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Illustrated Talk on the history of Western Park Museum at Wadsley Church Hall 27th March 2017

20 Mar

history wadsley

Education centre opens at Sheffield Botanical Gardens

16 Mar


A new education centre was officially opened at Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens today (Wednesday 15 March) by the Duke of Devonshire, Peregrine Cavendish.

The Duke, who is a patron of the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust, welcomed guests to the new Dorothy Fox Education Centre.

Named after the extremely generous donor who made the project possible, the centre aims to transform the use of the gardens as an educational resource for people of all ages in Sheffield.

It has a library and three flexible classroom areas which can be combined to create a large lecture area. It will also offer educational opportunities for schools and practical courses for adult learners, as well as a programme of lectures, demonstrations, art classes and photography courses.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “Since the Botanical Gardens opened in 1836, the site has provided generations of Sheffielders with a beautiful spot of tranquility and natural beauty.

“I hope that this new education centre will help to inspire people to enjoy the gardens, which are a real jewel in Sheffield’s crown.

“I would also like to thank our very generous donors, and groups including the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust (SBGT) and the Friends of the Botanical Gardens, Sheffield (FOBS) for their support, ceaseless fundraising and hard work.

“Without them, creating this new education centre would simply not have been possible.”

The Grade II-listed Botanical Gardens were created in 1836 by Robert Marnock, a leading horticulturalist and landscape designer of his day. In 1951 the gardens, which cover 19 acres, were leased to Sheffield City Council from the Sheffield Town Trust.

The site now has 15 different garden areas featuring collections of plants from all over the world, including Mediterranean, Asian, American prairie-style, woodland and rock-and-water plantings.

It also plays host to a calendar of functions and events, including the annual Art in the Gardens festival which draws in art and culture lovers from all over the North.

Development of a new education centre and educational activities has been a long-term aim since the completion, in 2005, of an ambitious restoration project which saw the pavilions and gardens returned to their former glories.

Since then, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust and FOBS have continued to raise funds for the improvement of the site. Further money has also come in from private donations, from gifts from local charitable foundations and through legacies from generous supporters including FOBS members Barbara Holland and Mildred Rushby.

Dorothy Fox, after whom the centre is named, was a Sheffield woman who loved the gardens so much that she left a house in her will to the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust.

Her substantial legacy funded much of the development of the new education centre, so it was felt only fitting to dedicate the name of the building to her.

The new education centre replaces a temporary and outdated classroom block and will enable botanical, horticultural and heritage-based educational activities for people of all ages.

The development, which will merge learning with outdoor life, also adds to Sheffield’s growing reputation as The Outdoor City.

Jill Sinclair, chairman of FOBS, said: “We are thrilled by the opening of the new centre, which gives us chance to develop some exciting new initiatives.

“It has the potential to put Sheffield on the map as a major venue for horticultural education in the north.”

Joe Kavanagh, on behalf of the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust, said: “Many past and present trustees, patrons, members of FOBS and the Gardens Team have worked very hard to deliver this education centre.

“Constant fundraising by FOBS and the Trust, continued support from the Freshgate, JG Graves and Church Burgesses charitable trusts and some wonderful legacies have provided the funding.”



History Tour at Sheffield General Cemetery 12th March 2017

7 Mar

sheff cem

Explore historic Kelham Island Museum… in Virtual Reality!

15 Feb

First ever VR experience launches on Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust’s Kelham Island Museum website
History lovers who received a virtual reality headset for Christmas are in for a treat thanks to a newly launched virtual reality experience from Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield.
The open stores and Engineer’s workshop area of the museum have been meticulously scanned and recreated in a digital immersive space.
Allowing you to virtually walk around areas of the museum that are ordinarily inaccessible to visitors, it is intended to show more objects from the museum’s vast collection.
Requiring nothing more than a simple cardboard headset and modern smartphone, the downloadable experience is compatible with most Android and Apple phones and Samsung Gear VR headsets.
Whilst VR mode is a first for the museum, it’s not the only medium with which to explore the immersive experience. It can also be accessed in 2D mode on computer, laptop and smartphones.
Maria Flude, Sheffield Industrial Museum’s Trust said: ‘I believe this is a first for museums in the region and it’s a leap into the digital unknown for us. We are delighted to have this resource and it’s prompted some interesting conversations around access. This is an extension of our work around inclusive access and it will push our development in this area as we look into making it accessible for visually impaired visitors too. The scan allows everyone to feel as if they’re walking round our engineering workshops and to explore more of the collection at their own leisure.
‘Viewers are prompted to learn facts about the objects thanks to interactive tags which give further information. This area of the museum is usually out of bounds and it’s an area of much interest for visitors, so we think people will be really excited by this glimpse behind the scenes.’

