Story: Elizabeth Shaw.
Photos: Catherine Brown & Gordon Shaw
Thursday 19th May was a pleasant summer evening so my husband Gordon and I decided to join the Burngreave Exploration walk, part of Sheffield Environment Weeks.
Starting on Spital Hill at 7pm, a group of 11 was led by Neill Schofield on behalf of Friends of Parkwood Springs and Sheffield Group Ramblers.
The walk was to explore green spaces near to the city centre. A short walk up Spital Street and we were straight into a grassed area by Verdon Street flats. Children were playing on the recreation ground safely away from the traffic. We crossed Rock Street and paused, looking down the railway line towards Manchester. Neill told us this was the first line into Sheffield; nearby was backto- back housing. The maisonettes that replaced these are gone too and nature has quickly reclaimed the area. We continued under the trees to Wood Fold, where new houses are being built at the old Stanley Tools building.
Across Rutland Road and another pause by the bird-and-boy statue. I spoke to local resident Nuala who is a Friend of Parkwood Springs. She said she had come along to ‘see if the walk went somewhere she hadn’t previously been or if Neill told of something she didn’t know.’ Both had already happened.
At the viewing point above the Ski Village, Neill described the view as ‘quite incredible’, picking out the Town Hall to our left and the high-rise flats at Stannington to the right. We also had a close-up view of a hot air balloon and its passengers.
In medieval times, this had been a deer park. During the 1926 General Strike, the strikers had used the area as a source of fuel. Once it was left alone, new growth sprang up. Where we now looked down onto the Ski village, there used to be a quarry, the close-knit community of Parkwood Springs village and a power station. In the near future, the site will incorporate the present landfill area, making a large country park.
Safely across Cookswood Road and down by the old Firth Brown Sports Club, now Sheffield United’s Academy, we learnt that this used to be an Iron Age hill fort to match the one at Wincobank. As we made our way down through the woods, Margaret from Hillsborough said ‘it’s nice to explore a part of the city I’m not familiar with’. She was impressed by how well maintained the paths were and how much green space there is here. Through a gennel to Crabtree Road where there is a cottage dating back to the 16th century. Earlier residents used to strip bark from the trees to use in the process of tanning leather. Past Crabtree Pond, up Osgathorpe Road and Stair Road to Devon Gardens, also known as ‘The Nannies Gardens’. The large houses around here were home to the middle classes and nannies would meet up here for a chat while the babies hopefully slept.
Continuing up Abbeyfield Road and across Scott Road, we entered Burngreave Cemetery. The WWI memorial is in the same design as the ones in Belgium and France and, like them, is maintained by the War Graves Commission. Many injured soldiers were treated at the Northern General due to the medical expertise acquired from dealing with industrial accidents. Many did not survive and they are buried in this cemetery. Proceeding along the main drive, Anglicans buried to one side and non-conformists on the other, there is a circular plot with some Islamic burials. Neill described these as ‘a reminder of the length of tradition of people coming to Sheffield to work’.
Before leaving, we took time to have a look at the twin chapels, a building designed by the same architect as the Town Hall. It is now 9pm and the walk is finished. We had a very pleasant and informative evening and all for FREE!