Salt Box Cottages: Hidden Remnants of a Sheffield Landmark

A concealed rock outcrop on Psalter Lane, Sheffield, which once supported the joists of the Salt Box Cottages.(Image: Google Street View. Concealed site of the demolished Salt Box Cottages)

The area is heavily overgrown today, but beyond this dense foliage is hidden a natural rock outcrop, its history largely unknown to younger generations of Sheffielders. Situated by the side of Psalter Lane, on the left as you travel from Banner Cross in the direction of Sharrow, the rock face has several square holes hewn from its surface, which once held timber joists supporting the upper floors of the so-called Salt Box Cottages.

The unusual 18th century structures, once the homes of quarry workers, were a well known local landmark until their demolition in 1967. In their fascinating book Sheffield Curiosities (published 1997), Duncan and Trevor Smith write that the Salt Box Cottages were once home of the the proprietor of nearby Brincliffe Quarry, traces of which can still be seen amid the 20th century city suburbs.

(Image: Morgan and Son via Picture Sheffield)

According to the authors: “[The Salt Box Cottages’] unusual name is thought by some to be because the building had the appearance of an old saltbox hanging on a kitchen wall. This would have been accentuated when the road was lowered in the mid-1800’s to reduce the steep gradient at this point. Alternatively, the name is linked with Psalter Lane, the road being part of the original and ancient route taken by packhorse trains bringing shipments of salt into the City from distant Cheshire via Manchester.”

The rugged stone cottages feature prominently in an 1875 painting of the Psalter Lane quarries by artist Joseph Wrightson MacIntyre (see here). Father and son team Duncan and Trevor Smith write that the distinctive landmark had been largely dismantled by 1969, though evidence of their existence remains carved into the rock to this day.

Read Next: The Mysterious Crosspool Tunnel in Sheffield, Northern England

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The Medieval Ruins of Helfenberg Castle, Germany

The mighty ruins of Helfenberg Castle in Germany.(Image: J Abele, CC-BY-SA-4.0. Ruins of Helfenberg Castle in Germany)

Stout and imposing, the remains of a medieval castle still guards the hilltop overlooking the hamlet of Helfenberg, in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg. But today, the ruined fortification has been consumed by trees that began taking over when it was abandoned centuries ago.

Helfenberg Castle was built some time around 1250, and first showed up in official records in 1259. The mighty hilltop structure was first the home of the Helfenbergs, then the Sachsenheims, and the Sturmfeders after them. It would changed hands again as the centuries passed by.

Burgruine Helfenberg.(Image: Peter Schmelzle, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

A number of intriguing episodes have taken place throughout the castle’s history. The year 1456 brought the sale of not only the property but all the people who lived within! By 1521, Helfenberg Castle was the property of Wolf Ruch von Winnenden, who was in the process of extending the fortifications when he was murdered during the German Peasants’ War of 1525.

Much of the now-ruined Helfenberg Castle was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, which was fought in Central Europe during the 17th century. The structure was later restored with the addition of a chapel. A vineyard was added some generations later, but the beleaguered structure was not to last much longer.

(Image: Kiesersche Forstkarte 1685)

By the early 1800s the fortified house lay in ruins, and a lower section was completely destroyed in a 1945 bombing raid. Today, the hollow ruins have been stabilised by current owners the von Gaisberg family. Bolstered by public funding, the ruined castle’s deterioration has been slowed and the attractive hilltop grounds are open to the public.

Read Next: 20 Commanding Cliff-top Castles & Fortresses

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Uncover the Remnants of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial (Addy Street)

Remains of granite column from Sheffield's Crimean War Memorial in Addy Street, Upperthorpe(Image: Google Street View. Remains of Crimean War Memorial column in Addy Street)

In a small park, adjacent to Addy Street in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, lies a series of cylindrical stone blocks whose presence seems at odds with the modern housing development that surrounds it. Indeed, this oddity is the remains of a grand column that, many assumed, had disappeared from the Sheffield street scene decades ago. The column was part of the city’s Crimean War Memorial, and supported a statue of Queen Victoria that has itself languished in a council storage facility since 2004.

The impressive memorial, which depicts Victoria as the personification of the mythological Victory, first stood at Moorhead, in Sheffield city centre. It was built in 1857 by a public subscription of £1,400 to commemorate those who fell during the bloody Crimean War of 1854 to 1856. Florence Nightingale, the prominent English social reformer and founder of modern nursing, was among the donors.

