The West Bar area has always been affected by its closeness to the River Don and its flood plain. From the Middle Ages the Kelham Goyt diverted water for power through the area, creating the so-called ‘Kelham Island’ which stretched almost to Ladys Bridge. The old name for the eastern end of Bridge St was ‘Under the Water’ whilst the Exchange Brewery was built on ‘The Isle of Wight’ and ‘Millsands’ is self-explanatory. Floods devastated this end of the city in 1864 and again in 2007, but that’s less likely to happen today – flood defences have been built at Nursery St and new landscaped areas have replaced tarmac. Rain gardens capture and soak up rainwater run-off rather than allowing it to flow into the Don, making it one of the largest sustainable urban drainage schemes in UK.
Figs once grew in abundance on the Don due to its water being warmed and polluted by so much industry. Today you can see kingfishers which illustrate just how clean the water has become.
Stonecarving by Anthony Downing
Stonecarving by Anthony Downing.