Editor: When heritage value becomes overgrown and underrated

Every now and then you, our wonderful Star readers, give us a nudge that we might need to step up a campaign or two.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 6:58 am
Low Matlock Wheel taken a few years ago - it is much more overgrown now.

Listening to the people of the city we are here to serve is one of the most important parts of my job. I have made many good friends – and no doubt a few enemies – through it and I learn something new every single day.

This photo by Malcolm Nunn, sent courtesy of Ron Clayton, is a perfect example. I pride myself on knowing a lot about Sheffield – past, present and future – but I hadn’t come across Low Matlock Wheel before.

So I did some research and lo and behold it is actually meant to be be protected! Historic England says this monument was scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 because it appeared to the Secretary of State to be of national importance.

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Here’s why: “Little Matlock rolling mill is a well-preserved complex which demonstrates the growth and development of the iron and steel industry in this part of the country. Although much of the 18th century mill was destroyed in the flood of 1864, remains of this period will survive beneath the present mill. The survival of the later 19th century industrial complex, including the buildings, machinery and the water management system is rare. The water wheel is the largest example of its type to survive in Sheffield; the rolling mill itself being the best preserved 19th century example, with original machinery, in the area. The survival of the associated buildings provide evidence for the administrative side of the industry and the domestic arrangement of those who worked within it.”

Well, you could be forgiven for thinking we would better cherish something that means so much. But … no. Now you may think this image sums up how badly we care for elements of our past but wait, this isn’t even as bad as it gets. This photo was taken a few years ago - it is far more overgrown now.

So thanks to our army of heritage warriors for reminding me gently and regularly that I know far less than there is to learn and to all Star readers who do the same. That is our main purpose and we can only be on your side as you ride into battle when The Star is part of your plan.