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THE GRAND HOTEL

LOCATION

The Grand occupied all of the Fountain Precinct site opposite the bottom side of the City Hall, Orchard Lane and the part of Leopold St up to what now is the Yorkshire Building Society. It was Sheffield's most prestigious hotel.

PICTURES

advert from sheffield empire programme 1911

OWNERS

The Russell Hotel Group in London

STAFF

Manager of the Grand - Frank Rendall (until 50's/60's)

Head Porter - Les Gretton

Head Waiter - 'Mister Bert' (Italian who had been interned on the Isle of Man in World War II)

Head Receptionist - Miss Bogan

Night Porter - 'Dennis'

Wine Waiter - 'Leslie'

FACTS

The Grand Hotel was demolished in 1973 to make way for the Fountain Precinct.

There was a house band at The Grand in the 60's

Piano and leader: Winston Lee

Tenor sax: Bunny Harrison

Drums: Tony Oxley

Trumpet: Ray Hollingsworth

Bass: Len Stewart ?

FAMOUS GUESTS

Guests known to have stopped at The Grand include:

Guy Mitchell

Johnnie Ray

Frankie Laine (singer)

The Platters (musical group)

The Harlem GlobeTrotters

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

David Whitfield

Teddy Brown - (hugely overweight zxylophonist who topped the bill at the Empire Theatre during the war)

Jimmy Young

Lita Rosa

Hilda Baker

Pele (legendary footballer

Brazilian football team Santos

Lon Chaney (actor)

Boris Karloff (actor)

Wee Georgie Wood (old music-hall star)

Frankie Howerd (comedian)

Donald Peers (singer and radio show presenter)

Larry Parkes & his wife Betty Garrett. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0662972/

Larry played Al Jolson in The Al Jolson story and stayed at The Grand - they were appearing at the The Empire Theatre. They had a song and dance act together - which was really old hat and didn't go down very well, the theatre was half empty. He was apparantly in a terrible mood during the week he stayed.

TRIVIA

The hotel was 'the' place to stay in Sheffield and was very much a place for the stars to stop over when they had played the Sheffield venues.

The lower ground floor was a gent's barbers - Barry was the name of the barber

There was a ladies hairdressers upstairs, at the top of the wide staircase, which let to the rooms and the salon

The Grand Hotel used plastic key rings which measured approximately 2"x4" that had a square for a postage stamp in case anyone forgot to leave their key when leaving. They could simply pop it in the postbox to be returned !

The Round Bar - up the stairs off Leopold St was one of the earliest hangouts of Sheffield's *** community

During the war the Grand Hotel’s ‘Round Bar’ was on the left hand side of the hotel’s main entrance, and down a flight of steps.

The hotel was much bigger than just the corner bar that came into being near Leopold Street. At the Balm Green end, opposite the City Hall, was an underground car park down the left handside and then two entrances through which cars/taxis could enter and leave (forecourt). Josephine's Night Club was later built on this site.

The rear entance, had a revolving door and then steps down on to Leopold Street. John Spitzer, manager of the Empire could be spotted, frequently, exiting from that entrance.

Football clubs either stayed at the Grand of the Royal Victoria. In the 60's they were virtually the only city centre hotels. Artistes appearing at the City Hall also stayed there as did cricket teams playing at Bramall Lane. There was an 'A' board that used to advertise the Winston Lee band. It was just inside those aforementioned revolving doors.

The manager of the Sheffield Empire Theater during the fifties was Johnny Spitzer an enormous man. He lived at the Grand Hotel where he had a special deal. He used to have numerous large meals sent over from the hotel during the day and would sit in his office in front of the television set on his desk that was switched on all the time and eat them. The staff wondered what would happen if ever Val Parnell the managing director walked in. He did one day and the assistant manager went into the office to find both Val and Johnny sitting in front of the television and both eating enormous meals.

There was an extensive wine list. Only one Italian, chianti in a straw flask, and a few German hocks. Bin 70 was 'Crown of Crowns', Bin 76 was 'Blue Nun', Bin 93 was 'Bernkasteler Estate' but as French wines were THE wines of the day the Grand had an excellent list, especially Premiere Cru chateau bottled Bordeaux, top Burgundy's etc.

The Smoke Bar was at the top of some steps from Leopold St. This was run by a lady who also had a newagents at Highfields. She was the only female allowed there as it was foir 'Gentlemen Only'. This was full of characters including an ex Chelsea 'toff' who had a stall in Barnsley Market.

Past the Smoke Bar were showcases for Swan & Edgar

Further down on the right was the American Bar (the only cocktail bar in Sheffield!!) ran by 'Roland' who also had a newsagents down Heeley way

Then there was a Dispense Bar, not open to the public but purely for service to the restaurant

The 'high season' was October-March when events for 200 plus were staged most nights.

All the Steel Works works had their annual and Christmas do's there as there was no other venue except the Victoria Hotel.

When a new lift was installed an old medieval well was discovered in the cellar. It was promptly filled in and is located somewhere under the present car park ramp

The draught beer sold at the Grand was Worthington E in 36 gall hogsheads delivered by British Rail directly from Burton. It had real hops in it and the ceiling of these cellars had a thick layer of these where the beer had 'worked' and squirted out the bung.

