Time walk Project 

               Sheffield Waterways


                              Joyce M Bullivant Ma

  " in this competitive environment, Sheffield must focus on being Sheffield; the rivers, which are defining features of the city, have a huge part to play in telling the Sheffield story in the next 20 years...... For all the undoubted successes of urban regeneration in Britain in the past 20-25 years, there is a concern that many projects have resulted in the unnecessary loss of valuable buildings and townscapes that could and should have been re-used, and that this practice has erased the “memory” of communities. Too often, comprehensive regeneration starts by removing all traces of the previous life, culture and industry of the place." Sheffield City of Rivers 1        


                                                    Balancing Act?

I've put this report together after a meeting that was held at Sheffield University in response to disquiet aired after the present Flood Prevention consultations by the Council. At that meeting was a comprehensive group of conservation and heritage groups from across the city who had an interest in Sheffield's waterways and the industrial archaeology around it. The heritage both man made and natural in our waterways is a complex issue and many of us there felt that the only way to make sure everyone's voice was heard was to work together. Several months on and the group are still working together but still waiting to be heard.  In the past and indeed in the present, there is a long list of reports and initiatives , but there has been a failure to see that all policies have to take several different factors into account. Failure to do so in the past has meant some precious heritage assets have gone and much that is left is now under threat. It does not need to be that way. The organisations have a long experience in Conservation and many work in collaboration with the Council and other bodies but only on selected projects. There is no overall strategy for our waterways that looks at all aspects together. 

The purpose of this report was to look at some of these aspects that sometimes have come into conflict with each other. The aspects of bio-diversity, heritage, flood defence and urban regeneration.


                                         In the Beginning

The city stands on the River Don at its confluence with several minor rivers. It lies on the eastern slopes of the Pennine hills. The rivers which meet in the city have carved steep sided valleys out of the prevailing millstone grit and other sandstones. These rivers have created a landform and are part the hydrology which has been of critical importance to the physical and economic development of Sheffield. The Don runs south eastwards through Wadsley Bridge and Neepsend in a valley which is relatively flat bottomed for this locality. Steeper slopes close in on the river near the town centre, where it turns round the prominence of Spital Hill at Pitsmoor  and flows north eastwards through a broader, low lying vale. Here, the land to the north rises rapidly to the heights of Wincobank, a climb of over 300 ft. (91.4m) in about 700 yds. (640m) at the steepest point. The valley itself is about 1,640 yards wide (1,500m) at its broadest and falls from a height of some 160 ft. (49m) at Lady's Bridge to 89 ft. (27m) at Tinsley, 3 miles (5km) to the north east. The longest standing bridging point at Lady's Bridge is generally taken as the dividing line between the Upper Don Valley to the north west and Lower Don Valley to the north east. 2

A radial pattern of ridges and valleys underlies the rest of the city. A broader and slightly more gentle ridge than Pitsmoor/Wincobank lies to the south of the Lower Don and east of the River Sheaf. This is Park Hill, named after the parkland surrounding the Duke of Norfolk's Sheffield residences. The Sheaf flows north eastwards to meet the Don a little below Lady's Bridge. Although the land rises quite steeply on either side, the Sheaf Valley's floor has some relatively level and low lying areas.  A ridge separates the Sheaf from the steeply sloping Porter Valley, which grows more level as it converges with the Sheaf. This river flows into the Sheaf just south of the town centre. To the north of the Porter is yet another broad ridge rising to over 800 ft. (243.8m) in the Crookes district and falling steeply towards the Upper Don Valley and the River Rivelin. The Rivelin joins the Loxley before it meets the Don. Both rivers have narrow, steep sided valleys. The Blackburn Brook runs along the eastern flank of Wincobank and joins the Don at Tinsley. Its valley is narrow but just north of the Don it levels out. It is there that one of Sheffield's most ancient artefacts was found, a dugout canoe from around 1900 BC.

Historically  Sheffield is border country. The rivers of the Sheaf, the Shirebrook and the Meresbrook, all Saxon words for boundary, were used to designate the borders from the 6th century, but the archaeological evidence shows that these borders were in place in Roman times and probably much earlier. When the Norman's invaded in 1066, Roger de Busli, William the Conqueror's right hand man and harrier of the North, put up a timber castle in Sheffield to defend the new King's interests, the mineral rights and the Forests or Royal Hunting grounds.        

With the Norman conquest came the monasteries from France and Flanders and Sheffield's rivers took on a new significance. The monasteries introduced water mills and new metalworking methods. The earliest dam or mill pond would seem to be in Ecclesfield, now named the Papermill dam in Church Street near the ancient Priory first recorded in the 12th century but possibly earlier.  It is possible that many other dams and weirs were set up in that period though mention of them is much later. The monasteries had almost a monopoly on the building and use of mills both water powered and wind powered and it was not until Henry V111 closed the monasteries between 1536 and 1541, that the proliferation of mills or wheels really took off.

Water powered grinding wheels dominated the rivers Loxley and Rivelin. These two rivers were accessible to the cutlers of Bradfield parish, especially Stannington, and the cutlers of Nether Hallam in the hamlets of Walkley, Crookes and Malin Bridge.  The River Sheaf had the most varied sites, almost equally divided between corn grinding, metalworking (especially lead brought over the border from Derbyshire ) and blade grinding.  The Blackburn brook provided power for a number of mills along its course, including the New Mill and the Old Mill at Ecclesfield.  Industry started on the Shire Brook at Carr Forge in the mid 16th century and like elsewhere expanded rapidly in the 18th century The Don Sheffield's  largest river, collecting the water from the other rivers, had mostly metalworking sites concentrating on working with iron. 

No one knows exactly how many wheels dams and weirs there were and it is quite difficult to know how many survive. Some like the Upper Fullwood Dams on the Mayfield Brook are silted and grown over. Some have become water features in parks and gardens.  Often only the weirs remain as no one saw a reason to remove them.  Around 160-200 mills were working off the water wheels in Sheffield by the 18th century.  


Natural Environment

"Pollution in Sheffield’s water courses although much reduced, still has a significant impact on water quality and occurs due to industrial waste, run-off and seepage from former mine workings. The issue of culverting and alteration of natural flows by the construction of weirs, etc also continues to have an impact on the wildlife potential of water courses throughout the city, particularly in their ability to act as wildlife corridors. Though in some instances this has slowed or prevented the spread of invasive species such as signal crayfish. This needs to be considered when plans are made to remove or modify these features." Sheffield local Biodiversity Action Plan. 3

Sheffield has 17 recognised Local Nature Reserves, 257 local wildlife reserves, 10 SSSIs, and 80 ancient woodlands. 

Sheffield has no large, naturally occurring standing water bodies. However, there are a number of man-made reservoirs and dams/millponds some of which attract water birds. Also some sites such as Blackburn Meadows have more extensive areas of open water and as well as being attractive to birds there is a number of wetland species, many of which receive legislative protection.

In 1992, 1 the Don achieved its River Quality Objective (RQO). Better water quality and growing fish populations have encouraged the return of species such as kingfishers, herons and otters. The Don has become “a popular coarse fishery" in its lower and middle reaches.  Salmon has returned to the river between Sheffield and Doncaster. The Environment Agency reports that the river Sheaf “has made a remarkable recovery in recent years, with brown trout, native crayfish and bullhead having re-colonised much of its length” A report on the same river by the Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Heeley Development Trust describes “a dynamic and diverse biosystem” with “a surprising wealth” of fish, flora and mammals. 4 While rivers and streams in the favoured western suburbs have long been cherished assets, those in the less privileged north and east of the city have often been neglected. In recent years a number of these watercourses have been reclaimed,  a notable example is the Shire Brook, preserved by the Shirebrook Conservation Group  which has been restored as the heart of a new nature reserve.

