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Crookes Valley Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The lake with the University Arts Tower in the background.
The lake with the University Arts Tower in the background.
Looking across the playground and bowling green, the Dam House is the cream coloured building.
Looking across the playground and bowling green, the Dam House is the cream coloured building.

Crookes Valley Park is an area of public parkland in the Crookesmoor area of the City of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. The park lies just under two kilometres west of the City centre at 53°23′00″N 1°29′34″W / 53.3834°N 1.4929°W / 53.3834; -1.4929. It is one of the three “Crookesmoor Parks” the other two being Weston Park and The Ponderosa.


Crookes Valley Park covers an area of approximately 4.8 hectares (11.9 acres), and the majority of the park is taken up by the lake, which was originally a water supply reservoir called the Old Great Dam. It was one of ten reservoirs built in open countryside in the valley between Crookes and Upperthorpe to supply water to the growing City of Sheffield in the 18th century. The Old Great Dam was built in 1785 with a capacity of 21 million imperial gallons (95,000 m3) and was thought big enough to supply the town for many years, however the ten reservoirs became obsolete by the 20th century and were all filled in with the exception of the Old Great Dam.[1]

The Old Great Dam was integrated into Crookes Valley Park when it was set out by Sheffield Corporation in the early years of the 20th century. For many years it was used as a boating lake and has been used for fishing. it is fed by a small stream which flows through a culvert into the western corner. The lake is said to be 60 feet (18 m) deep and there are unsubstantiated stories of large Pike and Zander living in the depths. On the south western fringe of the park is the Dam House bar and restaurant, a building of some antiquity. It was built in the 1780s when the Dam was being constructed and originally served as the house of the Water Board's solicitor.[2]

Two Bowling greens were constructed in the park shortly after it was opened, and a children's playground was built in the 1970s. Both were constructed in a part of the park which was known as the recreation ground, and thus marked on old Ordnance Survey maps, it was an area of quite steep banking built as a dam wall for the reservoir.[3]


Swimmers entering the mist-covered lake in Crookes Valley Park on a spring morning.
Swimmers entering the mist-covered lake in Crookes Valley Park on a spring morning.

Since the summer of 2016 the Old Great Dam lake has grown rapidly in popularity as an informal swimming spot. Swimming takes place at the lake almost every day of the year, despite signage at the site stating "No Swimming". Swimmers have been known to break ice in the middle of winter to swim, and in summer the area can become very busy with students and locals enjoying the water. Members of the Sheffield informal swimming Facebook group "SOUP - Sheffield Outdoor Plungers" have approached the council various times in attempt to replace the "No Swimming" signs with useful and accurate water safety signage, with help and advice from the Outdoor Swimming Society Inland Access Group.[4]

On 18th July 2021, a man drowned while swimming in the lake. Emergency services arrived on scene but were unable to retrieve him in time. The park was then evacuated to make way for a more thorough search. The amount of people swimming has since reduced significantly, but it is still a fairly frequent occurrence. [5] [6]

Artistic depictions

The Dam House and Old Great Dam was painted by the artist William Ibbittt[7] and is featured in a photograph from the 1950s in the Frith Collection.[8]


  1. ^ Information board at park Gives information on history of park.
  2. ^ Friends of Crookesmoor Parks. Gives history of park and dams.
  3. ^ "Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Sheffield (West)" ISBN 0-85054-048-8 Gives history and topography of Old Great Dam.
  4. ^ Wild Swim. Details of wild swimming.
  5. ^ Sheffield Online report on incident.
  6. ^ BBC news report on incidents in the same weekend.
  7. ^ "Dam House, Crookesmoor, Sheffield | Art UK". Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Sheffield, Crookes Valley Park c.1955". Retrieved 28 November 2020.

This page was last edited on 28 August 2021, at 19:28
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