When going to the Park was akin to going to the Seaside.
I grew up in Pitsmoor in the 60s and 70s and going to one of our city’s large parks with my brothers and sisters was a treat for me.
Walking through the parks of Sheffield during the past few weeks and months always brings back memories of my childhood where the only restrictions were dictated by my parents.
A great day for me, as close as going to the seaside as you could get, was when my mother said we would or could go on a family trip to Millhouses Park.
The park was created after a donation of land from William Wentworth, the seventh Earl of Fitzwilliam, in 1907.
The council then bought additional land, and created the the park.
By the 1930s the park had a boating lake, open-air swimming pool, paddling pools, cricket pitch, bowling greens and tennis courts. By the 1960s the park could attract up to 50,000 visitors on a summer weekends.
We went on rare occasions with my mum and dad, brothers and sisters, or normally just my siblings, with big sister June in charge.
As I remember we would get on the 38, 39 bus – no car journeys then – from Ellesmere Road. This would take us all the way through the city centre to a stop outside the park.
There would be an ice cream van parked outside, which we would pay a visit to if we were lucky.
As you entered you were met by a play park with what seemed to be the largest slide in Sheffield. The park and slide were loaded with children squealing and laughing in delight enjoying their time.
It also had a large climbing frame with no cushioned floor – we got round this by not falling off.
When, after a long spell we grew tired of this, we proceeded to the outdoor free pools which ran down the side of the River Sheaf. Shoes and socks came off and we were straight in.
I remember going only the once, the water was freezing even on the hottest of days – and yet there are people out there who think they invented wild swimming!
A short walk from the pools up the ramp, and you arrived at the boating lake, still there to this day. This was a large boating lake where you could hire a small paddle boat.
For me it was quite frightening, as the water was quite murky and I was unable to judge its depth.
For years I assumed we were paddling in very deep water, but in later years I walked past as an adult while the water was clear, it was about 18 inches deep, all my years of fear and trepidation were totally unfounded.
As I walk through the parks in Sheffield today, I’m reminded of the care-free days of going to the park and enjoying them with the freedom of the past which is hopefully soon to return, along with ice cream vans waiting for my money!