5 In 2003 the Sheffield Waterways Strategy Group was set up to promote the coordinated regeneration of Sheffield’s waterways. Group members include Sheffield City Council, the Environment Agency, British Waterways, Sheffield Groundwork, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Yorkshire Water and a number of local environmental and amenity groups. The group set out a 15-year vision for Sheffield’s waterways:

1.The waterway corridors will be attractive, safe and healthy places to live, work and visit

2. rich in wildlife and a superb leisure and recreational resource

 3. a vibrant and exciting mix of community, leisure, office and residential development

4. a model of sustainability – social, economic and environmental

5. capitalising on industrial heritage to become a destination in Sheffield

Although there has been great successes such as Blackburn Meadows, the Five Weirs Walk, and the Upper Don walk, and some revitalising of the Kelham Island area, and the award winning Matilda Street pocket park,  it is hard to see how they will have reached many of their targets by 2018.  Many areas still lie derelict and uncared for. Many areas of important industrial archaeology are left uncared for, unknown and unprotected. The historical narrative of the waterways is piecemeal usually concentrating on a small number of sites such as Abbeydale Hamlet and Shepherd wheel. The ecological and industrial history is not looked at together as part of the creation and history of the city, so creates an image of failure and industrial decay rather than a remarkable history that has shaped not only the city but the world. That decaying image is not conducive to local pride or selling it to the outside world.   

Sheffield Council set up a series of action plans in 2011 to encourage bio-diversity within the wetlands and the rivers.  Within the rivers several key threats were identified. 1

1. Water and air pollution from a variety of sources including industry, sewage outflow in storm conditions, agriculture and water from old mine workings, and water impoundment via reservoirs, weirs, and dams.

2.  The physical modification of the river system including channels, culverts, dredging and filling, artificial banks, and riverside developments.

3. The loss of habitats and diversity due to built development and intensive farming. 

4.Fisheries management that can result in the removal of native vegetation.

5. The conflict between heritage conservation and wildlife and recreational use that can cause bank erosion, disturb wildlife and plants. These key threats highlight the potential tensions between policy goals.  

The consequences of regeneration has brought Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and giant Hogweed to the banks of Sheffield's rivers dominating  in urban areas, and driving out native species. River management and flood prevention measures may result in highly artificial waterscapes hostile to wildlife and biodiversity; similarly, it may be hard to balance the need to extract value from waterfront property development with the need to conserve urban refuges for plants, birds and animals, and to create wildlife corridors. Finding a sustainable balance between biodiversity, economic regeneration, our industrial heritage and essential river management is no easy task.




                                        Sheffield's Valleys

It's hard to find a definitive policy for the River Valleys that looks at both the natural heritage and the man made heritage within the same guide. This is strange because they are very much entwined in reality. The ancient woodlands remain in such a large number due to their industrial uses as do the dams which provide still water habitats. In areas like Shirebrook there is a great blend of the history and the flora and fauna. In other places there is potential but not yet reached. 

Porter Valley  ₆                                         

The Porter Brook rises on the moors above Sheffield and flows 10km easterly into the heart of the city. Its valley forms a natural green corridor leading to the open moors of the Peak District National Park. In the course of its descent the Porter falls some 340 metres through a constantly changing landscape. It links the steeply incised and wooded valley of Porter Clough to a gentler, farmed landscape of green hillsides with traditional pasturage and stone buildings. It then passes through the archaeological remains of our early industrial heritage (weirs, millponds, millraces and dams) and on to more ancient and semi-natural woodlands. The watercourses support an abundant fauna of breeding ducks, dippers, kingfishers, herons, crayfish and other freshwater invertebrates, while the meadows and hedgerows are home to many species of butterfly and moths.

 In 2001 Endcliffe Park was included in the South Yorkshire county volume of English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special  Historic Interest as a grade II site. The whole Valley was given grade II listing by English Heritage in 2002 in recognition of its unique mosaic of features.⁷  Many of the remaining monuments and buildings in the valley have listed Grade II status and Shepherd Wheel 8  water-powered grinding hull and dam, is a scheduled Ancient Monument. A conservation area encompasses Fulwood Chapel, Forge Dam and Wire Mill Dam

 From Endcliffe Park the stream then enters underground culverts to grade 2 listed George Woofinden almshouses 10   and then under Ecclesall road and eastwards to the grade 2* Sharrow snuff Mill 11  past the General Cemetery a grade 2* park  12, and then in and out of culverts in the  City Centre to join the River Sheaf below beneath the railway station.

 5km of the Porter valley bottom and the upper reaches of its tributary, the May Brook, were designated “Areas of Natural History Interest “in the Urban Development Plan (UDP)13  because the valley contains considerable ecological capital. Such is the richness of flora and fauna in the area that an environmental  education centre was set up for schools in the old Mayfield school, but due to spending cuts has been closed down and sold off.

Rivelin Valley  14

The River Rivelin rises near Stanage Edge on Hallam Moors, to the north-west of Sheffield, on the eastern border of the Peak District National Park. The river flows north-eastwards to join the River Loxley at Malin Bridge and then the River Don at Owlerton. The 3½ mile stretch of the lower Rivelin Valley from the Uppermost Mill (in the south-west) to Malin Bridge has a fall in elevation of 280 ft (104 m), providing a fast-flowing river ideal for powering waterwheels. There were 20 watermills and 21 mill dams – possibly the greatest number over that distance in the country. Compared with the other Sheffield rivers, water-power came quite late to Rivelin. Hind Wheel, dating from 1581, was the first recorded within the valley, but most were built after 1700. The majority of the buildings were demolished by the 1950s, but only three mill dams were infilled or built on, and many historic remains can still be seen. Most the weirs remain, but in various states of repair. The one remaining building, at Mousehole Forge, has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SY1284) by English Heritage (though unfortunately deemed at risk 16 ) and the workshop range there is Grade II listed. Four of the bridges along the valley (Hollins Bridge17, Roscoe Bridge18, Packhorse Bridge19 and  Rivelin Mill Bridge 20) are also Grade II listed.  The river-side area of the lower Rivelin Valley is designated as ‘Rivelin Valley – City Heritage Park’ and as a ‘Local Wildlife Site’, managed and maintained by the Sheffield City Council Parks and Countryside Service. The latest development was the refurbishment of the 1950s paddling pools as the Rivelin Valley Water Play in 2013. The Park forms part of a Green Corridor, stretching from the urban area at Malin Bridge to the Peak District boundary at Rails Road. Through the Corridor a continuous Nature Trail follows the River Rivelin for some 5 kilometres, passing through tranquil woodlands and pastures. The Rivelin Valley, and the Nature Trail in particular, attracts thousands of Sheffield residents and visitors from outside the City for informal recreation, education and research. It is a popular walking area and the markers and information panels explaining the areas industrial history have added to the walkers experience and enjoyment. It is also a popular area for anglers, as are many of the dams throughout the city. The Yorkshire Water treatment plant, which was built at the site of the ‘Uppermost Wheel’, is supplied by the Rivelin Dams, Redmires reservoirs and a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) long tunnel from the Derwent catchment (to the west). Water from Redmires cascades down to Rivelin Dam via the waterfalls of Wyming Brook 21 , a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. Rivelin Valley Road is lined by an avenue of over 700 lime trees, planted around the time the road was built in about 1906, making it possibly the longest lime tree avenue in Britain. 

Loxley Valley           

The landscape ranges widely. Undeveloped land includes pasture and arable fields, woodland, heath and moors. Water features include the river, streams, reservoirs and old industrial millponds. The rest of the built environment ranges from small clusters of farm buildings to larger hamlets and villages, and the valley also contains old industrial buildings and redundant quarries and mine workings.

