Crosspool characters: Philip James

Here’s a Q&A with Crosspool butcher Philip James from the most recent edition of the Crosspool Clarion. Don’t miss the video above of Philip getting his legs waxed for charity!

How long have you been in Crosspool?

We are in our 18th year. We opened the shop in the precinct in May 2000.

What do you like about the Crossppol area?

It feels like a village community and has a really nice little shopping centre. The people are lovely and we have some loyal customers who have been with us since we opened.

What are your top sellers at the moment?

Our top sellers at the moment are beef mince, chicken fillets and our homemade sausages.

What are your plans for the future?

We are a family-run business with several generations involved in the running of it, so eventually I would like to hand over the business to the next generation of the family. We are still keen to support local events such as the festival and summer fayre and we like to get involved in local community fundraising where we can.

What do you think people should buy local?

We think people should buy local as all our meat is sourced locally within 20 miles, for example lamb from Bakewell and pork from near Doncaster. This means we can provide locally-sourced meats which have traceability and customers know they are getting good quality products. We can also give customers advice on the best cuts and cooking of produce and we provide a free delivery service if required.

Crosspool Characters: children’s author Ann Twigg

Children's author Ann Twigg with her grandchildren
Children’s author Ann Twigg with her grandchildren
We meet Ann Twigg, who worked at Lydgate Infant School and is now a children’s author.

Ann is one of four sisters and was born and brought up in Sheffield, England. She has three children, eight grand-children and two great-grand-children.

She started out as a Sunday school teacher in her early years, before progressing on to work with university-aged students and then in later years went on to work as a dinner lady in Crosspool.

How long did you work at Lydgate Lane Infant School and what are your memories of your time there?

I worked as a lunchtime supervisor for eight years at Lydgate Infant School and loved every minute until I retired last year.

I have some lovely memories of working with the little children and telling them my stories in the playground before they went in for their lunch. There was never a dull moment and I got so much enjoyment from seeing the look on their faces as they listened so intently to whichever story I was telling them.

Also I have great admiration for all the teachers and staff who all have so much patience with the children and do their very best to make this school such a lovely friendly and happy place for the children to be.

Do you live local to Crosspool? What do you like about it?

I was brought up in Crookes and lived there until 1982 when I moved to Crosspool. I have lived in Crosspool ever since.

I like Crosspool because it is on the edge of the countryside and we have some fabulous walks around us.

What is your inspiration for your stories?

My inspiration for some of the stories I wrote came from my grandchildren. I wrote the Red Man and Green Man stories when my little grandson who was about three years old, was waiting with me to cross the road and quite innocently asked me if Red Man and Green Man ever came out of the traffic lights to play.

Another story Tom on Robot Island was written for my other grandson Tom who was about seven years old, when he asked me to tell him a story about a robot.

Also the idea for the Grumpy Grandad stories was because I actually live with a Grumpy Grandad and the mole really did dig up our garden which he still grumbles about today.

I’m sure most of the local children will know the rock on the Bolehills that looks like a ship. I have lived locally all my life and have stood on that rock many times as a little girl pretending it was a ship that sailed away in the dead of night. Hence the idea for the story Alex and the little people.

All the other stories are ones I made up for my eight grandchildren and whose names are all in the stories.

Why did you decide to set up Playtime Books?

I hadn’t really thought about having the stories published as I just liked writing stories for my grandchildren. I had done such a lot though that my son came up with the idea that we ought to publish them on the internet under Playtime Books.  He had CDs made and illustrations for the discs at first.

What formats do you publish your stories in and how can people get hold of them?

We have moved on quite a bit now and the stories are available on CD, book, Kindle, and ACX downloads from Amazon under Playtime Books or Ann Twigg.

If you would like to purchase any of the books in CD format then please email

Also Grumpy Grandad can be followed on Facebook, YouTube, my website which is and also @ann_twigg on Twitter.