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SHEFFIELD GIRL

After I started work at The Grand Hotel in the centre of Sheffield, I began to write in my tiny, handbag size, 'Film Star' diary, all the daily happenings. I was meeting 'Stars' almost every day, and I felt it all had to be carefully documented. I also kept my autograph book close to hand! I was able to meet many stars on a one to one basis, thanks to the manager of the Sheffield Empire, Johnny Spitzer, who lived at 'The Grand'. He was very kind to me, not only giving me two free tickets, in the best seats, almost every week, but also making sure that I met the performers that I really liked.

Whilst my old school friends were now forming steady relationships and looking in jeweller's windows in anticipation, for me, marriage was always in the distant future. Despite having strong feelings, from time to time, for certain boyfriends, it was never with the intention of 'settling down'. For me, I felt there was so much more to life than getting married, so many people to meet and places to discover - and I managed to hold on to my single status until I was 27!

Despite the rather hectic and most enjoyable social life I had in Sheffield, I longed for something more. Jenny, my pen friend in London, encouraged me to spread my wings, and when I eventually left Sheffield behind, I was full of excited trepidation for the wonders that I truly believed existed in London. And it was exciting. (Quite terrifyingly so, on occasion).

I was there when the 'Profumo Scandal' made all the front pages; in fact it was happening so closely around me that I was even mistaken for Mandy Rice-Davies! Meeting well known people from stage screen and television was a daily happening, and I was thrilled to become friends with my favourite pop star - Gene Pitney! I remember clearly the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Jack Kennedy; coming face to face with two of the Beatles on Oxford Street; appearances on TV and having a very famous neighbour!

I was almost 20 years old, it was the birth of 'The Swinging Sixties' and London was most certainly the best place to be - I became a teenager all over again! I really loved living in London, even imagining, eventually, that I was a London Girl; after living there for eight years I thought I'd shaken off my Yorkshire roots - I'd certainly had some rough corners knocked off me! But of course, you never, ever, completely lose your true foundation. And although I have now been away from Sheffield, for far longer than I ever lived there, I will always think of myself as a Sheffield Girl.

Life at the Grand

October 1st 1956 - I'm excited, but a little uneasy about my first day working at the Grand Hotel. I will have to work in shifts - one-week 7.0am till 2.0pm and one week 2.0pm till 10.0pm, and on the switchboard every other weekend.

For this, I get paid £2.3s.7d per week. It's quite a long journey from my home in Ecclesfield. I take a 20 minute bus journey, passing the Sheffield Wednesday football ground at Owlerton, along Penistone Road and West Bar, into Bridge Street bus station in Sheffield City centre, then I walk up Snigg Hill to Fargate, stopping to look in the window of Kemsley House, where the Telegraph and Star are situated - I love to see who's photograph might be on display there, (it might even be Mavis's!) and then on towards Leopold Street, pausing to look in the window of Wilson Peck (musical instruments) they are the 'posh' version of Cann's, the music shop in Dixon Lane. (After all these years, Wilson Peck finally closed down in 2001).

At the GrandAnd so on to The Grand Hotel, in all, it takes upwards of 15 minutes, depending on how long I spend shop window gazing. The staff entrance is in Orchard Street; one goes down into the bowels of the hotel, where we have to 'clock on'. Cards with our name on, are kept in a wooden rack, with 'OUT' emblazoned across the top, on one side of the clock. We take out our card push it into a slot under the clock, which then stamps it, extremely noisily, with the time of entry. It's then placed in a rack emblazoned with 'IN', on the other side of the clock. When we leave, the whole process is reversed. Heaven help those who forget to perform this daily, and sometimes twice daily (when on 'split' shifts) ritual!

I have to be fitted for a uniform as I am going to be working on the lift, running errands, and I might even get a look at the switchboard. I have to start the day by polishing the huge mahogany table that takes up most of the vastness of the front hall. There are two enormous ashtrays on this table, which I have to keep an eye on and be constantly emptying and polishing.

The main entrance, in Barker's Pool, has two huge plate glass doors; the long reception desk is situated opposite, with the porter's desk just inside the doorway to the left, and the restaurant off to the right. Past the Porter's desk and two steps down into the main part of the hall, the switchroom, on the right, is little more than a walk-in cupboard.

The switchboard is big enough and often busy enough, for two people to work it, it is a 'dolls eye' switchboard, which means that 'lids' with a number to represent the number of the room, drops down when a phone is picked up. Many guests (and the hotel manager!) think they have to flash the cradle up and down to get our attention, this makes the 'eyelid' open and close very rapidly - making a very annoying noise, can you imagine what it would be like if everyone did that!! It's bad enough when two or three do it at once, all they need to do is pick up the phone and wait for a moment, but no, everyone seems to think that they are the only person wanting to make a phone call! (Roll on subscriber trunk dialling!!) Beside the switchroom stands a tall glass cabinet, full of paperbacks for the guests to purchase.

At weekends, when I am on the switchboard and it isn't very busy, Dennis, the nicest of the porters, will let me choose a book to read, so long as I promise to return it in good condition and not turn back the corners of the pages. A walk across the front hall towards the ballroom will bring you to the barber's shop on the left, right next to that, pushed up into a corner is my little world - the lift! Across the hall I can see into the bar which is situated between the stairs that lead up to the Manager's office, the staff dining room and the guests rooms, and the way through to the other lounge. There's also a 'secret' door that leads to the back stairs and the 'luggage' lift, which every now and again, when my lift is out of order, I have to go on. I'm appalled that the guests also have to use this horrible lift on these occasions too - or walk up several flights of stairs to get to their floor.