Addy Street oddity from above.(Image: Google Earth)

But as Sheffield underwent major redevelopment in the decades after World War Two, the changing face of Moorhead saw the monument dismantled and removed, its constituent parts relocated or – perhaps – even disposed of. A 2015 letter to the editor of the Star newspaper asked where the missing sections of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial had gone. Meanwhile, some contributors to this passionate thread on the local history forum suggest that, not only should the statue reemerge from storage, it should also be restored to its former glory.

(Image: Google Street View)

In the meantime, the surviving sections of the grand 18-foot-high column can be found on Addy Street in the Upperthorpe area of Sheffield, near the Ponderosa. Before that, the Aberdeen granite drums formed an unusual playground in nearby Hammond Street.

Read Next: The Mysterious Crosspool Tunnel in Sheffield, Northern England

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Uncover the Remnants of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial (Addy Street)

Remains of granite column from Sheffield's Crimean War Memorial in Addy Street, Upperthorpe(Image: Google Street View. Remains of Crimean War Memorial column in Addy Street)

In a small park, adjacent to Addy Street in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, lies a series of cylindrical stone blocks whose presence seems at odds with the modern housing development that surrounds it. Indeed, this oddity is the remains of a grand column that, many assumed, had disappeared from the Sheffield street scene decades ago. The column was part of the city’s Crimean War Memorial, and supported a statue of Queen Victoria that has itself languished in a council storage facility since 2004.

The impressive memorial, which depicts Victoria as the personification of the mythological Victory, first stood at Moorhead, in Sheffield city centre. It was built in 1857 by a public subscription of £1,400 to commemorate those who fell during the bloody Crimean War of 1854 to 1856. Florence Nightingale, the prominent English social reformer and founder of modern nursing, was among the donors.

Addy Street oddity from above.(Image: Google Earth)

But as Sheffield underwent major redevelopment in the decades after World War Two, the changing face of Moorhead saw the monument dismantled and removed, its constituent parts relocated or – perhaps – even disposed of. A 2015 letter to the editor of the Star newspaper asked where the missing sections of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial had gone. Meanwhile, some contributors to this passionate thread on the local history forum suggest that, not only should the statue reemerge from storage, it should also be restored to its former glory.

(Image: Google Street View)

In the meantime, the surviving sections of the grand 18-foot-high column can be found on Addy Street in the Upperthorpe area of Sheffield, near the Ponderosa. Before that, the Aberdeen granite drums formed an unusual playground in nearby Hammond Street.

Read Next: The Mysterious Crosspool Tunnel in Sheffield, Northern England

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Lightning F.53 ZF580 at Newquay Airport for Restoration

Lightning ZF580 while on display at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire.(Image: Anthony Parkes. Lightning ZF580 while on display at Samlesbury Aerodrome)

For more than 20 years, from 1990 to 2013, English Electric Lightning F.53 ZF580 had pride of place on the main gate at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire, greeting BAE Systems employees as they arrived at their place of work. But as the years passed by, and the elements took their toll on the airframe, a decision was made to replace ZF580 with a full-scale fibreglass replica of the iconic British interceptor. Happily, Lightning ZF580 is now set for restoration, and her dismantled fuselage is pictured here in the care of the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre at Newquay Airport.

ZF580 first took to the air from Samlesbury on November 28, 1967. The airframe was among a batch of Lightnings built by the English Electric Company for the Royal Saudi Air Force. These export jets were designated Lightning F.53s, and ZF580 carried the Saudi serial number 53-672. She was delivered to an airfield in Jeddah in 1968 and served with the Lightning Conversion Unit at Dhahran, seeing out her operational days with 2 Squadron RSAF.

The warplane was returned to BAE Warton in 1986 along with other remaining Lightning F.53s and placed in outdoor storage. By 1990 the airframe had been transported to Samlesbury Aerodrome for display purposes, where she would remain for the next 23 years.

English Electric Lightning F6 and F-35 mockups on Samlesbury Aerdrome gate(Image: Google Earth. F-35 and Lightning mockups)

In 2013, due to her deteriorating condition after decades spent outdoors, a full-scale Lightning replica was built and installed on the Samlesbury gate. Unlike many Lightnings, which had their wings and tails cut off for transport, ZF580 was dismantled correctly – a major feat of engineering that requires the front and rear fuselage to be separated before the appendages can be removed – and moved to Newquay Airport for restoration.

Meanwhile, the full-scale mockup at Samlesbury Aerodrome has been joined by another gate guardian, in the form of a replica of the stealthy new F-35 Lightning II, which is set to enter operational service with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm in the near future.

