Eddy’s role in history

Pictured is Eddy Foster,Head Engineer of the mighty River Don Engine at Kelham Island Museum
Pictured is Eddy Foster,Head Engineer of the mighty River Don Engine at Kelham Island Museum

Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust’s technical services manager Eddy Foster started his role in 2008, shortly after the floods. Eddy, aged 43, was brought up in Stocksbridge - his father was a steel worker and his mother a die polisher. During a visit to Kelham Island Museum in 1984, the mighty River Don Engine captured his imagination. His job involves managing the maintenance and conservation workshop as well as the engine. Eddy has been making sure the engine is in full working order in preparation for the Kelham Island Christmas Market this weekend.

The River Don Engine

The engine captured my imagination and took me on a career path that has brought great stability and pleasure to my life. It is a shining example of all that was achieved in Sheffield during the industrial revolution and it’s a great honour to run the engine and care for it so future generations can see what was created way back in 1905. Before computers designed machines, men were building engines as big as they dared. The River Don engine will outlive me but I have been part of its rich history.

the music scene

Along with engineering, music has always filled my life, from singing in the school choir to learning to play the trombone and guitar. But the real enjoyment is seeing live music in the large venues like Sheffield City Hall and pokey little back rooms of pubs. My taste has been steered around many types of music but I’ve settled on rock as my favourite.

My first big gig was Iron Maiden at the City Hall and my second was Amnesia - a band of school mates from Stocksbridge - playing at the Royal Oak Pub, Deepcar. Both were awesome!

Sheffield’s microclimate

Sheffield has very diverse weather, which I believe is because of the hills. You can get people wearing T-shirts in town and then drive back to Stocksbridge and need a big coat. I remember being very self-conscious as a child walking down the Moor in wellies when everyone else was dressed for reasonable weather.

It was common when I was at Stannington Technical College for me to drive into the car park with three inches of snow on my bonnet and the class would tease me that it must be like the North Pole at Stocksbridge.

The Simplex car

Since joining the museum I have taken on the role of second driver for the museum’s vintage car. The Simplex is a 1920 prototype car built by the Sheffield Simplex motor company and was originally owned by the 7th Earl Fitzwilliam, who was the company owner.

I feel a huge honour and responsibility to be trusted to drive the car. The car is one of three that still exist and is the only one of its design. The Simplex has an engine of nearly eight litres, is 19 feet long and weighs nearly two tonnes. You could say it’s a bit of a handful. We drive it to vintage car shows at stately homes and country shows.

city breweries

Over the years I have developed a taste for real ale and feel very fortunate to live in a city with so many micro and craft breweries. My favourite is Abbeydale Brewery, not least because a very good friend of mine is head brewer. The real ale pubs are very friendly places to be with all visitors welcomed warmly.

Green spaces and hills

For an industrial city Sheffield has so many green spaces and coupled with the fact that it is surrounded by beautiful countryside it makes the city fantastic for outdoor types like me. The hills also make the views awesome. I love being able to see high points across the city or looking down on the city from afar.