Forge Dam restoration project finally back underway, says group chair

“It is wonderful,” says Friends of Porter Valley chair after volunteers finally got back together to continue renovation works at Forge Dam following pandemic.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 11:29 am
Volunteers restart work at Forge Dam after lockdown. Pictured is John Gittins. Picture: Chris Etchells

The Friends of the Porter Valley have raised over £25 0,000 in recent years for improvements to Forge Dam – but had to put the work on hold during lockdown.

Despite efforts of individuals, who still attended the valley with their own equipment, now they are back in full flow, working on stone wall repairs, clearing drains and debris on the paths, and trying to identify the original trees planted 70 years ago as an arboretum to form Festival Woodland.

Friends of Porter Valley chair Ann Le Sage said: “We are busy planning to revive all our normal activities: walks, talks and more freedom to do conservation work. Shepherd Wheel will be reopening in June, but we are still in final planning stages.

Lyndon Porter and John Adler get to work at Forge Dam. Picture: Chris Etchells

"We have been working throughout lockdown as conservation volunteers, when we were permitted to have a group of six outdoors.

"When we were completely locked down, a number of us that had our own tools and high-vis jackets chose to go out and do things – such as litter picking and gardening.

Others went and cleared paths and gutters and drains that had become blocked, so we have kept an eye on the valley right the way through and kept within the guidelines. But we are so pleased to have the relaxation to be in bigger groups now, it is wonderful.”

Forge Dam is an important part of Sheffield’s industrial heritage, and over the years deep silt has built up on the dam, which is a hazard to visitors and reduces its natural beauty.

Pictured are Lyndon Porter and John Gittins. Picture: Chris Etchells

The area became increasingly popular with groups, individuals and families throughout lockdown as nature became an important fixture of everyday life.

Friends of Porter Valley have been trying to rehabilitate the area above Forge Dam and clear sight lines down to the dam so people can view the restoration work at the end of the year.

The group also plans to renovate the playground, making it more desirable to visitors.