Sheffield community groups work together to restore Victorian Park’s garden

A small community group in a Sheffield suburb, have come together to transform a once beautiful walled garden back to its former glory.

By errol edwards
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 4:25 pm

Local resident Clare Burnell initially started working in Abbeyfield Park on her own during the Covid lockdown.

She has now been working in the garden of what was once a former private Victorian residence on Burngreave Road.

Amy Snow, also a local resident, saw Clare working in the park alone before joining her, along with her mother and other volunteers.

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Clare Burnell bottom(left) and Amy Snow bottom right with other volunteers

Amy said: “Clare started on a mission on her own for quite a number of months, and I would see her digging in the park.

“The park was just full of weeds, everything had overgrown. It did have a gardener but I think he left over 18 years ago.

“There were the remnants of quite a good park but this was lost under a lot of brambles, bind weeds and rubbish.

“Since we’ve started, more people are using the park and it's more friendly and inviting.”

Former home of William Pass situated in park grounds

Sheffield Council has been involved and helped the group with its work where possible.

Amy added: “Where there have been trees which needed to be removed, the council removed them, but everything else has been cut down by hand.”

The volunteers say there are many benefits to working in the park.

Hazel, a volunteer, said: “I started around 18 months ago. I originally brought some plants to donate.

Colour in the park

“I love heavy digging and there was lots of heavy digging to be done.

“I just came along – it’s cheaper than the gym and it’s a lot better than just walking.

Another volunteer, Sarah, added: “Because we’ve started doing things, the council are holding up their end. They’ve been very helpful where they can. They've been really good.”

The council has been instrumental in removing most of all the rubbish generated by the gardeners' work.

Silver tree in the park.

Amy said: “We bag it up and the council comes and moves it. We compost what we can.

“We’ve been stripping out the park. We’ve removed probably ten tonnes of overgrowth.”

The community workers have also received lots of welcome feedback from members of the public and local groups

Amy said: “We get emails every week from people and groups who have visited the park.

“We’ve had emails from the Alzheimer's support groups that have started bringing clients around here.

“The Vulnerable Housing Trust have brought their clients here, and just people using it with their kids.”

Abbeyfield Park

The volunteers go along every Tuesday and Thursday, and about four times a year they organise large volunteer days.

“We run tea and coffee and we'll try to get as many people out with whatever hand tools they’ve got,” said Amy.

“It’s things like cutting out undergrowth from around the trees. There are many trees in the park and we don’t have time to get round and cut everything.

“Sometimes just having a lot of people gets things like the paths swept.”

Plants have been donated from people’s gardens, grown from cuttings. Or people buy extra plants from garden centres and take them along.

The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday between 10am and 12pm.

Clare Burnell praised Sheffield Council staff and the local litter pickers group who regularly collect rubbish.

For more information, visit the Friends of Abbeyfield Park, and Abbeyfield Park Gardeners on Facebook.

Beautiful silver