Whinfell Quarry Gardens, Sheffield.

I love these little gardens. They are quite hidden away and I only found them by accident when out running. Prior to that, I had no idea that they were here.

Video of the gardens.

The gardens are Grade II Listed and were formerly called Whirlow Quarry Gardens, as indicated on an OS map of 1893. However the name got changed for some reason, I could not find out why.

The quarry was once leased from the Fitzwilliam Estates by the steel industrialist Samuel Doncaster. Does anyone know if this was the same Fitzwilliam family of Wentworth Woodhouse? If you do, please leave me a note in the comments.

A house was built on the quarry in the late 1890s-early 1900s, called Whinfell House. The only picture that I could find of the house is on the information board (Above). Doncaster also planned for a garden to be laid out in the two disused quarries, which were called, Big Quarry and Little Quarry.

Initially, 10,00 trees were planted in the gardens. Backhouse & Co Nursery of York laid out paths and steps and a sequence of rock pools. Sometimes around 1915 the horticulturist, plant collector and nurseryman Clarence Elliott was commissioned by Samuel Doncaster to design a garden in Little Quarry. Elliott had worked for the Backhouse Nursery in the late 1890s and early 1900s and may have assisted with the creation of the garden for Big Quarry.

Doncaster is said to have travelled all over the world collecting plants. In 1933, the House and grounds passed from Samuel Doncaster to Frederick Neill, the first High Sheriff of Hallamshire, who undertook an extensive replanting scheme during the 1960s.

In 1968 the Quarry Garden was given to the city of Sheffield by James Neill Holdings Ltd. Since then the site has been a public park, owned and managed by Sheffield City Council. The House and the adjacent paddock remained in private ownership.

In 1971, Whinfell House was destroyed by fire and subsequently demolished in 1979. In the 1980s flats and houses were built on the paddock and the site of Whinfell House. This new housing estate, called Whinfell Court, incorporates the stable block and the former drive with the remains of the tree belt to its east, formerly called Daffodil Wood (not included in the registered area).

The gardens are open daily and are free to walk around. There is ample space to social distance and lots of benches to sit and enjoy the surrounding nature.

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Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield.

Sheffield has 80 public parks and 650 other green and open spaces as well as being situated right on the edge of the Peak District National Park.

Norfolk Heritage Park opened in 1848 and today is designated at Grade II. The land once formed part of Sheffield Park, the deer park of Sheffield Manor.

The park has a few interesting facts:

  • Norfolk Football Club played its home games in the park between 1861 and 1880.
  • Queen Victoria visited the park on 21 May 1897, during her Jubilee year.
  • In 1910 Norfolk Park was given as a gift from the Duke of Norfolk to the City of Sheffield
  • Wikipedia states that, the TV game show, It’s A Knockout, was filmed in the park during the 1970s. However, Sheffield History state that it was held on the Arbourthorne Playing Fields in May 1971. If you know, leave me a note.

During the later 1980s the park fell into decline. In 1994, the park was added to the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens (Grade II) and the ‘Friends of Norfolk Park’ group were established.

Al that remains of the old Refreshment Pavilion.

Also in 1994, the park became more commonly known as Norfolk Heritage Park reflecting its heritage and cultural significance. In 1995, the derelict Refreshment Pavilion was badly damaged by an arson attack and was demolished. A new refreshment pavilion was build called, ‘The centre in the Park’. Which was built to serve the community. It has rooms available for hire, a community cafe and Creche. It opened to the public in 2000, along with new children’s play areas, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield.

I visited Kelham Island Museum back in October. The museum had remained closed during the pandemic. However, they were finally able to re-open with COVID safe implementations in place. The museum are using the track and trace app and have a one way system in place with social distancing. If you head to their website, they recommend booking tickets in advance. Adult entry is £7. Sadly, the River Don Engine was not performing shows, which is understandable.

I love Kelham Island, there is a lot to see and the Island Cafe/Bar does awesome food and coffee. A lot of Sheffield’s industrial history is now inside the museum. It is a wonderful place to remember what made Sheffield the city it is today.

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St James Church, Norton, Sheffield.

http://www.stjamesnorton.org/content.php?page=index

This is a beautiful church building. There is documented evidence that shows a Saxon church may have sat on this site as early as 1180. However, most of the buildings that remain today were built between 1200 and 1500.

As you can see from watching the video, many of the gravestones have been moved or made into the path that surrounds the church. Sadly, many have also been lost. The churchyard was renovated in 1959-1960 where unsafe tombs were removed. The churchyard was closed for burials in May 1869, when Norton Cemetery was opened on Derbyshire Lane.

The sculptor, Sir Francis Chantrey is buried in the churchyard. There is also a monument dedicated to him just outside the church gates.

In 1956, a garden of rest was created just behind the tower.

Sadly, the building was closed when I visited. However, once COVID is over, I will return for a look inside as from the picture that I have seen online, it looks beautiful.

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Loxley United Reformed Church

Today, the once beautiful Grade II listed chapel is an empty shell. Damaged by fire, vandalised and full of graffiti, it is another one of Sheffield’s forgotten buildings.

The building was originally known as the Loxley Congregational Chapel. Constructed in 1787, the church closed in 1994 due to low congregation numbers, making it unsustainable to keep open.

