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Spring 2016 Newsletter

posted 12 Jun 2016, 11:07 by Judith Pitchforth


Broomhill Community Library

Spring 2016 edition
Broomhill Festival Events at Oriel House (Broomhill Community Library)

Wednesday 8th June 4-5pm


With children’s author Sara McDermott. 

We’re off to the magical world of Choclandia.  Sssh – can you keep a secret?

Tickets £5/£3

Friday 10th June 4-5.15pm

Voices from the Past

With Berlie Doherty

Discover how to use the library to create your own story and pictures.

For children 8+


Friday 10th June 7-9pm

A Sense of Sheffield

An evening of Sheffield Stories with ‘Sheffield Authors’. Join discussions about creating a sense of place. Test your own ideas for a Sheffield story.

Tickets £5/£3

Saturday 11th June


There’s a Monster in My Fridge

With author Caryl Hart.

Meet the monster who eats raspberry jelly.

Storytime and spooky crafts for

children aged 3-8 years.

Tickets £5/£3

Saturday 11th June 3-4pm

Green & Open Spaces in Broomhill

BBest Lecture 2016

With Simon Ogden & Jill Sinclair.

A talk on the Percy Cane Garden at Oriel House and the restoration of Weston Park.


Week 2 of the Festival continues with......

Thursday 16th June 4-5pm

Two Clouds and a Cough

With Clare Nasir

An anti-pollution story for kids. Clare launches her 4th weather book for kids at the Broomhill Festival.

Tickets £5/£3

Thursday 16th June 7-9pm

Air with Clare !

An interactive discussion with

BBC weather presenter Claire Nazir about the problems of air pollution.

She may have solutions….

Tickets £5/ £3

The Scarecrow Trail.....

Preparations are forging ahead for the annual Broomhill Festival in June. As well as fluttering pennants, there will be much to catch the eye this year. A trail of scarecrows are set to pop up in all sorts of unexpected places: on familiar buildings, in gardens, trees and window recesses.

Broomhill Community Library is running a competition to create a scarecrow trail around Broomhill. Local businesses, families, schools, adult and children’s groups have been invited to enter.

The theme is around children’s books/films, so look out for colourful literary characters: maybe a Pooh, a Peppa Pig, or a cheery Postman Pat. Or if you like to shiver a bit, maybe you’ll spot a Gruffalo, Spiderman, Daleks or the Witch from Julia Donaldson’s ‘Room on the Broom’.

There are even plans for a scarecrow wedding at Broomhill Library inspired by Julia Donaldson’s book of the same name.

This year will see a number of anniversaries of famous authors such as Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, JRR Tolkien, and AA Milne.  Characters from their books could soon be lurking in the corners of Broomhill.

Kathy Harbord, Events Organiser at Broomhill Library told us ‘This the first Scarecrow Trail to take place in Broomhill.  It’s inspired by famous annual scarecrow festivals in Kettlewell in North Yorkshire and Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Who knows, it could become an annual event for Broomhill.  It’s all about getting out and about and celebrating your neighbourhood.’

Scarecrow Trail maps will be made available at Broomhill Library from 8th - 18th June

Broomhill Library’s Youngest Member

At just two days old, Aurora Hope Robinson-Self became Broomhill Library’s youngest member.  On Tuesday 8th March, baby Aurora was issued with her first library card (pictured). ‘It must be a record’, says her grandfather, BCL volunteer Edwin Self.  ‘Compared with Aurora, her mother Lizzie was quite ancient when she became a Library member, aged two.  Our daughter Lizzy had a children's library card and regularly visited the Library with her mother Sue.  Aurora is set to follow in her mother's footsteps’ smiled Edwin.

Lizzie has fond memories of the Children’s Library with its wonderful stock of children’s books.  Edwin enjoyed reading these to Lizzie.  Edwin also sang nursery rhymes to her in French (Edwin speaks fluent French).  To this day, books are available in the Children’s Library in French, German, Spanish - and more recently, Chinese. Perhaps this accounts for Lizzie’s love of languages. She now holds an MA degree in French and German.

Edwin has loved the French language ever since he took part, aged 13, in an exchange visit to Brittany.  He also spent many years working in a French Restaurant in front of St. James’ Palace in London which cemented his love of the language.

