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A Dark History

Hiding Sheffield's Poisoned Rivers

As the industrial revolution swept away the need for weirs and water power, and building land became scarce in the City Centre, our rivers were first trapped between high walls and eventually culverted.  Often used as open sewers and for industrial wastewater these Pennine streams became polluted and devoid of wildlife...other than our friends the bats.

Castlegate Culverting cropped1915.jpg

Castlegate Culverting

In 1915 the Exchange Street Culvert (the "megatron") was extended in order to build over the river Sheaf.  This photo shows the high entraining walls and temporary steel arches  holding up concrete formwork.  Judging by the amount of material in the river they must have been hoping for dry weather.  There is rumoured to be a culvert connecting the Sheaf to the Canal here.

Culverting for the Railway Station

The River Sheaf at Castle Orchards Wheel was culverted in 1868 for the Midland station and marshalling yards.  The platforms are build over three parallel arched culverts built mainly of stone with brick and reinforced concrete extensions.  The Porter Brook culvert joins the River Sheaf beneath platform 5

Sheaf Culvert under construction at Midl
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Collapsing Culverts

Many of the Victorian culverts are still in excellent condition despite their age. However more modern, reinforced concrete sections are rotting and some are in danger of failure.  The collapsed section shown here at Decathlon has now been repaired and 'daylighted', 

The Trust is working with the council and the landowner to re-naturalise this section of the brook.

Castlegate Exchange Square C1853.JPG
Castlegate and Exchange view 2018.JPG

Now and then

Exchange Square and the Sheaf Valley today, and in the 1850's

Two buildings exist in both images...The Terminal Warehouse at Victoria Quays, and the Norfolk Arms on Shude Hill 

Image data: Google, DigitalGlobe
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