River project is a monster - so lend us a squid!

Chris Pritchard and the mural at the Riverside pub
Chris Pritchard and the mural at the Riverside pub
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IT all started with this huge wall painting of a ship and a monster from the deep but it is hoped a major new scheme could bring rather more attractive creatures to a Sheffield waterfront.

A £25,000 project to transform a section of the River Don has been launched - with a mural of a galleon and a gruesome giant squid.

The characters in the painting are sailing off to find a new world but here in old Sheffield, pub manager Chris Pritchard is determined to make the most of what we have.

He is heading a project which he hopes will eventually bring flora and fauna back to the Shalesmoor water stretch, right the way from his bar, The Riverside, in Mowbray Street, downstream to The Harlequin in Nursery Street.

“This is such a beautiful area of the city but at the moment it looks neglected,” he says.

“We’re taking it in stages so initially we want to transform the area around the pub but there’s no point doing that if just a few yards away it stays neglected, so we’re looking at ways and funding opportunities to work on it all.”

That work will include clearing away Japanese Knotweed – a destructive and super-fast growing pest which has taken over large swathes of the waterside – before planting wild flowers and water plants, building bird houses, installing bat boxes and setting up butterfly tables. Floating jetties and small decking areas could also be built.

Sounds idyllic.

So... why the monster-massive mural – by local artist Phlegm – to start things off?

“It’s just a terrific piece of art,” says Chris, 28, of Nether Edge. “You can see this wall as you drive over a nearby bridge and we thought it was a perfect platform for a jaw-dropping piece of art.

“The Riverside is an arts venue so it fits in with what we’re doing here.

“It’s not exactly linked to the clear-up but it all adds to making the area more attractive and vibrant. During winter, when the river rises, it should look like the ship is floating on the water.”

Meanwhile, Chris – who started at the pub in January after three years as manager of Platillos in Leopold Square – is hoping to get more people involved in the clean up project.

“I can’t stress enough that we want this to be community based,” he says.

“We’re not doing it for The Riverside, we’re doing it because this is a chance to conserve a piece of Sheffield on our doorstep.

“We’ve got a couple of extra staff through the future jobs fund but we would also love people from the community to come forward and help.”

He thinks for a second.

“Downstream they have kingfishers and ducks,” he says. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to get those up here again.”