At that time he enjoyed teaching Sunday School at the famous All Souls Clubhouse on Cleveland Street W1.  There he met an unassuming Gladys Aylward who did the washing up.  She had returned from China to look after her parents.  She had been a Chamber Maid in London in the 1920’s with no qualifications but an unquenchable desire to serve as a missionary in China.  Unlike Ingrid Bergman who portrayed her in the film ‘The Inn of the Sixth Happiness’ Edwin describes Gladys as a very tiny lady.  Yet this same tiny lady, though wounded, led 100 children through the mountains to escape invading Japanese forces.

Inspired by people like Gladys Aylward, Edwin likes to be of service to others. It is one of the reasons he became a Library Volunteer. There are opportunities to help others in a community setting like the Library which Edwin finds worthwhile.  Last year he undertook special duties as Father Christmas at the Mothers and Toddlers Babytime Christmas Party.

The children chatted happily to him about what they would like for Christmas.  He did experience a few anxious moments after promising toddler Corah she would receive a Princess’s Castle for Christmas.  He couldn’t be sure that it would happen. Thankfully it did!

Like many Volunteers, Edwin loves books and has a long association with them.  He has manned book stalls in local churches for many years.  As well as Christian literature, history and biography, Edwin has an interest in children’s books. He has even tried his hand at writing children’s stories and picture books.  His story ‘The Little Black Bicycle’ was well received by those in the know.  ‘The Little Yellow Bicycle’ is a work in progress as is ‘The Little Pink Bicycle’.  Edwin will read them to Aurora in time.  There is a tradition of story-telling in Edwin’s family:  Edwin’s mother wrote a mouse saga whch she read to Edwin as a child.

Now the chain of reading and story-telling is set to carry on. Lizzie wrote a book of poems aged seven which she  can’t wait to read to Aurora.  As for the Library, a whole world of colourful stories await Aurora now that she has become a Library member.

Broomhill Community Library Developments: An Update

In September, BCL will celebrate its second anniversary as a co-delivered Library run by volunteers.  So far, so successful.  However many wonder what the future holds for BCL.

The Council’s Communities Office is currently carrying out a Review of how Volunteer Libraries might continue in the future.  The cash-strapped Council wants to keep the libraries open if ways can be found.  The Dawn Shaw Library Review will be completed later in the year.

In the meantime BCL Ltd. Director Aileen Wade has agreed to provide an update on possible future developments for Broomhill Community Library.  She revealed there may be a way through current funding difficulties which could benefit all sides.  It could end the Catch 22 situation of having to be independent before applying for funding.

A possible future for BCL is as an anchor tenant of ‘Oriel House’, the Victorian building which houses the Library.  The Localism Act of 2011 means that Oriel House could take responsibility for the Oriel House site as a community asset.  To this end, Oriel House is in the process of becoming an Unincorporated Association with its own Board and its own bank account, with a short term plan to adopt an organisational form that includes charitable status.  The good news is that this appears to open up possibilities that would enable applications for Heritage Lottery funding.  Early discussions around this are promising.  It may be possible to apply for up to £1,000,000 for Oriel House and £500,000 for the Oriel House Garden.

Said Aileen, ‘We hope to convert Oriel House - the Victorian building which houses the Library - into a Community Hub with a restored garden.  A feasibility study was commissioned and a copy of this is currently with the Council.  Copies are also found in the library.

On National Libraries Day, Aileen invited a party of interested Councillors to take a tour of Oriel House.  The potential of the unused attic and basement rooms was clear.

The idea would be to put Oriel House’s basement to community use.  Consultations on this have already begun.  According to this vision, the ground and first floor would continue to house the Library.  Meanwhile the attic floor would be let for commercial income - ideally to businesses whose activities were in sympathy with those of Oriel House’s other users.

BBEST, the Neighbourhood Planning Forum, has already adopted the Community Hub at Oriel House as a project.  Hopefully it will eventually become part of the Local Neighbourhood Plan which could attract further funding.  Pete Marsh - Chair of BBEST as well as being on the new Oriel House Board - is keen to get businesses on the new Board in order to broaden its community base.

As to Oriel House’s historic garden, it was designed by Percy Stephen Cane, an important English garden designer in the 1930s.  People have fond memories  of the Percy Cane garden with its historic arts and crafts features.

