project reflections #12 (Wardsend Cemetery, Sheffield, January 2 2012)

2 thoughts on “project reflections #12 (Wardsend Cemetery, Sheffield, January 2 2012)”

  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.

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