The Green Belt wedge between Loxley and Stannington is the gateway to the Valley, reaching from highly populated Hillsborough to the Peak District. The “gateway” building is the Malin Bridge corn mill 21, grade 2 listed, at the bottom of Stannington Road, just before the River Rivelin joins the Loxley. The riverside here is wooded, though it was more open in the past. The trees are mainly sycamore, ash, alder and willow. There are also relics of ancient oak and beech woodland. Old industrial sites are scattered in the valley bottom. Some have become historical ruins; some are still in use.  Close to the valley on the Stannington side is the historic Wood Lane House Farm22. This has recently been renovated as a countryside centre for the whole of Sheffield, but at the moment there is no direct link to it from the Loxley Valley.  There are many water features: weirs, mill ponds/dams, and goyts (manmade channels at the side of the river), taking water to and from the old water wheels). They are valuable for industrial heritage and for wildlife. There are some old mine shafts and quarries from the days when clay was dug for the brick factories. Several significant streams flow into the River Loxley - Load/Storrs Brook, Sykehouse Brook and Ughill Brook. They are lined with trees with secluded banks  rich in wildflowers and wildlife. From Little Matlock to Stacey Bank former industrial sites dominate this stretch of the valley. They range in size and age from small, centuries-old mill buildings to empty large factories. Some of the old buildings have become ruins, some have been reused, and some – particularly the large factory buildings at the upper end – now stand derelict. The older buildings were originally water-powered. The dams at their side are now used for fishing, and are rich in wildlife. Little Matlock was recently revived as a small-scale steel-rolling mill, with a link with English Heritage 23. The upper valley contains four major reservoirs – Damflask, Agden, Dale Dike and Strines. All are owned and managed by Yorkshire Water as part of the local water supply. The dam walls were built from local stone in the nineteenth century. Mixed native and conifer plantations edge the three lower reservoirs; Strines edges onto the moors. Damflask is used by sailing and rowing clubs, and is also popular with anglers. Damflask, Agden and Dale Dike are all ringed by footpaths – all of these paths have been extended recently. The path around Damflask was extended in 2001 using surfaces and gradients that provide access for disabled people. It has proved popular and seems to be drawing in many new visitors.

Don Valley

24The river Don differs from its tributaries in having a more gentle fall over the 1.3km between Oughtibridge and Brightside. This meant that the frequency at which weirs should be built was limited due to the danger of water backing up beneath wheels upstream. Despite the subsequent demolition of much of the buildings and subsequent development the majority of the weirs are still present.

As the River Don makes its way through She­ffield and Rotherham it changes in character, providing a mosaic of habitats which supports a great diversity of species. The western stretch of the Don is shallow and fast flowing, winding between natural vegetated banks. Here, several UK and Local BAP habitats are found along the river corridor, such as grassland, broad-leaved woodland and fragments of wet woodland. Emergent reeds, rushes and sedges fringe the water’s edge, and ancient woodland indicator species such as bluebells, wood anemone and yellow archangel are present on the banks. On nearing Sheffi­eld City Centre, the Don flows through a more urban landscape and the wooded riverbanks give way to canalised stretches and artificial banks. Even in this highly modified environment there are vital pockets of wildlife habitat provided by vegetation which has colonised islands, silt banks and even stone walls and bridges. Between She­ffield and Rotherham, the river passes through what was once an extensive floodplain, but is now a post-industrial landscape containing plentiful examples of a new UK BAP priority habitat – ‘open mosaic habitats on previously developed land’. This habitat type supports many nationally rare species, particularly invertebrates and plants, as well as several scarce and threatened open vegetation communities. Despite the substantial risk to this valuable habitat from urban development, landfill, inappropriate management and natural succession, few previously developed sites have been aafforded SSSI status nationally. Here in the lower Don valley, the canal runs alongside the river, providing a contrasting aquatic habitat with a richflora and fauna. The biodiversity value of these interconnected watercourses is enhanced further by the areas of wetland habitat which link the canal to the river at Blackburn Meadows and Centenary Riverside. UK BAP priority species found on our local waterways include otters, water voles, white-clawed crayfish, white letter hairstreak

The Blue Loop25 is a continuous loop of waterways and riverside walkways in the heart of Sheffield, made up of the River Don and Tinsley Canal. It travels for 8 miles from the city centre and flows close by the communities of Burngreave, Attercliffe, Darnall and Tinsley.

After suffering years of pollution and neglect, action was required to restore this stretch of Sheffield waterways into a haven for wildlife. After consultations with local community groups, the RSC devised and delivered a programme of events and activities to get local people interacting with the waterways, and following a positive response in June 2010 the Friends of the Blue Loop group was launched, made up of members from the local community.

The Blue Loop project has successfully engaged local schools, community groups and volunteers, and has helped to raise the profile of the waterways as valuable recreation spaces .In one year alone, volunteers contributed almost 450 hours of their time; the equivalent of over £30,000 in labour.

Like the other rivers there are some well known and loved historic assets to Sheffield on the Don, the most famous worldwide being the Kelham Island Museum26 and the new vibrant community that is surrounding it. Higher up the river there is an air of neglect and lack of any real pattern of regeneration. A Georgian grade 2 listed farmhouse , Far Field House27, stands neglected and forlorn amongst an ever higher pile of scrap. The green haven that is  Wardsend Cemetery28 is often blocked by rubbish at the bottom area near the river and the world's earliest silver-plate rolling mill 29 lies derelict. Large tracts of land lie completely empty, devoid of any buildings or even vegetation.  

The dereliction continues to almost Oughtibridge an ancient homestead with great potential which is in danger of being lost if the old community's heritage is lost under insensitive development. The area round the  Bridge is prone to flooding as is an area of new housing built round the old mill 30 The Canoe31club have had premises in this area for many decades using the weir to practice white water kayaking but good access was lost with the building of the new housing and bringing up vehicles with the equipment and kayakers is difficult due to the narrowness of the road.  How will the flood prevention measures impact on this well used and loved facility?


Sheaf Valley

The River Sheaf starts its journey at the junction of Old Hay Brook and Totley Brook, just south of the A621 (Abbeydale Road South), close to the point where the road crosses over the Hope Valley railway line from Sheffield to Manchester. The Sheaf then flows north east, through Abbeydale towards its junction with the River Don close to the centre of the City of Sheffield. Along the way, the Sheaf is fed by several  small brooks and streams, gathering water from the hills of Beauchief, Ecclesall, Woodseats and Heeley.

The Sheaf despite its historical importance is difficult to assess, as to what remains to be seen along its course. Much was destroyed or culveted when the railway was built. Even before that in the 18thc, the building of a toll road changed the course and shape of the river. That is not to say there is nothing of interest to see, but the fact that there is no long range of dams that are visible such as in the Rivelin or the Porter Valley has meant that there is no River Sheaf Conservation society evident. This also makes it hard to look at the biodiversity along the River as a whole though some work has been done in the Heeley area and the Beauchief32Environment Group look after both the grounds of Beauchief Abbey33and woodland as well as the Abbeydale Hamlet34area. The major important sites are  Abbeydale Hamlet and Beauchief Abbey , both scheduled monuments. 

