• Number 51

    51 Meadow bank Avenue:

    51 Meadow bank Avenue was built in the late 1890’s as a late Victorian semi-detached Gentleman’s residence in the romantic style. It is believed to be the first house built on the Avenue. It occupies part of a plot of land covering nos. 51, 49 and 47, sold by Elizabeth Newbould to John Wortley ( accountant ), and Frank Sleigh Bush ( auctioneer ) for £792, as part of her overall scheme to sell off portions of the land that now forms the MBA estate. At the time of the land purchase Edge Bank ended short of the Avenue and part of the sale process included provision for extending Edge Bank so that it joined the roadway of the Avenue. Other conditions of the sale related to the construction of the houses to be built on the plot, including the size of the house, facing materials, boundary walls, useage etc.

    These conditions were extended to cover other houses on the Avenue as the various plots were sold off. Ownership and occupancy of the property seem to have been separate in the earlier history of the house suggesting that at least a number of the houses were bought as investments and rented out. Owners included James Dixon of Stumperlow Hall, a member of the eponymous cutlery company which was one of the largest and most prestigious in Sheffield in the 19th Century, and Truswells Brewery. Significant occupants include Albert Jahn, Head Master of Sheffield School of Art and an artist of some reputation in his own right, who was living there in the early 1900’s, and Ernest Longden, a professional soldier and the sole resident of the Avenue to lose his life in the First World War. Records suggest there have been only 6 residents in the property over the 120 years of its existence.

    The body of the house exists very much in the form in which it was built other than the addition of a garage in 1962 and a kitchen extension in 1972. Both have subsequently been rebuilt to better match the original building.

  • Number 29

    The first occupant of number 29 may have been Alfred Ralston, whose occupation was a Manufacturer’s Agent. His name is listed at this address in White’s Directory of 1916 but it may be that he rented rather than owned the property because there is no mention of him in the house deeds. (The dates of residence for those who rented houses on the Avenue are more difficult to verify.)   Ralston is not a very common surname and it seems likely that Alfred’s business was file-making: Alfred Ralston Ltd. was a small file manufacturing company based on Rockingham Street in the town centre.

    In 1918 the house was bought by William Henry Ibbotson, the Manager of the Sheffield Brick Company. John Deakin (the Estate’s Custodian) signed a lease contract with Ibbotson on 27th March 1918. It was an 800 year lease with an annual ground rent of £8 5s 0d. Prior to moving onto Meadow Bank Avenue Ibbotson had been living at 5 Ryle Road in Nether Edge. Mr Ibbotson’s workplace would have been at Wadsley Bridge and/or Rutland Road, where the Sheffield Brick Company was located.

    In 1923 Ibbotson sold number 29 to Norman Atkin for £1000. He was a Silversmith by profession and his previous address was documented as “Muswell Lodge” on Brincliffe Crescent. He didn’t stay long at number 29. Atkin Brothers was a well-known firm of Sheffield silversmiths, tracing its history back to Thomas Law, who founded the company in the 1770s. It may be that Norman Atkin was a member of this family.

    On the 18th January 1924, Norman Atkin sold the house to Edith O’Connor Fenton for £850. She was a widow who had been living at St James Vicarage, Leicester before her move to Sheffield.

    Five years later, on 23rd April 1928, Mrs Fenton sold to Henry Arnold Greaves and his wife Helena. Their previous home had been on Raven Road, Nether Edge. The deeds show that the house was actually in Mrs Greaves’ name, probably for business purposes to protect the family home in the event of bankruptcy. Henry was a Metallurgical and Electrical Engineer who co-patented a new improved electric furnace for the production of steel. Helena Greaves owned the house until October 1956 (28 years), eventually selling to Albert Edward Sproat.

    Albert Sproat was a Mechanical Engineer. He paid £2350 for the house and interestingly his £1600 mortgage was provided by the City Corporation in the names of ‘the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of Sheffield’. The repayments on the 15 year mortgage were £13.12s 2d per month. He had 2 addresses listed on his legal documents; 10 Springfield Rd. Sheffield 7 and 94 North Side, Clapham Common, London SW4. In 1960, after just four years on Meadow Bank Avenue, Albert Sproat sold to Philip Marshall.

