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.

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