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Hillsborough Park (Sheffield)

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Located 3 miles north-west of Sheffield City Centre, off the A61 Penistone Road. The park features an historic building, a walled garden, childrens playground, pavilion, sports facilities, and a fishing lake.

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      14.04.2008 08:44
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      One of Sheffield's largest public parks

      Hillsborough Park is a 50 acre public park that is situated 3 miles to the north-west of Sheffield city centre, off the A61, which known locally as Penistone Road.

      As with most of the city's public parks the land that now forms this park was bequeathed to city council during the Victorian era. The majority of the land originally belonged to the Dixon family, a prominent local family who lived at Hillsborough Hall that is now within the present day park.

      There are plenty of interesting things to see in Hillsborough Park and one of many interesting features to be found here is the Walled Garden. This is adjacent to the hall and dates back to 1779 when it formed the kitchen's garden for Hillsborough Hall, providing the house with a constant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as cut flowers for decorative purposes.

      Hillsborough Hall was passed into the care of Sheffield city council in 1903, a few years after the grounds of the house had been given to the council to create the public park that we see today.

      For the next 80 years this garden was used as a nursery and training garden for the gardener's that were employed by the council, but by the early 1980's it had fallen into disrepair due to cut backs in the park's maintenance budgets.

      During the early 1990's the gardens were renovated and turned into a memorial garden for the victims of the Hillsborough football disaster. Liverpool Football Club donated a replica of the Shankly Gates for the entrance to this garden. Nowadays these gardens are very well maintained and many people leave fresh flowers and sympathy cards as a mark of respect.

      These gardens are opened daily between 9am and 4pm during the Summer (April to September) and from 9am to 3pm during the Winter (October to March).

      Within the rest of the park there is a large children's playground which has recently been renovated thanks to a grant from Active England. The aim of this playground is to encourage physical play through the use of landscape and sculpture and there are some wonderful weird shaped tree branches and stones and rocks for the kids to climb on as well as more traditional swings and slides. This whole playground area is cushioned with soft tree bark for safety but young children should obviously always be supervised. Other features of this playground include a carved snake, a carved lizard and lookout mounds which are 1.8 metres high and perfect for playing "King of the Castle".
      The playground is open all of the time and is completely free to enter. There are turnstiles at the entrance to restrict the entry of older kids on pushbikes.

      Quite close to the children's playground there is a large pavilion. This pavilion was built in 2005 at a cost of £660,000, again partly funded by a grant from Active England. This replaced another smaller pavilion which was built in 1964, although this previous pavilion was popular it did not offer the facilities required in a modern community building. Within the pavilion there is a large function room that is available for private hire and attached to this there is a large modern kitchen to provide catering facilities for functions.

      Also located within the pavilion is the ranger base for the park and a changing room for the bowlers who use the adjacent bowling green. The pavilion also has toilets including ones equipped for disabled access.

      Hillsborough Park is one of the largest public parks in Sheffield and therefore has a lot to offer for the visitor. The large open spaces are popular with people chilling out when the weather is nice and it is ideal for kids kicking footballs around. There are several tennis courts and a large pond where the fishing is free. There are also purpose built soccer pitches and a cricket pitch.

      Throughout the year the park plays host to many different events. The largest of these being Mayfest which takes place over the Mayday Bank Holiday and attracts several thousand people. There are also touring fairgrounds and circuses that come and go throughout the year.

      Hillsborough Park has a strong association with sport and the park is the home of Sheffield's largest athletics club called the Hallamshire Harriers, of which I was a member of for many years, they have a running track within the park. Sheffield Wednesday Football Club have their ground just outside the boundaries of the public park and this park is also used as the starting and finishing point of Sheffield's annual marathon.

      Hillsborough Park is one of over 200 public parks within the city of Sheffield, which is the greenest city in Britain. This is one of the largest and one of the most popular parks. As with all public parks it provides an area of greenery for recreation in an otherwise built up area.

      Getting to Hillsborough Park is very easy and Hillsborough and the football ground are well signposted from both the city centre and from the A630, which leaves M1 Motorway at junction 33.

      There are many buses that go from the city centre to Hillsborough and this is also on the main tram route. There is a large car park within the grounds but this is closed when Sheffield Wednesday are playing at home.

      The main downside with Hillsborough Park is that Hillsborough is a very popular shopping area and this area of the city can get very congested at weekends and on match days the whole area tends to grind to a halt so it is definitely best avoided at these times. At all other times it is certainly well worth a visit.

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