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13 November 2014

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You are in: South Yorkshire > Places > Places features > Sheffield Peace Gardens

Sheffield Peace Gardens

Sheffield's Peace Gardens, the ones we know and love today, were originally laid out in the 1930s. We take a look at their various makeovers over the years.

Sheffield Peace Gardens in summer

Sheffield Peace Gardens in summer

The Peace Gardens in Sheffield were initially laid out in the 1930s after the demolition of St Paul's Church. They've had several facelifts since then but have always remained a lovely spot in the centre of Sheffield, both day and night.

Take a look at the changing face of the Peace Gardens, Eggboxes and Millennium Square by clicking on the link.

At first they were called St Paul's Gardens but according to local legend they soon got nicknamed 'the Peace Gardens' because the World War II Munich Agreement was signed at a similar time.

Fun in the Peace Gardens, late 1960s

Fun in the Peace Gardens, late 1960s

Sheffield Town Hall was originally going to be extended into the Peace Gardens but (luckily for us!) this never happened because World War II got in the way.

They were formally named 'The Peace Gardens' after the War, and ever since have been a popular meeting place and sunny day lunch spot for Sheffield locals from all walks of life.

Goodbye to the Eggboxes

Sheffield City Council's 'Eggboxes' were added to the Town Hall in 1977 and were a striking feature of the Peace Gardens until they were demolished in 2001-02. The Eggboxes were replaced by a new hotel complex and the Winter Garden - part of the £1.2 million 'Heart of the City' project.

You can take a look at the demolition of the Eggboxes and the changing face of the Peace Gardens by clicking on the link below.

For a long time, the Peace Gardens were made up largely of grassy lawns and flower beds but in the mid 1990s a team from Sheffield City Council re-designed them and they became the area of sandstone, water and grass which we know and love today.

The 'Eggboxes,' Sheffield, pre-2001

The 'Eggboxes,' Sheffield, demolished 2001-02

BBC Radio Sheffield's Howard Pressman spoke to Richard Watts who was the lead Landscape Architect on the Peace Gardens 1998 project.

"Engineers, artists, technical specialists... everything just seemed to come together with the right team at the right time," explained Richard.

"The Peace Gardens used to slope down from the top of Pinstone Street to where the new office block and restaurants now stand on the bottom corner. There was a huge great wall along Pinstone Street which sheltered the buses behind it. We wanted to take that down so that as you were walking down Pinstone Street you could look into the Gardens.

Demolition of Sheffield Council's 'Eggboxes', 2001

Demolition of Sheffield Council's 'Eggboxes', 2001

"But all the studies showed that as soon as we took the wall down we would get huge great noises from the buses coming into the Peace Gardens so we dug a level platform which meant that the Garden was slightly sunk, and we put the balustrade all around the edge with the water cascades.

"It was to give people the opportunity to look into the Gardens, but the noise of the water and the balustrade masks the noise of the buses.

"There was always a central water feature, although that's a bit more jazzy now - and there are also steps with water coming down at points around the Peace Gardens. Our ceramics artist Tracy Hayes put the beautiful tiles into the water features to give it its spark of colour.

Sheffield Peace Gardens (and The Eggbox)

Sheffield Peace Gardens (and The Eggbox)

"We wanted to pay reference to Sheffield's industrial history - in a modern and contemporary way. So we designed these weirs and water channels which are references to mill races, water power... all that fantastic industrial history.

"We also wanted to use the water channels to protect the raised platforms of grass. People feel comfortable sitting on those walls - they feel a bit uncomfortable about sitting on grass if it's at foot level, they prefer it if it's slightly raised up above the passers by."

Loving the fountains

On a sunny day the Peace Gardens are packed with people sitting and enjoying their surroundings.

Hundreds of Sheffielders who married in the registry office (firstly at the Wedding Cake, now inside the Town Hall) will have happy memories and photographs on their sideboards of smiling families in front of the Peace Gardens' fountains.

Kids in the Peace Gardens © Pete McKee

Kids in the Peace Gardens © Pete McKee

Kids (and even adults) love to run in the fountains too; in years to come there'll be countless fond childhood memories of happy days in the Peace Gardens. Pete McKee even immortalised the scene in one of his paintings in the '22 Views of Sheffield' exhibition. You can see more pics from Pete's gallery by clicking on the link on the right.

last updated: 02/04/2009 at 14:00
created: 18/11/2008

You are in: South Yorkshire > Places > Places features > Sheffield Peace Gardens



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