Report - Minitron, Sheffield - October 2015

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Is this the future?
Regular User
Mar 16, 2014

Minitron is a short culvert that lies beneath Kelham Island. The entire island on which the brewery is now located is man-made, resulting from mill race in the 12th century (around 1180) when water from the River Don was required for power. The goit was created to carry water from the River Don all the way to Lady’s Bridge, where the Town Corn Mill – which belonged to the Lord of the Manor – was located. Only a small section continues to exist today. It is rumoured that the island is named after Kellam Homer, the town’s armourer and smithy in 1637 who owned a small workshop on the land. Homer was able to expand his premises on account of the goit, as he was able to set up a waterwheel for his grinding workshop on the island. In later years the diverted section of the river was also used to supply power to a number of other metalwork factories which emerged in the same area as the former corn mill.

By the 1800’s, as the city of Sheffield expanded, the Kelham Island area and the island itself became a host for many different manufacturers. John Crowley was one notable figure who purchased the island in 1829. A small iron foundry, known as the Kelham Island Works, was constructed on the site and the premises soon became a popular producer of iron products; these ranged from things as diverse as lawn mowers, bicycles, corn grinders and decorative items. Due to the success of his business, Crowley moved to the Meadow Hall area in 1870. The site was subsequently bought by the City in the 1890s and most of the Iron Works Buildings were demolished to make way for an electricity generating station, to provide power to the City’s new tram system. During this time major changes occurred across the city and much of the original goit was redeveloped. The remaining sections were culverted over time, particularly after the 1930s when the power station was closed down, and the same buildings steadily became workshops and storage space once again. Those formers buildings now house the Kelham Island Museum and Brewery.

Our Version of Events

Like several others in Sheffield who have managed to get this explore under their belts, I’d been putting it off for a very long time. At one point I used to pass it most days of the week, but for some reason it still didn’t grab my attention enough to make it a priority. I think it’s was the scanty size of it that made me push this one under the carpet for so long. Nevertheless, one afternoon I randomly decided I really fancied seeing what it actually looked like down there. So, the very next day; a particularly rainy day at that, straight after work, I grabbed Soul, my waders and a camera and went to have a peek. When we arrived the area was still quite busy owing to the nearby pubs and coffee shops, so I can’t imagine we went unnoticed as we wadered up and climbed into the goit. Other than that, access was reasonably straightforward.

Once inside we expected the first section to be fairly easy-going, which it was. It was further on where we imagined that we would face some difficulty, in the first open section where a fair amount of foliage has grown. This too, however, was easier to get through than we’d anticipated. Before we knew it we were inside Minitron itself, and to begin with the walk was pleasant; both ankle deep and flat. As we progressed forwards though, we suddenly became very aware of the silt, and the fact that every step we took forward, the deeper it seemed to get. At this stage you couldn’t stand around too long since the silty muck held onto our waders tightly. It took some wrestling and pulling to get ourselves unstuck every now and then.

On the whole Minitron is a classic old-brick-style underworld with some contemporaneous spray-over concrete repair work, and, while it lacks any real length, its large arches are certainly something to see. The very end offers a little treat too, past the second opening, when you reach the modern diversion which leads into the River Don. At the end of this modern pipe you reach two metal gates which open out onto the river itself and from here the views are pretty cool. I’d always wondered if there was anything under the canopy-like structure by the side of the river. Now, I guess I know exactly what’s there.

Explored with Soul.

1: Entering Minitron


2: The First Open Section


3: The First Stone Archway


4: A Side Passageway


5: Minitron


6: Looking Back at the Two Arches


7: Soul Enjoying Himself


8: The Concrete Spray-Over Section


9: Concrete


10: The Second Open Section


11: Entering the Newer Section


12: The Fall


13: The New Concrete Section


14: Trying to Dodge Many Spiders...


15: The River Don


16: The Finale: The Two Gates



28DL Regular User
Regular User
Mar 18, 2015
Nice report! Shame I couldn't join you on this one.. looks interesting, although I'm not sure on the spiders, I'm terrified of them buggers lol
Likes: WildBoyz


Is this the future?
Regular User
Mar 16, 2014
Nice report! Shame I couldn't join you on this one.. looks interesting, although I'm not sure on the spiders, I'm terrified of them buggers lol
Haha, they were only in the last section, you would have been OK in the rest of it. Maybe next time you're about we'll get another one done.


Irregular Member
Regular User
Sep 29, 2012
Haha, cheers mate. I was thinking of you while doing this one, in a non-strange way lol. I thought you'd like this, it's right up your street.
Thought of me?!?!
Yea, unfortunately I live in concrete country.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Sep 2, 2012
Down Under
Loving that first shot!

Richard Vaughan

28DL Member
28DL Member
Jan 18, 2016
Hi guys, great exploration in my backyard !!! I'm researching the Kelham / Millsands Goyt particularly in relation to its flood risk. I live in Kelham Island. I am so interested to learn more about your exploration in the second open section before you entered the fall. Was there any evidence of the goyt extending parallel to Millsands in the direction of the Town Mill site / Millsands Steel works...?

I have located historical maps (1637,1736, 1737, 1771, 1795, 1808, 1822, 1823, 1832, 1838, 1863, 1873) that show outfalls to the Don close to the current "double gate outfall (Minitron) and another close to the weir at Lady's Bridge. These maps show an open water course running midway between Bridge St and Millsands before making a 90 deg. turn to join the Don at Lady's Bridge. Does this buried goyt still exist at the southern end of the second open section? If so its appears that this outfall has silted up completely and is not managed for flood prevention. I would love to learn more about your findings etc...Great stuff guys !!!

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