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Forgemasters helps restoration projects

22 April 2008

Sheffield Forgemasters is helping bring the city's industrial heritage back to life with two major restorative projects.

Kelham Island Industrial Museum, part of the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust (SIMT), is currently rebuilding after last June's devastating floods, and Forgemasters is helping the museum on its road to recovery with the restoration of one of the museum's star attractions, the River Don Engine.

Four volunteer apprentices from Forgemasters - Rob King, Oliver Hill, Luke Shaw and Andrew Adam - along with Dutch exchange student Koen Plekker, helped clean down the famous engine, which powered a plate rolling mill on the Forgemasters site until the 1970s.

And the volunteers enjoyed their work so much they have vowed to be involved with future projects at the museum, which still remains closed for general public access, but is expected to re-open this autumn after major restorative work.

John Hamshere, director of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, said: "We are delighted that Forgemasters has been able to help in this way. The work of the apprentice team is laying the basis for a complete re-painting of the engine.

"The Trust's own engineering team has been stripping down and cleaning parts of the Engine since the flood and the aim is to have it back to excellent condition by the re-opening of the Museum."

SFIL chief executive Dr Graham Honeyman said: "The Kelham Island Industrial Museum was hit very badly by the floods, as were Forgemasters, so we were determined to help them in any way we could.

"The museum provides a great insight into the history of the steel industry, which is obviously something very close to our heart at Forgemasters, and the sooner it is open to the public again the better."

Forgemasters is also helping the oldest surviving water-wheel in Sheffield.  

The Shepherd Wheel, once part of a small-scale knife-grinding workshop, has stood in Bingham Park for more than 400 years and The Friends of Porter Valley (FoPV), in collaboration with Sheffield City Council, are planning to restore the historical site.

The £1m restoration will preserve the original external appearance of the buildings and restore the internal machinery to full working order, so that visitors can see how the wheel functions.

Forgemasters has made an ingot of corrosion resistant corten steel which will be forged to a slab later this year and then used to make new buckets for the wheel.

Added Dr Honeyman: "The Shepherd Wheel is an important part of Sheffield's industrial past. Preserving this historical artefact will allow future generations to learn about of the heritage of the manufacturing industry which once thrived in this area."