    Philip was a Sheffield Schoolmaster, who taught English at the boys’ secondary school on Union Road and the new Abbeydale Grange School built to replace it. Philip, his wife Sheila and their children Wendy and Christopher lived in the house for 24 years but when Sheila died Philip wanted a smaller, easier to manage home.

    In January 1984 Philip moved across the road into number 46 Meadow Bank Avenue, exchanging homes with Alan and Kay Phillips. The houses were both valued and the agreed market value of number 29 was £35,500; £6,500 more than number 46. The difference was agreed between the two parties and, 32 years later, Alan and Kay are still living at number 29, where they brought up their three sons Simon, Adam and Daniel.

    Their purchase in 1984 was the first time in the house’s history that the legal documents recognised husband and wife as co-owners.

  • Number 10

    Based on original and copy deeds and documents in the possession of the current owner, and best read in conjunction with the history sections of www.meadowbankavenue.co.uk

    1 Copy Deed of Mutual Covenants 31st August 1896

    This deed is the base document for the Meadow Bank Avenue Estate. It was prepared on behalf of the land owner Elizabeth Newbould, who had lived in the family home known as Sharrow Bank on the corner of Cherry Tree Road and Psalter Lane but since about 1880 had lived in Leamington Spa. The deed set out all the covenants and stipulations by both the land owner and the purchasers which would henceforth tightly control the development and management of the estate, including the road, footpaths, sewers and pleasure ground. At that stage there is no evidence that the estate was intended to remain private, it appears that many of the provisions were to last only until the road and footpaths were adopted by the local authority; how and why this never happened is detailed on the website.

    There are two problems with this copy deed. First, it is only a copy and although it was prepared by a solicitor who later lived at No 10, it was not certified as a true copy; the importance of this can be seen when looking at the conveyance dated 7th October 1909 below. Secondly, either there never was and certainly no longer is any plan to show the extent and layout of the intended estate. This does not matter from a historical viewpoint because there are other more complete copies with plan, and some originals.

    However it does obscure the answer to a query relating to No 10 and two adjoining properties. It is clear from the plans on other copies that the estate laid out in 1896 did not include the land on which Nos 8, 10 and most of 12 were subsequently built. This was because that land, which is now the site of those 3 houses and also the terraced houses at the top of Machon Bank Road, was owned by Miss Newbould, but in 1896was occupied by Cherry Tree Farm, which was not demolished and cleared for building until about 1907. How then did those 3 properties become part of the estate?

    2 Abstract of Title October 1909

    An abstract is a summary of relevant deeds, documents and events which is used in traditional conveyancing by a seller’s solicitors to prove to a purchaser’s solicitors that the seller owned and had the power to sell the property. In this case, it shows how after the settlement of court proceedings relating to all the land amassed by the Newbould family over many years, Miss Newbould came to acquire the land on which the estate was planned in 1896, together also with Cherry Tree Farm on which No 10 was built. The Abstract then shows the death of Miss Newbould in April 1909, and in June 1909 the grant of probate to her solicitor, her accountant and one of her cousins, who were the sellers in the next conveyance below.   An Abstract should be examined against original documents by the purchaser’s solicitors and marked up to show this has happened; for some reason this was not done.

    3 Copy Conveyance 7th October 1909

    This is a conveyance between the Vendors A E Maxfield, J Wortley and N J Newbould as Executors of Elizabeth Newbould and the Purchasers T W Abbott and S Bannister. The land conveyed is described in the deed, which refers to a plan, but again no plan is now attached to the copy deed. There is however a rough copy plan folded in with the copy deed, from which it is clear that the land was the intended site of Nos 8 and 10 and had been part of the now demolished Cherry Tree Farm. Unfortunately no price is given, because the deed states that agreement had already been reached and all monies paid and receipt is acknowledged!

    Abbott and Bannister were local builders, who had already started to build No 12 and also bought almost all of the rest of the Cherry Tree Farm site. Extraordinary as it now seems, this was another copy deed which was not certified by anyone as a true copy, nor is there any marked abstract; this was something remarked on when the title to No 10 was registered at the Land Registry on purchase by the current owner in 1979! The writer strongly suspects that the originals will have been handed to the purchaser of No 8 following a subsequent conveyance, but confirmation must wait until any remaining deeds to No 8 are examined.

