Wild Sheffield — Ben Keywood — 21st August 2017.

Sheffield and Rotherham were once known as two of the dirti­est cities in the UK due to both gen­eral pol­lu­tion and smoke pol­lu­tion. I worked at a firm called Edgar Allen Steel Ltd., and one of the spe­cial steels we pro­duced was called AlNiCo, a per­man­ent magnet steel. It had a very low carbon con­tent of less than 0.02% and the only way we could achieve this was to blow oxygen into the molten steel, prior to tap­ping. This caused enorm­ous amounts of carbon diox­ide to be given off which was then fol­lowed by vast clouds of iron oxide, res­ult­ing in  dust particles  rain­ing down over the East end of Sheffield unchecked. Most of the steel com­pan­ies employed sim­ilar tech­niques without giving it a second thought. They also used river water for cool­ing and dumped chem­ical waste into them.

The forges  used steam ham­mers and the rolling mills were driven by steam engines;  all this steam was pro­duced by burn­ing coal. In addi­tion to this every house­hold had at least two coal fires because cent­ral heat­ing was a luxury.

This all began to change how­ever when the “Clean Air Act” of 1956 came into force. Clean air zones came into force pro­hib­it­ing the burn­ing of coal; firms had to install dust col­lec­tion and gas wash­ing sys­tems, and if water was extrac­ted from rivers  for cool­ing pur­poses it had to be returned to the river cleaner than when it was taken out.

Time has passed now and Sheffield and Rotherham are very n cities, looked over by the “Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust”. There are 47 such trusts through­out the UK which are nor­mally related to the county in which they oper­ate but, Sheffield and Rotherham dis­trict are the exception.

The dis­trict has at present, thir­teen nature reserves which the trust manages.

Blacka Moor

Blacka Moor, con­sist­ing of 181 hec­tares of moor­land and wood is the largest and most spec­tac­u­lar of the Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves. Here you can see red deer, the UK’s largest and most majestic mammal.~

Blackburn Meadows

Blackburn Meadows was once the site for the Tinsley sewage farm which pro­cessed all the sewage from Sheffield. Now it is a stun­ning nature reserve with two lakes, attract­ing over 140 spe­cies of birds. Nestled in the indus­trial heart­land it is def­in­itely a place to visit.

Centenary Riverside

Centenary Riverside was con­struc­ted on the site of one of the largest steel pro­du­cers in the area. It acts as a flood plane to min­im­ise flood­ing in both the res­id­en­tial and indus­trial area of Rotherham. The past has not been for­got­ten. Large blocks of steel which have been dug up have been used to create “Steel Henge” and old indus­trial found­a­tions have become hab­it­ats for many spe­cies of birds.

Other nature reserves within the region are:

  • Woodhouse Washlands
  • Fox Hagg
  • Wyming Brook
  • Greno Woods
  • Crabtree Ponds
  • Moss Valley Woodlands
  • Salmon Pastures
  • Sunnybank
  • Carr House Meadows
  • Carbrook Ravine

The Trust man­ages the nature reserves by build­ing and main­tain­ing foot­paths, fences, bridges, gates and many other things so that the public can visit and enjoy the reserves whilst at the same time making them places for wild life to flourish.

The Trust depends upon its mem­bers and volun­teers and act­ively encour­ages mem­ber­ship to fur­ther there cause.

Ken is a very enthu­si­astic and know­ledge­able speaker and kept the club’s atten­tion throughout.

To really appre­ci­ate how lucky we are, living in this region it is worth­while vis­it­ing the web­site of the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust at www.wildsheffield.com