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.
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
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.
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