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Rediscovering the river Rother

The River Rother and its many tributaries came to prominence in the early days of the 17th century, when the fast-flowing brooks and streams were tamed and damned to serve watermills, that powered the growing industrial revolution.

In the 19th and 20th centuries heavier industries arrived, bringing toxic pollution that all but wiped out aquatic life. For many years the ‘dead river’ was left unwanted. It was unnaturally straightened, culverted and covered up, built upon and hidden away from sight.

Thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Don Catchment Rivers Trust aims to restore Chesterfield’s rivers. The project will re-wild a section of the river Rother, allowing it to behave more naturally and function better, whilst boosting the potential for returning wildlife to flourish.

Anthony Downing, for the Environment Agency’s Don and Rother Environment Programme, said: “This project is a great opportunity to deliver some important improvements to the natural environment of the River Rother, once one of Europe’s most polluted rivers. A great benefit of working with DCRT, and HLF support, will be to bring this once neglected river into the heart of the community through their great volunteer and engagement work.”

As well as restoring the river, DCRT aims to help communties rediscover the rother by…

SPARKING COMMUNITY PRIDE: As part of the three-year project, communities can celebrate and discover the history of Chesterfield’s waterways by uncovering archaeological evidence and taking part in community walks and events.

CHANGING ATTITUDES: Schools, uniformed groups and local families are offered free educational activities, focused on protecting widllife and the future of our rivers. New trails and interpretation will be created, allowing communities to access and rediscover the river.

ENABLING PEOPLE: Catchment volunteers are working to eradicate damaging invasive species and remove decades of industrial waste from the river. Citizen scientists, trained in wildlife identification skills, are helping to monitor the river’s changing diversity and record wildlife.

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