HISTORICAL BUILDINGS BEING TORN DOWN
The Demise of Sheffield's Old Buildings
By Mick Timmins
Sheffield seems to have
a problem with its old buildings, we appear to be in the age
of toughened glass and steel in this once architecturally great
city of ours. Our buildings are pulled down with no thought
for the surrounding areas. Pulled down with a great deal of
stealth, I might add, by being demolished from the rear behind
high fences leaving just the front standing to disappear overnight
as if by magic. If a builder cannot get planning permission
the building will mysteriously catch fire or fall down in a
high wind that does not seem to affect any other buildings.
Examples of this are the Tram Sheds at Albert Road, Heeley that
fell down over night after having been solidly stood there for
over 100 years. Another example is the old Wigfalls building
at Malin Bridge that was once an old mill. If a building is
'listed' and has been refused planning permission the new owners
seem to be able to allow the building to fall into such a state
of disrepair it falls down on its own. An example of this is
an old coach house in Loxley, a large mansion type house overlooking
the Strines; and the administration building of the old Middlewood
hospital / asylum. Other old buildings and factories around
Sheffield are constantly being torn down; if this carries on
soon we will have no historic buildings left in Sheffield. Maybe
it is time to stand our ground for the sake of our heritage.
With The Inner Vision
By Brenda Diskin © 2002
To my left is the ocean, bluest of blues,
moving calmly and softly. I am walking on a beach on sand that
is illuminated (alive) and yet also pristine. I do not feel
my feet. I feel light a feather as though I am only in a persons
body to reassure myself. To the right green growth as it should
be. In front of me on the beach is drift wood, piled up. I decide
to go to the driftwood and sit, and wait. Wait for what? I am
not sure but the scene is so beautiful I expect, no, I know
that there is more to come.
I am not in some idyllic paradise; I am here in the City, full
of smoke and pollution.
However, I actually see these things in my mind even with my
If you have not experienced the true beauty and euphoria of
a Meditative trance, you have missed so much. It is something
that can bring some joy, peace and normality into an otherwise
turbulent and stressful life.
How long is it since we have, truly, looked at a blade of grass
or a tree? Not just seeing what we perceive to be the grass
or the tree, but also seeing the whole picture. Each tiny line,
each leaf, each dancing light around the leaf.
We spend so much time in the hustle and bustle of our daily
lives that we forget about what surrounds us.
We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country,
just a few miles down the road from whatever part of Sheffield
you are in there are open spaces full of wonder.
Take an hour out of your hectic life and go and sit on a hill
somewhere, look out over the countryside, breath in the beauty.
Watch the birds, the animals. See the trees performing their
dance to the wind. Watch the sunset, the sunrise, the resplendent
colours of dusk and dawn. You will amazed at how peaceful, and
yet energised you feel.
Whenever I'm feeling sad and low
there is a place I like to go.
It's a place that lies deep within
I just open the door and go right in.
I can sit beside a lake or tree
and my dear loved ones I can see.
I can travel anywhere I like
without a plane, a car, a bike.
The weather there is always good
and the grass grows green, just like it should.
There I can relax and be myself
and do as I please, no need for wealth.
I can go there at any time of day
for help and guidance with work or play.
It's somewhere my spirit can roam free.
This is my sacred place you see.
Brenda Diskin © 2002
Rewritten by Brenda Diskin from an old
local story. ©
Do you believe in miracles?
Long ago, in the 13th century, most people would have accepted
the idea of a miracle. In fact, local stories and legends were
often based on them. This is the story of such a miracle. It
happened in Westoning, Bedfordshire.
There was an extremely
bad-tempered and malicious man named Ailward. He was a very
unfair man. He employed a labourer by the name of Fulke and
promised him two pennies to plough his land. However, when Fulke
went to claim his money, Ailward made excuse after excuse and
did not pay him.
It was St. Thomas of Canterbury's
Day, and the start of three days of feasting in Westoning when
Fulke came across Ailward drinking in a pub, December 29th to
be precise. Fulke asked Ailward for his money. Ailward began
showing off in front of his friends, he was very drunk. He started
shouting at Fulke. "Pay you for what?" I don't remember
you doing any work for me" Ailward screamed.
Fulke was taken by surprise
and looked to Ailward's friends for support . He said he would
accept one penny in payment and use the other penny to pay for
drinks all round, to celebrate St. Thomas' festival. Everyone
cheered their approval.
