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Special Memories of Christmas in Sheffield


What are your special memories of Christmases past in Sheffield? 
We’d love to hear from you, and read your stories and about special memories you have of Christmases past in Sheffield.  Any pictures/photos would be very gratefully received.

In 2005, businesses at Heeley Green helped to pay for Christmas lights there.  Since then, the display has seen a few additions and the Switch On has become an increasingly popular attraction, with even Santa making the odd appearance and a procession leading to communal carol singing. 




sheffield Christmas

“Redgates; Santa’s postbox in town; carol singing; being a shepherd in every nativity play at school and Sunday school; getting my ZX Spectrum from Comet; snowball fighting; sledging down Meersbrook park; forgetting my sledge and skidding down from top to bottom in my gripless trainers; people getting their head stuck through railings at bottom of Meersbrook park; scouring the streets looking for massive icicles and then whacking each other with them; Christmas lights on the Moor; trailing round every garden centre in and around Sheffield, all day, including Ferndale, to find the perfect real Christmas Tree, only to end up driving to Sherwood Forest in thick snow (how Chevy Chase is that!); watching Indiana Jones on Christmas day every year.”

Baz, Sheffield 8




“Christmases were always very special for me as a child.  I have such wonderfully vivid memories of the tree and the lights; perhaps that’s why I’m still a bit of a Christmas-addict today.  I remember one year, my mother ordering a set of Cinderella Carriage Lights from PIFCO, and I still think they are the most magical lights I’ve seen – coaches and lanterns in lovely shades of blue, green, pink, and yellow.  I wish they still made them, I’ve noticed they go for quite a bit on EBay, so I’m obviously not the only fan. 

I remember staring, as if hypnotised, at the colourful lights on the tree and squinting a little to see the glow they made.  Heaven knows how many plugs and extension leads we had, as you didn’t get the long sets we have today. 

We used to go to Woolworths on The Moor, and choose half a pound of soft centres from the Pick n Mix, individually wrapped, in an array of colours, and then my mother would wrap cotton around them and tie them on the tree.  I can’t remember the name of them, but I remember they had an image of lady with a hat on them, I thought, rather like the Duchess of Duke Street.

Even as a child, I think I loved the build-up to Christmas, as much as the big day itself.  The lights in the centre of town were a pleasure to behold and even made the daily trail to collect my younger brother from nursery, in the howling wind, cold and rain, an enjoyable experience.  Mind you, the chore was always softened by a Viennese Whirl from the bakers on Cumberland Street, or a thick chocolate coated Thorntons Orange fondant bar, from the kiosk under the Hole in the Road.

It was a real treat to be taken to see Father Christmas at the Co-op, we seemed to queue for hours, and I think actually we might have, but it was worth it, and I treasured the little jigsaw I received.

I remember as a little girl, standing in Paradise Square, holding my Auntie’s hand during the carol service.  There seemed to be so many people there.  People were dressed very smartly, and had song sheets to sing from.  I’m not sure whether they were given out at the service, or perhaps they might have been printed in The Star. 

Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas without the pantomime at the Montgomery Hall:  the brilliantly funny Brian Platts; the jokes and jibes that only meant something to Sheffielders; and the songs that we used to drive our parents mad with, way into the New Year, and being kids, of course, the more annoyed we thought they were, the more we did it!

On New Year’s Eve my Nan would look after us whilst our parents and auntie and uncle went out for the evening.  On their return, they would knock at the door and sing a song that begun, ‘Last night as I slumbered, I had a strange dream’ and ended with the ‘and the bells were ringing the old year out, and the new year in’.  We used to laugh at them at the other side of the door, as they forgot and stumbled over some of the words (probably down to a pint too many of Wards!).  I’ve recently found out that this song is called ‘The Miners Dream of Home’.  Sometimes, one of them would bring a piece of coal in to the house, and they said my uncle, who was the darkest haired, had to come in through the door first.  I’d be interested to find out if other Sheffielders remember traditions like this.

The Christmas lights during the eighties in Sheffield were a little underwhelming, after the displays of the seventies.   I do remember one year, though, one of the circular buses (single deck) had reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh on the roof.  I was having tea at my friend’s house on Arbourthorne Road, and one whizzed past the window, and because the room was high up, all you could see was the sleigh and whizzing past the window, it looked very comical.”



 mince pies

“We had a Christmas Party and Junior School and each child took a plate, dish and a spoon, all labelled with our name, and also some sandwiches and buns.  Each class had a party in their own classroom, but they were all on the same day.

