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  1. With Joshua and Violette we walked along the muddy track that runs beside the river, following Penistone Road towards Hillsborough. We stopped to look at a ruined shell of a building, its beams exposed and roof largely missing. There was a promotional mug on the half-collapsed wall: Been arrested? Call Hales for bail. Through the mud, we walked between the sharp incline of a hill that seems man-made and the litter-strewn banks of the river. We come across a cemetery in the woods and an obelisk bearing the names of soldiers from the Hillsborough Barracks. There’s a headstone with the name George Wheelhouse. Wheelhouse is my maternal grandfather’s name and I wonder about the chances of having come across a remote relative. Everything is dark and overgrown; the tombstones are in varying states of disrepair. Some of the graves have collapsed, creating oblong dips in the ground, edged by grey stones. One headstone commemorates a soldier who was killed in action in France on July 1st 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. I wonder how his body was transported back to Sheffield. Who carried it here. We climb the hill begins the cemetery. It’s difficult to believe that we’re within walking distance of the city centre. Bats loop over our heads. We look down on a vast panorama of lights that trace out the shapes of the Arts Tower, the dog track, the casino, the streets of Hillsborough. I think of Rastignac, high above Paris. Behind us, so close in this apparent wilderness, Southey Green.

    1. My 23yr old G’G’Uncle killed in the 2nd Boer War is commemorated on a tomb here; I also wondered about the body being transported, till someone explained it wasn’t! – his body would’ve been buried where he died, in S’Africa, and his family would’ve marked it on a ‘stone here so they at least had a memorial and somewhere to visit.
      I’d always assumed when I saw a Soldier’s grave that they’d been re-patriated, but not necessarily. Hopefully they’re all now reunited somewhere far better than their grim 19thC existence on this mortal coil.

  2. The artistry that went into carving those 19thC stones; lost craftship. Very beautiful place, precious, historic but I HATE seeing trees destroying Graves; so ugly. Nature winning elsewhere is fine but NOT here; needs a balance as this is first and foremost a Cemetery, where many of my poor relatives inc. young children were buried. That it was left neglected so long shows the disrespect and ingratitude of society to those whose suffering created the wealth this city’s built on and which we take for granted.
    *It’d be in a far worse state without the amazing Friends of Wardsend Cemetery stepping in; few hardworking people donating their time and dedication to save it for us ALL, please check out their work! – https://wardsendcemetery.wordpress.com/about-the-cemetery/ – And if there’s any eco-tree surgeons who’d like to volunteer..

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