What Lies Beneath?

On 7th November 2019 Sheffield and South Yorkshire suffered significant rainfall and many areas remain flooded 9 days later as I write this. Meadowhall shopping cente was part-evacuated and the River Don swelled to levels not seen since June 2007.

Inevitably there was localised flooding and impacts. Top soils washed away of newly ploughed fields, bee hives washed away, moorland washed bare.

Having moved to Broomhill in August 2019 I found myself living in a property on relatively high ground but halfway down a hill beneath Crosspool/Ranmoor and Crookes on the old Crooks Moor as it was known. A Victorian suburb with Victorian infrastructure – which, on the whole, coped. Just about. To put it in perspective Sheffield received 80mm+ rain in 24 hours – the same as the November monthly average.

I was out on the evening of 7th November until the early hours of 8th November (I’d met with friends in the Sportsman Inn at Lodge Moor – one of the highest (and on that night, one of the wettest) points in the city. Certainly there was a lot of rain coming off the moorland and farmland in the surround areas.

I came home, went to bed, woke and left for work before 7am and set off for work. Later that day I was sent photographs of a significant hole towards the rear of our property on the boundary with our neighbours. Initial thoughts were that it was a sinkhole – very worrying and, hidden as it was with the boundary fence and beech hedge, difficult to know how deept it was or the cause.

Eventually we were able to clear the hole of the debris and see, for ourselves, the stonework of a well that had laid buried without anyone’s knowledge. Nothing in the deeds of the properties either side of it or any mention of it in archives. There is, though, a theory that the well was, at some point (before the construction of our home in 1852?) used as a watering hole for the horses racing on the racecourse that was once a feature of Crooks Moor where Broomhill has now developed.

In 1711 a race course, known as The Crooks Moor Race Course, was established in an attempt by the Town Trustees (a then equivalent to a Town Council) to divert the public’s attention from more blood-thirsty pastimes such as bear baiting, cock-fighting and dog fights (although the first officially recorded races were not until 1713). The course was one and a third miles long, and was a rough track wide enough for about 5 horses, with small bridges to cross streams. (source: https://www.broomhillsheffield.co.uk/about.html

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Understanding the geology beneath and how to make it safe is the next step …