Between half-term and Christmas we learnt Christmas Carols.  The whole school assembled in the hall to have a singing lesson once a week, throughout the year anyway, so prior to Christmas we sang Carols.
Craft lessons involved making things like calendars, to give to our parents.

My Father belonged to a working men’s club which provided a Christmas party for all the children in the afternoon.  Food first – we all sat at the table wearing our party hats.  Then, while the adults cleared the food and tables, children ran around a bit and played games.  Next came the Punch and Judy show and then each child was given an apple, an orange, and a half-crown to take home.
I don’t remember seeing a Father Christmas or a Grotto.  December was time for jam and lemon curd tarts, coconut tarts, Bakewell tarts, mince pies, Christmas cake, nuts in shells, and dates that were in a box with a plastic fork to eat them with.  We peeled shallots for pickling, had chicken for dinner on Christmas Day, and trifle for tea on Boxing Day.

We cleaned all the cutlery with metal polish:  a once-a-year job for me and mum.

When we woke on Christmas Day we had presents in a pillowcase at the bottom of the bed.  These always included:  shiny new coins, an apple, an orange and a selection box of sweets that had a game on the back.

On Christmas Day morning the coal fire was lit in the front room – this was the only time in the year.  Me and my brother went in the front room to play with our presents while mum did the dinner.  Besides chicken, Dad also bought a pork chap, which was half a pigs head – one eye, half of the nose, and teeth – it was roasted, I think.

Dad would go by himself to do the Christmas Shopping on a Saturday afternoon.  When he came home with one of my presents he would put it on the table and invite me to guess what it was.  Every guess received the same answer:
“It might be, then again, it might not be”.
He very much enjoyed this ritual teasing.

Christmas decorations were crepe paper streamers from corner to corner across the room, balloons, and a small, artificial tree with fairy lights.  On New Year’s Eve at midnight, we burst all the balloons with a pin!”

Thank you to Anonymous, of Darnall, for this article.

Late 1940s – Early 1950s

    Sheffield Christmas Memories

“At that stage in our lives we were very poor.  We lived in a back to back house, in Lower-Walkley, one down, two up.  We just had one brown stone sink downstairs with a tap, a coal fire, and a gas ring onto a pipe.  We had the luxury of electricity and we used to have one fire to keep all the house warm but at Christmas time we still enjoyed ourselves. 

My mother used to bake coconut macaroons, custard pies, and chocolate cornflake buns.  We used to go to Oates’s corner shop on Creswick Street, as they used to let my mother have things ‘on’t strap’.  We hadn’t got a father, as he’d died when we were young.  But everything had to be spotless for Christmas week, all the net curtains had to be washed, we had to black lead the Yorkshire range to make it shine for Christmas and my mother used to wallpaper the room that served us all as our kitchen, dining room and living room. 

My older brother would sit over the single gas ring, with glass tubes, and blow them into glass baubles, making a loop on the end.  He would give these to relatives in the run up to Christmas, to decorate their homes.

We used to go to the slipper baths at Hillsborough, but people preferred to go to the Upperthorpe one, as you could put your own water in there, instead of the attendant doing it.  All the shopkeepers used to dress their own shop windows up for Christmas.  Atkinsons always used to have lights, and Redgates, Cole Brothers, and Ann Leonards, and Robert Brothers used to have good displays and Bray Brothers opposite the town hall, also.

We would go down to the market at Christmas Eve and buy a large piece of beef and fruit and veg for our Christmas dinner.  We always had a fruit salad for dessert.  We would get home and we would all have to find a sock and darn it and hang it up on the fireplace.  Then we would put the imitation Christmas tree up, made of wire.  We used to use the same tree year after year and make our own trimmings.  We all had stew and dumplings, cooked in the oven of the Yorkshire range, we’d make our own bread, and then we would be able to stop up late and have Smiths crisps with the packet of blue salt in them, and pop and sweets.

On Christmas Eve we used to go to around Carol Singing and people used to give us a penny or tuppence, if we were lucky.  Sometimes, if people were having a party, they’d ask us to go in and sing them a song.  My oldest brother used to look after us while my mother went to the Lyceum Pub at the bottom of King James Street, or the Beehive at the bottom of Creswick Street. Then we used to go St Bartholomews on Burgoyne Road for the candlelit Carol Service.  When we got home my mum used to wrap rags in my hair, to make ringlets for Christmas day.

When we got up the next morning, we used to have an apple, orange, and chocolate pennies in a little bag, and an annual and some bubbles.  Then our relatives would come and visit us and we would have Christmas dinner with roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roasted potatoes, and all the veg.  Then we would relax and play games, card games, mainly, snap.