The scan was carried out by Sheffield VR tour company CONVRTS, who have scanned a number of Yorkshire museums and institutions.
The VR and 2D experience can be accessed via the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust website:

Sheffield City Council is tendering for a City Centre Mobility Scheme

24 Jan

Sheffield City Centre Mobility Scheme

Wardsend Cemetery -A hidden little Sheffield Gem full of history

19 Jan

Wardsend Cemetery, which is really a detached churchyard, was opened on 21st June 1857 as the burial ground for St. Philip’s Churh on Infirmary Road (now demolished). The vicar, the Rev. John Livesey, had, at his own expense, bought five acres of land at Wardsend when the churchyard was closed for burials. He also contributed to the cost of building a small chapel and a sexton’s house.

The cemetery and the chapel, which was designed by Weightman, Hadfield and Goldie of Sheffield, were consecrated by the Archbishop of York, Thomas Musgrave, on the 5th of July 1859.

Wardsend Cemetery has a distinct military influence due to its close proximity to Hillsborough Barracks. The obelisk monument commemorates the soldiers of 6th, 19th, 24th, 33rd, 51st, 55th Regiments of Foot, Victorian Army, who died whilst at Hillsborough Barracks during the period 1866 – 1869.

There are also memorials to several soldiers who gave their lives during both World Wars. Some of the 240 victims of the Great Sheffield Flood of the night of 11th/12 March 1864, when the Dale Dyke reservoir at Bradfield collapsed, were laid to rest in Wardsend Cemetery, including the children of Paymaster Sergeant Foulds, Isabella, aged 5 and John aged 3, of Hillsborough Barracks, also Mr Joseph Goddard and his wife Sarah, of Malin Bridge.

Other epitaphs of interest are dedications to a number of Bible readers, one a member of the Philadelphian Wesleyan church; the Secretary of Sheffield Angling Association, widows referred to as relicts, and a reference to a 15 year old boy trgically killed at work in a colliery accident.

By the turn of the century, some 20,000 interments had taken place and in 1901, a further two acres of land on the other side of the railway were added. Wardsend Cemetery remains the only cemetery in England with a railway running through it!!

The final burial took place in 1977, when the re-interment of remains from a building site close to Sheffield Cathedral took place and the cemetery was officially closed in 1988.

Although it remained legally open for burials until 1988,Wardsend Cemetery has been increasingly neglected over the last thirty or so years and following the demolition of the chapel and sexton’s house, was more or less abandoned by the parish and church authorities.

Friends of Wardsend Cemetery, a group devoted to Wardsend Cemetery and raising awareness of its position as part of the Livesey Street Project set up 18 months ago. 

A Facebook page has been created as part of an archaeological assessment of the cemetery conducted by students of the University of Sheffield with help from the Hillsborough College and the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery.

If you have any stories about the cemetery to share or would like to know more about this hidden gem, please visit

Council launches opportunity for city-wide free Wi-Fi service

12 Jan

People visiting Sheffield could be logging on to a fast and free city centre Wi-Fi service by the end of the year.

Sheffield City Council has announced it is looking for a provider to offer a public access Wi-Fi service across the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) – at no cost to visitors who use it.

The service will make Sheffield city centre a more vibrant and attractive place for residents, visitors, businesses and shoppers – helping the economy to grow and supporting initiatives such as Alive After Five.

The implementation of free, public-access Wi-Fi is central to the BID’s plans for encouraging visitors, residents and employees to spend more time in the city and

The plans, set to be approved by the Council’s cabinet next Wednesday (18 January), would allow a provider to offer a cutting-edge, high-speed free connection in exchange for exclusive use of street assets used to provide wireless communication services.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business and economy at Sheffield City Council, said: “This offer has the potential to place Sheffield amongst the best connected cities in the country.

“Our ambition is to create the conditions that allow a super-fast, digitally-connected and vibrant city to thrive. Our economy will benefit and Sheffield will become more connected for people using the city centre.

“But we’ll only appoint a provider on our terms – someone who will provide the service at no cost to the public or ourselves.

“We’ve tested the market and believe that a provider will be able to offer the service we want for Sheffield in exchange for exclusive use of council-owned street assets such as lampposts.”

Under the proposed terms of the competitive procurement, a provider would offer a free-of-charge service with high quality customer experience and good coverage potentially including council-owned public buildings such as the Winter Garden.

Currently, there are a number of free of charge public access Wi Fi schemes operating in Sheffield but these do not cover the open spaces across the city.

The project will require the Council to enter into a contractual arrangement with the preferred bidder. A contract could be awarded in June with the Wi-Fi service expected to go live by December this year.

The manager of Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID) Diane Jarvis said: “This is potentially fantastic news for Sheffield and something that we have been working with the Council and other partners on for some time – seeing it coming to life for our city centre is very exciting.

“We want to see increased connectivity standards for Sheffield city centre. The implementation of free, public-access Wi-Fi is central to the BID’s plans for encouraging visitors, residents and employees to spend more time here.

“We believe that free Wi-Fi could drive greater footfall, supporting the high street and the local economy, and at the same time make it easier for visitors to access information about the city centre, such as retail and leisure attractions.”