Historic Telegraph clipping advertises £5 housing deposits on homes "for the pressing needs of the Sheffield housewife"

It’s a deposit price that first time homebuyers in Sheffield can only dream of paying today.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:43 am

The Sheffield City Archive has unearthed a fascinating Sheffield Telegraph clipping advertising houses for only a £5 deposit on Thorpe House Estate in Norton Lees, which still exists.

The cutting, from June 24 1935, was discovered by Cheryl Bailey at the archives.

The piece celebrates the official opening of the Sheffield and Ecclesall Cooperative Society branch on Lees Hall Avenue by James Laver and Sons – the company of brothers of Arnold Laver, a name that will resonate with Sheffielders, and especially Blades of a certain era.

'Easy' to buy houses with only a £5 down, says the advert, found in a book in the Sheffield Archives
'Easy' to buy houses with only a £5 down, says the advert, found in a book in the Sheffield Archives

The article also describes the Thorpe House Estate in Norton Lees, a ‘new suburb’ created by Lavers, where houses cost £370 to buy.

The £5 deposit (equivalent to around £350 in today’s money) is in stark contrast to the amount expected today.

Properties in Thorpe House Rise had an overall average price of £229,875 over the last year, according to Rightmove, requiring at least a £22,000 deposit.

Cheryl Bailey, senior archivist at Sheffield City Archives, said: “I was in the archive cataloguing some material, and found a box full of stuff relating to one particular man and his business, and he had this newspaper cutting tucked inside one of his personal folders.

£5 homes in Norton Lees advertised in a 1935 edition of the Sheffield Telegraph, for which I am in 2021.

"I had a look at it, he kept it because he did the electrical wiring on the houses, and what interested me was just the whole sense of seeing the advert for the Thorpe House Estate.

"It was interesting to see the concept to see the new houses being built by these local people and I suppose the initial thought of, ‘oh £5 house and £25 on completion’ – and even more so because these houses are still there and being sold for a lot more money.”

The houses were advertised as ‘the ideal house to buy’ and offered a seclusion away from the Victorian houses in Sheffield city centre, as well as a garden, and the rare luxury of an indoor toilet.

As well as this, they were sold targeted at ‘Sheffield housewives’ and were seen as an aspirational purchase via ‘the magic of ownership,’ according to one advert.

"The ideal house for you" for only £5 secure fee

They housed a mix of professions, including police constables, school teachers, clerks, labourers, steel machinists – and even a corsetière.

"They are classic 1930s houses, and probably selling for a lot of money these days,” said Cheryl.

"The houses were very different to what has come before and were a breath of fresh air – modern, out in the suburbs, three bedroom, semi-detached with gardens.

"There is an advert for the estate that says, ‘this an ideal house for you’. Quite interestingly in capital letters it also says, ‘to meet the PRESSING NEEDS of the Sheffield housewife.’

“They were obviously an opportunity for the working classes and aspiring middle classes to actually get a mortgage and buy a property, and one in a very nice area.

"It looks cheap on paper by today’s standards, but you would probably have had to be earning a decent amount to a mortgage in the first place. But it struck me as quite quaint, the way you would apply for a property: it is so different from the current housing market, where you have to fight to get a viewing, and then sealed bids, and go for way more than asking price.

"It was a calmer market back then.”