download an education pack with maps and pictures of Glen Howe click here.
Glen Howe Park is located just to the west of Wharncliffe Side, which
lies 10 kilometres north-west of the centre of Sheffield, between Oughtibridge
and Stocksbridge. The park is some 19 acres in extent and has long been
renowned as an exceptionally attractive location. Occupying the steep-sided
valley of the Tinker Brook, this is an absolutely delightful spot; quiet
shady woodland, gently tumbling streams, some outstanding trees and shrubs
and stunning views across the Don Valley to Wharncliffe Woods. The park
is nothing like as well known today as it was formerly and it has an intriguing
air of a faded former glory. There are also some excellent stone sculptures
and other features to discover.
The Park was given to the people of Wharncliffe Side in 1917 by local
paper manufacturer Joseph Dixon and his friend John Mills, who had previously
purchased the area for £1000, for use as a pleasure garden. Before
this the area was previously known as Haw, How, Hall or Howe Wood. It
was in 1974 that ownership of the park passed to Sheffield City Council
as a result of local government reorganisation.
Joseph Dixon was the son of Peter Dixon who bought the Spring Grove paper
mill in Oughtibridge for £8500 in 1871. At the age of 22,Joseph
became the manager and under his direction business flourished and the
mill became a major contributor to the local economy. The Dixon’s
had a reputation as good employers and wages and working conditions were
better than most. In 1875 Joseph bought seven houses, a shop and three
acres of land to provide housing for some of the workers. In 1887 with
others he financed the building of Wharncliffe Side School and paid for
half the cost of providing the services of a district nurse for the locality.
Little is known about the background of John Mills who took up residence
in the lodge. A stonemason by trade, he is said to have quarried stone
from the pits in the park and used it to make troughs and gateposts for
customers. Much of the landscaping of the park, the cascades and ponds,
are his doing. Interestingly enough this tradition of stone working at
Glen Howe has continued until recently for a resident of the Tower called
Vicky was a sculptor and made the pine cones, bird and sheep sculptures
which add so much interest to a visit to the park today.
Glen Howe Tower.
Situated in the western part of the site, nearest to its main entrance,
is the park's lodge, a curious stone building known as Glen Howe Tower,
built in 1881 by John Mills who lived there until the park was gifted
to Wortley District Council in 1917. It seems probable that the stone
used to construct the building came from the quarry only a few yards away
in the park. Adjoining the Tower was a wooden pavilion from which John
Mills would serve teas and refreshments to park visitors. Apparently this
was not the only visitor attraction in Glen Howe for there are surviving
photographs of an extraordinary model village, complete with funfair!
The Packhorse Bridge.
In the park, spanning the little brook, stands a particularly outstanding
stone pack horse bridge. This was was not, however, its original location.
The elegant structure was built in the nearby Ewden Valley in 1734 before
being moved from here in 1925-26 when More Hall Reservoir was constructed.
It stood near the corn mill, from which it derived the name of ’The
New Mill Bridge’. Again it was the local benefactor Joseph Dixon
who stepped in to cover the costs of dismantling and rebuilding the bridge
in the park, even though there were those who were of the opinion that
it should be positioned in a more central Sheffield Park. Sadly, joseph
Dixon did not live to see the completion of the project as he died in
1926 aged 77. He is buried in Bradfield churchyard, where in 1930 a stained
glass window was dedicated to his memory.
There are also 18th century references to the remains of a moated medieval
hall in an area now covered by a derelict tennis court. This site has
been thoroughly investigated during a recent archaeological survey performed
as part of the Fuelling a Revolution programme.
Pearson’s Fresh Air Fund
Sir Arthur Cyril Pearson was a wealthy London newspaper publisher who
used his newspaper, ‘Pearson’s Weekly’ to raise public
donations for charitable purposes. One of these was ‘Pearson’s
Fresh Air Fund’ which was set up in 1892 to provide impoverished
children from London’s East End with a day in the country
Having succeeded in raising large sums of money
he proceeded to invite responsible organisations from other towns and
cities to apply for funds to cover the cost of similar excursions. In
1893 a group of Sheffield teachers therefore met to form a ‘Fresh
Air Group’. One of the most favoured destinations for such trips
was Glen Howe Park. Groups of poor children would be escorted from Oughtibridge
station to Glen Howe and arrive at the tea pavilion. Here they would form
a queue to collect their picnic tea before going to the top field to play
games or take turns on the swing boats. Similar trips to the park were
run by the Ragged School Union and the policemen of Burgoyne Road Police
Station occasionally brought groups of children in wagonettes for a much
needed day out in the fresh air.
Buffalo Bill at Glen Howe; Fact or Fiction?
has long been a local tradition that Buffalo Bill, or William Cody to
give him his real name, put on a performance in Glen Howe Park in the
early years of the 20th century. He is supposed to have displayed his
marksmanship by shooting his name into the bark of a large beech tree
(a practice which would be much frowned on today!) There are certainly
newspaper accounts of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show visiting Sheffield
on two occasions around this time but unfortunately no references to his
having been to Glen Howe, and the tree, alas, no longer stands.
of Glen Howe Park are partly semi-natural and partly replanted. Oak, sycamore,
beech and holly are the dominant trees with other species including ash,
elm, hazel, alder, rowan, larch and scot's pine. There are also a number
of exotic species, planted as ornamental specimens during the last century,
particularly near to the main entrance to the Park. One of these, rhododendron,
is now becoming a significant feature of the site. There are a number
of azaleas which can give a good show in late spring, and some of the
most outstanding examples of peris to be found anywhere in the region.
Glen Howe Park also has a diverse flora, including many ferns, mosses
and liverworts along the streams, as well as the usual ancient woodland
indicator species; bluebells, which make a fine show along the steep slopes,
ramsons and yellow archangel.
There is an excellent range of woodland birds which can be seen to very
good advantage during the winter and early spring as they come to feed
at the feeding station set up in the wood.
Under the Fuelling
a Revolution programme, woodland restoration and access improvement
work is taking place to restore the site to its former glory and to maximise
its potential as a recreational and educational resource. The dominance
of oak, hazel and other native species will be re-established in selected
areas by thinning and group felling, which will also have the effect of
creating a more diverse woodland structure. Sycamore, a non-native and
highly invasive species, will be particularly favoured for removal.
Other invasive species in need of control are Japanese knotweed and rhododendron.
However not all exotic non-native species will be removed, selected areas
being left as a managed woodland park.
Access to the
park is being improved by upgrading the path system and restoring hand
rails, benches and steps. As part of this, access for the disabled will
be improved where practical. Drystone walling around the edge of the site
will be restored to reinforce the historic boundary of the wood and to
deter access away from official entrances to the site.
Finally, the potential of the area as an educational and recreational
resource will be developed through guided walks, events relating to the
natural history and historic interest of the Park, children's events and
practical management tasks. The wooden picnic shelter, built in the woods
in the 1970s for the use of school groups, is to be restored.