The lockdown was kind to the Zion Graveyard, Attercliffe’s only historic site that’s also a wildlife sanctuary. Eighteen months of quiet enabled the plants and animals to flourish in peace and the Friends who maintain it could, despite the constraints of lockdown and social distancing, restore the place so that it once again looks like a graveyard rather than a jungle.
The difference they’ve made to a long-neglected, significant historic site is impressive.
The Friends of Zion Graveyard was formed in 2017 by the group who look after Upper Wincobank Undenominational Chapel, a couple of miles away. They wanted to locate the burial place of the Chapel’s founder, Mary Ann Rawson (1801-1887), an energetic anti-slavery campaigner and social reformer, and found it deep in the neglected burial ground of the former Zion Congregational Church, which was burnt down in 1987.
The Friends purchased the graveyard site from the Yorkshire Congregational Union in January 2018. The events that followed are chronicled at FoZGA End of Project Photo Report final.pdf (windows.net) and come alive in Jon Harrison’s excellent video: Zion – the Forgotten Graveyard – YouTube.
They’re a small, energetic group who’ve achieved a great deal through their enthusiasm and their ability to secure funds from such organisations as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the J G Graves Charitable Trust to supplement the donations of individuals and small businesses associated with the Lower Don Valley.
I’m looking forward to bringing the next Bus Ride Round Attercliffe to Zion Graveyard for a brief visit on Father’s Day, Sunday June 18th 2023.
The Friends’ activities are publicised on their website: Friends of Zion Graveyard – Events (btck.co.uk). It’s a delightful and fascinating place where visitors are made very welcome.