A workshop held on 6 July 2015 was very helpful in defining the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for those of us involved in improving the River Don and its environs. The result of the application will be heard in September and the aim of the project is to reconnect people, communities and decision makers back to the River Don and its rich natural, cultural, built and industrial heritage. It is hoped that grant funding will be available to modify five weirs which will improve access for salmon to their breeding grounds. This, however, is only part of the plan as it is hoped that two apprenticeships will be available, along with skill development and events. Finally, it aims to create a heritage trail between Sheffield and Doncaster. It is hoped that volunteer groups and ‘friends of’ groups will also be formed to maintain the improving conditions along the length of the river. The bid is for £1.2 million, with matching funding of £200,000 already having been promised from elsewhere.
The Don Gorge Community Group is already playing a part in this and its volunteer group does good work between Conisbrough and the A1(M) bridge. They are currently improving the area near the fish pass on the south side of Sprotborough Falls and would welcome others to join them. Similar groups are operating in other areas, but more are needed if the length of the Don is to be covered; in the coming months possibilities for new groups in our area will be explored in the Denaby Main, Hexthorpe, Balby, Hyde Park and Doncaster areas.
The brilliant news that the first spawned salmon had recently been found in the River Dearne near Pastures bridge is a great indicator that the river is being cleaned up and that the fish pass at Sprotborough is already achieving results. To have reached the size it was when it was caught, the first in more than 150 years, it is thought that its parents must have scaled Sprotborough Weir shortly after the pass was completed in 2014. Salmon was once very common in the Don as far as Sheffield, but the industrial revolution and resulting pollution of the river soon put an end to that.
To enable further progress for our group, we would like to create a ‘Friends of the Don Gorge Community Group’, to enable greater access to those with an interest in our area of concern in particular, and to this end would like to hear from anyone who might be interested in helping us to start this. I do my best by running a website and a blog, but have limited knowledge of social media and practical help in setting up and running such a scheme would be particularly welcome. It is then hoped that ‘friends’ could be informed of events we would like to run and even help organise them. I feel there are many interested and talented people out there who already have the skills we need. Our committee is short of representatives and we are very stretched in trying to do anything which would achieve our aims.
There are 21 weirs along the River Don between Doncaster and Beeley Woods, nine of which are already passable by salmonids. Seven passes are being planned by other agencies, but the remaining five, which have no owners, come within this project.
For further information or enquiries, please contact
Liz Reeve, Secretary, Tel 01302 313030
or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
‘River Don from Source to Sea’
by Elizabeth Reeve
is published by Amberley
It is available from Amazon as an ebook or paperback or direct from Liz Reeve