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Devon Gardens

Colour photograph of a community event in Devon Gardens, 2005
A tea party in the park, organised by Burngreave Voices and Burngreave Green Environment Programme in 2005 © Carl Rose

Colour photograph of an Irish piper playing in costume in Devon Gardens at a community event
An Irish Piper (Francis Feeley in costume) at the tea party © Carl Rose

Colour photograph of the head and shoulders of Nikky Wilson in maids costume pouring tea
Nikky Wilson pouring tea at the tea party © Carl Rose

Devon Gardens is a tiny 'pocket park' tucked away at the top of Abbeyfield Road in Burngreave. Despite its small size, it has significant heritage value, reflecting a time when Pitsmoor, as it was then known, was a fashionable neighbourhood for wealthy upper class families to live in. It was originally a parcel of land belonging to the Earl Fitzwilliam VII. In 1912 he offered it to the Sheffield Council, then known as Sheffield Corporation, for use as a recreational space. This was at a time when there was increasing recognition of the need for green, open spaces in cities. The park was built in the style of an Edwardian town square with circular paths, railings, flower beds and spacious lawns It opened in 1914 and became very popular among local nannies as a place to bring the children in their care and so it became know as 'the nanny park'.

Over the years the Devon Gardens' fortunes have fluctuated. Even in 1928 there were complaints to the corporation that it the park wasn't being maintained. It is largely as a result of this neglect and the subsequent community action that the character of the park has been preserved. A shortage of funding in the 1960s and '70s meant that the park was poorly maintained. In the 1980s proposals were drawn up to provide new paths. However local residents protested at the lack of consultation and demanded that the original features and layout of the park were kept. As a result the essential character of the park was saved from destruction.