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SHEFFIELD 'HELIPORT'


rover1949
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I lived in Shirecliffe in the early 70s and occasionally took the dog for a walk in Parkwood Springs.  One evening I came across a helicopter parked on a concrete pad in a clearing, there was non-one around and the doors were locked (I tried them).  A van then pulled up, a security guard got out and told me to push off.

I vaguely remember that this was to become Sheffield's heliport because of the high position and proximity to the City centre but there were no buildings or any other facilities. I see on Google Earth that the helipad itself is still there in the middle of playing fields.

Did anyone else see any helicopters landing there or know what became of it before they opened Sheffield International Airport?

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I use to live on Pye Bank and I'd see helicopters land there occasionally during the 80s and 90s.

Me and my pals would ride our bikes around the helipad and up towards the sky village. Once we saw two helicopters had landed there, we approached them to have a look inside out of curiosity. Two blokes jumped out of them and chased us away. Great times! 

I'll be back up there on the 7th on the playing fields as my U14's football team are playing away there. The home team manage we're playing against is one of my pals who was with me when encountered the two helicopters back in the day. Should bring back a few memories. 

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Talking of helicopters, does anyone have any recollection of the military helicopter that made a forced landing in the fields on the Handsworth side of the Shirtcliffe Valley, roughly opposite the Hardcastle - Sevenside Estate, sometime in the late 1950's / early 1960's?

I seem to recall my elder brother and his mates salvaging some of the bits that fell off.

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There have been recent reports (2009) of an army helicopter landing there.

Who has priority I wonder, - footballers or helicopter?

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5 hours ago, rover1949 said:

There have been recent reports (2009) of an army helicopter landing there.

Who has priority I wonder, - footballers or helicopter?

I moved from Pye Bank in 1999 so I wouldn't know about the army helicopter. It could be because of the Sheffield Sea Cadets on Rutland Road. 

Mainly footballers lol

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The landing site at Rutland Road was managed by the Council, a guy in the next office to me had to go and unlock the gates when a helicopter was due as it was most likely to be a ambulance that would meet it to transfer a patient to the Northern General hospital.

They also laid out a pad in Weston Park just behind the gates next to the museum for patients for the childrens hospital. I know at least i heli landed there as a trial, but i think that was the only one, it was a really tight space to get into and right by a busy road and i think they has to stop traffic.

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 analysisThe Rutland Road heliport was opened to coincide with a meeting of the British Association in the 1960's.Apart from its occasional use as landing site for medical emergencies it played a vital role in the development of North Sea oil and gas. Rock core samples for analysis and assessment were flown in there for the University...which was deeply involved.

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On 26/12/2017 at 12:36, rover1949 said:

I lived in Shirecliffe in the early 70s and occasionally took the dog for a walk in Parkwood Springs.  One evening I came across a helicopter parked on a concrete pad in a clearing, there was non-one around and the doors were locked (I tried them).  A van then pulled up, a security guard got out and told me to push off.

I vaguely remember that this was to become Sheffield's heliport because of the high position and proximity to the City centre but there were no buildings or any other facilities. I see on Google Earth that the helipad itself is still there in the middle of playing fields.

Did anyone else see any helicopters landing there or know what became of it before they opened Sheffield International Airport?

Old thread, New Post.

I was reading about the work of Sheffield Wildlife Trusts lately.... & wondered how "The Helibase", aka Parkwood Springs, was doing now.

We lived at "Shurcliffe", when I was a boy, (4 - 18yrs) (though we called it Shirecliffe), so the Footy pitches, the Helibase & all that surrounding waste scrubland, were our "play areas".

From the Top of Cookswood Road/Shirecliffe Road, there was an old Holly/Ivy/scrubby/grass and bush area, which had been part of the Barrage Balloon/military encampment during WW2 - and some of the old "Dug in gun turrets" were still there, surrounded by growing & spreading Ivy plants & such. We, that is, Our Gang, called it "The Island".....& played on there for hours & hours.

Helicopters sometimes landed, during the 1970's, causing Great excitement for us young lads & lasses, who would run across Shirecliffe Road to investigate. We always thought the landings were due to some Hospital emergency...or ocassionally, some famous people/Royalty, etc, visiting Sheffield perhaps? We didn't know, then, about the University/Geography/Geology Dept connections.

In my time, the area of Scrubland down behind the pitches & Tarmaced Helipad was a rough, wet, scrubby slope, with bumpy grass & small bushes, leading right down, eventually, to Rutland Road.....and we regular had to chase our Football down it, because, somehow, we chose that particular goalpost, rather than the flatter one at the other side!

I'm still not sure if any trees were planted by the Wildlife Trusts/Council, ....or were not managed & were just allowed to grow up, year on year?

As far as I can remember, they were still only small to medium bush/tree sizes, around 1976-8 time, as, by that time, I was mid to late teens and used to walk the dog up on to the top above Shirecliffe Road, an area, which, in those days, looked over toward the Shirecliffe College, big white concrete Monstrosity!

To my mind & recollection, in the early 1970's, Parkwood Springs was a long since derelict site, over at the Back end of the Helibase, on the downslopes at the back, towards the City side, just above Pye Bank...and a little along from Rutland Road.

We explored for hours, sometimes. There were ponds round there, back then, caused mostly, I think, by diggers shifting earth around towards the landfill site....and those other light industries that were down there? or possibly Military work? after WW2? A lot of Wild Lupins used to grow there.