Crosspool Characters: optometrist Alex Gage

Alex Gage, optometrist
Alex Gage, optometrist

You’ll notice that there has been a bit of activity in the old Thresher Wine Rack unit recently. As we revealed back in June, a new family optometrist will be opening there in September.

We caught up with Alex Gage, who is opening his new Crosspool practice in September, to find out a bit more about him and his business.

Tell us a bit about the optometrist practices you run in different locations.

We are moving from Broomhill where we had a smaller premises and parking was difficult. We also have branch at Woodseats where I started in 1996.

What are your impressions of Crosspool? Do you live locally?

Crosspool is a lovely place we used to live there when the King’s Head still served beer. We used to sit in there and say “In years to come we can look back and say I remember when all this was fields” but I think the school field is still there, just not the pub.

Why did you decide to open an optometrist in Crosspool?

As I say we lived in Crosspool in a terraced house before my eldest daughter Emma could walk, but wanted to find somewhere with a garden instead of a concrete yard for children to play in. It still has that community feel and with the schools around I think there are lots of families around which we hope to serve well for all there vision needs.

Sandygate Road empty off licence unit
The old off licence unit will open soon as Alex Gage Optometrist

What sort of services will you be offering residents?

We will offer the usual vision services: NHS & Private eye exam, spectacles, contact lenses including Overnight Vision Correction (OVC) where you wear lenses overnight and don’t need to wear them the next day. My wife Sarah started this about 18 months ago and hasn’t looked back.

We’ll sell good quality sunglasses for all the family: you wouldn’t dream of sending your kids out without suncream for their skin but how many make sure their kids protect their eyes from UV as well? We will be providing the choice to help parents and children alike.

We will also be offering Behavioural optometry which I am accredited and a member of BABO. This helps people especially children to understand the world we live and the information their eyes are giving them (more info at

We are also hoping to provide sports vision to help athletes improve their game, by maximising the efficiency of their vision. I have also been working with a Sheffield-based engineer with hid new putting programme called Break 30 which aims to help golfers get a round with less than 30 puts.

What approach do you have to optometry and what are your plans for the practice in the future?

I think the above gives a good idea of my plans and hope that by attracting families we can help all members of the family with their vision needs. It is easier if families come together, they only have to remember one appointment and they can get help and support with choosing spectacles as well as advice from us on what suits there needs best.

Crosspool’s new optometrist will be opening in early September.

Alex Gage optometrist

Crosspool Characters: magician Dan Ellis

Crosspool magician Dan Ellis
Crosspool magician Dan Ellis

In the latest in this series of occasional interviews with local residents, we meet local magician Dan Ellis.

How long have you lived in Crosspool and what do you like about it?

I’ve lived in Crosspool for my whole life which is 18 years. It close to everything that I need. School was only a five minute walk, grab a bit of lunch from the shops and its only 15 minutes on the bus away from the city centre.

How did you get into being a magician? Are you in the Magic Circle?

I get asked this a lot and my honest answer is I have no idea how I got into it. My granddad was a magician but he died when I was young and I don’t really remember him. I think most boys get a magic set for Christmas when their little and most of them grow out of it. I guess I didn’t! I am a member of the Sheffield Magic Circle.

What does this involve doing day to day?

Being a magician isn’t as glamorous as it might sound. Day to day I just meet people, make phone calls, send emails and letters to get myself more gigs. When I do perform I do mainly close-up magic which is the sort of stuff you might see the likes of David Blaine doing on TV. I do magic right under people’s noses so there are no boxes or glamorous assistants to hide behind; it’s just me having fun with my audience.

Has being an magician given you the opportunity to tour and travel?

I’ve done shows up and down the country but a majority of my work is local. It is yet to take me abroad but hopefully it won’t be too long. Magic is the sort that thing that come across well in any language so I hope it can take me all over the world in the future.

