“ The cemetery covers over 100 acres and was opened in 1881. „
The City Road Cemetery in Sheffield may seem like an odd place to call an attraction but as the largest of the city's public cemeteries it offers a vast area of open, recreation land, within an otherwise urban area.
This Cemetery first opened in 1881 and it was originally known as Intake Cemetery since City Road, where it is located, was at that time known as Intake Road. Just to confuse things slightly there is now a different, much smaller cemetery called Intake Cemetery, which can be found about a mile further out from the City Centre.
Initially the cemetery was used only for burials, but on the 24th April 1905 the first cremation took place here, at the newly completed crematorium. As the first crematorium to be built in the city this created a lot of interest and those remembering the deceased did not only attend it, it was also attended by several prominent people, including the Town Clerk and the architects that had designed the crematorium.
The cemetery is still used today and it is the largest cemetery owned by Sheffield City Council. It covers an area of over 100 acres. Today there are over 1,600 cremations take place here every year.
City Road Cemetery is both deceptively large and green. From its main entrance on City Road it does look somewhat cluttered but if you wander inside through the fancy stone archway then you will quickly realise that the cemetery extends well beyond the other side of the hill, on which the crematorium stands.
The archway entrance is the only way into the cemetery for vehicles, although there are several entrances available if you are visiting on foot. There is a car parking area situated just outside this archway, but providing that the gates are open it is possible to drive through this arch. From here there are several roads that criss-cross through the cemetery.
At the side of these roads there is a wide grass verge and this is used for car parking.
I actually enjoy walking through this cemetery and I actually find some solace here. In many ways it has many of the similar qualities as the City's public parks. There are many grassy areas that are very well maintained with lovely flower beds and some of the trees are now quite mature.
The fact that this area is not visited by hordes of people as the public parks are makes it a haven for wildlife. I regularly see foxes here and grey squirrels seem to be on every tree.
For an urban area there is also a wealth of interesting birdlife too and breeding species include Great Spotted Woodpecker and Tawny Owl.
The Cemetery has many interesting features as you walk around it. These include the Belgian Memorial, the Catholic Chapel and the Blitz Garden.
The Belgian Memorial was erected after the First World War to commemorate those members of the Belgium Army that died in Sheffield during this War. This monument was fully restored in 2004 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The Catholic Chapel was donated to the cemetery by the Duke of Norfolk who owned much of the land in this area. The Duke was a Catholic and had the chapel built for the Catholic burial services in the City. This Chapel closed in 1890 due to lack of demand.
The Blitz Garden is a mass communal grave that contains the bodies of 134 victims who died during the Sheffield Blitz. Many of these victims were inside the Marples Public house in Fitzalan Square, in the city centre, when the bomb struck. Many hundreds of people died but only 134 bodies were recovered. This particular place is quite poignant to me as both my grandmother and great aunt left this pub less than 5 minutes before it was bombed, they survived, but all of their friends that stayed behind died.
It would be easy to dismiss this place but it is actually well worth a visit. Within the cemetery there are several Grade 11 listed buildings. These include two of the Gatehouses, the Catholic Chapel, and several Memorials. If you ever get the chance I would recommend a visit to anyone that enjoys green, open spaces.
City Road Cemetery
Telephone - 0114 239 6068