Browse more in our English Electric Lightning Archives

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Building Roads With Pellets Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Councils are testing pellets made from recycled plastic bottles, bags and other waste materials in road construction.(Image: biancamentil)

At long last there may be a use for those pesky plastic bottles and bags that blight our streets and harm the environment. Several UK councils are testing a new process that takes waste plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in the landfill and melting them into an asphalt mixture that reduces waste and reportedly makes for stronger roads.

The innovative process transforms the waste materials into plastic pellets which “are then melted into the asphalt mix to act as a binding agent”, Sky News reports. It’s understood that recycled plastic makes up around 0.5 per cent of the mixture.

Discarded plastic bottles gathered together.(Image: Hans)

Speaking the Sky News, Toby McCartney of MacRebur Plastics Road Company said: “We’re able to take the waste plastics that are destined for landfill, we take those plastics and we add them into an asphalt mix to create a stronger, longer lasting road. It makes the end performance of the road much greater and we replace part of the bitumen in the mix, that’s the fossil fuel.”

He added: “Our analogy is that traditional bitumen is a bit like a Pritt Stick – what we have is a superglue. It binds the stuff together to form a stronger and longer lasting bind, so we have less flaking of anything coming off. There’s less maintenance needed for those roads and we’re saving (councils) money by using up local waste for local roads.”

Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway and Enfield councils are currently testing what have been termed “plastic roads”.

Councillor Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, told Sky News that landfill tax would be reduced due to less waste plastic being disposed of into the ground. She added that although the pellets are slightly more expensive than bitumen at the present time, “bitumen depends on the oil price so that wouldn’t necessarily always be the case. Also, it uses a lot less binder, so there’s a saving there.”

Plastic and other waste materials are ploughed into a landfill site.(Image: Prylarer)

Cllr Murray, who described the process as “quite exciting”, said: “Instead of using bitumen, which is a product of the oil industry, it uses plastics which would normally just go into landfill. So it’s environmentally friendly as well as being a good, hard surface for the road. Hopefully it will be more hard-working in the longer term…”

But Dr Karl Williams, director of the Centre for Waste and Resource Management at the University of Central Lancashire, cautioned that it was still early days. “I think it’s too early to say how environmentally friendly these roads are because they are only going on trial roads at the moment, and in terms of what plastics they are using, where the plastic comes from and the level of contamination,” he told Sky News.

Read Next: Glass Beach: How Nature Reversed a Trashy Stretch of California Coast

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A Forgotten V-1 Flying Bomb Launch Site in Rhineland-Palatinate

Abandoned V-1 launch site in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate(Image: Spielvogel. Abandoned V-1 launch site in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate)

They may look like any other peaceful woodland ruins of days gone by. But these seemingly-anonymous concrete foundations reflect a vengeance unleashed on Britain and Belgium by Nazi Germany during World War Two. For it was from here that countless V-1 flying bombs were launched into England, with the goal of striking fear into the hearts of the civilian population.

Just after 4 am on June 13, 1944, residents in northeast London reported a strange droning sound that eerily cut out before the craft that it belonged to fell to earth. Six residents were killed in the borough of Hackney, and the ‘doodlebug’ menace had begun. In the days that followed, dozens of V-1s, or ‘buzz bombs’, as they were also dubbed, reigned down on London, killing and wounding hundreds.

(Image: German Federal Archives)

The era of the cruise missile had dawned, and the nature of warfare would never be the same again. As Londoners became ever more familiar with this new and deadly threat, it became apparent that the sound that frightened them the most was the sound of silence. When the simple jet engine cut out, the brief quiet was soon shattered by a hideous explosion, as the V-1 flying bomb’s 1,870 lb warhead detonated.

Developed at the Peenemünde Army Research Center under the codename “Cherry Stone”, more than 100 of the so-called “vengeance weapons” were launched daily in the direction of Southeast England, culminating in 9,521 in total. To counter the V-1 menace, Allied forces initiated Operation Crossbow, which targeted all phases of Nazi Germany’s long-range weapons programme. This included the bombing of launch sites as well as factories, research and development facilities and transport links.

(Image: Spielvogel)

By October 1944 the last V-1 rocket launch site within range of England had been overcome by Allied forces. The doodlebug menace had been short-lived, but psychologically devastating. The abandoned launch pad pictured in this article, situated in the peaceful forests of Rheinbreitbach municipality, in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate, is one of many such ruins forgotten amid the landscape of Western and Central Europe.

As Morris M wrote on Urban Ghosts earlier this year: “In an anonymous stretch of German woodland lie these unassuming relics of the Third Reich’s military machine. Although the pictures may look like nothing more than a few overgrown lumps of concrete, these ruins were once at the forefront of Hitler’s psychological terror tactics. It was from here that multiple V-1 flying bombs were launched at Britain. Known as Doodlebugs, these early-vengeance rockets would emit a loud drone as they sailed over London, before finally silencing as their engines cut out and they plummeted to earth.”