Unfortunately this once beautiful garden has become derelict over time.  However thanks to Ward Pot money and competition winnings from the Skipton Building Society, work has already begun to restore the garden.  As clearance continues, a secret garden to the rear is gradually emerging.  Its original footprint can now clearly be seen.  A stone dipping font attached to a wall has charmingly come out of hiding.

Meanwhile, the garden to the front is blossoming into something like its lovely old self.  The shaped lawn and borders and colourful plantings are very appealing to the eye.  Hopefully in the future people will sit and enjoy the garden – front and back - just as they used to do in its heyday.

The Percy Cane garden is the key to Oriel House’s identity. It may also be the key to Heritage Lottery funding.  Consequently much of the current focus is on restoring it and raising awareness of its importance as a garden.


that end, a series of illustrated talks on Oriel House’s secret garden are due to take place by Landscape Historian Jill Sinclair and others.  The talks, aided by some smart ICT, are scheduled to take place at the Broomhill Festival, Crookes, Crosspool and Broomhall.

The team is also engaged in an oral history project. Among the living memories are gems relating to Oriel House and its historic garden. It’s another important way of bringing the Percy Cane Garden back to life.

Image: A vision of the restored Percy Cane garden.

Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks Book-Signing Event

Last November, BCL’s largest ever book-signing took place in the Children’s Library. A staggering 800 visitors came through the Library’s doors that afternoon.

They wanted to meet Julia Donaldson, author of ‘The Gruffalo’ and children’s favourite Illustrator, Lydia Monks.  Sheltering under umbrellas, families queued round the block to see them.

It was a great privilege for Broomhill Library to host this special event.  Julia Donaldson is a past Children’s Laureate whose books have sold in their millions around the world.  Children can’t get enough of her spell-binding stories and songs.  Children also love the touchy-feely textured illustrations of Sheffield illustrator Lydia Monks.

There was a real party atmosphere at Broomhill Library that day with activities for children, balloons, stickers and special children’s refreshments.  Malcolm Donaldson, meanwhile, entertained the queues playing and singing songs written by Julia.

A wide selection of books was provided by Rhyme & Reason Bookshop - a great chance to stock up on books for Christmas with a personalised message from the authors. In pride of place was the authors’ much anticipated new book, ‘What the Ladybird Heard Next’.  So great was the demand for this book that stocks ran out.

It may have been ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ – the title of Julia Donaldson’s first ever book – at Broomhill Library that day. However Julia and Lydia do have an uncanny knack of tapping into young imaginations which leaves children wanting more.

Perhaps that was why so many of them came to talk to the authors and get their books signed - maybe they thought a bit of the magic might rub off.


National Libraries Day at Broomhill Library

On National Libraries Day this year BCL set out to celebrate all things growing.  The place buzzed with garden-themed talks and activities to mark the launch of a brand new Garden Restoration Project.

It was discovered only recently that Oriel House – home to Broomhill Library – hides a garden designed by the internationally famous Landscape Designer, Percy S Cane.  A witty touch on National Libraries Day was the scarecrow standing at the Library entrance. He was smartly dressed as Percy Cane - complete with umbrella.

Many remember this exquisite garden with its colourful plantings.  The aim is to restore the original design – including the Arts and Crafts features introduced by Percy Cane.  It is hoped that once again people will be able to sit book-in-hand and enjoy this beautiful place.

Highlights of the day included a session with international garden historian Jill Sinclair, who talked about Percy Cane.  She was keen to gather people's memories of the Oriel House garden. 

Ken Thompson - Daily Telegraph gardening columnist and author of many books including 'The Sceptical Gardener' also led a panel for a Gardening Question Time session.

Meanwhile, Berlie Doherty - Award winning local children's author – was busy planting seeds to help 8-12 year olds grow their own stories.

Local picture book author Alan Brown also had a few stories up his sleeve which delighted younger children.

Other activities included funky flower creations, children’s dressing up and face-painting. Stalls included Friends of the Botanical Gardens, Rhyme and Reason Books, plant sales, refreshments & cakes.

There was an abundance of reasons to pop down to Broomhill Library on National Libraries Day and five hundred people did just that!