The front hall is also the main lounge; there are lots of easy chairs arranged in straight rows. There's another lounge by the revolving doors, which is the back entrance, but is on the main street - it all seems back to front, to me!

Even in 1956, the Grand is considered to be rather old fashioned. Is it really necessary to have a lift operator? I can only assume that it is cheaper than altering the lift's mechanism to automatic.

My uniform is awful, a muddy brown colour with faded gold cord trim, it's too short, too tight, shabby and showing all too clearly that it has been worn by many others before me. I'm told we will be getting new uniforms soon, but it seems they've been saying that for years. Anyway, I don't want one; the sooner I get out of this one the better. Little do I know that for as long as I am at the Grand, the only time I am out of uniform is when I am working on the switch board at weekends and when the regular telephonists are on holiday, then I get to wear black (whoopee!).

After I have learned how to use the switchboard, I shall take over whilst Barbara, the head telephonist, is having a break. The telephonists have their break in the staff dining room, on the mezzanine floor, whereas the hoi-polloi, such as myself, have to go down into the bowels of the hotel, and find our way through long, dimly-lit corridors, where I can hear the scurry of small brown creatures, to a room that seems to be somewhat Dickensian. The food is absolutely disgusting, a horrible looking mince, full of nasty looking bits, that I do not consider fit for human consumption. I constantly make do with bread and jam, which comes in large containers and when it hasn't fermented, is full of steam flies. There are steam flies everywhere. We keep our clothes in a locker in the locker room, where I have learned to make a lot of noise before opening the door and switching on the light, in an attempt to disperse the mice into their dark little corners, before I go in. Any clothes that have been hanging in my locker are given a good shake before changing into them - those little beggars get everywhere...

The kitchen is down here too, I have to pass it on the way to the staff room, I have seen a very nice looking young man working in the kitchen, I'd be happy to get to know him... In due course, a message comes through the grapevine that this young man would like to get to know me too, and via various messages we arrange to meet after work. I write in my diary that I hope he asks me for a date - but not yet, not until we get to know each other better!! Well, we took things very, very slowly in those days......... Actually, not as slowly as I thought, as the first time Mike takes me home, after we have both being working on the late shift, I note in my diary that he kisses me 4 times! (I'm shocked!)

Friday January 18th - we arrange to go to the cinema. 'Viva Las Vegas' is on at the Paragon. Mike isn't too bothered about musicals, but I love it, I adore musicals.

At the GrandThe path of young love is strewn with misunderstandings, and three weeks of seeing Mike on a daily basis has proved to be too much, especially as I seem to have a rather fickle nature - when I get what I want, I don't want it. I enjoy the thrill of the chase, but soon tire of the quarry. I am meeting so many interesting people, and much as I loathe being 'the little liftgirl', it's a great way of meeting people. I met Tony Wright today and got his autograph, he looks exactly like the photo in my 'Film Star' diary, tanned and rugged, but not at all 'film-starry' - he's really nice. I keep my autograph book handy now, as I never know whom I'm going to meet. Guy Mitchell came to stay, managed to get a photograph but not an autograph - he's tall and handsome and very friendly.

Jimmy Young is appearing at the Empire this week, and staying at the Grand, got his autograph - called me darling! He rings Australia - at £10 per minute! Hilda Baker is also here, she has a very nice young man with her called Arthur, he's supposed to be her manager, but he's always going off to play golf. One of the porter's gave me a funny look when I referred to Arthur as her manager, well that's what he told me, I insist, but I get another funny look, which indicates that I must have been born yesterday. I think I understand what he is getting at, but I cannot believe it. She is old enough to be his mother, and, whilst she is my favourite comedienne, and I have the utmost respect for her, she's not exactly the type that I would have thought Arthur would be interested in. (But then I was so-oo naive!) Arthur and I are getting on famously, I really do quite fancy him...and I am really very sorry when the week is up and they move on to some other town. (Little do I know that we will soon meet again...). I note in my diary that their hotel bill comes to £70.2s.4d - equivalent to about 34 weeks wages to me!

The Platters are also here. They are all very friendly, Robi in particular, is very nice to me, gave me a kiss and a Krone as a keepsake. (Which I still discover from time to time, hidden away in those little pots that we all have somewhere, into which we pop drawing pins, foreign stamps, coins...)

Life at the Grand is quite strange really, on the one hand, I am treated like the lowest of the low, mainly by the porters, yet the 'Stars' who stay here are usually very friendly, and treat me like a fully paid up member of the human race. Sometimes, they even treat me like I'm someone special..

Learning About Life (at The Grand)

We somehow managed to buy a television in 1953, to enable us to watch the Queen's Coronation. I used to dash home from school to watch children's television and the antics of 'Billy Bunter' and his schoolmates at the fictitious Greyfriars School. It's February 1957 before we change our T.V. set so that we can receive ITV.

