Welcome ! This is a blog for people who want to be a friend of Wincobank Hill, for those who are fascinated, curious or concerned about the unique hill fort set high above Sheffield's Don Valley, encircled by ancient woodland that conceals the mysteries of history.

Who was here and why? Did they live, work or keep watch here? What part did this place play in the politics of an emerging nation? Was this the cradle of the British metal industry? And where was the water?

So many people are beginning to retell their stories, ask good questions and make suggestions that it's time to share what is happening ....

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Christmas Tree for the Common

It sounded such a simple idea - a Christmas Tree to light up that dark stretch of open space opposite Sandstone Road.  The vision of families gathered round the glittering tree singing in festive harmony was irresistible.  Community First funding was just a bid away, and the North East Community Assembly were encouraging, but securing the funding - as always - is just the start.

So - what do you need for a community Christmas Tree?  A tree, lights, and electricity.   And a lot of energy, faith and good humour to bring it all together.

 I was reliably told that the only person who could accomplish all this was our North East Community Assembly Manager, Alison Rayner.  I know now that this statement was true.  But poor Alison was up to her ears in pine needles and other more important work so I  thought I'd have a go.  I have learned a lot.  I have been out with the Woodlands Manager to look at beautiful trees in the nursery all waiting to find good homes and I have met the SWEEP team - Sheffield Woodlands Environment Enhancement Project who work with volunteers to make our woodlands even more beautiful.

I have learned that a hole can be just too big for a tree and seen how small and lonely a baby Cedar looks on the back of a lorry.

 I have seen how the SWEEP  team anchored the tree down so that hopefully, it won't blow over in the gales.  It is tightly wired in, using that magic Sheffield invention: The Gripple.   The cavity has been packed with yummy compost and the soil packed tightly back in.  A plastic conduit takes the cable from power source to the tree.  At least that's the plan.

I feel I have now met most of the Amey team who now look after our street lights.  I have discovered that there is more than one way to dig a trench, and several directions in which it can be dug.  I can see that sometimes things just don't go according to plan and I have perfected that deep intake of breath and shake of the head that can only be accomplished when wearing a high vis jacket.
 With a lot of goodwill and persistence, many phone calls resulting in the the miraculous appearance of a generator, we finally managed to connect the tree to electricity.

Friends brought home made decorations to dress the tree and soon it was sparkling with silver tinsel and gold foil.  The nearby trees which had already lost their leaves were festooned with ribbon and the tiny flickering battery candle lamps which had lit up the woodlands for the lantern pageant were hung in the bare branches to add to the magic.
As dusk fell to darkness, the families came out. Even Santa turned up with a big bag of chocolate.  From Jingle Bells to Silent Night, Away in the Manger to the the Twelve Days of Christmas we did our best to sing the Christmas season in.

There is a bit of remedial work to be done now and a few more phone calls to be made.  But now, when I see the Christmas lights across the city, I will think of all the people who have done their bit to make the lights shine and I will say a silent thank you to all, for brightening up the long dark winter nights.  Penny.