Retro pictures show Barker’s Pool’s beautiful gardens – and new role in Sheffield pandemic memorial

Today it looks like a building site, but soon it will house Sheffield’s memorial to the coronavirus pandemic.

What many people may not realise is that the site on Barker’s Pool where workmen are currently carrying out work which will eventually see the memorial installed, was once a proud beauty spot in Sheffield city centre.

As long ago as the 1930s, what was once known as Balm Green Gardens, was a beautiful green space, and for decades it boasted an ornamental pond, as well as a decorative fountain.

We have put together a gallery showing how beautiful the site looked in the past, along with some other iconic photographs of Barker’s Pool as it once looked.

Work is currently progressing on the memorial, in the garden which is opposite the former Gaumont cinema. Workmen can be seen putting walls and steps in place at the site.

Local artists were asked to propose their ideas for a “memorial tree” that would encapsulate the “thoughts, theme and sentiments” gathered during phase one of the work to develop the memorial, which asked residents to share their stories through the pandemic.

Councillor Terry Fox, the leader of Sheffield Council, said last year: “Sheffield’s Central Covid memorial will be a permanent tribute to those who have lost their lives, those who have worked above and beyond to keep people as safe as possible and those who have been affected by Covid. Covid was difficult for everyone in all sorts of ways, but for some people its effects will last a lifetime.

“We are acutely aware that some groups were disproportionately affected by Covid, and we are committed to making sure their voices are reflected in this memorial and committed to reducing the inequalities we see in the city as much as we can.”

The selection process of the local artists’ ideas was being undertaken by Sheffield Museums, on behalf of the council, with hopes the memorial will be finished and open to the public for Spring 2023. The memorial will feature permanently in the Balm Green Gardens in the city centre, with the council saying the existing gardens will be upgraded.

Here are the pictures showing how the site looked in its prime, as well as how Barker’s Pool looked in those days.