Winter Garden still hot after a decade

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IT was the 10th anniversary of the official opening of the Winter Garden yesterday.

Ten years. Imagine that. A lot’s changed in 10 years, that’s for sure. That was the proper opening with Queen Elizabeth - although, strictly speaking, it opened (unofficially) with a fireworks display six months before.

That was on December 11, 2002. Here’s what The Star said about it on December 12:

People from all over the country joined the party but it was hard to miss even if you weren’t there.

Sheffield’s fantastic Winter Garden opened after a fireworks bonanza that was heard in homes miles from the city centre last night.

It followed one of the largest marches ever seen through the city - with 1,750 schoolchildren and their families boosting numbers at the spectacular launch to more than 5,000.

So many filled the streets between Devonshire Green and the Peace Gardens, it delayed the opening by 30 minutes to allow the stunning torch lit procession to end.

Then came the first sight for the public of a project that has already propelled Sheffield into the international limelight.

And they loved what they saw.

Bradway man John Simpson said: ‘It’s a truly amazing structure to have as a public space. And the sight of all those children from across Sheffield was fantastic’.

James Nolan said: ‘It’s very impressive, and it promises to be wonderful when it warms up. What we have here now is amazing, when you think about what was here’.”

Civic leaders took the chance to herald last night as the crowning moment of their Heart of the City project, which aims to transform Sheffield into a top European city.

But it also touched people in other ways.

Richard Mills, who is aged 15 and disabled was nominated by his mates at Bents Green School to be one of just 40 VIP families to open it with Lord Mayor Coun Marjorie Barker.

Entry to the Winter Garden is free, and it will be open every day of the year.

Now, I don’t know about you but I really think that really captures the mood of the city - a really great report from a reporter called Ben Lowndes. I never knew Ben. He left before I started but he did well on that job, all right. In any case, the Winter Garden? What a great facility for Sheffield and what a great opening. They should have got Whitesnake to play - or Brian May maybe - but other than that, great do all round. Well done to all involved if you ask me.

Here’s to another 10 years.