Gathering around the fire to watch T.V. on a cold winter's evening, is the best place to be, and because we don't have central heating, we girls argue over who is going to go into the cold kitchen to make a pot of tea. Just going out into the hallway one feels the drop in temperature, only the thought of bringing a tin of Mum's homemade buns to have with the tea, prompts me to go. Mum is a great cook, and I have a great appetite! If I wasn't so active, I could have a real weight problem, as it is, I am growing faster than either of my sisters, which prompts Maurice to tease me mercilessly, and I am made to feel as big and as ungainly as a carthorse! His favourite joke is "don't upset Freda or she'll roll on you!" I was 9st, hardly huge, but compared to my size 10 sisters, it was. I was about 3 inches taller and perhaps a stone heavier than they were, and I remember how unfair it all seemed, with me being the youngest too! Little wonder I felt so uncomfortable in my horrible brown uniform.

Our favourite T.V. programme is 'Quite Contrary', which features a very beautiful young lady called Katie Boyle, and introduces to the world, hairstylist, Raymond, (who became known as 'Mr. Teazy Weazy',) he not only demonstrates new hairstyles, but how to change these styles with the aid of hair ornaments and false hair pieces. (I heard the music today - "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" - which was played as the model is turned round in her chair, so that we could view the hairstyle from all angles, and now that I'm into classical music, I realize that this very familiar piece, was, in fact 'stolen' from Chopin's Nocturne). It was all so glamorous - a million miles away from our working class lifestyle. Even so, I never thought of us as being poor, as everyone I knew was just the same. Although a certain 'snobbishness' existed amongst us. Mum was exceedingly house proud; her net curtains were always whiter than white, (she was quick to remark on anyone else's that weren't - "have you seen the colour of Mrs. so and so's nets?!!") and the front and back doorsteps scrubbed and 'blanco'd', or painted with 'red cardinal' according to the current trend. And it seemed to me that no sooner had the last room in the house been decorated, than mum would start again from the beginning!

Wilson Peck's, a music shop just along the road from The Grand Hotel.The evening shift at 'The Grand' can be quite interesting; I stand by the lift observing all that is going on in the front hall. For a while I was most intrigued by the two women who regularly came in night after night. One tall, slim and blonde with a rather hard face, the other, shorter, and fatter with dyed black hair, and had obviously seen better days. (With hindsight, I would say that the blonde one was probably 30 to 35 years of age, and the other one about 45 - or maybe wishes she was!) They would sit in the front hall, watching everyone who passed by, then after a while they'd go to the ladies powder room, then they'd sit at the bar, which was just opposite the lift, chatting to the other guests. After that, they would walk into the other lounge by the back entrance and sit there for a while.

I found it all rather mysterious, what a boring way to spend ones evenings - of course when I mentioned it, the porters were only too willing to explain their behaviour - and teased me for ever after for not knowing! But I still found it difficult to comprehend, why would anyone want to pay to be with these rather unattractive women? (I really did not know anything about prostitutes - why would I? They had never entered my life before, in any shape or form. For all my apparent success in school biology, which was purely academic, there were huge gaps in this area of knowledge, simply because there were huge gaps in what we were taught, and what was available to the curious. Mum was very warm hearted, generous and hard working, but rather straight-laced, she did not want me to know about sex and did not offer any explanations about anything, consequently, I would get very embarrassed at any allusion to sex, and closed my mind to it.)

Leading off from the front hall, and just by the lift, is the ballroom - which I am not allowed to enter. I try to catch a glimpse as I go past the entrance, there are wonderful chandeliers, and a ball made up of tiny pieces of mirror, suspended from the ceiling, when it turns, even from where I stand by the lift, I can see the refracted light, cascading across the floor, and lighting up the faces of the ladies in their ball gowns and the men in their dinner suits, as they spill out into the front hall.

I love looking at the ladies dresses, and their sparkling necklaces and bracelets. The men look so handsome in their dinner suits. Sometimes I am looked at with curiosity, I have even been described as 'quaint'! Martin, the page boy, suffers from this more than I do, although he is a year older than me, he is really tiny, he has a mass of blonde, naturally curly hair, and round blue eyes. He really does look very cute in his brown page's uniform, complete with pillbox hat - which he hates wearing! Guests think that we are brother and sister, although my curly hair is permed - I have it in the new 'bubble cut' that's so fashionable now. I try to walk casually away from the lift and innocently look inside the ballroom, but I am soon ushered back into my place by a porter, usually Mac - he's such a spoilsport! When Mr. Rendell, the manager, walks through the front hall, he always scowls at me and indicates for me to go inside the lift - I'm in a no-win situation with him, if I'm standing outside the lift - I'm ushered back into it, out of sight. If I'm sitting on my small stool in the corner of the lift - I'm told to 'smarten up'; he walks around as though he has a bad smell under his nose. And his wife thinks she's the queen bee - she rarely spares a look in my direction.

In March, drummer, Tony Crombie, came to play at the Empire. We have now graduated to a 'box' at the Empire when quite a few of us go, not only do we have a really great view of the stage, but find that we get a lot of attention from the artists, perhaps they think that folks who can afford to sit in 'the ashtrays', (as the comedians like call them), must be 'somebody'. Anyway, it's a really good show; Tony Crombie can really play those drums! And it's a very lively evening.

