I have a fascination with the rivers of Sheffield. They have played a tremendous part in the city's industrial history and today provide a breath of fresh air and habitat for wildlife in the very heart of the city. The river Sheaf has held particular fascination for me as it flows into the city, but then just disappears. So I set about trying to find out what happens to it - and ended up discovering an amazing fact.
The river is very pretty and little more than a stream up near Millhouses Park, but as it enters the city, you can see that its path is not natural and the walls of the Victorian factories that sprung up around it forms its banks. The river falls 400 feet from around the Millhouses area and this drop enabled its power to be harnessed to provide water power for several industries.
In the late 1800's someone had the bright idea of building Sheffield Midland Railway Station where the river made a huge dam that was used for providing water for nearby Ponds Forge. And so the river needed to be re routed.
They decided to re route it underneath the city. No mean feat! At Granville Square the Sheaf disappears into a cage and into its subterranean world. The cage catches debris that is washed down stream and has a sensor attached to it that alerts the river authorities if the level starts to rise. The river heads off underground down Sheaf Street and past the railway station.
Ignore this - I couldn't get rid of it!
Just before the railway station, the Porter Brook joins it. This also comes through a culvert to join the Sheaf. Whilst this is barely a trickle most of the time, in 2007 it looked like THIS.
The station has its own water features above ground these days. Not many of the passengers flowing through, realise what lies beneath!
We followed the path of the underground river. It surfaces near the very modern buildings that have sprung up near the old works of the ancient Ponds Forge. Today's workforce sadly cooped up in soulless call centres.
I have no idea why the river is open here - my best guess would be for access I suppose for maintenance etc
It soon goes back underground and underneath the Sports Centre at Ponds Forge. An old gateway has been maintained from one of the Steel works that were here many many years ago.
As we head down towards Blonk Street, we notice residents sunning themselves on the balconies of the new apartments that have sprung up by the river
The Sheaf joins the river Don at this point (the Sheaf is on the right). This ends its underground journey, but
if you look down here where the railway station is, now you know what lies beneath, but
I bet you didn't expect it to look like THIS!!!! Its called the Megatron Drain and searching the internet I found that groups of enthusiasts explore and photograph these subterranean worlds - meaning that I don't have to. So take a look at the what lies beneath - and when you visit our city, you will know that you are walking above the Megatron Drain.
Make sure you take a look at the links as I am certainly not going down there to photograph it! The photos on the last link remind me very much of scenes from Phantom of the Opera! xx