Sheffield graveyard's historic clock tick-tocks again after 50 years

The restored clock tower (Photo: Friends of Burngreave Cemetery).
The restored clock tower (Photo: Friends of Burngreave Cemetery).
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A Sheffield clock which hasn’t ticked or tocked for almost half a century has been brought back to life by the hard work and generosity of a group of dedicated volunteers.

Burngreave Cemetery on Melrose Road has long been a haven for dog-walkers, runners and people who just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Friends of Burngreave Cemetery.

Friends of Burngreave Cemetery.

The twin chapels which act as a gateway to the cemetery itself, however, have been left to wrack and ruin - and would need a small fortune to be restored to their former glory.

Now, the Friends of Burngreave Cemetery hope the restoration of the chapels’ clock - at a cost of £6,000 - can kick-start a wider regeneration of the historic listed buildings themselves.

The campaign was led by group member Ken Wild, 75, who said his interest in the cemetery stems from when he himself was helped by the friends group.

“I knew my grandparents were buried here so I asked the secretary Christine Steers if she could help me find them,” said Ken.

Ken Wild and Dave Yates with the graveyard database.

Ken Wild and Dave Yates with the graveyard database.

“That was about five years ago and I have been interested ever since.

“When my father used to bring me I always remembered a specific tree and when we found the graves I recognised it.

“It turned out that I have other relatives in here as well - like aunties I didn’t know about who died very young.

“And there are hundreds of really top drawer people as well - like lord mayors and famous entrepreneurs.”

The work was undertaken by Bygone Times of Elsecar.

The work was undertaken by Bygone Times of Elsecar.

Ken now helps others find their relatives using the group’s database as well as running guided walks for local history groups.

The clock’s restoration was paid for a combination of individual donations, charitable fundraising and community grants.

Work was carried out by church and public clock specialists Bygone Times, from Elsecar, who cleaned and painted the dials and gears of the old workings as well as installing a brand new electronic clock control unit.

Group member, Dave Yates, 75, said: “Hopefully it is the first part of a big restoration.

The restoration work taking place (Photo: Friends of Burngreave Cemetery).

The restoration work taking place (Photo: Friends of Burngreave Cemetery).

“We want to do the roof but we think Bereavement Services would want us to do both the chapels.

“That will cost a lot of money.”

Dave said he too was spurred to get involved after being helped to find his relatives by other members of the friends group.

He now helps others do the same every Sunday - including people from Canada, the US and Australia - and says he does it because he enjoys it.

The friends group was formed in 2002 and currently has about 12 active members, including founder member and secretary, Christine Steers.

She came across the cemetery by chance after a neighbour she suggested she walk her dog there.

The restoration work taking place (Photo: Friends of Burngreave Cemetery).

The restoration work taking place (Photo: Friends of Burngreave Cemetery).

“I thought it didn’t seem like a very good idea but when I came in it was so nice,” she says.

“I used to be more interested in the ecology of the graveyard but over the years I have become more interested in the people who are buried here as well.”

Of the 180,000 burials the cemetery contains, about 150,000 are registered on the cemetery’s database, which can be accessed online.

To find out more about the Friends of Burngreave Cemetery visit www.friendsofburngreavecemetery.btck.co.uk.

To search the online archive visit www.sheffieldindexers.com/BurialIndex.html.