Wardsend Cemetery, a detached churchyard, was opened on 21st June 1857 as the expanded burial ground for St. Philip’s Church on Infirmary Road (now demolished), after its own churchyard became overcrowded. At his own expense, the vicar, Rev. John Livesey, bought five acres of land at Wardsend and also contributed to the cost of building a small chapel and a sexton’s house.
The cemetery and the chapel, which was designed by Weightman, Hadfield and Goldie of Sheffield, were consecrated by the Archbishop of York, Thomas Musgrave, on the 5th of July 1859. Wardsend Cemetery has a distinct military influence due to its close proximity to Hillsborough Barracks.
Notably, the cemetery is the final resting place of multiple military families, and of many of the victims of the 1864 Sheffield Flood. Other epitaphs of interest are dedications to a number of Bible readers, one member of the Philadelphian Wesleyan church; the Secretary of Sheffield Angling Association, widows referred to as relics, and a reference to a 15 year old boy was tragically killed in a colliery accident.
By the turn of the century, some 20,000 interments had taken place and in 1901, a further two acres of land on the other side of the railway were added. Because of this, Wardsend Cemetery is one of only two cemeteries in England with railways running through them.
The final burial took place in 1977, when the re-interment of remains from a building site close to Sheffield Cathedral took place. The cemetery was officially closed in 1988. Since the mid-1980s however, Wardsend Cemetery has been increasingly neglected, especially following the demolition of the chapel and sexton’s house, leaving the cemetery more or less abandoned by the parish and church authorities.
The local authority took responsibility for the maintenance of the site in 2010 and The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery Group have played a large part in the maintenance and research of the cemetery in recent years.