Sheffield Midland Station Lightwell
Revealing the confluence of River Sheaf & Porter Brook
To bring our city centre hidden rivers back to life we need to get more daylight into the gloomy culverts, increasing biodiversity and public awareness of their neglected condition.
In 2019 we noticed a timber hatch on Platform 5 of the railway station and thought that daylighting the River Sheaf tunnel below would be an easy win, so we quickly sent off our unique grille design to East Midlands Railway and Network Rail.
Our ideas and the significance of the location caught the imagination of senior NR staff so we sent in masses of supporting documents over the next couple of pandemic years. At one stage, where we thought we were close to approval, our Arts team ran a successful Haiku poetry competition, hoping the winning Haikus could be engraved on the stainless steel perches. At the same time we started fundraising for the £20,000 needed for manufacture and installation, a target which was quickly met through the generous offers from donors including Sheffield Town Trust, Outokumpu, J G Graves Charitable Trust, First Trans-Pennine, Hart Shaw LLP, Sheffield City Council, and South Yorkshire Community Foundation.
We are still working with Network Rail (NR) and have recently made progress with our application after much delay. We are seeking to be on site within the next year, if we can make it past the final hurdles of bureaucracy.
SHEFFIELD RIVERS CHARITY MAKE EXCITING PROGRESS WITH STATION PROJECT
Local rivers charity, The Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, are making great strides with their exciting project due to be installed on platform five at Sheffield Railway Station.
The ‘Lightwells’ project, which started in June 2019, will reveal a glimpse of the hidden rivers, Sheaf and Porter, flowing beneath Sheffield Station platform five via a new stainless steel grille, surrounded by sitting or leaning ‘perches’. The scheme aims to emphasise this important part of the city’s social and industrial history as well as improving the bio-diversity of the long, dark river tunnels. The Trust hopes this Lightwell will be just the first of a series of similar shafts, which will encourage wildlife and fish to pass through.
In early April, the charity launched a ‘haiku’ poetry competition with support from renowned poets Berlie Dohery, Debjani Chatterjee MBE and Ian McMillan, as guest judges. Hundreds of poems were submitted to the charity to be in with a chance of winning the exciting prize; one poem from each age category engraved on plaques on the perches surrounding the Lightwell. Not only will the winners’ poems be engraved at one of the city’s busiest locations, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come, but the winners will also be invited to attend the unveiling ceremony later in the year.
Simon Ogden, Chair of the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, said: “We were truly blown away by the number and sheer quality of wonderful poems we received from people of all ages. The Lightwells is a project which really excites us and the idea clearly caught the imaginations of poets not just locally but from across the UK. We are extremely pleased with the support and progress of the project and look forward to presenting it to the people of Sheffield in the near future”.
The charity has also been busy developing detailed designs of the Lightwell with East Midland Trains, the station managers and applying for grants to fund the manufacturing and installation. They charity are pleased to announce and thank the Sheffield Town Trust and TransPennine for awarding £5,000 each towards the project. Along with in-kind support from local fabricators Steel-line, metal finishers Firma-Chrome, consulting engineers Arup and a £1000 grant from our local stainless steel manufacturers, Outokumpu, who have also offered to donate stainless steel stock for the fabrication. The Trust is delighted that their target of nearly £24,000 is close to being met but would welcome further offers of support from local organisations to close the final funding gap.
There is currently not an exact date for the installation of the grille and unveiling ceremony at Sheffield Railway Station, however the charity hopes it will take place before the end of the year.
Scroll down to see the winning haikus on their plaques. Stay up to date with the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust at their Facebook page at facebook.com/SheafAndPorterRiversTrust/.