The origin of the name Walkley comes from the Old English language with the original name being “Walcas Leah”, meaning Walca’s forest clearing. The early Anglo-Saxon village consisted of a few structures, mainly farm buildings and workmen’s cottages. Most of the area was thick woodland with the few open quarters such as Crookesmoor and Bell Hagg Common being used for grazing cattle. Walkley was mentioned in several documents in the centuries after the Norman Conquest, in 1554 it was described as having several cottages and smallholdings worked by tenants of the Lord of the Manor of Sheffield. By this time the population of Walkley was around 200.
In the 17th century Walkley was connected to the village of Owlerton by the pack horse track which ascended Walkley Lane and continued to Crookes, it became a turnpike road and a heavy gate was placed across the road where tolls were collected. The Old Heavygate Inn was constructed at this point in 1696 and still stands today, it has walls two feet thick. Although local folk etymology says that Heavygate Road is named after a heavy gate, it is actually from heavy meaning muddy or hard going (as in races) and gate meaning road (as in Fargate, Waingate, Baxtergate).
In 1601 Old Walkley Hall was constructed by William Rawson and stood until 1926 when it was demolished to make way for new housing. By 1860 the residential streets of Walkley had developed considerably and the infrastructure was basically as it is today with members of the Freedom Land Society, Fir View Land Society, Steel Bank Land Society and others building many of the new houses.
According to J. Edward Vickers, a local prophecy held that a volcano would erupt in the suburb in 1880.