We’ve already had a look at the series of culverts and tunnels that hide the River Sheaf underneath Sheffield city centre.
The last part of the river to be covered was the stretch from the Megatron, underneath Exchange Street, towards the confluence of the River Don at Blonk Street Bridge.
This was covered in 1916 after the demolition of the Alexandria Theatre, another massive scheme that allowed the eventual construction of Castle Market above, the rebuilding of Blonk Street and a tunnel entrance that allowed the Sheaf to flow straight into the Don.
Following the demolition of Castle Market in 2015, Sheffield City Council announced that a park would be created between Castlegate and Exchange Street.
Alas, four years down the line, the plans are still on the table, but the council is committed to delivering the project.
Sheffield Council wants to take the roof off the underground culvert, which the river currently runs through and is in a poor state of repair, and bring the waterway back into the open, surrounded by grass, flowers, trees, seating and other landscaping. The aim is to make the area more attractive to visitors, bring in new investment and reduce the risk of flooding.
The scheme would also complement the proposed Castlegate development on the site of the former market, which the council and its partners are still pursuing, and which will feature the exposed ruins of Sheffield Castle.
The park has the working title of Sheaf Field.
A waterside meadow and an elevated viewpoint would be created at the waterside and low stone walls built overlooking the river. The weir within the Sheaf culvert will be lowered, and the river channel remodelled, to improve natural habitats.
The plans also involve using way markers or pavement art to follow the River Sheaf’s course where it remains in a tunnel under Castle Square, Sheaf Street, the railway station and through Granville Square. Also, temporary art installations and ‘interactive sound experiences’ could be set up in the Megatron.
In 2019, the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust was set up to promote and support the deculverting and improve the environment of the River Sheaf and Porter Brook. The group’s founders aim to open the waterways and are trying to recruit as many members as possible to help make that happen. One of their hopes is to make sure that Sheaf Field comes to fruition.