Wadsley and Loxley Commoners

History

Artefacts dating back to the Roman occupation have been found on Wadsley Common. It has been an important amenity for the local people for hundreds of years. The Common has been wooded since 1600 and its wood must have been a vital resource. Not only would it have been used to build and furnish the primitive local cottages, but for cooking and heating as well. Trees were pollarded to produce poles for fencing, pit props for mining and tool handles for the steel trade, and some pollarded trees can still be seen.

From the middle of the 19th century, ganister was mined to line the furnaces of Sheffield’s iron and steel works. The miners’ only light was a candle stub stuck in a piece of wet clay on the neb of their caps. It is said that local children would lower their dads’ "snap" down in baskets. The ganister was transported from the mine under Loxley Edge, down to the depot near Bower Cottage, in wooden corves on a horsedrawn railway. At about this time sandstone was quarried at Bland’s Quarry. This was located above the Rural Lane car park, and it is believed that stone from this quarry helped to build the Wicker Arches in 1839.

In the early 1800s,when the breech loading rifle was invented, a rifle range was located to the north of the Common and it was reported that a popular pastime with local children was to try and recover the spent bullets. All that remains today is a solitary wall near the golf course.

The Common has been used to graze animals for hundreds of years and, after the enclosure act, substantial walls were built incorporating a pinfold; also known as a "vaccary" (A secure enclosure for animals) In 1730 local people were charged 1 penny to go rabbiting. Dog fighting, cock fighting and even bear baiting took place on Wadsley Common. It is reputed that Mary Queen of Scots, whilst a prisoner of the Earl of Shrewsbury in Sheffield Castle, frequently exercised on horseback across Wadsley Common and Loxley Chase.

In 1782 a local jeweller called Nathan Andrews was robbed and brutally murdered on the Common, by Frances Fearn. The wretched Fearn was tried and executed at York and, as was the practice in those days, his body was brought back and gibbeted on the Common. It remained there for 14 years. Underneath Loxley Edge, the remains of Cave House can be clearly seen. It was a primitive cottage built against the edge of the cliff and it was here that George and Mary Revill lived. George was the local gamekeeper, and it is believed that he murdered his wife here, one Christmas Day.

After the Second World War the Common became a place for recreation. Most of the meadowland was owned by Wadsley Church and four football pitches existed, with changing facilities in an old railway carriage. The Common today is still a popular place for a variety of leisure pursuits, including: walking, jogging and exercising dogs

 

 

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