Telegraph View: City’s past captured forever

Star editor Nancy Fielder is campaigning for Pride in Sheffield.
Star editor Nancy Fielder is campaigning for Pride in Sheffield.
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It isn’t often we get to write about places moving off the ‘at risk’ heritage list.

Usually, it is the other way round. I am obviously delighted at today’s news about our General Cemetery.

Most importantly, they share stories of the Sheffielders buried there and their role in making the city what it is today

It is one of the wonders of our city and appreciated by far too few people.

It is a classic example of yet another group of dedicated volunteers who put their expertise, dedication and passion to best use.

They run brilliant family days, craft sessions, bird watching and all kinds of things you wouldn’t expect in a cemetery.

Most importantly, they share stories of the Sheffielders buried there and their role in making the city what it is today. It is packed with listed monuments and is the final resting place of some very well known names.

George Bassett; John, Thomas, and Skelton Cole; Mark Firth; William Flockton; James Montgomery and William Prest are just a few.

Arguably the most interesting stories are those which spark your imagination as you wonder along the pathways.

The gravestone riddles which give just a small insight into the lives of those who went before.

The first occupant was Mary Ann Fish who died of consumption in 1836, aged just 24. You’ll also find graves for 77 victims of the Great Sheffield Flood and John Gunson, chief engineer of the ill-fated dam.

You can witness changes in approaches to death and burials over the centuries. Victorians spent a lot on burial monuments but attitudes changed after World War I and gravestones became simpler. Soldiers and Blitz victims alike rest there.

The last burial took place in 1978 when Margaret Norah Wells, aged 76, was interred in one of the vaults. Her name was never added to the stone.

Cemeteries might not be the first place you think of when you want to discover Sheffield, but they can be quite magical. A sprinkling of volunteer dedication reveals a history too often untold.