Open-air theatre set for action

Park Hill ampitheatre
Park Hill ampitheatre

IT’S gradually been taking shape on the hillside above railway station – and now Sheffield’s newest park is about to formally open.

A parade from Hallam Square, next to the university, will pass through Sheaf Square and the station and up to South Street Park, with its highly visible ampitheatre, on Saturday, September 17.

A programme of music, dance, theatre and other events will follow, highlighting the potential for all kinds of performances that can be staged in the 1,000-capacity open-air arena, which has terraced seats and overlooks the city centre.

Already concerts as part of the annual Tramlines music festival are being envisaged.

On land that was once the private hunting forest of the Lords of the Manor of Sheffield, the attraction is being launched as part of a long term strategy of creating a Sheaf Valley Park from Norfolk Park to Victoria Quays and, more immediately, to provide a better pedestrian and cycle route to the station and tram stop and to offer a more attractive setting for revamped Park Hill flats. The first of the new apartments are to go on the market next month.

The £800,000 costs of the park is being met by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, Europe and house developers, including Urban Splash at Park Hill.

Council leader Julie Dore said: “This is a great addition to Sheffield’s wonderful collection of parks and another city centre space which we hope can be used by Tramlines and other events.

“It is also a great place to come and just enjoy one of the best views over wthe city and right out to the edge of the Peak District.”

Some work has still to be done on the park, notably more turf seeding after the first attempt was affected by the dry spring.

There will also be extensive bulb planting later this month and, in the longer run, the initial planting of a collection of specimen trees in a City Arboretum.

The procession of musicians, performers and local people will start from Hallam Square at noon, and the route through the station is designed to underline the campaign for public access over the rail tracks to be maintained in the face of plans by East Midlands Trains to restrict it to ticket holders.

Many of the performers and attractions are from the Norfolk Park and Park Hill area and include Park Community Theatre, Norfolk Sparkles Choir, the Militaires, Steel City and Norfolk Heritage Park Majorettes, Liquid Steel Sound System, Sciorr Irish Dance, Son de America Mexican Dance, Chapeltown Brass Band and the band, Johnny and the Prison Didn’t Help Boys.

Compere for the afternoon will be bluesman Billy Martin Junior, who is also a local resident.

Other attractions will include chainsaw sculpture demonstrations and animals from Heeley City Farm.

The event has been organised by the Friends of Sheaf Valley Park, along with the council and Residents Against Station Closure. Sponsorship has come from the council, Hallam University and its Forgotten Spaces initiative, Urban Splash, the East Community Assembly and the Park Tenants and Residents Association.

Jeanne Foster, of the Friends of Sheaf Valley Park, said: “After five years of hard work we are excited to see the completion of this first phase which greatly improves access to and from the station and tram for local people and creates a marvellous space for performances and events.”

lPark Hill flats launch, page 8.