Tony Crombie doesn't stay at the Grand, but he comes into the hotel with Mr. Spitzer, who is the manager of the Empire, and I get his autograph and tell him how much we enjoyed the show. Johnny Spitzer lives in the hotel, and is very nice to me on the whole, but expects excellent service, and when he rings for the lift, he expects me to be there - but instantly! He nearly rings the buzzer off the wall. It's the same with the telephone, he can't just pick it up and wait to be answered, the little 'dolls eye' flashes madly until he's answered. I can't complain though, I only have to say that I want to go to see a show and he will have two tickets waiting for me at the box office. Mostly, I take Mum with me, and she and Mr. Spitzer always have a little chat. Also, if a visiting star I like isn't staying at the hotel, I only have to say, and Mr. Spitzer will arrange for me to meet them. He always introduces me to the stars he brings in the hotel and will make sure that I get photographs and autographs. All I have to do in return, is suffer a rather wet kiss, and a clasp to his huge body, but it is all very chaste - unlike some of the visitors to the hotel...

Colin, who is a travelling salesman for a clothing company, appeared to be very nice at first; he comes quite often, hiring a room to 'show' the clothes. He's quite good looking, as well as being very funny, and I like him a lot, I regard him as my friend and I get quite jealous when I find he has been 'chatting up' Anita, who works the opposite shift to me. I didn't mind too much when he kissed me on the cheek, but when he asked me to stop the lift between the floors so that we could 'do it properly', I'm most offended, and I'm quite 'off' with him for a few days, in fact I feel pretty much on the defensive with him now, but contrarily, I'm still glad when he is visiting again. I realise that I like his attention but I'm giving nothing in return! Another salesman, who is travelling in jewellery, gives me a ring and announces that we are now engaged - doesn't he know I'm only fifteen?!

Johnny Ray.

Johnny Ray is here!! He's appearing at the City Hall for just one night. There are dozens of fans outside the hotel screaming for him. The porters have to stand in front of the glass doors to stop them from breaking in. Johnny is very tall and exceedingly thin, he's very nice, but he is rushed around by the people who are with him, so I don't get the chance to ask for his autograph, which is a great pity, because he is Mavis's very favourite singer, and I would like to have been able to get a signed photo for her.

It is pandemonium outside all evening, quite exciting really, but I am on the inside, and I still can't get near him! When he comes into the lift, he is surrounded by so many people, that I am crowded up in the corner and barely have room to operate the handle. (You didn't think I pushed a button, did you? No such technology here!) I'm really rather sad when I discover that Johnny is leaving the next morning, as it has been very exciting having him stay here - really brightened up my life! There are still girls outside the hotel, and I hear lots of screams when he finally leaves - I wonder if any of them managed to get his autograph?

Tex Ritter.

Following Johnny Ray came Tex Ritter and a very peculiar friend. The friend is a hypnotist, he proves his powers by hypnotising Tex Ritter, his manager, and Mr. Spitzer, they are all slumped in their chairs in the front hall lounge, and other guests think that they are drunk! Whenever the hypnotist comes into the lift, he looks at me with deep brown, rather mysterious eyes, he says he's going to hypnotise me, but after having seen what happened to the others, there's no way this man is going to hypnotise me, and I refuse to look at him. But he catches me out when he speaks to me, and automatically I turn to look at him, I start to feel very strange - I panic and tell him to stop it, which, thankfully, he does.

But I don't trust him, I know he wants to hypnotise me, I'm quite a bolshie little piece, usually able to take charge of a situation, but this man frightens me, so I make a point of not looking into his eyes again. Tex Ritter, on the other hand, is really nice, and the way he dresses makes me laugh. He is always in full cowboy gear, complete with tall Stetson and high-heeled boots with very pointed toes, which he frequently trips over!

The Sheffield Telegraph reports Mavis' 21st birthday party.March 30th is Mavis's 21st birthday and we are going to hire a hall, there is going to be a huge party. We have a terrific time; a photographer from the Sheffield Telegraph & Star came to take photographs. A crowd of us go back to our house to play cards until the early hours. I stay up for as long as I can because Keith is there, and I really fancy him, he's tall and dark and handsome and is very fit because he plays football. He's 22, which is too old for me, or rather, I am too young for him, but he is really nice to me and most lads of his age aren't, and he lets me sit on his knee.

Unfortunately it is my weekend on the switchboard, and I have to be up early - so reluctantly I have to leave them enjoying themselves. I rather think the other girls are glad I have gone; now they can have Keith's undivided attention. (If only I could have known then, that one day, I would have Keith's undivided attention, I would have gone to bed a much happier girl!)

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Summer 1957 at The Grand

Old favourites Albert & Les Ward are at the Empire, went to see them, but sadly, now find their act very dated. Near the Empire, there's a coffee bar called the El Mambo, we love going in there, drinking Espresso coffee and watching to see who is going to come in, it's a great meeting place for young people, and there's a small juke box which is kept very busy playing the hits of the day. 'When' by the Kalin Twins is my favourite, and I show off that I know all the words!!

Frankie Lane is here, he's not at all 'starry', he's really friendly, he gave me his autograph and said to me "You're awfully pretty, you know" - what - me???? Crikey!

Mr Asua, who has been staying here all week, is leaving today. He came in the lift and gave me a box of chocolates and 2/6 (12½p) tip saying in his lovely foreign accent - "Forr you, Frridda". Sometimes, I get as much as 10/- (50p) a week in tips, which helps to boost my pathetic little wage.

