Weston Park

Courtesy of Mike, All rights reserved  

 

 

Courtesy of Mike, All rights reserved

 

 

Jump to the park’s history

Recent renovation
Weston park has recently (2007-8) undergone a major renovation, partly supported by the lottery fund. 
Most of its attractions have undergone a major re-haul and some were rebuilt from scratch.
The lake was recreated, the bandstand all but rebuilt…
To learn more about some of the park’s major monuments click on the links bellow.
These will take you to pdf versions of the information plaques situated around the park.
Files are curtesy of  Sheffield City Council.

The Bandstand

The lake

The war memorials

The weather station

Elliott’s monument

Sykes pillar

Landscape and Legacy

Weston park, map of main attractions and monuments

History


The Park was opened in 1875. The Museum was opened at the same time, though not in the present building of 1935, but in Weston Hall which had been the home of Miss Eliza end Miss Anne Harrison, the wealthy daughters of Thomas Harrison, a saw-maker. The Miss Harrison gave money to build several churches and church schools in the city and they also bequeathed Weston Hall and its grounds as a public park.

The park was designed by the celebrated garden designer, Robert Marnock. He also designed Bretton Park, Regent’s Park in London, the Botanical Gardens and the grounds of several large houses in Sheffield.

To begin with, The City Museum housed the collections of the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society (these societies were quite common in 18th century English towns). Later the Bateman Collection was added and gradually the collections were built up. In 1935 Alderman J.G. Graves gave the new Museum building on the site of Weston Hall.

In 1887 The Mappin Art Gallery was built next door to Weston Hall – quite a contrast with its impressive neo-classical facade. John Newton Mappin, a brewer, and his nephew, Frederick Thorpe Mappin gave their art collections “which may be open to the public in perpetuity and without charge” forming the first City Art Gallery (Less than ten years before John Ruskin had opened his museum at Walkley but refused to give it to the City authorities). In 1940 the Mappin was hit by a bomb. It was rebuilt and the front part restored in 1965.

Many of the Trees in the park were planted for special occasions. There are plaques with the details nearby; for instance, an oak planted by the War Memorials.

Near the top gates (about where the helicopter pad is) there stood a magnificent iron       fountain with 4 basins probably made at Coalbrookdale. It disappeared some time in the late 1930’s.

 

Map of WP

WESTON PARK: starting at the bottom gates on western Bank, anti-clockwise:

l)The Lower Gates: design by Godfrey Sykes (1803-1866); assembled and built by his pupil James Gamble after Sykes’ death. The terra cotta pillars are the same design as window panels at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, where Sykes was working at the time of his death. They were painted white about 20 years ago and should be returned to their natural reddish colour. Sadly the central iron gates were stolen in 1994.

2) Ebenezer Elliott Monument. ‘The Corn-Law Rhymer’ (1781-1849) was an iron founder and poet, best-known for his campaign against the corn laws which kept the price of bread artificially high. The bronze statue on a granite base is by N.N. Burnand. It was moved to the park in 1875 from outside the Post office in High Street.

3) Foundation stone of the University is low down on the University wall facing the park. Dated 30th June 1903, laid by Sir Marcus Samuel, Lord Mayor of London. Architects, Flockton and Gibbs of Sheffield. The University was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1905.

4) The Duck Pond was originally a larger lake with a fountain in the middle; it was reduced when the University built their Library. The lake was part of Robert Marnock’s ‘Gardenesque’ design with winding paths, shrubberies and meandering shapes – a design which has stood the test of time.

5) The Tennis Courts were in the park at its opening, trough then grass courts. A nice early example of a sports pavilion.

6) Winter St. Gates: both gates on this Bide of the park have changed. The lower gates disappeared in the 1940’e during University building works. The old lodge was replaced by the present (derelict) house in the 1960’s. This used to be immaculate when occupied by a park-keeper, so please don’t blame ’60’s architecture. The top entrance was redesigned c. 1970, plus public lavatories (now shut).

7) Observatory: on the grass opposite the Shelter once stood a small observatory, given to the University by Pernbroke College, Cambridge. It was later run by the Museum, who opened it to the public two nights a week until World War II.

8 ) The Shelter was built c. 1930 for use by the unemployed. There is an open seating area facing the gardens and a closed meeting-room behind.

9) The Godfrey Sykes Memorial has been moved from its original position north of the Mappin Art Gallery. Godfrey Sykes was born in 1824 in Malton. He attended Sheffield School of Art in its early and distinguished days under its Principal, Young Mitchell. There were close links with Sheffield manufacturies, and a succession of brilliant designers studied and worked in both School of Art and works. Sykes died of Bright’s Disease aged 41, when he was at the peak of his career as designer of the interiors at the South Kensington Museum, London (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). His memorial obelisk was designed by his pupil, James Gamble, using Sykes’ own designs from the V & A. It is made in six sections of stone and terra cotta depicting Youth, Maturity and Age alternating with holly sprays, topped by a Corinthian capital and a bronze vase.

10) Bandstand. This is the only surviving bandstand in a Sheffield park. It was regularly used until the mid 1970’s by a variety of local and visiting bands, but is now derelict. If anything wants restoring in Weston Park, this is surely it. It was built in the early 1900’s from the profits of the trams…

11) Weather Station. Opposite the Museum. Records have been kept constantly since the park opened. Run by Museum staff, readings are posted on the Museum entrance gates.

12) The Conservatory was built in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain. It was claimed to be the only place in Sheffield that tropical plants could be grown. Disused for some years. Compared to the glass-houses in the Botanical Gardens (1835), it is a dull, uninspired design, frankly unworthy of its site.

13) Western Bank Top Gates were opened in 1895, to allow “direct access for carriages to the (Mappin) Gallery”. Apparently carriage folk did not expect to walk from the road. Designed by the Borough Surveyor’s Office; ironwork by Braun. The stonework was done by “the workmen of the Highways Department”. The helicopter pad for the Children’s Hospital opposite, marked on the tarmac, is to be moved.

14) The Two War Memorials: the Transvaal War Memorial commemorates soldiers who -died in the Boer War 1899-1902. It was moved from the Cathedral forecourt in 1957. The York and Lancaster War Memorial was unveiled in 1923 in memory of 8,800 soldiers who died in World War I. Designed by students of Sheffield College of Art, it includes work by Charles Jagger, the well-known Sheffield-born sculptor. A later inscription records the death of 1,222 soldiers in World War II.

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