Sometimes we came across some of the Old derelict Parkwood springs building remains & all sorts of probably, military created mounds of soil and stuff?

To us, back in the day, it was all excitement & adventure. Happy Days.

Thanks for the OP.

 

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I would think the Rutland Road heliport is no longer used, most landings were for hospital use, and they now have a helipad at the Northern General. Weston Park is still used for the children's hospital and Hallamshire, but they now land on the grass, not where the pad used to be marked.

Nigel L

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As previously stated many of the early landings were in connection with the exploration/exploitation of North Sea oil and gas. The Geologists at Sheffield University were deeply involved and flights brought them samples to examine and estimate the viability of the fields.

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Shirecliffe Heliport in action. B&W photos are 1963


441714006_ParkwoodSpringshelipad1963.jpg.585a241c5e22bace2603157cb396e6f2.jpg

1731850396_ParkwoodSpringshelipadin1963.jpg.756e081f2d3897520b932e1115f5a2b7.jpg

238184727_ShirecliffeHeliport.jpg.2985d7b9f90c88f424ba8a70c6300a81.jpg

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Thanks Alastair, good stuff.

That is a lot bigger structure than I saw and there are no trees.

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Thanks, all these photos seem to be of the same two helicopters in 1963, but it appears to be very a temporary arrangement with garden fences?

The first North Sea gas well wasn't drilled until 1965 so I don't think it was built to deliver geological core samples.

Any other theories?

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Originally helicopter services in Britain were envisaged as feeder services into the main airports.  In 1950 there had been discussions about a Sheffield-Doncaster helicopter link. In 1954 B.E.A. mapped out their plan to link the major cities of the UK by helicopter, with a 1960 implementation date.  I think the council got carried away with the "white heat of technology" mindset of the 1960s.

1378021121_Heliport1961.png.37c6ccfc998933d4d4c371f7f78a1f0f.png

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You are quite correct….the concept of a Sheffield heliport predates it’s use by Sheffield University by a few years. It was opened in 1963 to coincide With the Royal Institute of British Architectures meeting being held in the City that year……publicity for the City being a reason.

Westland Aircraft of Yeovil , a company with strong Sheffield links, supplied the helicopters and the Council the site. Occasional use of the heliport was made  after the meeting but no regular traffic ensued ( except for the already mentioned university geology department) Hopes for a regular link with Manchester Airport were finally dashed in September 1970 when it was revealed that the then currently available commercial helicopters, “could only fly in daylight ...and not at any height during winter months…The scheme would have to await a future generation of helicopters” ,reported Alderman Reg Munn who had attended the meetings in Manchester.

Sheffield was ,in the words of Miles Thomas the 1954 Chairman of BOAC…”likely to remain an Aviation Wilderness unless it moved within a few years to become connected”  . This eventually  happened in 1998 …when Sheffield City Airport opened…swiftly being closed by its new owners who wished to concentrate aerial activity at Finningley ….which they had recently acquired .

With recent news coming out of the Peel Group it looks as if Sheffield will remain an aviation wilderness with the threatened closure of their underused Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

 

 

 

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That makes sense, apart from Reg Munn's comments about helicopter suitability. What was he talking about?

I would like to hear more about Sheffield University using the heliport, (I spent my career in the offshore drilling industry).  The use of a university to provide geology services is fine, but the logistics make no sense at all.  Samples would be flown to the nearest airport and then driven to the destination. A few hours would make no difference at all.

Does anyone have first hand knowledge of this?

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In the early days , and we are only talking of some 20 year after a workable design, there were quite a number of restrictions in the use of helicopters in civil aviation….especially with night flying and permitted altitude….in this case because of the need to utilise “ground effect”.

I also understand in these early days of rotorcraft flight the major limitation was engine power …. in the all important power/weight ratio..hence the later use of twin engines , especially small gas turbines when they became available.

Where was the nearest airfield site to the area that was being explored….? Certainly there are a number nowadays but why change the mode of transport when a chopper could pick up samples and drop them off at the destination in one fell swoop?.

I know of the heliports use by the University as, at the time it was being used ,a “leading light “in the Geology Department was a friend…who told me of their involvement some years later.😐

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On 19/07/2022 at 11:54, rover1949 said:

That makes sense, apart from Reg Munn's comments about helicopter suitability. What was he talking about?

I would like to hear more about Sheffield University using the heliport, (I spent my career in the offshore drilling industry).  The use of a university to provide geology services is fine, but the logistics make no sense at all.  Samples would be flown to the nearest airport and then driven to the destination. A few hours would make no difference at all.

Does anyone have first hand knowledge of this?

I studied geology at Sheffield University and also spent my career in the offshore drilling industry (as MWD, then Directional Driller). The University was a pioneer of dating rocks using microfossils  and did lots of work for the oil companies drilling in the North Sea. You could earn some extra money as an undergraduate processing the samples and string down a microscope at lunchtimes to identify the fossils. 

The University pioneered palynology, the study of fossilised pollen from 1949 and were the leaders in the field. So perhaps the samples were sent to the university for urgent dating. 

These days in critical sections the micropalaeontologists work on the rig and analyse the samples straight away, saves time and money.

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Thanks for that Alastair. I was in drilling so our paths may have crossed on a drill floor somewhere.

Can you tell us more about the work at the Sheffield Uni?   When was that and what fields were you looking at?  Were the samples flown in to the heliport?

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