What is strange that given most Sheffielder's will know at least one of the sites and possibly the adjoining Ecclesall woods. archaeologically speaking knowledge would seem to be scanty. Very little investigation has been made of the Beauchief Abbey site and grounds, so although Samuel Pegge35in the 18th century has helped by transcribing some of the Abbey's documents, little has been done since, except in a semi-amateur way. It is difficult to know how much damage may have been caused by the landscaping of the Golf Course across the Abbey ruins. The Shene and Abbey Brooks cross the Beauchief landscape to join the River Sheaf. The Abbey Brook has been channelled across Beauchief Golf Course and many wild flower species grow close to the water. The River Sheaf runs along the bottom of Ladies Spring Wood, and is a good place to look out for dipper and kingfisher. Two of the three ponds seen today by Beauchief Abbey are probably fishponds of medieval origin. There is a suggestion that one was a dam was used to collect water from the Abbey Brook to run a corn mill. Solid evidence has not been sought. It is therefore hard to say whether any change in Abbey Brook is likely to interfere with possible archaeology.

Likewise the research into the early history of Abbeydale Hamlet is poor. The works are not mentioned as such till the mid 18th century though by inference were there in 1714 and there is some hints in documents that the site goes back earlier to a Mill site belonging to Beauchief Abbey.  

In Millhouses Park there remains some industrial archaeology, but how much is underground no one knows.  Ecclesall mill 36 is set further back from the river than the other mills on the Sheaf; this would have been so that they could take advantage of an existing drop in the land, which can still be seen on the right-hand side of the approach road to Tesco; our present main road runs along the top of this bank. The name Ecclesall does not occur in the Domesday Book of 1086. It is first mentioned 150 years later in the early thirteenth century, when Beauchief Abbey was given a mill on the river Sheaf by the de Ecclesall family. As such is the earliest industrial building in Sheffield and it and the surrounding area of prime importance archaeologically.

The nearby Ecclesall woods, remnants of a much larger ancient woodland has clear indications of pre Roman activity there and there is historical evidence of a number of pre-Roman barrows in the Dore and Totley area. It is difficult to know whether there are objects and artefacts within the ancient lands of Beauchief or Totley. There is a danger that using such areas to contain water for a period of time, in a way that has not happened naturally , that it will change stratification layers and move objects and artefacts making  future investigation difficult.      

Blackburn Valley

The Blackburn Brook is a tributary of the Don running from Chapeltown to the confluence with the Don near Meadowhall. It runs through a considerable area of industry and is culverted in parts. Between Blackburn village and Grange Lane the brook originally formed the boundary between Sheffield and Rotherham. It is joined by Hartley Brook Dike (known as Sheffield Lane Dike and Tongue Gutter along part of its course), near the junction of Ecclesfield Road and Sicey Avenue. With the coming of the South Yorkshire Railway in the 1850s the course of the brook was straightened to run parallel with the track bed through the valley, however the boundary continued to follow the original course. It runs in a culvert along part of the course by the now disused railway line.

Blackburn Brook, flows through Chapel town. Possibly it expanded round this brook to accommodate water wheels, which were needed to grind corn. They also were used to work the machinery for Chapeltown Furnace, which dates back to at least 1600. The area was heavily wooded, and this provided charcoal Running through the centre of Chapeltown, from the high ground to the west to join the Blackburn Brook, the Charlton Brook and its dams forms an extremely important ecological corridor through this increasingly urbanised area. Most of the valley has been created into parkland with dense tree cover alongside the brook itself.

By the end of the eighteenth century,  Chapel Furnace was rivalled by a new industrial development less than a mile further up the Blackburn valley, which would overshadow much of the economic activity in the immediate vicinity and would provide employment not only for the population in Chapeltown and High Green, but also in Ecclesfield and Grenoside and beyond. This was the Thorncliffe Ironworks of Newton Chambers.  The company mined its own ironstone around the works until 1880 and its own coal until the creation of the National Coal Board in 1947. The Blackburn Brook runs beneath the early 19th century office buildings of Newtown Chambers

Blackburn brook provided power for a number of mills along its course, including the New Mill and the Old Mill at Ecclesfield Until relatively recently, the village of Ecclesfield,  relied on the exploitation of the physical resources within its parish boundaries: the land, the woods, the stone, the coal, the iron and the power generated from its small streams and brooks. . The earliest sign of water power is in a remaining dam36 in Church Street which originates from a corn mill run by the Priory37and could date back to the 12th century. Not far away is the remains of a mill building though its dam has been built over.   Behind the village to the west of the church is a small stream that flows eastwards and eventually joins Blackburn Brook on the Common. This small insignificant brook powered up to six water-powered mills. 

Present day Whitley Hall38dates from the 1580s, however a dwelling was present on the site prior to this. This dwelling, known as Launder House was first recorded in a deed of 1406.  In  1487 it passed into the hands of Thomas Parker, a scythe smith, One dam exists next to the house as an ornamental pond for what is now a hotel.

To the East of the confluence of the Hartley Brook Dike the Blackburn Brook was dammed to provide power for the Gibraltar Steel Works and further downstream, to the East of Grange Lane a mill race fed a dam at Grange Mill. At Blackburn village the brook powered the Blackburn Wheel. 

The valley is a priority of the South Yorkshire Forest Plan and Sheffield Countryside Management Strategy39for environmental improvements, including the maintenance and enhancement of existing features of value where possible, for example, the Trans Pennine Trail and the wider footpath/cycle network together with landscape features such as woodland along Blackburn Brook and at Woolley Wood and habitat creation.  This approach complements and supports the Housing Market Renewal strategies and programmes for the adjoining residential areas and the Strategic Green Network with its corridor up the Blackburn Valley.

The area boasts a great variety of habitat types. There are wetlands beside the Charlton40and Blackburn Brooks and ponds which were former industrial reservoirs and millponds, including an extremely unusual area of mature willow carr beside Thorncliffe Pond.. Since the major primary industrial activities of coal mining and iron working ceased some thirty years ago the Chapeltown area has changed considerably with much new house building, so that it is fast becoming a major dormitory suburb serving Sheffield and Barnsley. Blackburn Meadows41reserve is managed by Sheffield City Council with Wildlife Trust assistance. and was  once occupied by Tinsley Sewage Farm. They attract a huge variety of birds (over 140 species have been sighted) including native swans, moorhens and coots, as well as migrants like wigeon, teal and willow warbler. Herons and kingfishers also visit from time to time. Also home to summer butterflies and dragonflies, as well as harbouring aquatic wildlife in the two freshwater lakes. The  Reserve forms part of a walk along the canal towpath, which links to the Five Weirs Walk and the centre of Sheffield.

Shirebrook Valley 42

The Shire Brook Valley is located approximately 7km south-east of Sheffield City Centre. It extends from Birley Moor Road in the west to the River Rother in the east; with the residential areas of Woodhouse to the north and Hackenthorpe to the south. The Shire Brook flows along the bottom of the valley before joining the River Rother at the south-east edge of Sheffield. There are the remains of early water mills and other more modern industrial remnants. It supports a wide range of habitats (woodlands, scrub, grasslands, ponds and wetlands), plus habitats and species recognised as priorities by UK and Sheffield Biodiversity Action Plans43(acid grassland, heathland, unimproved neutral grassland, water vole, great crested newt, harvest mouse).

The valley was inhabited during the Stone Age. The Shire Brook is an ancient water boundary, initially separating the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, and then forming the boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire until Sheffield expanded its boundaries in 1967 to include Beighton and Hackenthorpe. The valley surrounding the Shire Brook moved from agricultural and farming use through to industry and waste management and more recently returning to a more natural landscape Different parts of the area have had different uses, which has resulted in a variety of habitats and landscapes forming across the site, some natural but many man-made. The western end of the valley was heavily wooded until the 17th century.

