Book about Sheffield estate she grew up on thrills 90-year old

Memories shared between a 90-year old woman and a care home worker led to a heartwarming project, and a firm friendship.

By Sally Burton
Monday, 11 March, 2019, 11:21
Jessie and Jo enjoy sharing the book about Arbourthorne

When care worker Jo MacGregor discovered she lived close to the former home of Jessie Senior, a resident in Broadacres Care Home, Rotherham, she decided to do a bit of research...

Jo became so interested in Jessie’s tales of life on the Arbourthorne estate where Jo herself lives, that she delved in to history and created a book about the part of Sheffield where Jessie spent four decades of her life.

Arbourthorne is in the southeast of the city, and Jessie moved to the estate in 1937, when she was eight years old. She lived there until she moved to Brinsworth village in 1982.

Jo researched the history of Arbourthorne and how it has changed, then created her own book and presented the finished product to a delighted Jessie.

Jessie said: “This has absolutely taken my breath away.

“It’s so amazing to see my old house and where I lived. I remember it all like it was yesterday, even though a lot of it has changed.

“I can’t believe how much work Jo has put in to do this for me. It honestly means the world.”

Jessie attended Arbourthorne Primary School and then Heeley Bank School, until the age of 14.

She worked in a printing factory on Wellington Street, Sheffield, before taking a job at a fruit shop on the estate after her daughter, Sharon, was born.

She married John Senior in June 1952 and they had their wedding reception at the Arbourthorne Hotel.

Jessie later moved to Brinsworth to be closer to her daughter, who has two children and two grandchildren herself.

Jessie eventually moved into Broadacres Care Home, on Naylor Street, Parkgate, in February 2017 with husband John, who sadly died in August 2018.

In the book created by Jo, there are details about the building of the estate, including aerial photographs of the road Jessie lived on, as well as street view images. Jo had not realised initially that  these contained shots of Jessie’s original house.

Jo explained: “Jessie told me about a cinema that was built there in the 1930s and was said to be bomb and gas proof – but luckily during the war it wasn’t tested.

“I found lots of information and photos of that building through time as it changed to a light bulb factory, after being a cinema, and is now housing.

“I also researched the Arbourthorne Hotel public house, as I knew Jessie had mentioned it, but didn't realise her personal link about her wedding reception being there.

“It’s an ongoing booklet, so I'm looking into Arbourthorne Primary School and the Arbourthorne shops next.

“I’m interested in history, so was fascinated to learn so much from Jessie and my research, but I also knew how much it would mean to her to see the place now, and this was my way of taking her there.

“Jessie’s reaction was exactly why all those hours I've taken to do the book were completely worthwhile. Even today she told me  she looks through it as a little pick me up as she has so many wonderful memories of living there.

“I feel honoured for Jessie to share her story with me and am so happy to show my appreciation in this way. We now have a special link and bond which I cherish.”