The Living Heritage of the River Don

Partners:National Lottery Heritage Fund, Environment Agency, Sheffield Council, Rotherham Council.
Key outcomes:Fish passage, community engagement, river restoration.
Local watercourse:River Don

Living Heritage of the River Don was the first National Lottery Heritage Fund project which the DCRT undertook. The project was delivered on time and to budget and allowed the Trust to expand into community engagement.

Our ambition was to reconnect people, communities and decision makers back to the River Don and its rich natural, cultural, built and industrial heritage. Part of this included changing beliefs and attitudes so that the River Don and its heritage would be better valued as a major asset to South Yorkshire and better protected into the future.

The project cemented the Trust’s reputation as an organisation that works with partners to overcome any challenge.

What we achieved

Supporting the return of salmon to the River Don

Fish passes have been built on 5 weirs in Sheffield – Brightside, Norfolk Bridge, Lady’s Bridge, Kelham Island and Steelbank, reconnecting 6.5km of the Don and opening up 10km of spawning grounds to migratory fish for the first time in 200 years. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) sightings are now beginning to be reported in previously impassable areas of the river Don.

Inspire and mobilise local communities

1,177 pupils took part in the River Guardians programme and 50 young people volunteered on riverside youth art projects. Over 300 volunteers helped to improve and protect the rivers on their doorstep, some of which went on to lead their own volunteer days and form the Friends of The Don Valley Way.

Develop skills for heritage and capacity

We trained two apprentices in Environmental Conservation and 184 volunteers in heritage skills, including licensed equipment training.


Foster understanding of heritage and change perceptions

A long-distance trail ‘The Don Valley Way’ from Doncaster to Sheffield was created. Audio trails and information boards encourage those walking the trail to learn about and enjoy the river Don’s heritage. Community discovery events and guided walks and talks improved access to the river.

Living Heritage of the River Don, was commended in the Living Waterways awards in 2017

Watch the below video about the award and the project.

Since filming, the final fish pass as mentioned by our Trustee Chris was built and Salmon have been seen in the upper reaches for the first time in over 200 years!

Have a look at our evaluation report for the project below!

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