Has Sheffield forgotten its past heroes?

David France has hit out at the 'neglected' state of Sir Stuart Goodwin and Lt Col Gerald Haythornthwaite's graves at Crookes Cemetery. Both were famous Sheffield philanthropists.
David France has hit out at the 'neglected' state of Sir Stuart Goodwin and Lt Col Gerald Haythornthwaite's graves at Crookes Cemetery. Both were famous Sheffield philanthropists.
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This is the ‘shocking’ state of the graves of two of Sheffield’s greatest benefactors.

Sir Stuart Goodwin was one of Sheffield’s most generous philanthropists who gave a fortune to improve the lives of city people.

David France has hit out at the 'neglected' state of Sir Stuart Goodwin and Lt Col Gerald Haythornthwaite's graves at Crookes Cemetery

David France has hit out at the 'neglected' state of Sir Stuart Goodwin and Lt Col Gerald Haythornthwaite's graves at Crookes Cemetery

And Gerald Haythornthwaite fought tirelessly to preserve the beautiful countryside around Sheffield.

But the graves of these two important figures now lie neglected in Crookes Cemetery in Sheffield.

Their state has left 73-year-old David France ‘aghast’ and now he has called for action.

David said he ‘happened upon’ both of the men’s graves while strolling through Crookes Cemetery.

Sir Stuart Goodwin

Sir Stuart Goodwin

But his elation at the discovery soon faded when he saw what state they were in.

“I could not believe it when I saw the graves,” said David. I had no idea they were both buried there and I was surprised, especially considering how important they were.

“But the graves are now in a shocking state of disrepair and neglect. I am aghast that the city has not done anything other than to allow these graves to slip into ruin.”

Sir Stuart, born in 1886, was one of the city’s biggest benefactors. It is estimated he gave away more than £500,000 – equivalent to around £8 million today.

The late Gerald Haythornthwaite, countryside pioneer

The late Gerald Haythornthwaite, countryside pioneer

In 1920, he formed the Neepsend Steel and Tool Corporation and became a member of the Cutlers’ Company in 1943.

When, in 1920, he was diagnosed as a diabetic, he gave the Royal Infirmary a gift of £10,000.

He also provided the money for a new charity, which every year invited approximately 1,600 of Sheffield’s oldest folk to lunch at the Cutlers’ Hall.

Sir Stuart died in June 1969 and more than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral in Sheffield Cathedral.

The Goodwin Fountain, Fargate

The Goodwin Fountain, Fargate

One of his donations was for the construction of a new fountain at the head of Fargate in 1961, which became known as the Goodwin Fountain.

In 1998, the fountain was replaced by the new fountain in the Peace Gardens.

Gerald Haythornthwaite, born in 1912, was the key driving force behind the formation of the Peak District National Park and integral to preserving Sheffield’s green belt.

The financial legacy he left Friends of the Peak District enabled them to carry on his work.

Alongside his wife Ethel, Gerald saved areas such as Edale, Mam Tor, Blacka Moor and the Longshaw Estate.

They prevented a racing circuit near Dovedale, stopped a motorway through Longdendale and ensured responsible quarrying.

David said: “I don’t believe either of these great men have much in the way of family to preserve their graves.

“But considering how much they did for the city and the wider area, perhaps the council could step in?”

Coun Sioned-Mair Richards, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield Council said: “The maintenance of privately bought memorials is always the responsibility of the family or purchaser. The graves of Sir Stuart Goodwin and Lt Col Gerald Haythornthwaite are private memorials and therefore their families are responsible for maintaining them.

“We acknowledge the significant contributions they made to the city and those of the many others buried in our cemeteries who gave generously, fought bravely and were champions for Sheffield.

“And whilst we would like to be able to maintain all neglected memorials, we have never funded private graves because budget pressures make it impossible for us.

“We have no objections to repairs being carried out and should the family or purchaser wish to instruct a stone mason we can provide information to help them do this.”