Many of the 240 victims of 1864 Great Sheffield Flood are buried in the cemetery. When the Dale Dyke Dam was filled for the first time, its banks broke sending 650 million gallons of water down the Loxley Valley into central Sheffield. The dam broke around midnight. Most people were sleeping and so they were caught completely off guard. It still remains to this day, one of Britain’s worst man-made disasters.

The website Commonwealth War Graves identifies 14 graves of war dead commemorated in the cemetery.

The building was destroyed by fire in August 2016. Works have been undertaken to stabilise the walls and to restrict access. However, the metal sheets have been partially bent to enable access through downstairs windows. Restoration and reuse is under discussion. (Historic England)

Porth Wen Brick Works, Anglesey, North Wales.

August 2020.

I have been visiting Anglesey for about 25 years. I first visited Porth Wen with my parents when I was about 12 years old. I have not been for about five years or so and sadly, on this visit, I noticed graffiti, litter and general decaying of the site.

The site is extremely popular these days. It is along a popular coastal walk and so it gets a lot of foot traffic from hikers as well as explorers and photographers. At one time, you could visit and would not see a soul. It also looks like someone is living in one of the kilns.

The path down is slowly getting eroded away. When it rains, the path forms a river with the water wearing it down. In a few years, It will be inaccessible by foot.

Brickmaking started on the site before the 20th century. An old OS map dated 1889, shows a tramway and incline. However, the site of the works states ‘disused’. Production began again sometime in the early 20th century, when the present buildings were completed. The works were disused by 1949. Below are a few pictures that I took, along with a video that I made on my recent visit.

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Sadly, there is now quite a bit of graffiti on the site.
Beautiful
Winding house

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Abbey Pumping Station Museum, Leicestershire.

I was visiting the National Space Centre and noticed this free little museum next door. Out of curiosity, I went inside to have a look. To my amazement, the museum was full of interesting stuff both inside and out. If I am honest, I enjoyed it more than the Space Centre.

The Victorian building was constructed in 1891 by Leicester Corporation and was designed by Stockdale Harrison (Leicester architect) in 1890, alongside the River Soar, as a pumping station used to pump the town’s sewage to the sewage farm at Beaumont Leys. The station continued pumping Leicester’s sewage until 1964, when electric pumps took over. Within a few years the Wanlip Sewage Treatment plant took over and the pumping station was no longer needed.

http://www.abbeypumpingstation.org/

Frontier Historical Museum, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

I was clearing out my phone as the memory is almost full and I found a few pictures of the Frontier Historical Museum so I thought I would write a little post. I apologies for the poor quality phone pictures!

The natural hot spring water was first used by the Utes, who believed that it was sacred. When the white settlers began to migrate from the East, the springs soon became a tourist destination. President Theodore Roosevelt, Molly Brown, Buffalo Bill Cody and Doc Holliday, have all stayed at the springs.

Museum Website

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Abandoned Storr’s Bridge Works (Loxley, Sheffield)

WOW! What a place this is and I am really happy that I got to see it before it gets demolished, even though I know that I am a little late to the party. 28 Days Later and Derelict Places have lots of reports on this place, going back a few years, so you can take a look at how the place has deteriorated.

The footprint of this place is huge, the site was owned by Bovis Homes who bought the site back in 2006. They had planned to put 500 homes on the site. However, local opposition halted plans stating that the area could not sustain that many new homes, which I agree with 100%. I believe that discussions are underway once again to build on the site, but the plans have been scaled down. I personally think that the site should be made into some sort of nature reserve as it is located in a quiet valley surrounded by countryside.

The factory is known locally as the Storr’s Bridge Works. However, I believe that it has been occupied over the years by a few different companies, including Thomas Marshall and Co,  Hepworths and Carblox. The valley of Loxley supplied bricks to the Sheffield steel industry, beginning in the 1800s and ceasing in the 1990s. The area was rich in ganister which came from the Stannington pot clay seam. There were multiple mines in the area (I believe one may remain but I have yet to find it).

The factory closed when the demand for produce decreased alongside the decline of the steel industry in Sheffield.

There is hardly anything left of the factory today. Most of the interiors have been removed and what is left has been trashed. People have done a great deal of fly-tipping on the site also, which the council have failed to clean up.

The site is located along a public footpath and whilst there are some signs up that say “do not enter” the site is easily accessible due to the temporary fencing being removed in parts. There is some great graffiti (and some not so great) on the buildings. The most interesting part of the site was being able to walk through what I think are the old furnaces.

If anyone reading this worked at the factory, please comment and share your memories as I would love to hear them.

If lockers could talk. I bet these have heard some stories.

Cemaes Bay Brickworks and Tramway.

I have been visiting Anglesey for about 25 years and I have visited most of the popular tourist places. My most recent trip was on a bank holiday weekend and I knew that the island would be busy. To try and avoid the crowds, I looked for places that were a little off the beaten path and I came across the old tramway and brickworks at Camaes.

I could only find one website with substantial information on the history of the works. They were known as the Afon Wygyr, named after the nearby river, and were opened in 1907. The operational lifespan of the works was only 7 years, with production ceasing in 1914.

The works are accessed via a lovely little walk through some public gardens near the river. The path takes you under the A5025 and directly past the works.

For a look around the works, please watch my video below.

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