Monday, 2 July 2007

Press Release: July 2nd 2007

Kelham Island Museum Fights to Save Collection

A frantic salvage operation by staff at Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield continues today to save its valuable industrial collection from the devastating flood waters. The museum is officially now closed until further notice since the River Don burst its banks recently causing extensive damage to infrastructure and some of the larger industrial machinery at the museum. The mighty 12,000 horse power River Don Engine will need lots of care and attention to bring it back to its former glory but smaller items from the collection were fortunately saved from the destructive power of the water by only half an inch.

John Hamshere, Executive Director said “it is sad to see the extent of flood damage to the museum, especially after 13 years of hard work by the Trust and the staff who have made Kelham Island such a successful museum. Staff have been working exceptionally hard to save the collections and move items to safety on higher ground. The clean up operation will take some time to complete but our main priority is to ensure Sheffield’s industrial heritage collections are preserved for the people of Sheffield and that the museum will be open to the public as soon as possible.” A thick layer of mud and oil covers almost everything at the museum and staff have been working around the clock with the clearing up operation. The power of the water is much in evident in the car park next to the River Don where the tarmac has been lifted up in waves and smashed back down. The clean up is expected to take some time to complete, but staff are hoping that the museum will be open again to school groups in the near future.

The museum has unfortunately lost the newly opened SCOPE science activity zone which was opened by David Blunkett, but the transport gallery, which was part of a new £1.1 million lottery funded project on the mezzanine level, has been saved along with a successful attempt by staff to save the unique Simplex car which is a star attraction at the museum.

Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, which runs Kelham Island Museum has been working with Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust to create a combined effort to save the area’s heritage. Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust, who housed the City’s social history collection at Kelham Island, have been working hard in the clean-up effort at Kelham Island, salvaging important historical documents and items which are irreplaceable.

The museum would like to say thank you to the many offers of help and support which they have received from well-wishes and especially to the Fire and Police Museum in Sheffield who have been invaluable by pumping out water from the museum and grounds.

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