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Blacking Factory


tozzin
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I’ve just been reading about the building of Broomhall , one thing caught my attention on Southbourne Road , seems that a Blacking Factory was built there c1860, the area was clean and the rich of the town were drawn to the area simply to escape the smoke and grime of the time. To find a blacking factory with a tall chimney must have been a shock. My search is for the owner of the factory and when it was closed.

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This picture of the Victoria Park Hotel at the junction of Southbourne road and Clarkehouse road shows the factory chimney in the background.

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The hotel was run by John Law, ex curator of the Botanical Gardens, who sold plants from the hotel. The building was later renamed "Rutledge".

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Can see Rutledge on the 1890 map and the original frontage looks largely the same today. However, looking up Southbourne Road, no sign of the Blacking Manu(Factory) or chimney of any sort, just nicely appointed villas with spacious gardens. 
Maybe an artist with a (black 😁) sense of humour?!

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We used black lead on our Yorkshire range but never on our boots....We used boot/shoe polish.Were black lead and boot polish the same?

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A better picture (and the answer) on PictureSheffield:

Blacking Factory

John Adams, Chemist, born about 1816 in Selby. At the 1861 census he was living at Ashdell Grove (now Westbourne School) opposite the end of Southbourne Road. The other half of the (large) semi-detached house was built and occupied by Thomas Moore, brewer, and later Mayor. Whites directory for 1862 shows him at 12 Orchard street and Victoria park. John Adams died at Victoria park aged 61 on 26th March 1876, one month after the death of his wife Anne, on 25th February (she died of acute bronchitis).

Lots of old advertisements here:

Graces Guide

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By 1887 the Adams Company Victoria Park works were in Valley Road, Meersbrook.

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Blacking (or commonly black lead) was most commonly sold under the Zebra brand in my experience. It was a necessary adjunct to the use of a Yorkshire Range in most Sheffield terraced houses. I'm sure it was lethal but in those days we didn't know the word "carcinogenic".  A tin of Zebra would last for about three years and could be found on hardware shop shelves alongside donkey stones and Blanco.   History indeed!

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"Black lead" is in fact graphite mixed with linseed oil (or similar).  If decent oils are used it is not particularly hazardous, hence its use for cooking stoves.  Boot blacking is made from wax softened with a solvent and coloured with a dye.  In the 18th and 19th centuries "boot blacking" was made by adding lampblack (soot) to dubbin (a mixture of waxes, soda ash and tallow).  Lamp black can contain may be carcinogenic, but this would only be of concern to those manufacturing it, not to the end user.

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