A New Park For The City
Between 1925 and 1976 the land that makes up the current Graves Park was brought into public ownership. Much of the park was gifted to the city by Alderman J.G. Graves.
In 1925 112 acres of the estate, including Norton Hall, were purchased on behalf of the Sheffield Voluntary Hospitals, from Bernard Firth, who at the same time presented some 7 1/2 acres of land as a gift to the hospitals. In the same year 154 acres of the Estate were purchased by Councilor and Mrs. J.G. Graves, and presented to the City Corporation as a gift to the City of Sheffield, for use as a public park, the Corporation named the new park “Graves Park”, it was the largest in Sheffield.
The parks location was considered excellent; its location on the edge of the city and next to the hospital site fulfilled the dual purpose of providing the people of Sheffield with a fine sports and recreational space, whilst protecting the land surrounding the hospital from pollution or development.
The Graves gift included Bolehill Farm and Cobnar Cottage, situated near the Cobnar Road boundary, on the north side of the park. Both buildings are now Grade II listed. Bolehill Farmhouse was partially damaged by fire in 1978, and was later sold.
By 1929 43 acres of land, formerly occupied by a tenant farmer had been added to the park forming a significant addition. In 1931 Graves purchased another 8 acres of the remaining estate, near to the junction between Chesterfield Road and Cobnar Road, and presented it to the city. Then in 1935 the park was again extended by Graves who purchased land from the trustees of the four Voluntary Sheffield Hospitals. The hospital trust sold an additional 48 acres to developers and retained 28 acres (including Norton Hall) for its own purposes.
Finally in 1976, the city acquired 22 acres of agricultural land adjoining Norton Hall with the idea of introducing an animal centre into Graves Park, and a year later Sheffield was presented with a Highland heifer and a Belted Galloway heifer by the City of Manchester. These two animals became the foundation stock of the animal farm, which now contains rare breeds of sheep, pigs, and cattle.