Alderman J.G. Graves
Graves Park is named after local businessman and councillor John George Graves. Graves was born in Lincolnshire but moved to Sheffield to become an apprentice watchmaker. He established one of the country’s first mail order businesses, first selling watches then a whole range of goods. At its peak, the company employed 3,000 people in the city and had an annual turnover of £1m. After his death the company was eventually transferred to Great Universal Stores.
Portrait of JG Graves by David Jagger,
© Gillian Jagger.
Graves was an avid art collector and bought around 3,000 pictures, mainly 19th century English landscapes. He donated £30,000 towards the building of Sheffield’s Central Library and Graves Art Gallery, to which he contributed hundreds of pictures from his private collection. He also paid £27,000 for an extension to join the Mappin Art Gallery with the City Museum so that more of his art collection could be housed there.
Graves donated over £1 million to Sheffield, including money to set up Sheffield Universities students Union. Graves also made gifts of land to the city, as well as Graves Park he gifted land including Ecclesall Woods, Tinsley playing fields, Concord Park and Blacka Moor.
He became Sheffield’s Lord Mayor and Alderman in 1926 and was given Freedom of the City in 1929.