The View from Ron Clayton – Walls to Wednesday

Spring is of course when we flock back into our local parks and feel refreshed by the sight of new life and beginnings. I mused on this recently while mooching round Hillsborough’s hidden gem – its Walled Garden.

Oh how pleasant to see the welcome new developments in Hillsborough Park: lighting that encourages folk into the park and makes them feel more secure; the splendid new facilities at the arena and bowling green; and some really imaginative park sculpture that adults and kids can both relish to help ease their minds away from another disappointing season for Sheffield Wednesday. [I’m a lapsed Wednesdayite these day, turning down free tickets as, let’s face it, they don’t come and see me when I’m bad].

Even the Library probably had the lowest amount of money spent on any Library in Sheffield over the years perhaps – it has a new roof on it and new life in it since Labour moved out and Connexions moved in.

No, what makes my brow furrow is the crumbling old coach-house where they used to announce closing time – until the bell got nicked. It’s a listed building and the responsibility of Sheffield City Council: So what’s the reason for the seeming inertia over doing something with it? Why does no one use the Walled Garden for theatre in Summer like we used to? There seems little community involvement these days and lets face it if it wasn’t for the community the Walled Garden would be a car park.

Back to the Coach-house … In a Utopian World a Council would be exemplar in its care of its listed buildings – especially when they belong to the Council – huh don’t make me laugh – ‘titter ye not Missus’ as Frankie Howard would say. Now over the years there have been a number of designs drawn up for the Coach-house, and by a number of people. The designs have stayed just that, and the people have moved on. Why? Funding?

Most favoured suggestion for this Georgian building is a cafe run by the sort of entrepreneur currently giving Hillsborough an  upmarket boost with coffee and cake shops. If it’s good enough for Endcliffe Park it ought to be good enough for Hillsborough, isn’t it?

So isn’t it time someone said to the Council, “How long do we have to wait? how much more does this historic building have to deteriorate before you start moving?” Like Spring Lambs and Daffodills, our elected representatives are out out and about – so why not ask them, and ask them to follow this issue through.

Oh and that reminds me – there’s rumours of developments regarding the shameful state of Dial House …….. watch this space.

Ron Clayton


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