Forge Dam Restoration Project
Forge Dam History
The earliest historical references to Forge Dam are that Thomas Boulsover legally conveyed a newly built forge (about 1760) to his son-in-law, Joseph Mitchell, in 1765 and in 1779 Fairbank described the site as ‘Thomas Boulsover’s Dam’, together with a forge and a lower dam (now filled in). This was part of Boulsover’s industrial ‘empire’ which included the Button Mill and Wire Mill Dam and it’s associated buildings.
The forge and dam were subsequently variously recorded as owned by Boulsover’s manager, Samuel Thompson and later by Boulsover’s descendants, finally being sold by John Hutton in 1900 to a file grinder, Herbert Maxfield.
Around the mid 1800’s there were two water-wheels and a steam engine to power the forge’s drop hammers. It is thought that the forge ceased as a commercial enterprise around 1887. Maxfield primarily used the old forge as a workshop for his trade and then started a business as a place for recreation, erecting a tea-room to seat 150. Despite a couple of attempts, he wasn't able to get a licence to serve alcohol! The dam remained as a boating pool for 20 years.
By 1939 the dam and associated buildings were sold to Sheffield Corporation. Since then the dam continued to be used for boating, and a café and children’s playground were built to enhance the recreational experience. The boating ceased as the dam became heavily silted, but the dam, café and playground are still seen as important facilities for Sheffield’s people.
The wheel and workshops have long since disappeared, but the millpond still exists. However, it is now in a poor state, due to the accumulation of silt.
A partnership of Friends of the Porter Valley (guardians of the site), Sheffield City Council (owners), and other interested parties intend to restore the dam as an amenity for the people of Sheffield, and as a wildlife habitat.
Our plans include:
Clearing trees and shrubs from the spillway and dam wall. This may be unpopular, but we will keep the public informed so that they will understand that the work is necessary to protect the structure of the dam so that it may last for another 250 years.
Reducing the size of the island, and removing the trees, as this was the most popular option (as opposed to removing the island completely, or leaving it as it is) when we conducted a public consultation.
Reducing the amount of silt reaching the dam, by working with landowners upstream. However, the major part of the project, and most costly, will be removing the silt currently in the dam.
If you would like to make a donation towards the Forge Dam Project by cheque, please make it payable to ’the Friends of the Porter Valley’ and post it to:
David Young (Treasurer), Friends of the Porter Valley, 17 Slayleigh Avenue, Sheffield, S10 3RA