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Matlock: Starkholmes, Sheffield Works Societies' Convalescent Home
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During the First World War the Sheffield Works Societies had a Convalescent Home in Starkholmes[1], in a property that was next to the White Lion and opposite the Starkholmes War Memorial[2].

The chairman of the Sheffield Works Societies' Association was, in 1914, Mr. Arthur Balfour who was also a master cutler. In a letter to The Times, written from their headquarters in Cutlers' Hall, he explained that when the National Insurance Act (1911) had come into force it was felt that it would destroy the yard and sickness clubs that had been in force in Sheffield for a great number of years. These clubs were managed by the men and their committees was made up of volunteers. Mr. Balfour added that it had been decided to form work societies under the Act, and 33 of the large works in Sheffield had adopted the scheme. In 1914 there were over 10,000 members and the societies were in a good and financially sound position[3].

The sender of the top card was a Mr. Oswald Ward, a Tramway Motor Man who lived in Sheffield with his wife and daughter[4]. He was recuperating at the Convalescent Home. In the image itself are several males. Nearest the gate in the wall is a white bearded gentleman wearing a boater who appears to be reading, another man is standing beside the deck chairs to the left of the front door and on the far right is man standing on a side lawn. At the corner of the house is another man with a young child who is talking to someone sitting in a wheelchair.

All the men in the photograph below, or most of them, were also convalescing in Derbyshire having after paid into the scheme. Miss G. Watts, the woman standing behind the third deck chair from the right, was the matron and G. Slack was the secretary[1].



Before it became a Convalescent Home the property was known as Chindrass House and had been the home of Mr. John Fisher, who died on the 20th June, 1904, aged 82[5]. An obituary notice said the " Deceased, who was a native of Starkholmes, owned property in the neighbourhood, where for 20 years he has lived in retirement. His life had been a most adventurous one. Whist working at the Liverpool Docks in his early days he invented a screw propellor, one of the first of its kind, and it was put upon her Majesty's ship, Fairy. But Mr. Fisher was a poor man, and unable to find the money to float his invention, he accepted an offer to go out on a ship as an engineer to the East Indian Islands. Most of his life was spent in Singapore, where he had an engineer's shop, and the Malay Peninsular. He was the first engineer out in Singapore, and on one occasion repaired the Alabama"[6].

He had lived with Margaret Amelia Skinner, who was one of the Executors of his Will[7]. Miss Skinner was still living at Chindrass House in 1911[8] but by the beginning of 1912 Chindrass House was advertised as being available to let. It was described as being a suitable for residence for a company house, with about 11 acres of land and modern conveniences[9]. Whilst it is not known quite when the Convalescent Home opened, it can be assumed that it perhaps opened in 1912.

The Sheffield Works Societies' Association was still in existence in 1921. The house has been demolished in recent years.

Photographed from Matlock Bath, 2008

1. Top image supplied by and Copyright © Ken collection.
2. Second image supplied by and Copyright © Susan Tomlinson collection.
3. 2008 photo © Andy Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Kelly's Directory, 1916
[2] Information from Ken Smith.
[3] The Times, Wednesday, 25 Feb, 1914.
[4] The card's message was addressed to his wife and daughter. Unfortunately the postmark is unreadable.
[5] John Fisher had been baptised at St. Giles' in 1921 and was shown as living at Starkholmes in Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory | the 1901 census. He owned land needed when Matlock bridge was widened (see: Matlock: The Bridge). Also see Strays, F.
[6] Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 21 June 1904. Obituary. John Fisher of Matlock.
[7] London Gazette, 1904.
[8] The 1911 census is available on FindMyPast. Miss Skinner had said she was a Householder but the Enumerator crossed this through and substituted Boarding House Keeper. She was also listed in Kelly's 1908 Directory
[9] Derby Daily Telegraph, 6 January 1912. To Let notices, under Matlock Bath.