Hidden waterways under Sheffield railway station revealed in new TV show tonight

Viewers can see inside the hidden waterways flowing beneath Sheffield railway station in a new TV showing airing tonight.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:51 am

The Architecture the Railways Built, showing on Yesterday this evening, Tuesday, March 2, at 8pm, offers a fascinating look at the labyrinth of tunnels and the rich history they hold.

Sheffield’s former head of city centre regeneration, Simon Ogden, takes presenter Tim Dunn on a tour of the culverted rivers running just metres below the busy station in the latest episode of UKTV’s original documentary series.

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Presenter Tim Dunn and Simon Ogden explore the hidden waterways beneath Sheffield railway station for the Yesterday TV show The Architecture the Railways Built (pic: UKTV)

He learns how the railway opened with little ceremony on February 1, 1870, the lack of fanfare likely owing to concerns over its location in a notorious slum area known then as ‘The Ponds’, due to the many mill dams and fish ponds, where the air would have been thick with smoke from surrounding factories.

Venturing below ground, they discover some of the many artefacts bearing clues to the area’s past, including the lid of a crucible pot used to make Sheffield steel; old tools and pieces of cutlery; and discarded oyster shells, which Tim learns are the remnants of Georgian ‘fast food’.

They also meet members of the thriving subterranean crayfish population, whose presence indicates how drastically the quality of the once heavily polluted water has improved over the last 30 years, and see the historic access hatch leading down from platform 5.

Presenter Tim Dunn and Simon Ogden explore the hidden waterways beneath Sheffield railway station for the Yesterday TV show The Architecture the Railways Built (pic: UKTV)

Back above ground, Tim is shown round the station by social historian Liz McIvor and learns how its buildings, including the Edwardian Sheffield Tap pub which was originally created to serve second class passengers, act as reminders of the strict class divides once enforced there.

Sheffield’s buried waterways had been opened up to members of the public before the pandemic hit, with tours run by the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, but the show includes a reminder that the tunnels can be extremely treacherous and should never be entered without an experienced guide.

Tonight’s show also sees Tim lend a hand to restore the Bennerley Viaduct in the Erewash valley and take in the marvels of the futuristic Estacio do Oriente in Portugal.

One of the many crayfish living in the waterways buried beneath Sheffield railway station (pic: UKTV)

It will be available to view via catch-up on UKTV Play.

Presenter Tim Dunn learns how different the area looked before Sheffield railway station was built (pic: UKTV)