Crosspool magician Dan Ellis
Crosspool magician Dan Ellis

What sort of performances to do do for events, parties or corporate dos? If people are interested in booking you, how can they get in touch?

Like I said I’m mainly a close-up magician meaning I do magic for small groups of people at parties, weddings and corporate events. I mix and mingle with guests and perform magic right under their noses.

Magic is a great ice breaker which is why I think corporate events and weddings are very good venues for it. Often there are groups of people who have never met before and my magic creates a talking point for people. It also helps create a great atmosphere which fits in with parties and weddings really well.

If people are interested in booking me they can check out my website which is or give me a call on 07976 300898 and I’d be happy to chat even its just about what its like to be a magician.

If you could do one thing to make Crosspool better, what would it be?

I can’t really think if anything I would change in Crosspool apart from maybe having a magic shop here but that would probably put me out of a job if everyone could do it! I think that things like the Crosspool Festival and the summer fare are really great things for the community and I think that Crosspool should have more of these things.

Look out for Dan at this year’s Crosspool Festival.

City Magicians

Crosspool characters: Judith Hanson

Crosspool Characters: local author Judith Hanson

Judith Hanson
Judith Hanson

We meet Judith Hanson, author of two local history books about Crosspool and secretary of Hallam Art Group.

Her first book, Images of England: Crosspool, contains photos and text exploring the suburb’s development over time.

Follow-up title Crosspool Through Time features many more contrasting images of Crosspool.

How long have you lived in Crosspool and what do you like about the suburb?

I have lived in Crosspool since 1979. I am originally from Hunters Bar but have also lived in Bingley, London, Cyprus and Sweden. I like Crosspool as it is so close to open countryside, it is a very friendly community and a very pleasant place to live.

Images of England: Crosspool by Judith HansonTell us about your 2003 book on Crosspool. What made you decide to write it?

My first book came about through my being a bit of an amateur artist; I am secretary of Hallam Art Group. I wanted to paint pictures of the pubs in Crosspool and it was about the time that the King’s Head was to be demolished.

I worked in the post office and asked several people if they had photos of the King’s Head in its prime – to paint from. I realised that we were losing our local History and it needed to be recorded.

I had bought the Tempus Publishing book on Ecclesall so I wrote to them and asked if a book on Crosspool was in the pipeline. They said “No, how about doing one”. So I did.

How did you go about researching the content for your books? Was it hard work?

Because I worked in the post office and knew so many people I managed to acquire a lot of info and photos. Sadly some of these original photos have already been lost on the deaths of their owners.

My first book took over my life for several months and apart from talking to people, visiting them and listening to their stories I did a lot of research in the Local Studies Library.

Crosspool Through Time by Judith HansonThe first book must have sold quite well, as you produced a follow-up book in 2010. How is the second book different?

For my second book, which I said I would never do, I also took a lot of photographs. The second book shows contrasting views of now and then.

A lot of my original contributors were no longer around so I had quite a difficult job finding new photos and of course I no longer had my contacts through the post office.

Do you have plans or material for any further books about Crosspool?

I have no plans for a future book but I am sure there is scope for someone else to take up the mantle. I wish there were some books on Fulwood and Broomhill too! 
I did do one more project. I was asked after my first book if I would do some guided walks which I declined.

However, I did do a guided walk booklet which was sold at GT News. The proceeds went towards a new bench in Lydgate Green at the bottom of Lydgate Hall Crescent.

If you’re struggling for a Christmas gift idea, then have you considered Judith’s books? They are available to buy from local shops, direct from the author or online:

1. From local shops: both books are available at GT News and Crosspool Through Time is also available at Craft Angels.

2. Direct from the author: signed copies can be purchased from Judith at 25 Lydgate Hall Crescent, Sheffield S10 5NE.

3. Online, from retailers such as Amazon:

Images of England: Crosspool (2003) by Judith Hanson on Amazon

Crosspool Through Time (2010) by Judith Hanson on Amazon