This project is archived. Return to current Museums Sheffield homepage or view more projects.
Skip Navigation

Hilda Dawson


Growing up in Burngreave Vestry Hall, 1920s and 1930s

Sepia photograph of Hilda Dawson and siblings.
Hilda (standing on the right hand side) with her brother and sister, Harry and Mary, outside Burngreave Vestry Hall. © Hilda Dawson


Hilda Dawson spent most of her childhood living in the caretaker's quarters of Burngreave Vestry Hall, where her father worked. This story comes from an interview with Hilda by Nikky Wilson for an article in the Burngreave Messenger in December 2004.

My father was caretaker of the Vestry Hall in Burngreave in the 1920s and 30s when I was a little girl. My family, father, mother, a brother and sister and me, all lived in the flat down the side of the Vestry Hall. It was such a busy place in those days, with the registry office, the Yorkshire Penny Bank and all the meetings and parties in the main hall.

I used to play out on Bressingham Street with all my pals. We played skipping games, tops, hares and hounds. On Saturday afternoons we used to head off to the matinee at the Coliseum Cinema on Spital Hill. In the winter when it snowed we went sledging but we used to make a lot of noise, which annoyed some of the adults around us. So they sprinkled ashes on the snow. I was always the mischievous one who got the brush and swept it away.

One of my favourite childhood memories was watching the big hall from my bedroom window when the dances were in full swing. I loved the dresses and the bands playing music. When I was a bit older and braver, I used to sneak into the hall to watch. If my Dad ever caught me, he gave me a good smack and sent me out. But when I got married I had my wedding reception in the hall and he couldn't send me out then!