Went to see The Dallas Boys and Les Hobeaux, at the Empire - great show, The Dallas boys are terrific! Went round to the stage door to get their autographs, they were good fun and very friendly. Max Wall here next week, we are booking a box, as we all think he is so funny. Freddie and the Bellboys are staying at the Grand, going round the corner too fast and ran right into the arms of one of them. Grrrr - wouldn't mind doing that again!

I am off on Friday so went in the hotel to collect my wages. The timekeeper wasn't going to let me in as it was my day off, he said I had no right to come in the hotel unless I was working, Mac was passing by, worse luck, and joined in. I feel my anger boiling up, as I thought I wasn't going to be able to get my wages. Somehow, I manage to hold on to my tongue, I know if I stand up for myself, Mac will report me and I shall get the sack.

Luckily, Dennis is passing by and seeing how upset I am, asks what's wrong, when I tell him, he takes me to the wages room himself, telling my adversaries that I am allowed in the hotel to pick up my wages. I find wages day so humiliating somehow. We have to wait outside in the corridor, and not go in until our names are called. The assistant manager, who I dislike almost as much as Mr Rendall, sits at a trestle table which has separate piles of money on it, the secretary calls out my name and how much I'm to be paid, the assistant manager barely manages to spare a me a look, he counts out the money. If I am lucky, he may give me 2 pound notes, three shillings and seven coppers, or perhaps 4 ten shilling notes, which makes my wages look much better! If I'm not, I will get a handful of various coins - half crowns, two shilling pieces and a lot of pennies, which, hopefully, will add up to the right amount, if it doesn't - tough! (Wage packets are apparently, unheard of at the Grand - at least for the likes of me, and my wage slip is just a tiny scrap of paper with faint, unidentifiable hieroglyphics on it).

I give all my wages to Mum, who gives me back a £1 for spending money and 7/6 (42½p) for my bus fare - which doesn't leave much of a contribution towards my keep. Mum encourages me to save, and I save a ¼ of my £1, putting the 5/- in a Post Office savings account. Babs earns about £3.5s.0d, she gives Mum 25/- a week for her board. Mum would like to be in charge of Barbara's wages too, but Barbara wants to be in control of her own money. Quite right, too.

I walk down town afterwards, looking at things I know I cannot afford to buy, but I treat myself to my regular 'read', Picturegoer and Weekend. I love reading about filmstars and their lives. For Christmas, I always get a Film Star Annual, and I will read it over and over again. (And I still read these very same annuals, over and over again...)

Trench coats are all the fashion. Lorna and me are saving up like mad, to buy one, they are 5 guineas, but we cannot decide which colour to get - Royal Blue, Red or Beige, but we agree that we are both going to buy shiny, black patent shoes with high heels, well, high-ish, anyway, which will cost 34/11. It will take a lot of saving out of our poor little wages. In the meantime, our noses will be pushed up against the window, trying to decide on the colour we are eventually going to get -hopefully before they have gone out of fashion...I went to sleep that night, my mind full of my imminent purchase and dreamt I was on stage dancing in my high heels and trench coat, which I finally fling off to reveal a sexy, figure hugging outfit complete with black fishnet stockings! (tights haven't yet been invented!) In the event, and unknown to one another, we both decided on the royal blue, and rather enjoyed going out together - looking like twins -in our new outfits!

1957I often lament the fact that I am only sixteen, gauche and nothing special to look at, especially in this ghastly uniform, as so many nice young men come in the hotel, either to stay or just to have a drink in the bar. There are three nice young men staying in the hotel at the moment, they are here on a three day training scheme. They are very friendly; I like Les in particular, so I'm, surprised, but delighted when he suggests that we should go out on a date, and to bring two friends for his two friends. But he is 22 years old; I ask Mum if I can go, but she says no, he is too old for me. Never mind, there is someone else in the hotel who is taking my attention. He is absolutely gorgeous. He has lovely black hair and dresses very smartly. He's staying in a room on the first floor, so he doesn't use the lift, unfortunately. I watch him constantly, as he moves around the hotel, Barbara, the head telephonist, came round the corner and bumped right into him, lucky thing! Sadly he is leaving, the porters bring his luggage down in the lift and I note the name on the luggage label as being T. B.Cullinan. Two days later he is back and the porter informs me that he is a Lord! Things are beginning to click into place, the address on the luggage label was Transvaal, South Africa - and I remember learning about the Cullinan diamond at school. He seems to have everything - good looks, a title and riches beyond belief, I mentally shrink into my dull brown uniform - the gulf between the have and have-nots just got bigger...

Much as I like looking at him, I try to merge into my surrounding whenever he's around, I cannot bear him to look at me in my shabby uniform. I like to keep this small corner of my world looking **** and span, and love polishing the brass parts of the lift. A brass rail runs along three sides of the lift, about hip level, which is either to lean against - or hold on to! There's a brass frame on one wall, which holds the poster showing who is appearing at the Empire that week. (why oh why didn't I think to save them???) Beside the lift, a glass mosaic wall curves round into the ballroom. I breathe on the glass and give it a good polish, my intention is to work my way round to the ballroom, if I look industrious enough, I might be able to move round far enough to sneak a look in. I am aware of someone behind me, I turn to see Lord Cullinan smiling at me, one brow raised in amusement.

