Weston Park, Sheffield
Weston Park is a public park with an area of just over 5 hectares in the City of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It lies immediately west of the City Centre, alongside the Weston Park Museum. It is situated next to the University of Sheffield Library, Geography and Firth Court buildings, and across the road from Sheffield Children's Hospital. Along with Crookes Valley Park and The Ponderosa it is one of the three Crookesmoor parks. Weston Park remains a well cared for park with gorgeous flower displays throughout.
Weston Park was the first municipal park in the city and was developed from the grounds of Weston Hall, which the Sheffield Corporation purchased for £15,750 following the death of its owners, Eliza and Anne Harrison. The hall itself was converted into the Sheffield City Museum.
Robert Marnock was commissioned to design the park in 1873. New terra cotta pillared entrances were established at Winter Street and Western Bank using designs by Godfrey Sykes. The original lake from Weston Hall was extended and redesigned and the Ebenezer Elliott memorial statue was moved to the park from its original place in Market Place. A memorial to Godfrey Sykes was also erected in 1875 during the construction of the park, consisting of an 8 metre high terra cotta column designed by James Gamble, one of Sykes's pupils. It depicts youth, maturity and old age.
The park was opened to the public on Monday 6 September 1875 with the following day's Sheffield Daily Telegraph reporting: "The weather was fine. The Park looked in its gayest Summer dress. The walks were freshly graveled, the flower beds were trim and well ordered." In 1882 the Weston Park Weather Station was erected privately by the curator of the adjacent museum; it is the official climatological station for Sheffield and since 1937 it has been run by the museum's staff. It is one of the oldest weather stations in the country and all records are freely available via computer database or printed media.
In 1895 the South West gates were erected on Western Bank close to the newly constructed Mappin Art Gallery. This became the park's main entrance and was built primarily so affluent visitors could drive their carriages right up to the gallery's door. The bandstand was added around 1900. It was designed by the Sheffield architects Flockton and Gibbs and constructed at a foundry in Glasgow. It was one of a pair, the other being placed in Hillsborough Park, but this has since been demolished. The bandstand was in use until the mid-1970s and many well-known bands have played there, including the Black Dyke Band and the Coldstream Guards Band; it has also staged several rock concerts there. The restored bandstand is now an approved Civil Wedding venue.
In 1905 the park was visited by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra during a visit to Sheffield in which they also opened the nearby University of Sheffield. A war memorial to the York and Lancaster Regiment was erected in the park in 1923 to commemorate the 8,814 of the regiment who died in the First World War.
In the 1950s, Sheffield Corporation agreed to the demolition of the Winter Street Gate, along with its lodge and outbuildings to allow for the construction of the University Library (now the Western Bank Library)
Weston Park Restoration Project
In March 2006 it was announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund was awarding over £2,000,000 to help with the restoration of Weston Park. The work took two years to complete and consisted of the following work:
- Resurfacing all paths and replacing modern railings and gates with more appropriate designs.
- Refurbishing all seven of the Grade II listed monuments and memorials, which powerfully commemorate the valour and craftsmanship of the people of Sheffield and their efforts to promote social reform.
- Recreating the original vision for the lake as a striking reflective sheet of water crossed by two beautiful wooden bridges, using the original 1874 Marnock designs discovered in the city archives.
- Restoring the bandstand, which is a nationally rare example of a fully glazed structure, to create a unique cultural venue and outdoor classroom.
- Replacing the stolen south east gates, the theft of which in 1995 came to symbolise the lowest point in the fortunes of the park.
- Planting new trees and shrubs in Marnock's style to increase the all-year-round interest and sensory value.
- Installing new benches and creating quiet, sheltered seating areas.
- Remodelling and refurbishing two of the existing tennis courts.
- Providing improved facilities for the park staff.
- Installing lighting and CCTV along one of the principal routes through the park.
- Improving access to ensure all areas of the park are wheelchair accessible.
- Installing new signage and interpretation boards.
- Developing a range of activities and events to encourage new users from across the city and beyond.
The park was formally reopened on Sunday 1 June 2008 by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield.
- Weston Hall and the Mappin Art Gallery, from Picture Sheffield dot com.
- Sheffield Hallam University Public Art Archive: Details of Godfrey Sykes memorial.
- Museums Sheffield website: Details of weather station.
- Sheffield City Council website: Details of bandstand.
- Jones, Melvyn (1997). Aspects of Sheffield: discovering local history - 1. Barnsley: Wharncliffe. p. 211. ISBN 1871647401.
- Museums Sheffield website: Details of restoration project.
- Sheffield City Council website: Details of reopening of park.