(Above) The Duke of Gloucester inspects one of the Sheffield Cannons at Kelham Island
Kelham Island Museum was declared officially open last week (May 7 2009) in an official ribbon cutting ceremony attended by the Duke of Gloucester.
The Sheffield based industrial museum had been closed for extensive restoration and refurbishment work following disastrous flooding in damage. It has now fully reopened with a host of new exhibits and restored artefacts in a redesign that aims to tell the story of the region’s industrial heritage even more comprehensively than before.
John Hamshere, Chief Executive at Sheffield Museums Trust, said: “We were thrilled that the Duke was able to join us to officially re-open Kelham Island Museum and inspect the incredible amount of work that went in to the Museum refurbishment by a team of dedicated individuals and over such a short period of time.”
The museum’s collections suffered severe damage when the River Don burst its banks in June 2007 and flood water swept through the nearby building.
“The Museum galleries, facilities and the Large Industrial Store were covered in mud and debris and at first sight the devastation was overwhelming,” recalled Karen Middlemast, Project Assistant on the Flood Recovery Project team.
Artefacts large and small had to be removed from the museum, and their damage assessed. Large robust objects could be pressure cleaned, while smaller or more delicate items required the services of the in-house conservation technicians.
Staff at Kelham Island
While work on the museum’s exhibits progressed, another team took the opportunity to refurbish the premises and put new items on display including a giant stainless steel sailing ship and the previously unseen Sheffield Town Guns.
“Following a number of consultations, new exhibitions have been created and old favourites have been preserved and modernised to tell a more complete story of Sheffield,” said Fiona Elliot of DBA Consulting, Project Manager of the re-display.
“The experience aims to be smoother, moving from our industrial heritage to present day and to create a sense of the steel industry today and the work that continues to go on in the region.”
Regular visitors to the museum will be pleased to know that one of its main attractions, the huge River Don steam engine, remains in pride of place and full working order despite being engulfed in water during flood.
The most powerful steam engine in Europe and one of only four built by Sheffield’s Davy Brothers in 1905, it has been with the museum since 1979. Eddy Foster, Project Manager of the engine refurbishment team, described the restoration process:
“After the initial steam cleaning, 5 people spent almost 100 hours wiping the engine down with rags,” he said. “Every single copper pipe and brass screw was then removed from the engine, piece by piece, cleaned and reassembled – it was definitely a labour of love!”
(Above)A five-man team spent 100 hours cleaning and restoring Sheffield’s River Don steam engine.
A team from Dorothea Restorations then spent 9 weeks repainting the machine, which was originally built to roll steel. They used over 15 litres of black paint and 47 litres of green paint to cover the 650 square metres of engine surface.
Visitors to the museum can once again see the steam engine in action twice a day thanks to its £30,000 restoration.
Kelham Island Museum is now open throughout the year from Monday to Thursday 10am - 4pm and on Sundays 11 am - 4.45 pm, closed on Saturdays. The Museum is free during Sheffield school holiday periods and at all other times £4 for adults, £3 concessions and accompanied children are free.
For more information visit Kelham Island Museum online