From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Sheffield General Cemetery

53° 22′ 9″ N, 1° 29′ 14″ W

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Sheffield General Cemetery is located in the City of Sheffield, Yorkshire.

The cemetery opened in 1836, as the principal cemetery in Victorian Sheffield, it closed in 1978 with over 87,000 burials inside. It was one of the first commercial landscape cemeteries in Britain, the Nonconformist cemetery was a response to the rapid growth of Sheffield and the relatively poor state of the town's churchyards. It was designed by Sheffield architect Samuel Worth, with its Greek Doric and Egyptian style buildings on the site of a former quarry. The first burial was of Mary Ann Fish, a victim of tuberculosis.

There are two rows of catacombs built into the hillside, this method of burial was unpopular and only ten bodies were laid to rest in the catacombs in the first 10 years.

By 1916 the cemetery was rapidly filling up and running out of space, burials in family plots continued through the 1950s and 1960s, but by 1978 ownership of the cemetery had passed to Sheffield City Council who then closed it to all new burials. In 1980 the council was given permission by Act of Parliament to clear 800 gravestones to make a recreation area. Through the 1980s and 1990s most of the rest of the cemetery was left untouched, becoming overgrown and an important sanctuary for local wildlife. Unfortunately, many of the buildings also fell into disrepair.

In early 2003 work began to restore the gatehouse and catacombs funded by a £500,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The restored gatehouse now houses the offices of the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust. Notable buildings and structures. The Gatehouse is built directly over the Porter Brook in a Classical architectural style with Egyptian features and the gateway itself resembles a Roman arch. It was possibly built over the river so that entering the cemetery was symbolic of the crossing of the river Styx in Greek mythology.

The Anglican chapel built in 1850 was designed in the Neo-Gothic style by William Flockton. Unlike the other buildings in the cemetery, the chapel was built in Gothic style rather than Classical or Egyptian. The spire is far too big for the rest of the building, built purposely so that it would be seen from afar.

The Dissenters' Wall was built between 1848 and 1850. It divided the older Nonconformist part of the cemetery from the consecrated Anglican ground. The wall runs almost uninterrupted, from the perimeter wall on Cemetery Road to the path beside the Porter Brook at the bottom of the cemetery.

Notable buriels in the cemetery:

George Bassett (1818–1886). Founder of The Bassett Company, the company that invented Liquorice Allsorts and also Mayor of Sheffield.

Francis Dickinson (1830–1898). One of the soldiers who fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean war.

John Gunson (1809–1886). Chief engineer of the Sheffield Water Company at the time of the collapse of Dale Dyke Dam on 11 March 1864, which resulted in the Great Sheffield Flood. Samuel Harrison, who documented the flood, and 77 of the flood's victims are also buried in the cemetery.