Read Next: 10 Historic Border Fortifications & Military Defences of Wartime Europe

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The Strange, Organic Architecture of Hundertwasser

The Waldspirale Darmstadt by Hundertwasser(Image: Heidas, CC-BY-SA-3.0. The Waldspirale Darmstadt by Hundertwasser)

In 1975, the architect and artist who called himself Hundertwasser said, “Only those who think and live creatively will survive in this life and beyond.” Deep thoughts, but he also delivered more cryptic gems like “progression is retrogression and retrogression becomes progression.”

Architect Friedrich Stowasser, aka Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser(Image: Hannes Grobe, CC-BY-SA-2.5. The architect and applied artist in 1998)

Perhaps that’s not surprising, given that the Austrian-born New Zealander changed his named from Friedrich Stowasser to Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser – a moniker Slate says translates to Multitalented Peace-Filled Rainy Day Dark-Coloured Hundred Waters. It’s also not surprising that he hated straight lines and, as an architect, was responsible for designing some of the most unusual buildings in Europe.

Ronald Macdonald-kindervallei in Houthem(Image: Els Diederen, CC-BY-SA-3.0. Ronald Macdonald-kindervallei in Houthem)

Hundertwasser also believed in radical human expression – and giving speeches while completely naked – and was a fan of incorporating organic elements into his designs. He despised straight lines. Hundertwasser’s buildings, which look like something plucked a child’s drawing and brought to life, are made even more surreal by their location. Some – like the Green Citadel in Magdeburg, Germany – are surrounded by stark, Soviet-style block architecture.

The Green Citadel of Magdeburg by Hundertwasser.(Image: Doris Antony, CC-BY-SA-2.5. The Green Citadel of Magdeburg)

The Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg (or Green Citadel) in Magdeburg, Germany? It’s pink. And then there are his other intriguing works. Slate writes that Hundertwasser’s “Moldiness Manifesto” advocates the celebration of random vegetation in one’s home. His “Fensterrecht” (or “right of window”) tenet, meanwhile, encouraged residents to lean out their windows to decorate the outer walls of their homes – as far as their arms could reach.

The Waldspirale in Darmstadt.(Image: Carlos Delgado, CC-BY-SA-3.0. The Waldspirale in Darmstadt)

Everything about Hundertwasser’s life and work is captivating. Born in 1928 to a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, he posed as a Christian to avoid persecution and even joined the Hitler Youth in a bid to survive the horrors of World War Two. In 1935 he was baptised into the Catholic Church.

(Image: Karl Gruber, CC-BY-SA-3.0. Bärnbach, Steiermark)

Studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna after the war, Hundertwasser went on to design everything from buildings to stamps and flags. He lived for a period on the outskirts of Normandy, where he pioneered a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. He later moved to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

(Image: Heidas, CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Politically active, and hoping to reinvent the way people saw architecture, Hundertwasser began work on his final project – Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg – in 1999. The following year, the unconventional artist and architect died at sea aboard the QE2, having never seen the completion of his Green Citadel. The striking building was completed in 2005.

The Hundertwasser house in Plochingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany(Image: Kamahele, CC-BY-SA-3.0. The Hundertwasser house in Plochingen)

Hundertwasser is buried in New Zealand, though his legacy lives on in his unmistakable contributions to architecture and the applied arts.

Read Next: 10 Unfinished Structures Around the World

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The Ghost Town of Sprucemont, Nevada

The ghost town of Sprucemont, Nevada.(Image: Famartin. Abandoned timber structure in the ghost town of Sprucemont, Nevada)

According to Forgotten Nevada, the Spruce Mountain ghost towns have a long, complicated, and often torrid history. Sprucemont, Nevada is one of those settlements, the first of many established on the mountain after 1869 when lead and silver was discovered there.

(Image: Famartin)

Buildings started going up in Sprucemont in 1871, after the opening of several mines and their consolidation into the Spruce Mountain Mining District. As more and more miners headed to the mountainside, other small industrial communities began to spring up around Sprucemont. Among them were Jasper, Black Forest, and Hickneyville. These American company towns not only had all the basic amenities that miners needed to make a go of life out on the wild frontier, but they often charged a premium for their services.

(Image: Famartin)

Great optimism swirled around Sprucemont in its early days. Just a year after its founding, the Ingot Mining Company invested in a 25-ton Philadelphia-type smelter. Some 200 people are estimated to have been living there at the time, although some reports claim a far higher number, which Forgotten Nevada believes believes was likely for “promotional purposes”. The now-ghost town’s corporate owners wanted to entice more people in, after all, though by 1873 the Ingot Mining Co. had gone bust.

