Sheffield is justifiably proud of the parks which make it one of the greenest cities in Europe.
It has not always been the case, as James Smith observed in his 'Report on the conditions of the Town of Sheffield for the Royal Commission on Health of Towns in 1842, ‘There are no public gardens or open space of any extent for the people to walk and enjoy themselves in’.
The need to provide space for recreation in urban areas had been recognised but the only formal provision in Sheffield was the Botanical Gardens, owned by a private company and only open to subscribers except on a few days each year.
In 1841, the Duke of Norfolk proposed laying out part of the former Sheffield Park to provide recreational space for the working classes. Norfolk Park opened in 1848 and although it remained in private ownership until 1909, the public was allowed access at all times. It was one of the earliest public parks in the country.
This guide briefly describes the development of Sheffield’s public parks and gardens and directs researchers to the most appropriate publications and documents at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library.