Mills and water-wheels The Shire Brook fed five water-wheels before steam and electricity, used mostly for the manufacture of scythes and sickles. These were the Upper Sickle and Lower Sickle (Nether) wheels at Normanton Spring; the Carr Forge and Rainbow Forge wheels in the area currently designated as the Local Nature Reserve44; and the Cliff Wheel at Beighton, half a mile from the confluence with the River Rother. There is a strong history of mining for coal in the valley, from early small-scale extraction of coal in the 13th century , to more extensive coal mines  worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, after the building of a railway line through the valley in the 1840s made accessing the coal practical After the coal industry withdrew the pit sites were used as landfill for industrial and domestic waste, and by the mid 1900s two large landfill sites meant that the Shire Brook had to be culverted along part of its length. Both landfill sites have now been closed and capped – Normanton Spring Landfill (Red Hills) was reclaimed in the 1980s; Beighton Road Landfill has recently been capped and reclaimed and is now known as Linleybank Meadow. Between the 1890s and 1980s there were at least four sewage works in the valley, each feeding into the Shire Brook. The main sewage works was the Coisley Hill Sewage Works, which opened in 1938, replacing an earlier sewage works dating from 1895. The sewage works closed in the early 1990s and was converted into a wildlife area, including using some of the settling tanks to create wildlife ponds. By the 1980s, the Shire Brook Valley was described as “a degraded industrial landscape with a grade four polluted brook”. In the 1980’s and 1992 Countryside Management Plans were produced by Sheffield City Council and in 1995 the area was opened as an informal Nature Reserve. Part of the site was formally designated the Shire Brook Valley Local Nature Reserve in 1999  The Valley now provides a range of public benefits as an attractive green space.



"The prospect of using any ancient wood to store flood water is very concerning. No woodland will cope with long periods of submersion, even wet woods with their distinctive adaptations. Storing water in any woodland habitat for a significant period of time will kill off most of what makes it special." Woodland Trust 45

Many of our rivers pass through woodland. This was a great advantage to those who ran smithies and forges as the raw material was to hand. Early steel and iron workers needed charcoal as coal has too much sulphur to produce good steel. Later coal was processed to become coke. Also in woods like Ecclesall woods  Gannister was mined to make the crucible pots.  So most of Sheffield's woodlands have indications of mining and charcoal making along with the earlier signs of human activity such as the Iron age fort at Wincobank and the early rock carvings in Ecclesall woods. Because of the age of the woods and the now cleaner waterways, there is within the rivers and river areas many plants and wildlife that are rare or unique.


Gillfield Wood 46

Gillfield Wood is around 20 - 30 acres of mainly deciduous mixed woodland, south of the parish of Totley. The western end of the wood stretches to the A621 close to the boundary of the Peak District National Park below high moorland known as Totley Moss. The Totley Brook which flows through most of it divides Totley from the Derbyshire parish of Holmesfield. Gillfield is an Ancient woodland.  The wood was pasturable  ie used for the grazing of animals. A hedgerow survey of hedges around the woodland points to them being at least medieval possibly earlier. The wood was coppiced and used to make the charcoal necessary for iron and steel manufacture before the invention of coke.

Between the last quarter of the sixteenth century and the middle of the eighteenth century the wood was coppiced for whitecoal making. Whitecoal was effectively wood with all the water driven out and was used for smelting lead from Derbyshire in water powered mills (there were at least two leadmills in Totley). Bob Warburton in his 1970’s survey of the wood discovered over 20 small depressions and the group has discovered more. We now know that these were whitecoal kilns or Q pits. These and other archaeological remains are in the process of being surveyed and plotted by the group.

The wood was cut down during the Second World War and soon afterwards  sold to the Estates Department of Sheffield City Council. In the 1960’s the Estates Department replanted it, mostly with American Oak and larch. The wood had minimal management until the Friends Group was formed in 2011 to work in partnership with the Parks and Countryside Department of the City Council.  It is mentioned as a target site to enhance Bio-diversity with some notable beetles, as well as fungi, mammals and wide range of birds.

Whiteley Wood

Whiteley Wood was flagged up as a target site as part of Sheffield's encouraging bio-diversity plan in 2011 because it includes  Ancient woodland, wet woodland, veteran trees, and has plants such as bluebells, wood melick, broad leaved helleborine;  birds such as dipper, and songthrush and also bats.  From an archaeological point of view the jewel in the crown must be the Shepherd Wheel complex. Its existence is due to a mixture of luck and sheer determination of the Sheffield people,  most recently the Friends of Porter Valley and Sheffield Industrial Museums .

Whiteley Woods7, incorporating an existing dam and its goit, was acquired in stages in 1897/98, 1913, and 1932, and presented to the City by T Walter Hall, the Town Trustees, and the J G Graves Charitable Trust respectively. Thomas Boulsover (1704-88), the inventor of Sheffield Plate, lived at Whiteley Wood Hall, situated south of Whiteley Woods. The grounds of the Hall were closely linked physically and visually to the Porter valley. Boulsover established a forge on the Porter in Whiteley Woods to forge and roll steel to make saws and fenders . Whiteley woods is part of the Porter Valley Parks and is grade 2 listed. 

Beeley Wood

Beeley Wood is an Ancient Woodland in the north of the Sheffield, near Middlewood.  The woods are home to a large colony of bats and all three species of woodpecker native to Britain can be seen in the woods. In spring there is a large covering of bluebells.  The earliest written reference to Beeley Wood is in a deed dated from 1161.  By the 1890s the coppicing of Beeley Wood along with the other coppice woods in Sheffield was coming to an end because of reduced profits and woodland management problems. The wood was allowed to become a "high forest" with the strongest growth of a coppiced tree allowed to grow into a fully grown standard tree. Many of the older and sickly trees were cleared away at this time and replaced by saplings of trees that were not native to the Sheffield area, such as beechsweet chestnutcommon lime and sycamore. In late 1898 the Duke of Norfolk's forester planted Beeley Wood with timber trees such as ashelm, sycamore, birch, lime, sweet chestnut and beech.  In 2011 the Forestry Commission approved funding for a five-year plan to improve the unmanaged habitat of the wood, to allow more light and warmth into the wood and therefore improve conditions for wild flowers, insects and birds. The woods are home to a large colony of bats and all three species of native woodpeckers.

In February 2016 the Environment Agency removed the middle two-thirds of Beeley Wood Lower Weir on the River Don as part of a scheme to allow the free migration of fish and let the river return to a more natural form.

The woods cover an area of approximately 60 hectares and slope quite steeply from the river gaining  around 70 metres in height before ending in farm land. The wood is traversed by two main paths, the lower of which is part of the Upper Don Walk, a scenic walk by the river from the centre of Sheffield to Oughtibridge. The other footpath runs the upper wood at its highest point, there are many other paths not marked on the OS map.  The woods are popular with walkers, runners and cyclists.


                                                  Geology 47

Over a period of 40 years or so, hundreds of Local Geological Sites have been listed, as contributing to the understanding of the geology of the region as a whole; for their value to research scientists; as an aid to school, higher and public education; for their historical context in extractive industry, or for their intrinsic worth. Other than in quarries, bedrock geology is most often revealed where rivers have eroded down to expose strata in the river banks or along the bed. The river valleys of Sheffield provide very valuable opportunities for teaching students and the public about geology and hydrological processes including river meandering, flood plains, erosion and the deposition of sediments.  Seeing these features in the field is much more efficient than class-room based learning.  Inevitably, some  sites and landscape features could be expected to be affected by engineering work undertaken to reduce the impact of flooding.


Has to be appreciated that the rocks were cannot be relocated if a site is destroyed though sometimes possible for an alternative site to be created, if the geology is essentially the same. There are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), on the valley floors, designated for their geological value, and these have statutory national protection. They are;

  • G4 Ladyspring Wood (Grid Ref SK3253 8168)
  • G248 Little Don Stream Section (SE2227 0033) – a site of international importance
  • G249 Little Matlock (SK3050 8913).

