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I came across this old photograph of Snowite Laundry

Where is the finger pointing?   Is the building in the background part of The Snowite Laundry?

swl.jpg

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In 1849 John Rodgers son of  cutlery manufacturer Joseph Rodgers built Abbeydale House for himself and his family, so sad to see such a great house sink to its present state.

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My grandparents, that is my grandmothers as far as my conscious years were concerned, lived at 12 & 14 Barmouth Road, opposite the old house: Ivy White (nee Green) and Eleanor ('Nellie') Wynne (nee Dodworth). The main laundry buildings must have been added between the wars, but I remember the modern front onto Abbeydale Road being put up, probably in the '60s. The houses were built about 1890, so Abbeydale House didn't sit long in solitary splendour. They had neat little gardens at the back with a small lawn at the bottom of each yard, and beyond the gardens a wall, beyond which was the (much lower) gennel to Carterknowle Road and the corrugated roof of Bee's garage; from it blared every weekday 'Workers' Playtime' and the like on the 'Light Programme'. The laundry gave a sense of bustle to an otherwise quiet street, and its siren marked the end of the working day.

Geoffrey White.

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I own one of the  buildings on Barmouth Court to the rear of the old antique centre. We are one of the newer buildings that linked the old stables that housed the furnace, with the chimney, and the larger building that is now Molly Limpets (costume hire). The building was I believe used to press shirts and collars. Abbeydale house was the offices of Snowite. It must have been an impressive business between the wars. The house was pretty much gutted but saved from destruction. It is currently an antiques shop. The chimney was shortened recently as it was no longer possible to afford the repairs and insurance to maintain it. All the businesses cherish the history of our site and our place is called "The Laundry Rooms" in memory of it's former use. Would love to see more pics if anyone has them! Jon

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Norman has done many repairs to the building the most important of which was repairing the roof. The building has floors but all the features were gutted by a previous owner (vandal). There is little to see internally of what would have been a very spectacular house. It is sad to look through what were the front bay windows into the 60's monstrosity that most know as Charlie Browns Exhausts (now closed). The building however lives on and is in daily use.

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My wife and I were reminiscing about delivery and other services at our houses in the 1950s.  Beyond the milkman in electric carts, and the coop food deliveries I suddenly remembered Snowite laundry service.  Hard to imagine these days, but I remember my mother sending particular things with Snowite, such as my Dad’s shirts and our bed sheets. They returned beautifully presented and crisp and clean.  So nice.  I don’t remember her giving other stuff to Snowite for laundering.   All I remember as a kid then was that the service was door to door and I seem to remember little blue labels pinned on the laundered items.  I. have no memories of what the delivery vans looked like.  I think my Mum had a little book to keep records of the coming and goings of laundry.  From the above discussion, it looks like Snowite operated citywide, as our house was in Commonside, quite a long way from Snowite’s headquarters by the looks of it.

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Abbeydale House Barmouth Road

By

Vin Malone

Todays  “Weer Thi Ells That” takes us to Barmouth Road just off Abbeydale Road to where you can see the Ionic column in the clue picture along with three others, most people will remember the Snowite Laundry that operated from here but it has a much grander history than that of the laundry. The house was built in 1849 for John Rodgers, son of the founder of Joseph Rodgers & Sons, the greatest Cutlery, Pen & Pocket Knife and Razor manufacturer the world has ever known. Much of the success was due to his son John Rodgers as his father Joseph was blind for the last forty years of his life. John built his new house of polished Anston stone in the Italian style of architecture, to the designs of Rooke Harrison. I suspect that the Hillsborough Hall which he bought in 1838 became a bit to much and decided to build the smaller Abbeydale House deep in the countryside of the Abbey Dale as it was known, Edward Bury took over Hillsborough Hall in 1852.
After moving into the new house in its idyllic spot with uninterrupted views of the countryside, unfortunately he only spent 11 short years in the house as he died on the 14th of October 1859 and was laid to rest in Ecclesall Churchyard. His nephew Robert Newbould took over the running of the business. Newbould built a new house a little further up Abbeydale Road in 1851, calling it Abbeydale Grange. It was taken over between 1903 & 1906 and became the registered offices and admin Department of Snowite Laundry, the company's boardroom being on the first floor.
The company was founded in 1724 when John Rodgers first rented the star and Maltese cross mark from the Cutlers’ Company. He was renting a house workshop in Holy (Hawley) Croft, which used to be off Campo Lane. In a directory of 1787, Joseph & Maurice are mentioned as working from their workshop on Norfolk Street, making Pocket Knives and Razors but I don’t think this Maurice was his son as he was born in 1787 making him just a baby when his father was producing goods on Norfolk Street, I think the Maurice in the directory may have been Josephs brother.  John’s three sons John, Joseph and Maurice joined the family business, which began to expand rapidly at  No. 6 Norfolk Street. In 1800 Joseph and his brother? Maurice formally dissolved their partnership and the firm was renamed Joseph Rodgers & Sons. As well as producing an unrivalled range of pen and pocket knives, the company became famous for their exhibition cutlery, which showed off the skill of the cutlers working for them. These wonders could be seen in the company showrooms on Norfolk Street, which when opened in 1825 caused a sensation. There were very few showrooms within Sheffield, where visitors could come to look at and buy goods in plush surroundings. The first visitors did not even realise that the goods in the cabinets were for sale, the idea was so strange. 
Joseph Rodgers had a reputation for producing the best quality items in Sheffield. In the company history Under Five Sovereigns, it was said that in ‘Persia, India and Ceylon, the name…has entered into the language as an adjective expressing superlative quality. A café in Bombay said that their food and drink was “all Rodgers’ best things.” Another story was of a British officer travelling in ‘Russian Turkistan’ who lost his Rodgers knife. A village headman commiserated with him because there were no more Rodgers knives made. When the officer objected the headman told him that a British traveller had given him a Rodgers knife and told him they could cut through iron, something a prisoner in chains had done. The King of England was very angry at losing his prisoner and cut off both of Rodgers’ arms at the elbow in punishment, to stop him making such good knives. 

While continuing to make high quality products, the late Victorian period onwards were difficult for the company. By 1929 they had sold No. 6 Norfolk Street, and had been recording losses during the Great Depression. From a workforce of 1500 in 1914, the company had reduced to 325 employees in 1961.The firm continued to make high quality knives at their factory in Pond Hill but in 1966 the Sheaf Island Works were closed and sold to the council and used as the housing department, the River Lane Works was also closed leaving just the Pond Hill Works, by 1968 it was taken over by Archford Investments, the Pond Hill Works were closed, Rodgers bought out their old rival Wostenholm but this marriage didn’t last long by 1975 the group was taken over by Richards who produced 2nd rate goods, Im sure all of the Rodgers family were turning in their graves at the prospect of Richards taking over the quality name of Joseph Rodgers & Sons, Richards folded soon after.
Abbeydale House is now occupied by some Antique dealer or dealers, a ugly brick built Charlie Brown car spares was built abutting the house, why the council gave permission for this carbuncle is hard to understand, this building is now closed, on my visit to see the sorrowful state of the house, I met an old lady who informed me that plans have been put forward to turn the house into a old peoples home but the council wont give permission, the house is in a very bad state and the houses that surround it don’t do it justice, even its stables need attention, I dearly hope something is done to save this piece of Sheffield’s history.


 

Snowite Laundry Chimney.jpg

Snowite Laundry.jpg

Abbeydale House 1.jpg

Abbeydale  House Stables.jpg

Abbeydale House Front View.jpg

Abbeydale House Balcony.jpg

Abbeydale House Side View.jpg

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