The biggest "river" in Sheffield is the Don but in the centre of the city it is little more than a fast flowing hill stream that tumbles over weirs and shingle banks on its way to Tinsley where it settles down and becomes deeper, more slow-moving and navigable. At the start of the nineteenth century, as Sheffield grew into the world's premier steel producing town, industrialists saw a need to cut a canal that would link the town centre with the first navigable section of the Don.
It was a major engineering project and involved the construction of eleven locks along the four mile long canal. This was not about making a waterway for pleasure craft. It was about bolstering steel profits, making the inbound carriage of coal and iron ore and the outbound haulage of steel products much easier. And so on February 22nd 1819 the canal was opened to great ballyhoo, a public holiday was declared in the town and around 60,000 spectators turned out to witness the transformational event.
On overcast Sunday afternoon, I walked the length of the canal, passing narrow boats and fishermen and the crumbling remains of Sheffield's old industries. In this city many "special steels" were developed and foreign visitors to this blog may like to know that it was in Sheffield that stainless steel was invented and first produced. The city is also famous for high quality cutlery - in both stainless steel and silver plate.
|At Victoria Quays - Sheffield Canal Basin|
|Dilapidation by the old canal|
|"Matilda" passes under the M1 viaduct at Tinsley|
|"The Five Weirs Walk"|
|Fisherman seeking brown trout in The Don|