HISTORY & DEVELOPMENT
The Croft House Settlement was opened on 26th October 1902 by Alderman George Senior, Lord Mayor of Sheffield. The centre occupied premises in Garden Street, just off the city centre, in a redundant chapel building (erected 1846 as an annexe of Queen Street chapel)) and was the brainchild of rev William Blackshaw - its first Warden. Funds for its launch were raised by public events such as a Grand Bazaar in the Cutlers Hall in 1901 which raised the amazing sum of £1090.12s.5d.
The original settlement provided a gymnasium, a men‚s recreation room and snooker room, a boys‚ reading room and a large first floor hall for meetings, social events and sports activities. Public lectures were mounted and weekend camps arranged for men and boys. Games and activities were provided for poor children and a soup kitchen distributed to local families (the Crofts area being very low-quality housing). Girls classes and mothers‚ meetings were introduced later with classes in sewing and basic hygiene.
The building provided a forces recreation centre in both world wars and the first Scout troop ever formed in Sheffield began in this building. Many different activities have been provided here - a very successful swimming and water polo club; the widely-renowned Operatic Society (still in active existence); boxing; weight-lifting; judo; volleyball; 4-a-side football; youth clubs; canoeing and table tennis.
There were several notable wardens of the settlement - Sister Edith Spencer (1914 - 1940); Dennis S Jewiss 'The Bosun' (1953 - 1960); Joe Jepson (1962 - 1988). In 1999 the Settlement appointed a part-time manager - its first paid employee since the death of Joe Jepson.
Currently the settlement provides a regular home base for some 18 local sports, arts, community and education groups and is open to some kind of activity seven days (and evenings) per week, continuing the work and ethos of the past 104 years.
In 2002 Professor John Roach and Mr J R Pitchfork assembled a Centenary History of the Settlement in a very attractive book. Copies of this are available on request from the Settlement office - tel : 0114 249 1460.