Benefactor who made a splash

A SHEFFIELD benefactor who gave Hathersage its open-air swimming pool 75 years ago, followed by a pool in Longley Park, is the subject of a new book.

George Lawrence was a self-made businessman who gave away large amounts of money earned through his Sheffield razor blade manufacturing business before he was killed in the Blitz in December 1940.

Many of his gifts were made anonymously but he receives due recognition in a book by Brian Ward, of Hathersage.

Lawrence not only made his mark in the area in which he lived, but through a friendship with Alderman W F Wardley helped the town of Bapaume in northern France to recover after the First World War, where the Sheffield Pals battalion fought.

The businessman moved from Sheffield to Hathersage in 1932 and gave a bowling green, gymnasium and most of the money to build a Methodist church to the village. Ironically, his body was the first to be brought into the church.

He had gone to be with staff who were working late at his works in Nursery Street, which produced the famous Laurel safety razor blades, when it was hit by a bomb.

A junior footballer, league linesman and referee, he was a director of Sheffield United and in 1936 he paid for the first roof to be built over the Shoreham Street terraces.

“The book is a fascinating story is of an unassuming Sheffield individual with a strong urge to do whatever he possibly could for those he considered less fortunate than himself,” said Brian Ward.

“From humble beginnings, George Herbert Lawrence became a ‘philanthropist extraordinaire’.”

The book, published by Hucklow Publishing and priced £8, is available from Sheffield Scene in Surrey Street and The Craft Shop in Main Road, Hathersage.