I feel my cheeks blushing scarlet; did he think I was looking at myself?? His eyes wander over me, slowly and very purposefully he looks me up and down but doesn't say a word; he then turns and walks towards the bar, but turns to look at me again, before disappearing inside. I want to curl up and die. Has he been aware of my eyes following him around all the time, and came to give me a taste of my own medicine? I flee into the safety of my lift, feeling miserable and inadequate, hating being no more than a little lift girl in a shabby brown uniform. The lowliness of my position here, at odds with my own sense of value. Later, I have to go on the switchboard for a while, Lord Cullinan rings down from room 103, we have to make all the phone calls for the guests, (no direct dialling for some years yet) I get him a number in Fulham, London, I would love him to know that it's me he's talking to, to let him know that I am capable of more than just operating a lift, but of course I cannot say anything.

Mr Spitzer gave me tickets to see Ronnie Hilton at the Empire, but didn't go, he was very cross with me, but there is a fair in the village, and I wanted to go with my friends, everyone goes. It is the place to meet, and hope someone will invite you to go on the walzer with them. We have got to know three boys who are cousins, they are all quite handsome, but we will only ever be just friends, none of them see me any other way. (Which can be quite a blow to ones esteem at that age).

June 1957 was very hot and dry. July starts with thunder and lightening - which both fascinate and terrify me! I stand at my bedroom window, watching bright flashes of lightening zig-zagging across a navy blue sky, heralding the terrifying crashes of thunder, finally, the heavens open and the rain comes bucketing down - rain that we badly need. Phew - now it's cool enough to sleep!

'Disc Doubles' was on at the Empire last week, people who look like pop stars mime to records - almost as good as the real thing! This week Ray Ellington (actor, singer, comedian, musician - a very talented fellow, who was also known as 'the fifth Goon') is here and he is lovely - so full of fun. His very presence livens up the whole of the hotel. He clasps me to his broad chest every time he comes in the lift! He's an outrageous tease, but makes me feel very happy. Before he leaves he gives me two addresses in London, where I can write to him, if I want to. (I remember those hugs very clearly, great big bear hugs - great stuff!) I note in my diary that he drives a black & white zephyr Reg. ELL 777).

July 22nd 1957 - I would have thought that Ray Ellington would have been a hard act to follow, but a visit by The Harlem Globe Trotters and The American Allstars is something I will never forget!

They were appearing at the Sheffield Wednesday football ground for one night only. They all came in, in a great big rush of American gianthood, piling into the lift, which was only supposed to take a maximum of 9 ordinary sized people, half a dozen giants was just too much for my poor little lift, it did not get off the ground, in fact it immediately sank. There's about 3 spare feet in the lift shaft below floor level, and we took up all of it! There was no way the lift gates could be opened, the lift engineer had to be sent for, in the meantime it was the most hilarious 15 or 20 minutes I've ever spent. What with the other players pulling faces at us through the gates and telling the trapped players that their time was up and they should now swap places!

They needn't have worried; it was to happen several times again, before they finally left the next day. I was invited several times over, to watch the game that night, in the end, I decided to be tactful and accept the invitation of the Manager, Gene Moyers. I took my friend Barbara, and we had a fantastic time. During the interval, the entertainment was just amazing - the trampolinists, the jugglers, the cheerleaders. Benny Shirtzinger, twirling his batons, was a real showstopper.

I had promised to go round to their dressing rooms afterwards, but it seemed an impossible task - the entrance blocked by hundreds of fans. The boys came out to sign autographs, by this time we were being well and truly crushed by the surging crowd.

I saw Ronnie Kim and yelled his name, my small arm flailing about in an attempt to get his attention, catching a glimpse of our frightened faces in the teeming crowd, the boys pushed their way through, lifting us effortlessly over the heads of the crowd and depositing us in the entrance to the dressing rooms, where we stayed until the crowd had dispersed.

They wanted us to go back to the hotel with them in their coach, but whilst Barbara could have gone, not only was I not allowed in the hotel when not on duty, but even being seen socially with a guest was a sackable offence. Instead, we hitched a ride in the team's coach and were delivered safe and sound onto our own doorsteps. I would see them again tomorrow when sadly, we would have to say goodbye.

I had taken quite a shine to Benny, the baton twirler. He was a very good-looking young man of 27, and he was happy to have my fan worship, he invited me to his room to collect an autographed photograph. When I went, he only had a pair of shorts on, perhaps I backed out of his bedroom a little too hastily, I apologized and said I'd come back later.

The next time he came in the lift, he had the signed photograph for me, and signalled for me to put a chaste kiss on his cheek. He looked at me in a way that gave me the uncomfortable feeling that he found me curiously naive. Their departure was as crazy as their arrival - the front hall just a mass of luggage and belongings. And all these incredibly big guys coming and going, calling to each other good naturedly - such noisy informality would have given Mr Rendell apoplexy!

With their departure, it suddenly went very quiet - The sedateness of the Grand Hotel had been restored.

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The Beatles stayed at the Grand when they played the City Hall. My sister worked on reception at the time and tells me how they had to sneak the Fab Four in the back doors to avoid all the fans in front of the hotel.

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Summer 1957 at The Grand

Old favourites Albert & Les Ward are at the Empire, went to see them, but sadly, now find their act very dated. Near the Empire, there's a coffee bar called the El Mambo, we love going in there, drinking Espresso coffee and watching to see who is going to come in, it's a great meeting place for young people, and there's a small juke box which is kept very busy playing the hits of the day. 'When' by the Kalin Twins is my favourite, and I show off that I know all the words!!

