With a Grade Two listing, and dating back to the 1830s, Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens is one of the city’s most treasured landscapes.
And now, in what is the biggest development at the site in a decade, opportunities to learn at the gardens, off Clarkehouse Road, are set to grow.
A new education centre will take root, replacing a temporary and outdated classroom block and enabling botanical, horticultural and heritage-based educational activities for people of all ages.
The development, which will merge learning with outdoor life, also adds to Sheffield’s growing reputation as The Outdoor City.
Among the opportunities on offer at the centre will be sessions aimed at schoolchildren, practical courses for adult learners – delivered by experts – and a programme of lectures, demonstrations, art classes and photography courses.
Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “I’m really pleased to announce this major development for the Botanical Gardens.
“The gardens are a wonderful place for everyone in Sheffield to visit and enjoy and the new education centre will provide further opportunities for residents and visitors alike.
“I particularly want to thank the Botanical Gardens Trust and the Friends of the Botanical Gardens for their major contribution to this project and I look forward to the opening at the end of the year.”
The Botanical Gardens were created in 1836 by Robert Marnock, a leading horticulturalist and landscape designer of his day. In 1951 the gardens, which cover 19 acres, were leased to Sheffield City Council from the Sheffield Town Trust.
The site now has 15 different garden areas featuring collections of plants from all over the world, including Mediterranean, Asian, American prairie-style, woodland and rock-and-water plantings.
Development of a new education centre and educational activities has been a long-term aim since the completion, in 2005, of an ambitious restoration project at the gardens.
Since then, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust and the Friends of the Botanical Gardens have continued to raise funds for the improvement of the site. The new facility will be fully funded by a grant from the Trust.
Within the new education centre, which is set to be completed by the end of the year, there will be a library, an office, a kitchen and toilet facilities, as well as three flexible classroom areas which can be opened up to create a larger lecture area.
The centre will offer educational opportunities for schools, practical courses for adult learners – delivered by experts – as well as a programme of lectures, demonstrations, art classes and photography courses.
Building work is set to begin in early July.
Sarah Thomas, chair of The Friends of the Botanical Gardens, Sheffield said: “The building of the new education centre completes the final phase of the original Botanical Gardens Restoration project. Friends of the Botanical Gardens have worked tirelessly raising funds over many years and are delighted with the outcome.”
Jane Quibell, on behalf of the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust said “Since the Trust was formed in 1996, more than £2million has been raised through the generosity of donors. The support we have received from Friends of Botanical Gardens Sheffield has been unstinting and the creation of this new education centre has been made possible through gifts from local charitable trusts and legacies from three very generous supporters – Mildred Rushby, Barbara Holland and Dorothy Fox. We are enormously grateful for all the gifts for this important new centre which will benefit so many visitors.”