“Does this mean I shouldn’t eat any more salmon sandwiches?”

“Does this mean I shouldn’t eat any more salmon sandwiches?” exclaimed one of our young ‘River Guardians’ during one of our school visits for the Living Heritage of the River Don project. Explaining to people about the return of migrating salmon is by far the best part of my role as Project Assistant for DCRT.


Sally watching the Salmon run in the Cairngorms, Scotland… coming soon to Sheffield!


Fish would have been a large part of the diet of early settlers of the River Don who soon learnt to harness and control the power of the river. Weirs were constructed to power mills, wetlands drained to control floods, waterways altered to ease navigation and reservoirs created to supply an ever-growing population with drinking water. These dramatic changes to the flow of the River Don and it’s tributaries exhausted salmon as they tried to migrate up the river to their spawning grounds.

In 1689, large basket-like traps, called ‘hecks’, were installed on the weirs to catch salmon attempting to jump the weirs.  At this point salmon sold at local markets at around 2p per kg and were considered a staple of most people’s diets. Back then, our young River Guardian may have eaten salmon sandwiches up to three times a day.

The trapping of salmon for food, combined with the exploitation of the river to fuel industry, meant salmon were unable to migrate up the river and disappeared from the Don by 1750. Over the next few hundred years, sewage and pollution continued to fill the spoiled river, drowning out natural life and helping the Don win the title of “Europe’s most polluted river” by the 1980’s.


Specimens from Doncaster Museum: An Atlantic salmon Salmo Salar and a tracking tag found on a rare, stray salmon that made its way to the polluted River Don in the 1970s.


Since then, law and legislation has been passed to protect the rivers and changes to industry have seen the rivers of the Don Catchment recover. Dedicated charities, organisations and volunteer groups protect, restore and re-connect the river and its surrounding habitats. The return of rare and stunning wildlife – otters, kingfishers and migratory fish are proof of this outstanding deep clean!

Sally Hyslop
Project Assistant – Living Heritage of the River Don

Three down, two to go!

Bailey Construction have completed the first of the Larinier fish passes which is located at Steelbank weir.


The baffles in the bottom flight of the pass
The view from the top of the pass with the resting pool at the bottom

The baffles on the inside of the pass are what makes this a ‘Larinier’ pass, named after the man who invented them.  The baffles disrupt the flow of water, making it easier for the fish to ascend the pass.  There is a  resting pool in between the two flights which is to allow the fish to rest before attempting to ascend the second flight.

They have also completed the second easement which is located at Kelham Island, just off Ball Street bridge

Ball St bridge with the easement

The easement is formed of concrete which is set in to the face of the weir.  A notch is cut in the crest of the weir to allow the water to flow down the easement



Work is still progressing at Brightside weir with the base being poured and the walls being poured this week.

Upper flight at Brightside

14 tyres, 9 traffic cones, 3 trolleys …

On Saturday 15th September 2016 Don Catchment Rivers Trust led their latest volunteer clean-up day by Chapel on the Bridge, Rotherham.

Chapel of our Lady on the Bridge, Rotherham.

The Trust noticed an accumulation of rubbish in the river when out and about planning the route for the Don Valley Way trail. There aren’t many areas in Rotherham town centre that the river is both visible and accessible, so we were keen to do a volunteer clean –up here.

The accumulation of tyres waiting to be pulled out

Part of setting up a clean-up event is to find out who owns the stretch of river, who has responsibility for it, and also talk to any local groups in the area with an interest. On this occasion we were fortunate that Chapel on the Bridge has a dedicated ‘Friends of’ group that had been looking to get the stretch of river cleaned up for a while. Sometimes rubbish in the river is no-one in particulars responsibility, and this is where the ‘Living Heritage of the River Don’ project is often able to help and make a positive impact on a local area.

So, we organised our volunteer clean-up day to coincide with a Friends of the Chapel open day, and they very kindly kept us fuelled with tea and parkin!