Ailward's friends, thought
this was a fair solution, as did everyone else,naturally. Everyone,
that is, except Ailward. He was extremely angry. He aimed a
blow at Fulke and stormed out in a drunken rage and headed for
Fulke's meagre home. Ailward battered down the door and pushed
Fulke's terrified wife and children out of the way. He proceeded
to smash up what few possessions Fulke owned. Ailward stole
Fulke's hedging gloves and whetstone in an attempt to destroy
his livelihood. These were precious tools in those days. Finally
his huge intake of beer got the better of him and he collapsed
in a drunken heap in a corner with the tools still in his hand.
The local beadle was called
and Ailward was arrested. He was taken to Bedford Prison where
he stayed until he came before the Assizes at Leighton Buzzard.
He argued his innocence on the charge of cheating Fulke of two
Ailward was tried by water.
His arms were tied to his sides and he was thrown into the pond.
If he drowned, he would be judged to be telling the truth and
would go to heaven. If he floated, he was guilty!
Obviously, Ailward floated
and was pronounced 'guilty' and that's when his punishment began.
His eyes were gouged out and his hands and feet were sawn off.
His body was then thrown by the side of the road as a warning
This is when the miracle
happened. A stranger passed by, found Ailward and took pity
on him. The stranger was called Eilbrecht, he took Ailward to
his house near Bedford and started to pray for him.
Ailward hovered between
life and death for many days. Eilbrecht carried on praying for
him and, as he lay on the bed, blind and in pain, Ailward began
to feel remorse for cheating Fulke and for the way he had lived
his life and he too began to pray.
One night, Ailward had a
dream, it was so clear he was sure it was a vision. He saw St.
Thomas accompanied by angels. St. Thomas touched his empty eye
sockets and the angels laid their hands on his severed arms
Everyone in the household was completely astonished as over
the next few weeks new eyes began to grow in Ailward's empty
eye sockets. When the bandages were removed from Ailwards hands
and feet it appeared that new ones were growing to replace those
that had been sawn off. This was truly a miracle.
News of the miracle reached
Canterbury and was met with great joy. The people said that
St. Thomas had answered Ailward's prayers and he was now a changed
you have something that you consider to be a miracle? If so
we would like to hear from you.
The History of
Written by Brenda Diskin 2008-05-13 ©
The Bethlem Royal Hospital of London, which was commonly known
Bedlam, is the world's oldest psychiatric hospital. The word
Bedlam has long been used for lunatic asylums in general, and
later used in vocabulary as a word meaning uproar and confusion.
In 1247 Bethlem was originally a priory for the sisters and
brethren of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem. It was first
sited in Bishopsgate Street (where Liverpool Street station
now stands). It became a hospital in 1330, and was opened to
the mentally ill in 1403 when there were only nine patients.
If you search early sixteenth century maps you will find Bedlam
situated next to Bishopsgate; a courtyard with a few stone buildings,
a church and a garden. The conditions were absolutely dreadful.
There was no real care the inmates who were restrained to stop
them from causing harm to themselves and others.. Violent or
dangerous patients were manacled and chained to the floor or
wall, their screams were hideous and deafening. Some of the
less serious cases were allowed to leave, and were given a license
to beg on the streets although the Government later denied this
was so. They were often known as Bedlam beggers and sometimes
wore a tin plate as a badge on their arms. It is believed that
many of these beggars had never actually been inside Bedlam.
Altough Bedlam was classed as a Royal hospital, after 1557,
it was controlled by the City of London and managed by the Governors
of Bridewell. A Keeper was employed to oversee the day to day
running of the hospital. The Keeper would receive payment from
each patient's relatives, benefactors or charitable source.
An inspection was carried out in 1598 which showed serious neglect;
the The cesspit was almost full and urgently needed emptying
the kitchen drains needed replacing. There were 20 patients
all living in the most appalling conditions, one patient had
been there for over 25 years.
Bedlam (Bethlem Royal Hospital) became infamous for the brutal
ill-treatment carried out on the mentally ill. It was moved
to new buildings in Moorfields in 1675. These were designed
by Robert Hooke and were expected to improve the conditions
for the inmates. The new buildings were outside the City boundary
(out of sight, out of mind). In the 18th century people would
find it amusing and entertaining to go there to see the lunatics
performing sexual acts on themselves and others or fighting
violently with each other. For a penny they could peer into
the crowded cells. On the first Tuesday of each month the public
would be admitted free and allowed to bring long, sometimes
sharply pointed, sticks which they would use to prod, poke and
generally provoke the inmates. During the year 1814, there were
nearly 96,000 such visits. It wasn't until the early 1700's
that the inmates were referred to as patients rather than lunatics.