Ruins alongside the abandoned Monarch Mine on Spruce Mountain, Nevada.(Image: Famartin. Ruins alongside the abandoned Monarch Mine on Spruce Mountain, Nevada)

Forgotten Nevada references the September 9, 1872 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union, which wrote that “…Sprucemont is the business point of the district, and for a new mining town it is one of the most substantially built in Nevada. The visitor will take note of the total absence of tents or canvas houses. The buildings are large and roomy and quite a number are two storey, with architectural finish worthy of an older place.”

(Image: Famartin)

The paper optimistically estimated the town’s population at as many as 700, up from only 50. But the coming years brought a series of strikes stemming from disagreements between miners and the companies they laboured for. Sprucemont proved to be more short-lived than anyone had expected. By 1905, most of its residents had decamped to Jasper. And when the area experienced a revival in 1919, it passed Sprucemont by.

(Image: Famartin)

Traces of the abandoned mining town still remain amid the haunting Nevada wilderness. Exploring Nevada, however, writes that a trip up to the isolated location isn’t one to be taken lightly. According to the website, visitors need to prepare with a 4WD vehicle and plan to either return to civilisation by nightfall or pack a tent.

(Image: Famartin)

The views alone make a visit to the old Sprucemont ghost town worthwhile. It’s not difficult to imagine the scenic vistas that greeted tired miners as they emerged from the mountain, albeit shrouded by the tough conditions and hardships of life in the Old West.

Read Next: Seven Magic Mountains: Towering Colour in the Nevada Desert

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Freda’s Grave on Cannock Chase

Freda's grave on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.(Image: Frank Smith. Faithful dog Freda’s grave on Cannock Chase)

In a peaceful corner of Cannock Chase, not far from Coppice Hill, lies the grave of a working dog named Freda, who died in 1918. Freda is understood to be a harlequin Great Dane, though other reports suggest she was a Dalmatian. Her origins are equally mysterious, and two different accounts have persisted.

What we do know is that the much-loved Freda served as the regimental mascot of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, which was based in south Staffordshire during the First World War. It’s been claimed the dog was adopted by ANZAC soldiers while fighting in France, who then took their beloved pet with them when they returned to their English base.

(Image: Michael Marsh)

New Zealand History, however, writes that “the New Zealand Rifle Brigade was stationed with the Brigade at Cannock Chase, near Brocton in England. The 5 (Reserve) Battalion had been at Brocton since September 1917, and Freda was probably acquired there.”

The website adds: “Another story is that Freda was picked up and adopted as the brigade mascot in France, accompanying the unit back to Cannock Chase in 1918. According to a local historian, Freda had provided warmth and companionship to New Zealand soldiers amidst the death and destruction of the Western Front battlefields.”

(Image: Bill Boaden)

Perhaps the truth lies in both accounts; it’s worth noting that the global influenza pandemic of 1918 contributed to the death of some 50 members of the Brigade, who were interred at the Cannock Chase War Cemetery. It seems likely that Freda’s presence did indeed offer comfort to these men, albeit miles from the battlefields of northern France, before she herself died in October or November of that year.

When Freda died in 1918, around the end of the Great War, soldiers of the the New Zealand Rifle Brigade buried her at this pleasant spot near their billet. A marble headstone bearing her name was erected in 1964 by the Friends of Cannock Chase, and over the decades her grave has been tended by local villagers.

(Image: via Wikimedia Commons. A harlequin Great Dane pictured in 1910)

But that wasn’t the end of Freda’s story, as New Zealand troops took more than just memories of their faithful canine companion back to their homeland. According to the BBC: “Her collar and lead are still kept at New Zealand’s National Army Museum in Waiouru.”

Freda isn’t the only animal mascot featured on Urban Ghosts. Several years ago we recounted the heroic tale of Timothy the Tortoise, the last survivor of the Crimean War, who died in 2004 at the age of about 165. Timothy (a female tortoise despite her name) was discovered aboard a Portuguese privateer in 1854 and went on to “serve” aboard a number of Royal Navy vessels, including HMS Queen, a first-rate ship of the line.

Timothy the Tortoise(Image: Jeannette. Timothy the Tortoise at Powderham Castle)

Timothy took retirement in 1892 at Powderham Castle, the home of the Earl of Devon. She was buried near her home in the rose garden and, among other accolades, will be remembered as the only tortoise present at the siege of Sevastopol.

Related: 5 Heroic Tales Inspired by London’s ‘Animals in War’ Memorial

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