Other Local Geological Sites occur in all the valleys but several sites in the Rivelin and Porter would be endangered by the proposed schemes.

In the Rivelin, there are two sites at Wolf Wheel SK3020 8750 and 3007 8746 which might be obliterated by proposed embankment walls, and sites upstream that would be adversely affected by flood waters impounded by such an embankment. Rocks are exposed in many places along the bed of the river, even if their locations are not specifically listed.

In the Porter, the proposed embankment at the confluence of the Mayfield and Porter Brooks would permanently obscure two sites, SK2977 8476 and SK2974 8470, of which the latter exhibits a relatively rarely exposed band of marine fossils, used for obtaining relative dates of the strata across Europe. The stretch upstream of here also contains a significant waterfall and its recession gorge. A dam at Whiteley Woods, as well as being badly out of keeping with the scale of the valley, could obliterate other interesting, but unlisted exposures of the rocks in the river banks.                                              


                                               Weirs and Dams 48

Waterwheel installations were engineered to suit their location, with factors such as diameter and width of the wheel and the flow rate and drop of the water dictating its power. The quantity of water available   how large a wheel could be powered, and for how long, leading to the creation of mill ponds to build up reserves for the working day. The ideal situation for water powered sites was where there was both a sufficient fall of water and adequate room for the dam and leats to be laid out. Access to the water power site was subsidiary to those requirements, however their position along rivers often coincided with existing transport networks. The most commonly adopted arrangement for water power sites was a by-pass system, in which water was impounded in a river behind a weir which deflected the water through a head race to a mill pond and then to the waterwheel before being returned to the river further downstream along a tail race

 The region’s historical importance as a centre of metal working has resulted in the impoundment of the rivers by over 200 weirs  which were mainly built to divert river water to water mills. Even with dams and weirs the water wheels were still very much reliant on weather conditions. In times of low rainfall the hours the wheel working was rationed and in winter the wheels were often iced up. With the introduction of steam run wheels that allowed huge works to operate anywhere in the city the water powered sites began to close down although some areas continued on till the 20th century many had become obsolete by the 1840s. For many wheels the only indicator of past industrial activity is the weir,  as in many areas the dam has either silted up or been built over. Archaeological research has been minimal and many sites have been lost without any investigations.

With the increase of fish entering the Sheffield waterways concern was expressed that  although some salmon were able to jump the weirs many did not. Accordingly many weirs have been altered to allow for fish passages. Not all experts would agree that this is necessary as many rivers elsewhere in the world have weirs as high as the Sheffield ones and do not find it a problem.  Some are concerned that changing the weirs to allow easy passage for fish may have an impact on the local flora and fauna that have lived alongside for close to 800 years in some areas49    


"Planning shapes the places where people live and work and the country we live in. Good planning ensures that we get the right development, in the right place and at the right time. It makes a positive difference to people’s lives and helps to deliver homes, jobs, and better opportunities for all, whilst protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment, and conserving the countryside and open spaces that are vital resources for everyone. But poor planning can result in a legacy for current and future generations of run-down town centres, unsafe and dilapidated housing, crime and disorder, and the loss of our finest countryside to development" . Sheffield City Council Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 50

The short, steep descent from the moors means that a fast, high flow can quickly become established: the Don and its tributaries are flashy rivers, prone to sudden spates1A 1992 report noted that the Sheaf had flooded 10 times in the previous 70 years. There have been major events in 1958 (Sheaf and Don), 1973 and 1991, when blocked debris screens caused the Sheaf and Porter to overflow. The Environment Agency reports that: “Watercourses in Sheffield drain the southern Pennines and tend to respond very quickly to rainfall…More than 5,700 properties within the floodplain are at risk from a 0.1% AEP flood event (1:1000 years). To the north of Sheffield communities in Stocksbridge, Wharncliffe and Oughtibridge are at risk from the Little Don and the Don, and Chapeltown and Ecclesfield on Blackburn Brook.  The rivers Don, Rivelin, Loxley, Sheaf and Porter Brook contribute to the flood risk.


Topography and climate mean that the city is prone to flooding, but the problem now is, at least in part, manmade. A recent study1 of Britain’s urban rivers highlighted the two principal causes of increased flood risks in inland areas as: failure of the urban drainage network to remove rainfall fast enough, resulting in accumulations, and  flooding of adjacent rivers as a result of rainfall in the catchment upstream.

 The report notes that a number of areas, including parts of the city centre, are subject to a “high probability” of flooding, with the Don, Sheaf and Porter Brook corridors particularly affected.

Detailed analysis at small area level shows that the risk of flooding extending into business and residential areas (and affecting transport infrastructure) is particularly acute in the following areas: River Don: the entire length of the urban river, from Wadsley Bridge to Meadowhall  River Sheaf: the lower reaches below Norton Hammer, and especially Heeley, Lowfield, Highfield and Pond’s Forge  Porter Brook: the lower reaches below Hunter’s Bar, and especially the culverted sections in the city centre before the Porter Brook enters the Sheaf  River Loxley: from Malin Bridge, through Hillsborough, to the Don at Owlerton.

The ideal of flood control is to slow the water coming into the city and speed it leaving the built up areas. It is about controlling the flow of water.

Whilst the rivers were certainly the primary source of the flooding suffered in Sheffield in 2007, surface water flooding is understood to have played a contributing factor in some locations.  Approximately 5% of the damages sustained within Sheffield in June 2007 were as a result of surface water flooding alone49

The  potential impacts of climate change could increase the frequency and intensity of localised storms over the district. This may exacerbate localised drainage problems. To the east of the city centre, the district flattens and the river valleys widen. Runoff from the steep upper reaches arrives quickly, resulting in the overtopping of the rivers into flatter floodplain areas (including, for example, Meadowhall). Within these flatter areas, the drainage system relies heavily upon an ability to drain freely into the rivers. When river levels are high, the drainage systems are unable to discharge, resulting in surface water flooding that exacerbates problems within low lying areas.




"This is obviously a call to civic leaders to more fully appreciate the full scope of heritage as an asset in place shaping. But for us it is just as obviously an imperative to local and national champions of heritage. For the former the challenge is to raise our sights from protecting and preserving history - which, although it is vital, can tether heritage to the past – and open up instead to the possibility of heritage being at the heart of the conversation about a place’s future."   Matthew Taylor and Claire Delaney RSA . 51

The problem for Sheffield is that, with the exception of some relatively well-established areas like Kelham Island, the principal waterfront sites are still perceived to be unproven development locations, low amenity areas isolated from the city centre1 According to Sheffield city of Rivers moving to these new locations already required something of a leap of faith even without the risk of flooding. A strategy designed to keep the water out at all costs could have serious negative consequences for the amenities and environmental value of the rivers. Raised flood defences or carrying out channel improvements to improve the flow could have serious consequences further downstream. It might also diminish the ecological value of the river, and compound the historic sense of isolation of the river from the city.   

Building designs that  sacrifice basements and ground car parking to the flood waters to protect homes and businesses. might seem a rational response but it needs to be balanced against aspirations to promote active street level uses and lively riverside promenades

Sheffield’s industrial heritage is intrinsically valuable as a record of the city’s unique role as a centre for the metal trades from medieval times through to the 21st century. It is also a defining feature of the Sheffield cityscape which, though eroded and fragmented in places, remains distinctive, memorable and rich in cultural and historic associations. 

"Making the most of this legacy presents a challenge to conventional UK regeneration practice which is characterised by a desire to tidy up neglected and forgotten places, and to replace rich, layered and unruly landscapes with a glossy, anodyne, placeless product." Sheffield City of Rivers 1

In Germany’s Emscher Park in the Ruhr Valley 52, the remains of industry are celebrated as key elements of the region’s cultural heritage.   They aimed at creating identification and a unique atmosphere by restoring and presenting the relicts of 150 years of industrial history. The idea behind was that all other metropolitan regions have special features that form images and identification – internally for the inhabitants as well as for tourists and visitors.

