The Moor Oaks Estate


The Moor Oaks Estate extended from what is now Parker’s Lane in the west to Northumberland Rd in the east, and from Whitham Rd in the South to Crookesmoor Rd in the North. Though it can be difficult to appreciate topography now that the area is built up, this estate is in the upper part of the Crookes Valley. If we were standing here in the 18th century and looking down the valley we would have seen the river Don at the bottom, just to the north of Sheffield. During the 18th century Sheffield had trebled in size and its local water sources had become insufficient. During the 1790’s the Great Dam was constructed in the Crookes Valley and this was intended at the time to provide all the water the town would ever need. However the town continued to grow exponentially and so new reservoirs were needed. By 1820 a flight of four new reservoirs had been created by dams built progressively up the Crookes Valley, including three on what is now the Moor Oaks estate. So the water resources here represented and excellent investment and this would have been the main reason why George Shepherd, who was one of the original shareholders of the Sheffield Waterworks Company, bought this piece of land and built a large house for himself, Moor Oaks House, at the highest point of the land in the north-west corner. (Refer to the paintings and the 1832 map) For 50 years the fields remained here while the nearby western suburbs were developing during the 1850’s and 1860’s. When the Moor Oaks estate was eventually sold for development in 1878 the road layout was dictated by the positions of the reservoirs, the field boundaries and the ‘Narrow Walk’. footpath that ran along the reservoir embankment. Moor Oaks Rd was laid out down the centre of the field to the south of Moor Oaks House; these field boundaries are now the rear garden walls of the houses on either side of the road. Elmore Rd and Marlborough Rd infilled the triangle of land between the reservoirs, and Highnam Crescent Rd joined the triangle to Crookesmoor Rd in the north. The land was sold with covenants that restricted building to houses costing more than £400, which indicated that it was intended for ‘quality’ housing. As we will see as we walk around the Triangle these are indeed very fine houses with lots of interesting architectural details. The houses in these roads were mostly built between 1881 and 1890 by a small number of well-known Sheffield builders. There are some individually-designed owner-built houses and a small number of later houses built after 1900