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Hundreds of visitors and special guests arrived at Kelham Island Museum over the bank holiday weekend to explore the newly completed first phase of ‘Sheffield1916: Steel, Steam and Power’ and the opening of new spaces and displays.

Officially opened by Commodore Gary Doyle RN, Naval Regional Commander for Northern England and the Isle of Man, alongside VIP guests, the new displays reveal Sheffield’s important role as a shipbuilder and the mighty River Don Engine’s role in producing armour plate for the warships that fought in the First World War.

The timing of the opening was chosen as it marks the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle and most costly with 6000 British lives lost, during the War fought over May 31st and June 1st 1916.

Hundreds of families flocked to the museum to see the new displays and enjoy a wide range of activities, including Sea Shanties with Monkey’s Fist - Live Folk Band, Solana, living History stories and songs, also the popular Museum Tours. The Kelham Creators were also on hand in the Power Lab delivering interactive family fun.

The project ‘Sheffield 1916: Steel, Steam and Power’ was awarded a grant of £428,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards a £512,173 project. The funding is set to transform the visitor experience and understanding of the role in history of the mighty River Don Engine.

“We are delighted to see new visitors enjoying the impressive roar of the River Don Engine, and keeping this, the world’s most powerful working steam engine in steam for many years to come is something we are all delighted to have achieved” explained John Hamshere, chief executive of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust.

“The new displays have significantly enhanced the visitor experience, and enabled us to make fundamental changes to the way people enjoy and understand the Engine and the role of Sheffield during the First World War and even the nature of steam power itself.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire & The Humber, said: “We have been delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support this project that will now be helping visitors to appreciate the tremendous effort and skill contributed by Sheffield to British forces during the First War World.” 

Going forward the project will continue the expansion and transformation of Kelham Island Museum and the next stage will:

Continue the development of the Create a new ‘PowerLab’ – a multi-purpose learning space that will inspire young scientists

  • Create a ‘1916 House’ to explore home life and Sheffield’s 1916 Zeppelin raid
  • Collect memories of the River Don Engine
  • Create a new 30-40 strong volunteer team