Sheffield museum plans new exhibits around famous steel giant

Visitors admiring the mighty River Don engine at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield
Visitors admiring the mighty River Don engine at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield
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The famous River Don Engine has inspired a new project at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield.

The Sheffield 1916: Steel, Steam and Power project will include new displays explaining the city’s major role in shipbuilding, the story of steam power and exploring life during the First World War when the city was bombed by Zeppelins.

The River Don Engine, the most powerful working steam engine in Europe if not the world, was built by Davy Brothers of Sheffield in 1905 at Park Iron Works. It was made to drive Charles Cammell’s armour plate rolling mill at his Grimesthorpe Works.

Cammell’s was one of the city firms that supplied the shipbuilding industry with armour plate steel for the Dreadnought warships that fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The River Don Engine will have a new boiler and become the centrepiece of a new Power House at the museum with a new viewing gallery for visitors to see it in steam.

A learning space, the Power Lab, will aim to inspire young scientists and engineers.

The Little Mesters street will be home to a 1916 house, where visitors can experience life at home during the First World War and discover more about the Zeppelin raid.

The museum is also recruiting volunteers to help run a series of events and activities.

Maria Flude, the museum’s community participation officer, asked: “Are you someone who has worked with the River Don Engine or wish to share a memory of seeing the mighty engine in steam?

“We would love to hear your stories about the River Don Engine – whether you visited the museum as a child on a school trip or worked in engineering and industry, your thoughts, words and pictures will be used to inform our exhibition.

“We are also looking for volunteers to get involved with the project with a diverse range of activities planned throughout the year including a major event to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.”

Call Maria on 2210827 or email