Sheffield’s Brooklyn Bridge scheme back in the flow

Artists impression of the new Brooklyn Bridge in situ
Artists impression of the new Brooklyn Bridge in situ

A LONG-RUNNING scheme to build a scaled-down replica of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge over the River Don near Sheffield city centre is moving forward after being held up by the 2007 floods.

Backers are hoping that construction of a structure that celebrates the strong industrial and trading links between Sheffield and Brooklyn New York in the 19th century can finally start at Kelham Island in the spring of next year.

The project was conceived ten years ago and went on to win the backing of the council but it was put on hold as a result of the floods that devastated the area.

Now minor changes have been made to the design to take into account the effects of a new flood defence wall and an amended planning application has been submitted to the council.

The pedestrian suspension bridge, a one-tenth scale model of the original, is designed to cross from near Kelham Island Industrial Museum to Brooklyn Works, forming part of a riverside walk from Lady’s Bridge near the Wicker to Beeley Woods in Middlewood, in the Upper Don Valley.

It was the idea of former Sheffield University engineer Dr Alan Wood and the late architect Mat Tatlow, with supporters keen to see ambitions realised as a lasting tribute to Mat.

The scheme is now being driven by the Upper Don Walk Trust. A spokesman said: “Plans for the construction of the bridge were well advanced by the summer of 2007 but the disastrous flood in June of that year, which caused Kelham Island Museum to be closed for about 18 months, meant that the project had to be put on hold.

“A new flood defence wall has recently been constructed around Kelham Island. This has necessitated some amendments to the original design. Eastwood &Partners, the consulting engineers instructed to manage the project for the Trust, have made the necessary amendments and submitted an application for a new planning permission.”

The spokesman added: “A substantial amount of the money required for the construction of the bridge is already in place and the Trust is now taking steps to raise the remainder of the funds which will be required. It is hoped that work on the building of the new bridge will begin in the spring of next year.”

Much of the money is coming from the former River Don Mill Owners’ Association, an organisation set up to protect their interests in the 19th century.

Although the association ceased to exist in the mid-Sixties invested funds remain, which are being used for the benefit of the river and its environment. It is also hoped that the pot will be topped up by the council and other sources.

The idea is to span the River Don between Kelham Island and Brooklyn Works, which was named in 1839 because of its involvement with the American city.

Around the middle of the 19th century American industry relied heavily on Sheffield steelmakers, both for imports of metal and manufactured goods and the expertise of Sheffield craftsmen who went to work across the Atlantic. The original Brooklyn Bridge, which was completed in 1883, was made with Sheffield steel.

The New Brooklyn Bridge is designed to commemorate this heritage and to add a landmark in an historic part of the city.