From Barrage Balloons to Bucking Broncos : A brief history of The Ponderosa
Tramlines festival brings people from all over the world to a normally quiet park located North West of Sheffield city centre. Next weekend, global music stars like Jurassic 5, Kelis, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Dizzee Rascal will join Basement Jaxx, The Charlatans, De La Soul and Mobb Deep in a list of artists who have graced Ponderosa Park
With so many newcomers touching down for Tramlines, we thought you might like some background info on the park, so here’s our brief history of the Ponderosa.
In the not to distant past (early 1800s) this whole area of Sheffield was on the outskirts of the increasingly industrialised town, overlooking the Royal Infirmary (now demolished) in its’ rural setting.
The upper part of Ponderosa contained several small dams and was part of a larger area of reservoirs serving much of the rapidly growing town. In the early 1900s the dams were filled-in and the Crookesmoor Recreation Ground was born.
This part of the Ponderosa was used as a station for barrage balloons during the Second World War (huge anchored balloons used to deter low flying aircraft). As a result of this, a large hanger and adjoining tunnels were built to house the balloons. These subterranean structures connected Ponderosa Park with Crookes Valley Park and in later years became a playground for thrill-seeking children. Urban explorers were still exploring these tunnels (and posting photos on 28 Days Later) until 2011 when they were finally sealed up for good.
The lower part of the Ponderosa is the location of our main stage, which will face up into the rest of the park. Until the mid 1800s this area was open countryside, which was turned into an area of traditional back-to-back houses known as Post Mahon. This slum housing was renamed ‘Jericho’ by locals due to the proximity to the edge of the city and the biblical story of the Wall of Jericho.
The 1960s saw the slums cleared and replaced with the tower blocks now seen today. But where does the name ‘Ponderosa’ come from? Bonanza was a hugely popular western soap opera that ran from 1959 until 1973. It follows the exploits of the Cartwright family who lived in the Ponderosa Ranch. The newly rehoused slum kids saw a similarity between the open plains of their recreation park and the Wild West frontiers of the 1860s and gradually this unofficial name become the official title for the park.
So whilst you enjoy the music, food and drink whilst visiting our main stage, remember this is just another chapter in the history Ponderosa and share some trivia with your mates.
A detailed site map of the main stage can be found alongside complete artist listings and set times in our free Tramlines programme. Read it online here.
Do you have any Ponderosa stories? Join us on social media and let us know.
(Many thanks to Simon Ogden and the Friends of Crookesmoor Parks for the info)
13 July 2016