Another part of their Emsher policy was to connect up the green areas together as like Sheffield the linkage was poor in some areas.

 One of the key strands of the Core Strategy vision for sustainable and transformative development53 in Sheffield is the need to “prize, protect and enhance [Sheffield’s] natural environment and distinctive heritage and promote high-quality buildings and spaces”. The statement is supported by a number of objectives, of which the following specifically relate to the Green Environment:

 • S13.1 Natural and landscape features, including valleys, woodlands, trees, watercourses and wetlands, safeguarded and enhanced.

 • S13.2 Biodiversity and wildlife habitats protected and enhanced throughout urban and rural areas.

• S13.3 Areas and features of particular ecological or geological value protected and enhanced.

• S13.5 Access to natural areas and countryside improved

However specific mention of the industrial archaeology in and around the rivers is nowhere to be found. 

 "The Water Framework Directive is driving change along river corridors, in areas that have seen relatively little change in the recent past, which is both a risk and an opportunity for the historic environment. Collaboration with the organisations overseeing and undertaking these changes presents not only the best chance of achieving the long term survival of important heritage assets, but also the opportunity to promote high quality projects that will lead to better results for both natural and built heritage."  South Yorkshire's Historic Water Management assets 48

At present although there are some excellent examples of collaboration across the waterways between voluntary and official bodies it is patchy, and many groups who should be involved due to their expert knowledge are left out. One problem is the tendency to compartmentalise seeing commercial development as purely for business "stakeholders" or rivers to be seen from a fisherman's point of view or an environmental point of view. Heritage is rarely addressed even when an ancient monument or listed site is involved. This can be clearly seen by looking at the list of stakeholders in the recent Wicker flood protection scheme 55 in that despite the area containing a number of listed buildings and industrial archaeology,  no heritage organisations such as the Victorian Society were on that list.   

The vast majority of the weirs and dams and old works are not listed by Historic England. Without involvement of all sides it is difficult to see how any meaningful balance can be made. At present much of Sheffield's unique heritage is in danger of being lost forever. So much has gone already without even any records being made before it went. There is no consistent approach. Sheffield's waterways are unique and should have world heritage status but haven't even got conservation status. There is nothing to stop someone bulldozing 75% of it tomorrow.

Worldwide there has become an emphasis on investment in Cultural  Heritage.  UNESCO,  The World Bank, and the  EU  sees heritage investment as part of the  agenda for inclusive green growth and sustainable development 55 Heritage investment promotes an efficient model of built assets and land, maximising the benefits of adaptively reusing assets that could otherwise be neglected or underutilized.

Heritage makes a significant contribution to the UK economy56 providing jobs and output across a number of. heritage tourism represented 2% of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011; this is the direct, indirect and induced effect of both built heritage and natural heritage  tourism. In 2011.the combined direct, indirect and induced impact contributed £14 billion in GDP. including natural tourism, this figure increases to £26.4 billion  At present although Tourism is on the increase Sheffield is 50% below the National average.

Heritage anchors people to their roots builds self-esteem, and restores dignity. Identity matters to all vibrant cities and all people.  UNESCO, the World Bank and the EU all believe this is an important factor in making a city livable. 


The notion of ‘landscape’ is a cultural construct involving the existing natural environment, but described and classified in cultural terms. A ‘cultural landscape’ is considered to be the “combined works of nature and of man, where a long-term, structural and harmonious interaction between man and the environment has created a complete new characteristic and idiom. Ran van Oers 57

Ron van Oers stated that a well managed historic urban landscape makes a city competitive as it not only attracts tourists, but capital and residents as well. Historic buildings and spaces contribute significantly to the value of the city and its brand. They contribute to the quality of the urban environment and securing market value of properties. Evidence as to how this works is becoming evident in the area around Kelham Island.58

"Attracting visitors to local areas – one of the strongest arguments for investing and promoting the historic environment is its importance in affecting perceptions of how attractive a place is to visit. it was also an important factor in determining where people chose to live (74%) and work (63%)" Heritage Counts 56            

                                               Question of Priorities?

The Flood protection scheme could be seen as a great opportunity to build a new networked approach where all sides have a voice. Much of what we have that is conserved re our waterways and the archaeology with it has been preserved by the blood sweat and tears of voluntary groups. People who spend several days a month clearing debris, removing Knotweed and other invasive plants. No need to ask them whether they think it is worth preserving.

It is more than just a handful of enthusiasts that heritage is important to, but for that work to continue we have to convince the next generation it is work worth doing. Whatever flood protection we use, we need to be assured that the debris gets cleared and the amount of rubbish purposely dumped is seen as not only anti-social but dangerous to the whole city. We need to get the communities involved in this and the best way to do that is to tell the story of the waterways and preserve its heritage as a source of local pride. Heritage Conservation is patchy at best and none existent usually, depending on a handful of activists.  Most waterways documents don't mention it, while in others the term heritage is ambiguous, and often on closer examination refers to natural heritage not manmade.  Of course Bio-diversity is important as is flood defences, but people's identity is based on human history, not natural history, and the social cohesion that a strong historical identity creates is important too. The devaluing of our industrial history has also resulted by inference in devaluing the people whose personal history is part of that. There may be no grand crescents, palaces, or great architectural monuments, but these tiny dams weirs and mills created the world as we know it. They made the tools that won the Wild West, and sheared the sheep in Australia. From there developed the metallurgists and chemists that brought us specialist metals and tools which still goes on today. Many of the poorer areas of our city need to be proud of their heritage. It is important to their feeling of self worth.  Watching it be allowed to rot or bulldozed as if it didn't matter, or told their neighbourhood doesn't have value, except when every trace of history has been erased is not the way to do so.

At present education in the heritage of Sheffield's rivers ranges from poor to non-existent, and yet there is great potential to use it as a teaching tool from the geology to bio-diversity, from engineering and tackling pollution.  There is much to learn that applies equally to present day concerns. A true connected history of our riversides can inspire the future engineer and conservationist the world needs.  A 2008 Ofsted report that looked at a sample of schools providing opportunities to learn outside the classroom found that, contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils' personal, social and emotional development. This is said to be particularly important for children from more deprived areas.59

There is a danger that tackling issues singly, that what seems the best solution for that problem will cause irretrievable damage elsewhere . For instance containing floodwater in an ancient woodland may seem the best approach for flood protection, but what about the  ecology, the archaeology, and the aesthetic value which brings visitors to the area? There will inevitably have to be a trade off in some areas as Peter Kennet suggests re Geodiversity47

A consistent citywide approach involving people from several organisations with their own specific interests means availability of a wide range of experts at low or no cost and a chance to reach compromise and alternative solutions which will be good for all. 

There is a need to have an overall strategy for our riverside heritage which will enable us to tell a coherent story across the city, and to seek out funding to restore, protect, and enhance many of the forgotten areas of the city. To target funding where it will do the most good. To build up education centres across the city. To create an interesting but unique view of the city that will be attractive to tourists, locals and investors. 