    This being said it seems clear that this deed shows how Nos 8 and 10 effectively became part of the Meadow Bank Estate even though not included within the 1896 layout. Both parties, the Executors on behalf of the estate, and the builders as purchasers, entered into the same covenants and stipulations as Miss Newbould (then the owner) and all the purchasers who acquired parts of the estate before her death in 1909. The 1896 Deed itself therefor forms no part of the title of No 10 (or presumably No 8) and the copy with the deeds is there purely for information.

    (There remains one puzzle. The unsold parts of the estate were sold by auction in August 1909, and it was a “Special Condition” of the auction particulars that the purchaser of Lot 5 would also acquire the road, footpaths, sewers and pleasure ground, and with them all Miss Newbould’s liabilities for their maintenance and repair. The purchaser of Lot 5 was John Deakin, a steel manufacturer who lived on Osborne Road, and we know the Special Condition was effected, because after he had completed the building and sale of the houses on Lot 5, and had himself retired to Scarborough, he conveyed the road footpaths. sewers and pleasure ground to Charles Wyril Nixon who actually lived at No 10 (see below). Mr Nixon was the first of a succession of residents of the estsate who took on this liability and therefore indirectly ensured that the Meadow Bank Avenue estate remained private. But if Deakin had acquired those parts of the estate following the August 1909 auction, why should it be necessary for Miss Newbould’s Executors to commit themselves to the same liabilities in their Conveyance of the site of Nos 8 and 10 to Abbott and Bannister in the following October? The most likely explanation is that for some reason there was a delay in completing the sale to Deakin, so the Executors had to cover the situation during the interim period; but this can only be confirmed by examination of the relevant conveyance to Deakin)

    4 Conveyance 12th January 1911

    This conveyance completed the sale of the house now built and numbered 10 Meadow Bank Avenue by Abbott and Bannister to “William Nixon Esq JP, gentleman” of Beech Hurst, Eyam in Derbyshire for £800. This was a freehold sale, subject to all the provisions in the conveyance to the builders of 7th October 1909, as were all subsequent sales. From the description William Nixon sounds like a respected and well established citizen of the Derbyshire Dales, and we know that Charles Wyril Nixon later lived at No 10 and was an important figure in the history of the estate. So although it is only guesswork, the writer suggests that a wealthy country gentleman bought the property for his son, then perhaps making his way as a solicitor in Sheffield, as a home until he could afford to repay his father. This supposition is supported by the fact that when John Deakin conveyed the road, footpaths, sewer and pleasure ground to Charles Nixon on 5th January 1920 Mr Nixon was described as being “of 10 Meadow Bank Avenue”, which as can be seen below he did not yet own.

    5   Conveyance 31st January 1924

    This conveyance also implies the relationship, because it is a sale by William Nixon, still with the same description and address in Eyam to Charles Wyril Nixon of Queen Street Chambers Sheffield, Solicitor, for the same sum of £800. The relationship is not mentioned but is a more than likely explanation; other transactions of houses on the Avenue during the period suggest there must have been some increase in value between 1911 and 1924, but William appears to have been happy to get his money back.

    6   Abstract of Title 1947

    This Abstract was prepared for the next sale, and shows that Charles W Nixon made his Will in May 1927 in which he appointed his wife Louise Haigh Nixon and Thomas Widdowson (a clerk employed by him) as his Executors, that following his death in March 1929 his Executors obtained Probate in May 1929, that Thomas Widdowson died in October 1939, and that Louise Nixon married William P Ellis in August 1941. As a matter of law, she was still able to sell the property as the surviving Executor of her first husband.

    7   Conveyance 6th October 1947

    By this Conveyance Louise Haigh Ellis sold No 10 (now known also as Charlecote) for £1600 to Winifred Gwendoline Tobey, the wife of Ronald Bland Tobey. The purchaser was shown as already living at No 10, and we know from an interview with her in 1996 that the Tobey family had been tenants of the property from about 1940. (Whether Mrs Nixon continued to live there until shortly before her second marriage, or whether there were other tenants in the period after her first husband’s death is not known, but could be researched through local directories or the electoral register.)

    8   Conveyance 30th May 1979

    By this Conveyance Mrs Tobey (widowed some years earlier) sold No 10 to the present owner Carol Ann Dale and her then husband Keith Raymond Dale for £26000, and the sale was followed by compulsory Land Registration, which had applied in Sheffield since the early 1970s. Carol Dale became sole proprietor in February 1986.