Sheffield Park off Ferry Road was the first Municipal Park to open in Scunthorpe on Wednesday 26th May 1926 established on land donated by Sir Berkeley Sheffield. It was a bright moment in the town's history as at that time 1926 was the year of the general strike. It was also of a time when the villages of Scunthorpe had been united as an Urban District for only seven years, it would be another ten years before Borough Status was awarded, although the Ironmasters who paid half the rates of the town were strongly opposed to it.
The opening of Sheffield Park generated great interest with an estimated 5000 people attending the opening ceremony which was performed by Sir Berkeley who was accompanied by Lady Sheffield. Sir Berkeley opened the gates to the park with a key which was presented by Councilor H. Jackson who observed the council had decided not to allow Sunday games, but if the public desired them, then a request must be made to the council, though he was dubious about the request being acceded to.
Crowds flock to the opening ceremony
The park had six hard tennis courts two bowling greens, one flat and the other crown, a band stand and formal gardens all in 11 acres of land in Old Crosby. A report in the Lincolnshire & Scunthorpe Star said the speaker paid a high tribute to Sir Berkeley Sheffield for, "his gift as well as the practical interest he took in the welfare of Scunthorpe and its people. The gift had been made along the right lines and some day when the park is surrounded with houses it would be a great advantage," this received rapturous applause. Sir Berkeley said, "the day marked the fruition of a dream of his many years ago, I hope that the park will be a centre of pleasure and recreation and that all would enjoy." He continued, "I hope that the glorious weather that was prevailing at the opening ceremony might be the harbinger of better times and that all would carry on the great traditions of the Empire." In some way echoing the troubles at that time.
A vote of thanks was accorded to Sir Berkeley and Lady Sheffield proposed by Councillor J. Nuttall, JP, who said, "although the park belonged to the people, yet they could not do as they liked with it." He goes on, "before the park is surrounded with houses he hoped Sir Berkeley would be able to give more land for an extention," this was followed with laughter.
The Pavilion isn't mentioned in the early years and non of the photographs of the time seem to feature it, although one picture appears to show some sort of building on the Pavilion site, then again, maybe it came along later. In 1928 there is a report about a new bandstand being erected but nothing further about the park. The Town guide for 1937 mentions the Pavilion being at the end of the main avenue between the 6 tennis courts and 2 bowling greens and being on the other side of the bandstand. So it would be correct to assume the Pavilion was erected sometime between these two dates.
Could this show an earlier building on the Pavilion site.
The Pavilion was undergoing a £47.000 revamp in May 2010 under the plans of the Pavilion Chill Zone Committee which had worked tirelessly over the past 10 months. Part of the work involved the replacement of the roof and the building being fenced off with temporary fencing at the time. Sadly, vandals struck over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month pulling the fencing down, daubing grafitti and then pulling the scaffolding over. However work pressed on with the aim of opening the Pavilion on 18th July 2010. The Pavilion Chill Zone drop in centre was to be complete with cafe, games room and toilets aimed to give 11-17-year-olds in the Crosby area somewhere to hang out between 10am and 11pm each day. Work on constructing a new roof, which cost up to £30,000 had just been completed, some of the money for the refurbishment coming from Sure Start, and the scaffolding was taken down. Then on Monday 21st June asonist struck setting fire to some nearby bins which quickly spread to the Pavilion roof. The building was totally gutted by the fire, the extent of the damage caused has put the future of the Pavilion in doubt.
Remains of the gutted Pavilion
The Pavilion now awaits the next chapter in its history, whether it be demolished or hopefully can rise, phoenix like, from the ashes. A present it is subject to vadalism, the doors have been ripped off and lay on the floor, broken glass and other debris are strewn all over the place, the kitchen area has all been ripped out and even the toilets and hand basins have neen smashed to pieces. However the painting which adorns the whole of the back wall remains intact.
Painting remains intact
A groundsman at the park told me that it may have permanent fencing erected before any further work is undertaken on the building. Let's hope one day the dreams of the Pavilion Chill Zone Committee will be realised. Below is a video taken of the ruins of the Pavilion.
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