Mr Hawley used to come and collect the money for the coal every week, he was a very kind man and at Christmas he would let you miss the payment.  If it was really cold at Christmas we used to wake up and couldn’t see anything out of the windows, they were that iced up. 

Auntie Edith and Gloops from the Star kids club used to visit the Childrens hospital and give children the presents that the Star had collected from appeals.  Many people got two and a half days holiday over Christmas:  Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and a half-day on Christmas Eve.  I remember lots of children sending off for the Gloops badge from The Star and imagine there are still a few badges around today.  Does anyone else remember Mr Maltby, the Headmaster from Walkley School?  He reminded me of Mr Bumble from Oliver.

There was always a football match at Christmas and my brothers used to go.  There was always a pantomime on Boxing Day at the club, I think it might have been on or near Burnaby Street.

If anyone reading this is feeling sorry for us, please don’t, as we were very happy, and didn’t need lots of money or luxuries at Christmas to make us happy.” 

Thank you to Anonymous, of Sheffield 8 for this article.

Christmas Memories

At home the build-up of excitement was ever present – mother baking and, “Do not touch”, as the mince pies were cooling.  They were then put into empty biscuit tins until Christmas day.  My parents had been saving all year at the grocers and meat shop in order to meet the expense of the fancy fare.  The cellar-head began to be a glorious place to visit.  Goods were laid-away in the toy shop and a small amount paid every week.  There were no credit cards but I suppose it was possible to get things on the strap buy my parents didn’t believe in that. 

Christmas Eve = pantomime and the Lyceum!  We were always in late just managing to catch the last tram.  I think my parents hoped, rather than believed, that we would sleep longer next morning.  Oh, the Christmas morning excitement, when I found a stocking with an orange, nuts, chocolate, a pencil or wax crayons, paper, eraser, and a penny in the toe of the sock at the foot of my bed.  Presents were downstairs.  We daren’t creep from the attic too early.

As a young child and all through my life I have attended church or chapel so the centre of my Christmas has always been Christ.  At the chapel the build up to Christmas meant carol singing and in the week before Christmas we went around the local area singing carols on the streets.  Sometimes we had a musical instrument, sometimes we didn’t, but Methodists were always good at singing.

I also remember, we young people, putting on a pantomime in the church hall.  I think we had as much fun rehearsing as we did during the actual performance.  There were parties where we played team games and musical chairs, etc, followed by potted meat sandwiches and a bun.  The games we played would be frowned on by Health and Safety but what fun we had and I don’t remember any accidents.  Rose coloured glasses?  Maybe but aren’t we fortunate to have happy memories despite the lean years during and after the war?

Thank you to M.E.G. of Sheffield



I was born in 1942, so my first real memories were from the late 1940s.  In the weeks running up to Christmas, my mother would start making lists of everything she would need to cover us over the holiday period, adding to it on a daily basis, as she remembered things.  You have to remember this was before fridges and freezers, and items were kept on a stone slab in the cellar or in a meat safe.  The turkey would be ordered from the butcher for collection on Christmas Eve.  The frantic run up to Christmas included making the cake, mince pies, and jam/lemon tarts.
My mum had two elder sisters who lived locally.  On Christmas Eve the whole family would gather at Aunt Connie’s, then, on Christmas Day night, everyone would come to our house.  On Boxing Day we would go to Aunt Isabelle.  The format at these parties was always the same, plenty of good food (not always what you would describe as healthy), plenty to drink, and then the playing cards would come out.  The parties usually finished between 1 and 2 am, except for Uncle Willis on Boxing Day, as he had to be at work at the Sheffield Star.
At the Christmas Day party the kids all told each other what presents we had received, usually toys, games, and books.  On Christmas Eve we would go carol singing in the Kent Road/Cambridge Road area of Heeley.  If you lived in the area at that time, I hope we weren’t too much out of tune.
The parties continued to be held until the early sixties when times and traditions changed.
After I married in 1969, we used to go to my mother-in-laws for Christmas Dinner and two of my wife’s brothers would also be there.  In the evening, her third brother, and his wife, used to arrive for the family party.  This arrangement carried on until my mother-in-law passed away.  Since then, we now go to my brother-in-law and his wife’s house for Christmas Dinner, then on Boxing Day we go to my niece’s house for a party where all the family exchange presents, there are about 18-20 of us there.  The highlight of the evening for me is when I dress up as Father Christmas.  The looks on the children’s faces makes Christmas for me.  I will be forever grateful to my niece and her husband for giving me the opportunity to bring joy to the children.

Thank you to Roger, from Fulwood.

Sheffield Christmas ice

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