About 25 years later wards were provided to separate the curable
from the incurable.
Bedlam was moved to St George's Fields, Southwark (into the
buildings that were designed by Sydney Smirke and now house
the Imperial War Museum). This was 1815, and now the inmates
were referred to as 'unfortunates', which many of them were.
Often they were committed for post natal depression, being too
physically ill to work, homeless, immoral or melancholy. This
new building was very modern with an amazing library annexe,
which was well frequented. The sexes were segregated but in
the evenings, those who shared an appreciation of music and
dance could mix together in the great ballroom. The chapel was
divided into two with those of different sexes separated by
a curtain. In the 1930's, the hospital was moved to the site
of Monks Orchard House which is situated on the boundary between
Kent and Surrey.
By Brenda Diskin
When I attended the Ophthalmology
department of the hospital recently I picked up a leaflet about
Charles Bonnet syndrome. I had heard of this condition before
but not really taken a lot of notice. I remember reading up
on it some time back and thinking 'how interesting'.
What is Charles Bonnet
Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) is a term used to describe the
situation when people with sight problems start to see things
that they know aren't real. Sometimes called "visual hallucinations",
the things people see can take all kinds of forms, from simple
patterns of straight lines to detailed pictures of people or
A Swiss philosopher named Charles Bonnet first described this
condition in 1760 when he noticed that his grandfather, who
was almost blind, saw patterns, figures, birds and buildings
that were not there. Although the condition was described almost
250 years ago, it is still largely unknown by ordinary doctors
and nurses. This is partly because of a lack of knowledge about
the syndrome and partly because people experiencing it don't
talk about their problems from fear of being thought of as mentally
Visual hallucination is defined as a perception of an external
object when no such object is present. Hallucinations are different
from illusions, in which real objects are misinterpreted. Visual
hallucinations can occur in various medical, neurological, ocular,
and psychiatric disorders and drug induced states. They may
relate to anomalies in almost any part of the visual pathway.
The classification of visual hallucinations are simple or complex.
The simple type includes photopsia (flashes of light), lines
or patterns (zigzags, circles, etc). which may be multicoloured.
Simple hallucinations may occur in such cases as ocular disease
(vitreous detachment) or in conditions such as migraine, occipital
lobe seizures, tumours of the occipital lobe, optic neuritis
or other structural lesions.
Complex visual hallucinations, however, are usually well formed
and relatively stereotyped and often involve animals and figures
in bright colours and dramatic settings. Complex visual hallucinations
may occur delirium tremens, dementias, Parkinson's disease,
complex partial seizures, misuse of recreational drugs, schizophrenia,
and uncommon conditions such as peduncular, hypnogogic, and
hypnopompic hallucinations, migraine coma, and "Alice in
Wonderland" syndrome (a disorienting neurological condition
which affects human perception.)
About the Condition
Charles Bonnet syndrome is a less frequently diagnosed but a
quite common cause of complex visual hallucination. Its occurrence
in patients with visual impairment is around the 10% to 15%
The features of the condition are the occurrence of well formed,
vivid, elaborate, and often stereotyped visual hallucinations
in a partially sighted person who knows that what they are seeing
is not real. These people do not suffer from any form of psychosis,
impaired senses, dementia, focal neurological illness, are not
intoxicated or under the influence of any drugs or medication.
The syndrome occurs most commonly in elderly people, probably
because of the prevalence of visual impairment in this group.
The common conditions leading to the syndrome are age related
macular degeneration, followed by glaucoma and cataract. These
hallucinations, which are always outside the body, may last
from a few seconds to most of the day. They may persist for
a few days to many years, changing in frequency and complexity.
They have no personal meaning, and many patients can voluntarily
modify them or make the image disappear if they close their
eyes. The mages may vary from panoramic scenes, to people from
various eras, animals, objects etc. These images usually appear
in very vivid colour.
Sometimes the syndrome occurs in people with normal vision.
It has been argued that diagnosis of the syndrome does not exclude
or require eye disease or brain lesions and that it could even
be due to lesions that are not associated with the visual system.
Reduced or absent stimulation of the visual system leading to
increased or decreased activity in the visual cortex is one
Treatment varies according to the nature of the visual dysfunction.
If a cataract is present then its removal or recovery of vision
due to some other factor leads to improvement. Others find when
the eye disease progresses to total blindness the condition
ceases. Treatments with drugs does not appear to be very successful.
I personally do not suffer from this condition. but never the
less find the subject extremely interesting
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