The biggest changes you might have missed in lockdown
Written by Rother Radio News on 17/10/2020
The past eight months have been some of the most memorable in living history in South Yorkshire – mainly for the wrong reasons.
But as the coronavirus pandemic tightened, loosened, then tightened its grip again, the county has also shown its resilience.
Not all the changes can be blamed on the health crisis, but any Sleeping Beauties who’ve been slumbering since March might be surprised at what’s changed in the county – and might find themselves impressed by some developments.
Top of the change list has to be the Gulliver’s Valley theme park, nudging the Sheffield border near Rother Valley, this Rotherham attraction has to be a contender as the new king of family entertainment in South Yorkshire.
It’s completion wasn’t without a wobble, as the lockdown brought the final construction work to a halt.
That wasn’t enough to throw the project off track, however, and it opened successfully a little later than anticipated and, even if visitor numbers had to be limited for social distancing, few would dispute it is an enormous addition to the county.
The biggest blow came to it’s Market Kitchen eaterie, which was forced to close for lockdown just as it had made a name for itself as a go-to destination.
Proving that quality always shines through, its varied array of food outlets are back in action to triumph over coronavirus adversity.
Not everywhere in the hospitality trade has been so resilient, however.
For many, the long-established Gatsby bar in Division Street, Sheffield, was a fixture of city centre entertainment.
Its owners caused sadness when they announced staff had to be laid off, with no prospect of the bar re-opening “anytime soon” earlier in the summer.
And while it is the march of progress – rather than Covid-19 to blame – the next time revellers are able to venture out for a late night in Sheffield, they may find a crucial element missing – as Chubby’s famous take-away has disappeared.
That is down to city centre redevelopment, but will still leave a hard-to-fill gap in many people’s social lives.
Some institutions have fought tooth and nail to survive the challenges of coronavirus and none more so than Doncaster’s St Leger race horsing festival.
St Leger festival
With careful social distance and glamorous socialising, all looked good on the first day as punters soaked up the sun and the cocktails.
But a health-instigated u-turn put paid to that and the spectators were barred after that. With coronavirus cases now rising, it is impossible to speculate what the future holds for the St Leger and meetings like it.
Anyone hoping to take their mind off the country’s health problems with a nostalgic steam train journey at Elsecar Heritage Railway this Autumn will also be disappointed, because it has folded.
Elsecar Heritage Railway
Financial pressures, not helped by the lack of summer visitors, has put paid to the organisation which ran the charity and the line and station have now been returned to the ownership of Barnsley Council, with the aspirations of developing a link to the Cortonwood retail centre seemingly gone for the foreseeable future.
Coronavirus has restricted the options open to many people and walking has become a lot more popular this summer.
In Rotherham, those choosing to get out for fresh air and exercise have something to celebrate because two of the town’s parks have been deemed worthy of ‘green flag’ status for the first time.
Both Ulley and Greasbrough parks ticked enough boxes to win accreditation for the first time, alongside old-stager Clifton Park which has held the accolade for a decade.
The hard work to win those awards will undoubtedly have been done before the virus struck, but in hindsight having high quality parks could not have come at a better moment, really.