Rediscovering the Oriel House Garden

On National Libraries Day, garden historian Jill Sinclair gave a talk about rediscovering the Oriel House Garden.  It’s a captivating story.

Approximately 85 years ago, Percy Cane laid out the garden at Oriel House – then a private residence.  He was one of the most eminent designers of his day, producing gardens for the rich and famous at home and abroad.  The elegant small garden he designed early in his career for Oriel House remained in place long after it became a public library in 1957.

Percy Cane was famous for his vistas including those at the Scottish Falkland Palace Garden and at Dartington Hall in Devon. His work on the Ethiopian Palace Garden also created a stir in garden design circles.

Cane was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement and Peto, Jekyll and Lutyens in particular. The Arts and Crafts style was typified by the use of natural materials such as wood and stone.  Percy Cane hated the formal Victorian style with their formal beds.  He preferred perennials, trees and shrubs.  Stonework, urns, water and confident use of planting and colour typified his approach.  The dipping well and the niche with statue in the Oriel House Garden are characteristic of Percy Cane’s approach to garden design.

The Arts and Craft movement was all about doing the best you can when making something.  It also happens to be a great Sheffield tradition inspired by Ruskin and Morris. Sheffield has a history of crafting artisan products away from the great processes of mass production.  In this way Sheffield’s heart could be said to be at the centre of the Percy Cane Garden.

The garden at the Oriel House was designed early in Percy Cane’s career and was the smallest of his designs. Jill Sinclair is confident that Percy Cane also laid out the front garden as the same stone has been used as the house.  Four images of the Oriel House rear garden appeared in the publication ‘Garden Design’ a leading periodical at the time.  These showed a pool garden, a pergola and statuary, a garden shelter and a dipping well for watering plants.

York stone paving, a popular arts and crafts material, was also used in the garden.  Unfortunately the paving was stolen in 2003.  As a result the rear garden was abandoned and became overgrown and derelict.

Last winter, clearance was carried out at the Percy Cane Garden to the rear of Oriel House.  It was exciting to discover that the footprint of the Cane design was still there. As trees and tangled thicket were removed, sunken remnants became visible such as the dipping well and the edge of the garden shelter.

Last Autumn, ‘Live Project’, a group of postgraduate Architecture Students drew up plans for the restoration of the Percy Cane Garden.

In order to build on that vision we need your help.  We know that people nurse fond memories of this once beautiful garden. These living memories are key to building a picture of what the gardens were like and how they were used.

Do you know any of the families who were associated with the House since it was built in 1870?

Do you have memories or photos of the Library gardens?

Do you have links with any organisations which may have information about the history of Oriel House?

If so we’d love to hear from you.  Please contact us at

Term-Time Children’s Groups

Monday               2-3pm        STORYTIME  for 2-4 year olds

Tuesday             10-11am    BABY & TODDLER TIME (Books, songs, toys and things to look at).

Alternate Wednesdays*     4–5.15pm CHATTERBOOKS for 5+years  

(Shared reading experience with associated learning in a fun way).

*Please contact the library for dates and times

Children’s Activities for the summer holidays


Join the great Summer Reading challenge. Read six books (or as many as you can) over the summer holidays and win a medal and a special Certificate. Sign up any time at the special welcome area in Broomhill library. Starts on 16th July. Learn how to use the special book sorter to choose your next book. Collect stickers, bookmarks, fridge magnets and wristbands along the way.  Challenge your friends!


For every two books read in the Summer Reading Challenge, you can get your Children’s University passport stamped. There are many activities and learning destinations such as schools, swimming baths and libraries associated with the Children’s University. Ask at the BCL Help Desk for details.

Broomhill Community Library - a reminder of our contact details!

Where we are:

10 Taptonville Road, Sheffield, S10 5BR

When we are open:

Monday 10.30 – 6.30pm

Tuesday 10.00 – 2.00pm

Wednesday 10.00 – 5.30pm

Thursday Closed

Friday 10.00 – 5.30pm

Saturday 10.00 – 4.00pm

Sunday Closed

Phone number:

0114 273 4276

General e-mail

Other e-mail addresses you may need



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Thanks to:

BCL journalist/ photographer:  Celia Lock

BCL editor: Anna Majchrzak

Judith Pitchforth,
12 Jun 2016, 11:07