Tea and parkin time!

The team pulled out 14 car tyres, 9 traffic cones, 3 shopping trolleys, 2 crowd barriers, a microwave, and a suitcase as well as half a dozen bags of litter from the banks. Rotherham Council agreed to pick up the rubbish on their route, so we took it all up to the street. It was really interesting to see people’s reaction to seeing it all – some people took photos, some people said ‘thank you’, some people expressed their anger at the rubbish. And someone threw a half eaten bag of chips into the river!

Several shopping trolleys were dragged out of the river.
The haul of rubbish and litter from the 50m section of the Don

As usual we would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers that came to help. Also thank you to the volunteers at Chapel on the Bridge for being so welcoming, and to Rotherham Council for taking the rubbish away for us

If you would like to volunteer at the next clean-up day please do get in touch with the Trust on volunteer@dcrt.org.uk or phone 01302 796173.

Lady’s Bridge



As mentioned on our last blog, the work at Lady’s Bridge weir to install an easement to allow the movement of fish in the River Don is now completed thanks to funding from Biffa Award, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Environment Agency.

Here are a few things you may or may not know about Lady’s Bridge:

Richard Hawley has written a song called Lady’s Bridge and called his fifth album the same

Take me with you when you go
Lady’s bridge is where we know
Now that our lives turned out so bad
We lost the dreams we once had
We can watch the river flow
And maybe make this city slow

Written by Richard Willis Hawley • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lady’s Bridge is the oldest bridge across the River Don in Sheffield

The first references to the weir and the wheel are in 1581.

By 1895 the wheel was obsolete but the weir remains.

It has been a Grade II listed structure since 1973

Find out more here




One down, four to go!

The first of our five fish passage solutions has been completed at Lady’s Bridge near the Wicker in Sheffield.  This is a baulk type easement which is set in to the face of the weir with a notch cut in the top of the weir to allow the water flow.  This changes the flow of the water which allows stronger swimming fish to get over the obstacle.


Works begin on Kelham Island this week to install an easement similar to the one pictured above and then the contractors will move on to Burton Weir near Norfolk Bridge.

Steelbank is having the walls of the pass poured this week before they reinstate the stone sets on the face of the weir and install the Larinier baffles.

The fishes view of the bottom of the fishpass at Steelbank

20160921_103828.jpgBrightside weir has been broken out and concrete blinding poured ready for the concrete bases to be poured.

It’s all about the water!

At Brightside weir it’s all about water management!  The sandbags that were in place to dam the weir weren’t as effective as they had been at Steelbank and so piles have been driven to create a coffer dam instead.  Hopefully they should be able to start breaking out the weir by the end of this week.

Coffer dam at Brightside

Work has really come on at Lady’s Bridge and, if the weather stays fine, it should be completed by the end of next week.

As you can see in the photos below, the concrete easement has been inserted in to the face of the weir and the contractors are currently re-laying the stone sets around it.  The easement is pre-cast off site and once installed with a notch at the top of the weir will allow stronger swimming fish to ascend the weir.

Lady’s Bridge Easement
Re-laying the stone sets



Moving on

Here’s more pictures of progress at Steelbank weir.  The concrete base has now been poured for the two flights and the resting pool with the steel visible for the walls.  Next job is to put ‘shutters’ around the steels and pour concrete to form the walls.

2016-08-25 10.43.00.jpg

The site has water in it as the pumps had been switched off at the time.  One of the biggest challenges for the contractors is to keep the site dry and as such they use pumps that keep the site free of water whilst they are working.  As soon as the pumps are switched off the water finds it’s way back in!

The site at Lady’s Bridge has now been set up ready for the contractors to sandbag off the top of the weir


The site at Brightside has had sandbags put in place to dam off the top of the weir before they begin breaking out the weir there to install a two flight Larinier fish pass.  Fingers crossed the weather stays dry!

2016-08-30 10.44.37.jpg