Ethel, is landlord, Jim Pulfrey, in October 1977

When the Enclosure Act came into force, the land was acquired by the Rev Thomas Halliday, who built the first Loxley House.

For more than a century from 1826 a Quaker farming family, the Paynes, owned the house, estate and land.

The three donors had inherited the estate from their uncle, along with another property in Ecclesfield, where they lived.

The Lord Mayor described the gift of 75 acres of what was then Loxley Chase as an “act of munificence”, and said Sheffield rejoiced in the addition of a valuable tract of wild moorland and that “Loxley Chase would be an untold delight”.

Mary Payne Phillips said: “The owners had felt for some time that it was a great pity that such a beautiful place as Loxley Chase should be kept apart from the public, particularly as they themselves had not been able to use it. Such a charming spot should be available for the uplifting of the people, especially those in poor districts”.

The common is held in trust by Sheffield City Council and remains a public open space, just as the sisters intended.