Book on Redmires Ridge traces Sheffield history

A new book looks at the absorbing history of Redmires Ridge in Sheffield.

By Julia Armstrong
Wednesday, 10 July, 2019, 11:33
The Sheffield City Battalion marches to Redmires Camp in 1914

The book has been written by retired Sheffield civil servant, Keith Baker.

He said: “I live quite near the ridge and I’ve always enjoyed walking around. For generations it's really been a place where people got to get a bit of nice walking and fresh air and good views.

The war memorial overlooking Redmires Dam. The inscription reads 'There but not there'. Picture submitted by John Bunting,

“I was really attracted by it and wanting to know a little bit more. When I first started it, I began to uncover quite a lot of interesting history about people who worked, lived and died there. That motivated me to do it.”

Keith continued: “In the book it's really a compilation of stories, going back well into antiquity and prehistoric times.”

He said there is evidence of Roman occupation of the area.

Later, the ridge was part of a packhorse route transporting goods from Cheshire to the Hope Valley and back again.

Lodge Moor Hospital, Sheffield, once used as an isolation hospital

Keith was fascinated to learn that field next The Sportsman pub was used in the 1800s as a horse racing track.

The area was quite remote at the time, he said, which made it less popular than the publicans and other businessmen who set it up had hoped.

The reservoir at Redmires dates back to the 19th century, said Keith. The building work itself led to further developments in the area.

Lodge Moor POW Camp foundations off Redmires Roa,d near The Sportsman pub, pictured in 2010

“There were a lot of farmers who found they could cater to thirsty navvies who wanted a glass of beer, so they opened up beerhouses,” said Keith.

“The Sportsman and Three Merry Lads pubs started in that way, as well as others that have disappeared.”

In the 20th century, the area was used during World War One as a training ground for the Sheffield Pals regiment of young men who joined up together to fight.

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Many lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

No9 Hut at Redmires Camp. Photograph taken by 12/205 William Oliver, courtesy of Andrew Russell

It was also home to prisoner of war camps in both world wars. Keith said he uncovered lots of stories about those days.

An important landmark, Lodge Moor Hospital, was once used as a fever isolation hospital.

A small wartime airfield nearby had the potential to become a permanent fixture but Keith said that a powerful lobby blocked it because it would disturb patients at the hospital.

Keith said of the book: “It's a compilation of rather nice little stories. It's proved remarkably successful.

“I’ve been amazed by the response from people and I’m now on my second reprint. When it was published it was just running up to Father’s Day, which helped!

“I'm really very thankful for the response I have had from people who wanted to buy it. It's struck a chord, which was a bit of luck.”

Sheffield City Battalion at Redmires Camp in 1914

Keith created the book as a retirement project reflecting his loves of history and writing.

He said it had taken him two years to research and write, although it wasn’t a full-time project.

Keith has written other books, including The 1908 Olympics, telling the story of the first London games, and Fathers of Football, about pioneers of the modern sport.

He paid tribute to Sheffield local studies library and the help they gave him, and the Sheffield Star and Telegraph, whose archives yielded lots of interesting snippets on the subject.

One fascinating account he came across involved a reporter describing his march up to Redmires with the Pals to do their training.

He hopes the book will contribute to people remembering those soldiers and their sacrifice.

Redmires – Tales from the Ridge is £6 in paperback. Email keith.baker1908@gmail.com to find out about ordering a copy.