From Bricks and Corrugated iron to an Oasis in Suburbia
As a young boy growing up in Pitsmoor I was lucky enough to live within walking distance from an urban oasis.
Well I say walking distance, this is a very subjective phrase these days, and has definitely changed in meaning and distance.
I would guess, I lived two miles away from Crabtree Pond depending on which route I took.
Normally I would walk up Petre Street then join Ellesmere Road along Osgathorpe Road across Barnsley Road , and I was there.
It was a pleasant walk on a summer's day, maybe calling in at Earl Marshall Park on the way there and back, to slide on the giant slide.
Crabtree Pond is situated in the S5 area, meaning that many from different parts of Sheffield may not have visited or even heard of it – but that could also be said for many from S5 as well.
It is said to be an oasis of peace in the middle of a busy suburb, and I would agree.
In the 1970s when I was visited it, as a boy who lived among many brick terraced houses next to corrugated iron clad factories, it was definitely something different.
A pond teeming with life from small water boatmen that skimmed just below the surface of the water to water skimers which traversed the waters surface without breaking the surface tension – and thus walking on water.
There were fish I couldn’t name, apart from sticklebacks, and anglers would pull many other different fish from the pond from time to time.
I knew about the sticklebacks, because when I was a pupil at the now extinct Burngreave Middle in the 70s, I helped build and propagate a small pond in the school grounds.
I went with my class teacher and we managed to net a stickleback and took it back to our new school pond.
Crabtree Pond is situated in a small wood beset with wildlife and adventure away from the bricks and concrete we were used to.
We would amble up there from time to time to watch the fishermen with their rods and maggots, or try to catch small tiddlers in a net.
Some of my friends would go up in the frog spawning season and collect frogspawn to see if they could grow it into tadpoles and frogs.
The woods had squirrels and birds such as blue tits, owls and kestrels – very different to the pigeons and sparrows we were used to seeing. It was definitely fun.
These swings were very precarious as they often swung out over a steep, deep bank making your stomach churn as you flew through the air. You needed to better make sure your grip was good – or you could come a terrible cropper.