"Instead of them being a potential burden due to flooding, the people of Sheffield could actively benefit from their ongoing proactive management. A linear (water) park through the city would add to Sheffield’s claim to be Britain’s greenest city and a truly unique feature 60


1  Sheffield City of Rivers, Sheffield Waterways strategy group, Sheffield City Council, final report, April 2008 Yellow Book 3 hill street Edinburgh eh2 3jp t 0131 225 5757 f 0131 225 5750 mail@yellowbookltd.com

STEAM, STEEL AND LIZZIE THE ELEPHANT - THE STEEL INDUSTRY, TRANSPORT TECHNOLOGY AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT IN SHEFFIELD, 1800 – 1914 Dr Richard Simmons  Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Leicester by Dr. Richard Thomas Simmons, BA Hons (Sheffield), Postgraduate BTP with commendation (CNAA/Polytechnic of the South Bank), Ph.D. (Leicester), MRTPI Department of Economic and Social History University of Leicester Submitted January 1995.

3   Sheffield Local Biodiversity action partnership, Wetland  Habitat Action Plan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


4    Sheffield Wildlife Trust & Heeley Development Trust, River Sheaf Corridor Study (September 2001)

  Sheffield Waterways Strategy Editors: Wild, T.C., Missen, K. and Lord, J. Published by: Sheffield Waterways Strategy Group April 2014 ISBN: 978-0-9930238-0-4 Copyright: Sheffield       Waterways Strategy Group       

 http://www.fopv.org.uk/ Friends of Porter Valley

7  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001502


9  https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and-city-development/urban-design--conservation/conservation/conservationareas/fulwood.html

10  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1270819

11 https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1247589

12  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/10013

13  https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and-city-development/planning-documents/udp.html

14  http://www.rivelinvalley.org.uk/  

15  http://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/CD12-6%20Hertiage%20at%20Risk%20Register%20YK%20Humber.pdf

16   https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1270444

17   https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1247139 

18  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1271042

19    https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1246609

20  http://www.wildsheffield.com/nature-reserves/our-reserves/wyming-brook

21      http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-455543-former-malinbridge-corn-mill-#.WKiPXzuLTgw

22    http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-457518-wood-lane-house-farm-countryside-centre-#.WKiMXTuLTgw

23     https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1019857

24  Sheffield Biodiversity Action Partnership, the River Don and the Sheffield  and South Yorkshire Navigation Canals. Spatial Biodiversity Action Plan Summary Document. The Wildlife Trust for Sheffi­eld & Rotherham 37 Stafford Road, Sheffi­eld S2 2SF (0114) 263 4335 mail@wildshe­eld.com 

25  http://www.the-rsc.co.uk/blue-loop-community-project-and-friends-of-the-blue-loop-2/

26  http://www.simt.co.uk/kelham-island-museum

27  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1246723

28  http://www.friendsofwardsendcemetery.btck.co.uk/

29  http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1035024

30  http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-468887-oughtibridge-forge-bradfield-#.WKn8dzuLTgw

31  http://www.sheffieldcanoeclub.co.uk/

32  http://www.beauchief-environmentgroup.co.uk/

33  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1271291

34  http://www.simt.co.uk/abbeydale-industrial-hamlet

35  http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-2300-1/dissemination/pdf/087/DAJ_v087_1967_086-116.pdf

36  https://friendsofmillhousespark.org/corn-mill-project/

37  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1314582 grade 2* listed Priory

38 http://www.uklanddirectory.org.uk/land-for-sale.asp?id=11567

39 http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-335465-whitley-hall-hotel-ecclesfield-#.WKyaDjuLTgw grade 2* listed Whitley Hall

40 South Yorkshire Forest Plan 2002 South Yorkshire Forest Partnership web site www.syforest.co.uk

41    Friends of Charlton Brook http://www.friendsofcharltonbrook.co.uk/

42  http://www.wildsheffield.com/nature-reserves/our-reserves/blackburn-meadows

43  Shirebrook Valley Heritage Group  http://www.sbvhg.btck.co.uk/

44  https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/out--about/parks-woodlands--countryside/trees--woodlands/woodland-sites-and-projects/south-east-sheffield-woodlands-project/shire-brook-local-nature.html

45 Woodland Trust  https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/2016/10/floodgates/

46  https://www.friendsofgillfieldwood.com/

47 Peter Kennett, http://www.geologyatsheffield.co.uk/sagt/sy_sites/

48 Characterisation and Significance of South Yorkshire’s Historic Title: Water Management Assets in Relation to Water Framework Directive Requirements, ECUS Ltd. Brook Holt, 3 Blackburn Road, Sheffield , S61 2DW

49  900 years of the Don Fishery, Domesday to the New Millenium, Department of the Environment.

50  Strategic environmental Assessment version o1 Sheffield Local Flood Risk management strategy Sheffield City Council 2013

51  A Place for Heritage A conference paper by Matthew Taylor and Clare Devaney, RSA July 2014 Heritage exchange 2014

52  http://www.metropoleruhr.de/en/home/discovering-experiencing/emscher-landscape-park.html

53 Sheffield Development Framework Core Strategy Adopted March 2009   Development Services Sheffield City Council Howden House 1 Union Street Sheffield S1 2SH

54  Wicker Riverside Action Plan 2007-2017 Development, Environment and Leisure Directorate Development Service

Tel: 0114 123 4473 www.sheffield.gov.uk

55  http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTSDNET/Resources/Economics_of_Uniqueness.pdf

56 https://historicengland.org.uk/research/heritage-counts/

57  Preventing the Goose with the Golden Eggs from catching Bird Flu/– UNESCO's efforts in Safeguarding the Historic Urban Landscape By Ron van Oers, 28 July 2006.1 Keynote paper for the 42nd Congress of The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISoCaRP) Cities between Integration and Disintegration”  14 – 18 September 2006, Istanbul, Turkey

 58  http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-s-kelham-island-named-in-top-ten-coolest-places-in-britain-1-8338264

59 https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2012/dec/04/outdoor-learning-school-activities

60. The River Commons Report , North by Northwest by Studio Polpo & Steve Parnell and Sheffield University School of Architecture. 2012

   Water Power on the Sheffield Rivers. Second (Revised) Edition, edited by Christine Ball, David Crossley, and Neville Flavell,  South Yorkshire Industrial Historical Society, 2006

               Organisations re Sheffield Heritage and Waterways

Sheffield Wildlife Trust  http://www.wildsheffield.com/

 River Stewardship Company  http://www.the-rsc.co.uk  

Friends of Gillifield Woods  https://www.friendsofgillfieldwood.com/

Friends of Porter Valley http://www.fopv.org.uk/

Shirebrook Valley Heritage Group  http://www.sbvhg.btck.co.uk/

Beauchief Environment Group http://beauchief-environmentgroup.co.uk/

Canal and River Trust https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/sheffield-and-south-yorkshire-navigations

Friends of Charlton Brook http://www.friendsofcharltonbrook.co.uk/index.html

Don Catchment Rivers Trust http://www.dcrt.org.uk/

Ecclesfield Conservation and Local History Group  http://conservation.ecclesfieldgroups.com/

Friends of General Cemetery  http://gencem.org/

Hillsborough and Owlerton Local History Group  http://www.hillsboroughowlertonlocalhistory.co.uk/

Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust  http://www.simt.co.uk/

Friends of Millhouses Park https://www.facebook.com/millhousesparksheffield/

Stocksbridge and District History Society  http://www.stocksbridgehs.co.uk/society/

The Sorby Natural History Society  http://www.sorby.org.uk/

Victorian Society http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/south-yorkshire/contact-details4/

South Yorkshire Industrial Society http://www.topforge.co.uk/about-us/

Loxley Valley Conservation Group http://www.loxleyvalley.com/

Friends of Wardsend Cemetery http://www.friendsofwardsendcemetery.btck.co.uk/

Sheffield Area Geological Trust , http://www.geologyatsheffield.co.uk/sagt/sy_sites/

Morley Street Allotments Morley St Allotments, Walkley Bank (S6/

Friends of Coronation Park Oughtibridge https://www.facebook.com/friendsofcoronationparkoughtibridge



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