Legacy of Sheffield city’s industrial past to help museum

Five Year Anniversary of Sheffield floods: John Hamshere at Kelham Island Museum by the river and flood wall
Five Year Anniversary of Sheffield floods: John Hamshere at Kelham Island Museum by the river and flood wall

AN ORGANISATION founded in the 19th century to protect the interests of mill and factory owners along the River Don in Sheffield is set to give £380,000 to help improve Kelham Island Museum as a 21st-century attraction.

Established to ensure water supplies were not disrupted, the association’s money was invested once the risks to supplies had passed.

Now it is used to support projects which perpetuate and celebrate the industrial heritage of the area – and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust is expected to receive £380,000 for four projects at Kelham.

They are:

An extension to Russell Works, which accommodates the Hawley Museum, the collection of tools gathered by Sheffield’s Ken Hawley;

The creation of a Kelham Island Brewing Gallery, to celebrate the area’s brewing tradition;

Improvements to the Museum Learning Centre;

Building a replica back-to-back house in the museum.

A further £50,000 will be donated as an endowment to improve Kelham’s education and learning activities.

Up to 15,000 schoolchildren visit the museum each year.

The River Don Millowners Association is expected to confirm the funding later this month so that some work on the projects can start this year.

Clerk Tony Swift said: “Allocating funds to projects that will benefit both the Kelham area and the museum is a wonderful way to ensure that the people of Sheffield continue to be able to learn about and experience the city’s industrial heritage.”

John Hamshere, chief executive at Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted. Kelham Island Museum is an important part of Sheffield’s Heritage and with funding cuts across the UK, it is really exciting that we will be getting much-needed cash to help expand and progress the museum.”

He added: “This is a really exciting time and we hope we can move things forward quickly.

“As soon as the money transfer is complete we will be able to bring forward designs so people can see our vision for the area.

“The museum gets 45,000 to 50,000 visitors every year telling the story of Sheffield by focusing on the industries and people that made Sheffield the city it is today.

“We want to continue to tell that story so news of funding from the River Don Mill Owners Association is just excellent.”

The association was formed in the 19th century as reservoirs were being constructed to serve the needs of the growing populations of urban areas. Owners of mills and factories along the Don got together to ensure they had an adequate flow of water.

The Water Resources Act of 1963 regulates the use of water in the nation’s rivers and consequently the Association ceased to have a purpose. Subsequently the association’s funds were invested and these are now being used to support projects which perpetuate and celebrate the industrial heritage of the area.