The streets around West Bar once bustled with working-class life, protest and entertainment. 18th century local hero Joseph Mather who lived in ‘Cack Alley’ off West Bar, paraded his bawdy, irreverent songs about the rich and powerful, sitting backwards on a donkey. Charlie Peace, the notorious Sheffield burglar and murderer was born nearby and played his fiddle around its pubs and music halls. Victorians gathered to see performer Harvey Teasdale sail the Don in a tub pulled by ducks. They enjoyed ice-cream from street carts belonging to Italian immigrant families like the Cuneos and Granellis. Several of Sheffield’s ‘Workhouses’ where the poor and old were forced to live, were located on West Bar. The last of them still survives, now the Mayfield Court Apartments.
During the first world war, an elephant by the name of Lizzie was a popular sight here, as she hauled steel over the cobbles. These streets became much quieter in the decades that followed, though they were at the centre of anti-racism protests in the 1980s when the old police station was still standing.
Stone carving by Mark Hetherington and Steve Roche (illustrating the story of Harvey Teasdale)
Detail of graphics by Eleven Design