15 September 2011

Grimesthorpe

Grimesthorpe? Great name don't you think? It's not the kind of place you'd expect to find Old Etonians or posh ladies in mink coats climbing out of Jaguars. Not to be confused with Grimethorpe near Barnsley, Grimesthorpe was once a hamlet ( a thorpe) in the former leafy countryside outside Sheffield. It is situated beneath the "Roman ridge" where two thousand years ago there was a Roman lookout post.

Grimesthorpe conjures up images of smoky industry, the clanking of metal hammers, workers bent double like figures in a painting by Lowry and indeed the neighbourhood owed its lifeblood to the steel industry throughout the nineteenth century. But etymologically, the name has nothing to do with muck or grime, the first syllable is in fact derived from the surname "Grimshaw" - a family that inhabited the place in the middle ages.

Apparently in 1840, a guide to the Sheffield area, described Grimesthorpe as "exceedingly striking, and partakes in some degree of the grotesque". Geography and surrounding industry turned Grimesthorpe into a suburban island populated by steelworkers, coal miners, quarrymen and their families. The community raised the funds for a parish school and an imposing church - St Thomas's - which is now used as a circus school. Arguably the world would be a better place if all churches, mosques and temples followed St Thomas's example.

England boasts many evocative place names from Cockermouth to Shittington and from Broadbottom to Crapstone. But as with Grimesthorpe, such vaguely comical names rarely reflect the true character of the place. This was Grimesthorpe today:-

6 comments:

  1. You never get quirky places so full of character 'dahn sahf' innit!

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  2. during the miners strike my good friend John Highfield from the sheffield star (who is a bit camp even though she's straight) nearly got his head kicked in in grimesthorpe for asking for a gin and tonic in a local pub!!

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  3. JENNY ...But what about Tonbridge Wells and Epping? Err... I see what you mean.
    JOHN GRAY Is John Highfield still at "The Star"? I remember he used to write the entertainment sections. I thought he would have moved on to "The Sun" or "The Daily Star" - such was his journalism. I was in that pub - "The Railway" I recall - and I offered him outside - not because of the g&t but because he was always slagging off "EastEnders"!

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  4. I was taken by the description from 1840, but what on earth did the reviewer mean when he said that Grimethorpe "partakes in some degree of the grotesque"?

    Did he mean the entire town had run off to join the circus school's freak show?

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  5. How I miss you Autumn sunshine. Signalling the hiatus between the start of the new term for a teacher- freshness, blue sky thinking and then the winter kicks in.

    I had a friend who lived in Grimesthorpe, bought his house for about £20,000 but was burgled on a monthly basis.

    I'm sure he is a nice man, but professionally John should've been taken to a high field long ago, and executed for crimes against local journalism and the molestation of the English language.

    All the rest of the local journos who have stolen a living for so long- Les Payne, Alan Biggs et al should join him.

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  6. sadly john got made redundant.. he now runs a successful PR company!

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