3 January 2017

Urban

The River Loxley at Hillsborough Corner - soon it will feed into the Don
For one reason or another, my first two strolls of 2017 have been within Sheffield's city limits. One day I plodded around the Hillsborough suburb and the next day I was downtown by the River Don, close to the site of this city's huge medieval castle. It is such a shame that almost nothing remains of this fortress - just some foundations that were hidden beneath market halls built in the early nineteen sixties.

Sheffield was built on steel and the production of steel products. That industrial growth depended on several locational factors, not least The River Don. It flows through the city where it is joined by smaller rivers including the River Sheaf which gives our city its name - Sheaf-feld, field by Sheaf, Sheffield.
Sheffield Canal Basin
Before steel came along, The River Don was rich in salmon. They came up The Humber, into The Trent and then up the Don to its headwaters north of Stocksbridge. Even today there is  a section of The Don in Sheffield that is called Salmon Pastures. However, steel making was a very dirty process and during the industrial revolution The River Don became little more than a sewer or drainage channel for industrial waste.

With post-war decline in steel manufacturing and improved pollution controls, The Don is now a much cleaner river. Brown trout are back and industrial weirs are being attended to in the hope that salmon might one day return.
The River Don near Lady Bridge
On March 12th 1864, Sheffield was devastated by a terrible flood caused by a dam burst at Low Bradfield. Flood waters surged down The Loxley Valley towards The Don. In that process many homes and businesses were destroyed and 293 Sheffielders were killed. Yesterday I spotted the flood monument erected in 2008 within a new riverside development. It is pathetic and an insult to those lost souls. This was the worst civilian tragedy in  Victorian England and yet its visible commemoration is utterly underwhelming.

26 comments:

  1. But now Quiet Flows The Don.

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    1. That's true Graham - nice one - but not so in 2007 when she flooded.

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    2. Yes, the The Don couldn't Flow Down To The Sea quickly enough.

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    3. You're very perky this morning. Must be down to Sanatogen.

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  2. That terrible flood is firmly engraved in the collective memory of all Yorkshire people, I should think. When my Aunt J and Uncle B took my sister and I out walking around High and Low Bradfield two years ago, Uncle B told us all about the catastrophe.
    Thank you for explaining about the ethymology of Sheffield. I didn't know that.

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    1. And I send you a thank you too Meike! Thanks for the lovely Yorkshire calendar you so kindly sent me. It is now on the wall of our study. It means so much more that it was created by someone I know rather than a mass-produced calendar bought from a shop.

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  3. Interesting look round Sheffield YP. Although I was brought up not all that far away (Lincoln), we had no car and never went.

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  4. Incidentally we could see it burning from our windows during the blitz.

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    1. There's a viewpoint not so far from our house where on a clear day you can just make out Lincoln Cathedral - almost fifty miles away - so I can well believe that you would have seen the awful glow from afar.

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  5. There are better looking toilet blocks than that monument

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    1. It really is awful isn't it Kylie? Following his assassination, even Donald Trump will deserve a better memorial than that thing.

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    2. oh, no, i think he has made himself memorable enough!

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    3. No doubt he's already had a team of architects designing a memorial.

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    4. "I'm gonna have a gravestone. It's gonna reach the sky. It will be a beautiful thing. And who's gonna pay for the gravestone?....Yeah! Mexico. Mexico gonna pay."

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  6. Sometimes we build on top of things and sometimes a good flood comes along and wipes the junk out. Heavy industry has always been dirty and is still dirty today.

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    1. Floods are a natural phenomenon but I don't think the 293 human victims were "junk" Red.

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    2. You know I would never label the humans as junk. I assumed the powers that be had sense enough to place burial grounds out of a flood zone.

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  7. Makes you wonder what sort of people considered that piece of concrete to be a suitable memorial for such a tragedy.

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    1. Blind people I should think Sue.

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  8. I'm still being a sloth...watching the tennis...trying to stay and remain cool!

    We did have a storm the night before last...very heavy rain; no hail or strong winds, thankfully, but wonderful rain.

    In just a couple of hours or thereabouts we copped 125mm (almost 5 inches) of welcome precipitation. It pelted down. Well, it's not going to pelt upwards, is it?

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    1. I thought that "Cool" was your middle name Lee - always chilled out like a Buddhist monk.

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    2. Yeah, sure! I see I've got you fooled, too! ;)

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  9. A totally unsuitable memorial to those who perished. Surely whoever designed it must have realised it was an insult? The brief was probably something like "Nothing fancy, just a couple of bags of concrete, ditto, sand, and no more than an hours work tops. Never mind that it's not much, but there's no one left around to complain".
    Have you thought about starting a campaign for a more suitable edifice, YP?

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    1. I just might send that photo to the local newspaper CG - with a stinging letter attached. It's a disgrace.

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  10. That monument DOES seem to take minimalism to a ridiculous extreme.

    I love the photo of the tidal basin. That tree is in just the right place.

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    1. Thank you Steve...but it is not a "tidal" basin. It is the end of The Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. In Victorian times the canal ultimately connected Sheffield with the sea as The River Don is unnavigable in its upper reaches.

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