Down stairs were three areas each with a juke box each playing a different tune two areas were lit the third was very dark. We used to call the areas heaven and hell

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And here's me thinking Espresso coffee was something available from the 80's onwards ?

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And here's me thinking Espresso coffee was something available from the 80's onwards ?

All very intresting this journal of life at the Grand in the 50s from Admin! A part of Sheffield history, really. And from Ecclesfield, too? Whose the star behind the pen name?

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The Beatles stayed at the Grand when they played the City Hall. My sister worked on reception at the time and tells me how they had to sneak the Fab Four in the back doors to avoid all the fans in front of the hotel.

Hi mickjj, re: The Grand, I would like to send a message to you for your sister but don't know how to do it! Any suggestions? Thanx Beth

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Message for mickjj,

Hi mickjj, Did you get my message re Dorethy at the Grand Hotel and have you had a chance to speak to your sister yet? Thanks, Beth39

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When was the Grand Hotel built in Sheffield? After reading it was demolished in 1973? See in the photo there are horse and carriage so I assume it was early 1900's???

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When was the Grand Hotel built in Sheffield? After reading it was demolished in 1973? See in the photo there are horse and carriage so I assume it was early 1900's???

James A Kugi, General Manager, Grand Hotel (White's 1919 and Kelly's 1925 Directo ries)

and then we work backwards ... to find the earliest mention/building date.

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Coke Oven Managers Association (C.O.M.A.)

Meeting, Grand Hotel

12th June 1915

(see Page 177)

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1910We opened the hairdressing salon in the basement of the Grand Hotel. This was situated right in the heart of Sheffield city centre. The salon was frequently visited by theatre goers and Sheffield people.

Taylor Taylor (mentioned elsewhere), but back to 1910.

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1910We opened the hairdressing salon in the basement of the Grand Hotel. This was situated right in the heart of Sheffield city centre. The salon was frequently visited by theatre goers and Sheffield people.

Taylor Taylor (mentioned elsewhere), but back to 1910.

1910 was also the opening year of the Hotel.

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When was the Grand Hotel built in Sheffield? After reading it was demolished in 1973? See in the photo there are horse and carriage so I assume it was early 1900's???

Wecome to the site pedert .

How's things in Pittsburgh? I visited there in 1988, it must have

changed as Sheffield has.

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I worked at the old Grand Hotel from 1965, when I was 19, for about three years as a trainee. My father had worked for British Steel in Sheffield some years before and must have used the Grand many times. He managed to get me to see the Manager, who I think was Frank Rendall, and it was a great opportunity to work at the Grand. I worked through most departments – bars, restaurant, switchboard! reception, banqueting as a waiter and wine waiter.

At the time I was there, Dennis was a Banqueting Manager and I worked for him setting up bars in function rooms and as a wine waiter on banquets. His second ‘office’ was the pub across the road from the Leopold Street entrance. Dennis was a really nice bloke giving me plenty of responsibility and once I was asked to supervise the tankers parked in Leopold street delivering Worthington ‘E’ by pipe to the cellar under the Round Bar. I asked the driver “what happens to the beer in the pipes once the 36 gallon tanks are full?” He said “it’s about four gallons and it goes down the drain”. Well, needless to say lots of jugs were found to save it being wasted!

I remember Mister Bert as a very elegant gentleman who did not suffer fools, especially difficult customers. At one small dinner party of businessmen, a particularly difficult customer who Mister Bert knew well, asked for Welsh Rarebit after the meal. He said “Bert, there’s no beer in this welsh rarebit” (which there should be) at which point Mister Bert got a half pint tankard of beer and poured it over his plate and said “is that to sir’s satisfaction”- much to the amusement of all the guests.

I had a Morris 1000 parked round the back of the hotel and often used to drive out into the city after we finished work to let off steam, sometimes eleven or twelve o’clock at night and the city was really quiet then with only one disco and one night club. As I usually had a car full of friends I often got stopped by the police who asked what I was doing at that time driving around deserted streets. The car came in useful once during the 1966 world cup when the hotel was full of players and managers. I was serving at lunch when I was told that the taxi for Brian Clough hadn’t turned up to take him to Hillsborough to watch one of the matches and would I drive him there. I got him there in time and he gave me a £5 tip, what a generous man. That was almost a weeks’ wages for me then.

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An advert from Bradshaw's Guide for October 1939:

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Many years ago a friend worked for a prominent Sheffield Jewish family. The mother had a secret passion for bacon and eggs, and used to go to the restaurant at the Grand to indulge her secret, but "kept her hat on so that God wouldn't see her".

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I find this place fascinating. It was pulled down the year I was born so I have no recollection of it and the pictures amaze me. Trying to get my head around where it actually stood - from looking at the pictures, I would guess it is now where the Pig and Whistle/Bessemer pub is? One of those old pictures above (in the middle) makes it look like it is part of the Leopold Square/Leopold Hotel complex but I don't think it is.

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Some photos of The Grand Hotel and surrounding area, the first two from 1926, the next five from 1951/2 and the last a modern aerial view, from approximately the same angle and height of the one before. You can see the site where ‘The Grand’ stood, but nothing visible remains of it, yet buildings immediately adjacent (and the garden on Barker’s Pool) still survive.

 

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