Obituary : Des Brooks


With sadness we report the death of Des Brooks last month (13/10/2022). He was a former resident of Norton and a child of Painted Fabrics.  His father, William, a veteran of the Great War, had secured employment and a home at Painted Fabrics Ltd in 1925.. Des had fond memories of growing up there.


As a young boy Des had the honour of presenting a handkerchief to Elizabeth, Duchess of York (the late Queen Mother) on her visit to Painted Fabrics in 1934.  He was keen that the history of Painted Fabrics should not be forgotten and in 2000 was instrumental, with a small group of others, in forming the Painted Fabrics Memorial Fund. 


After his retirement he moved to Ross-shire, where he named his home Chantreyland. Despite the distance, he remained interested in Norton and continued to share his memories, being a regular contributor to Active8 magazine and he generously provided information to the original Norton History Group.


Hilary Widdowson

Des Brooks and Primrose Cole presenting handkerchiefs to the Duchess of York at Painted Fabrics.

Obituary : Sheila Gilmour



It is sad to report the recent death of Sheila Gilmour after several years of failing health.

Sheila was a founder member of the original Norton History Group which began in the 1980’s. It was primarily a research group, and had 9 original members. Sheila took on the role of secretary which she carried out with great efficiency. Sheila was not a Nortonian by birth, but moved here with her family in the 1970’s and soon became interested in the local history of the area.

As the Norton History Group developed and produced several walk leaflets and exhibitions, Sheila saw the opportunity for a local book. Thus “Norton In Wartime” came off the press in 1995. She was gratified to know how this topic has developed recently, bringing in contributions from such a wide range of people. Sheila spent many hours in consultation with the publishers.

Even with her academic background, it was a steep learning curve. After the success of this book, two more followed at Sheila’s instigation. Both “Norton “ and “Around Norton” were well received..

Sheila Gilmour (right) with NHG Members (from left Kathryn Simpson, Joy Philips, Margaret Willmott) at Norton Agricultural Show, 

Over the years Sheila had amassed a large local archive, mainly kept in a spare bedroom! Her cross referencing always enabled her to find information she was seeking and attention to detail was paramount. She had a continuing close interest in both documents on Norton and also “connections”. Sheila always seemed to know who was related to whom and be able to place people in former local families. Within Norton she became the ‘go to’ for information and would spend hours dealing with queries from around the country.

Sadly, Sheila was unable to join the reformed NHG but continued to take an interest in how it was developing. She willingly handed her own archive material to NHG which is a valuable resource, now being preserved for posterity. It forms a legacy for her years of hard work in promoting and sharing the rich heritage we have in Norton. We should be so grateful for this.

We extend our sympathies to her family at this sad time.

Anne Phipps

Norton History Group

Researching, Protecting and Sharing our Heritage


Researching subjects of interest to Group Members


Collecting, Evaluating, Sieving, Selecting, Archiving  and Digitising Artefacts and Information

SHARING our Past

Through presentations, exhibitions, conversations and small group work

Norton History Group

Our Vision for 2022

We aim to:

  • increase our membership across all age groups,
  • expand our research activities,
  • encourage donation of material to add to our collections,
  • educate and share knowledge through exhibitions, presentations and discussion,
  • move all the current information held by the Group online - by the end of 2022 - making it available to anyone with an interest, and to future generations.

The History of Norton History Group - so far

Formed in the early 1990s, the group was mainly concerned with research through local wills and collections held by Sheffield Archives: the Bagshawe, Wingfield, Newton and Shore families.

A number of photographs were acquired and some are seen in the books published: "Norton in Wartime" (1995), "Norton" (2000) and "Around Norton" (2005).  A history of Norton Free School was also published along with several booklets.


Annual exhibitions and various talks/lectures were held in and around the small village of Norton at several venues, including the 12th Century Norton Church, Norton House (home to The Home Guard in WW2 and covenanted to locals by JG Gleeson), becoming the Norton Country Club to this day.

Topics including Sir Francis Chantrey, Farming in Norton, Old Families of the area and Church Gargoyles have been the subject of these talks and exhibitions.

The group owns a collection of books and pamphlets of local interest, which are available for loan to group Members.