River Loxley

The River Loxley is a river in the City of Sheffield South Yorkshire, England. Its source is a series of streams which rise some 10 miles (16 km) to the north-west of Sheffield on Bradfield Moors, flowing through Bradfield Dale to converge at Low Bradfield. It flows easterly through Damflask Reservoir and is joined by Storrs Brook at Storrs, near Stannington, and the River Rivelin at Malin Bridge, before flowing into the River Don at Owlerton, in Hillsborough. The Loxley valley provided the initial course of the Great Sheffield Flood, which happened after the Dale Dyke Dam collapsed shortly before its completion in March 1864.

River Loxley
Malin Bridge after flood management.
The Rivelin (left) joins the Loxley (right) at Malin Bridge
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationDamflask Reservoir nr Stacey Bank
 ⁃ coordinates53°24′38″N 1°34′16″W / 53.41056°N 1.57111°W
 ⁃ elevation600 feet (180 m)
 ⁃ location
River Don at Owlerton
 ⁃ coordinates
53°24′02″N 1°29′13″W / 53.400526°N 1.486888°WCoordinates: 53°24′02″N 1°29′13″W / 53.400526°N 1.486888°W
 ⁃ elevation
190 feet (58 m)
Length6.2 miles (10.0 km)
Basin size16.8 square miles (44 km2)

Water supply

The upper river is marked by the presence of four large reservoirs, used for the impounding of drinking water. Drinking water for the people of Sheffield was provided by five small reservoirs on a site close to Langsett Road. Others were added as the population grew, but by 1830, they could not keep up with the demand. Sheffield Water Company became responsible for water supply after an Act of Parliament was passed in 1830, and their first major reservoir was completed in 1836, when Wyming Brook was dammed to form the Redmires Middle Reservoir.[1]

Reservoir building continued as the population expanded further, and the Dale Dyke reservoir was nearly complete in 1864 when the dam failed, with catastrophic consequences for the communities below it. 250 people died in the flood, and many businesses were washed away or severely damaged. As a result of the compensation payments they had to make, the Sheffield Water Company obtained parliamentary powers to raise their water rates by 25 per cent.[2] The company soon started other major projects, and Strines Reservoir was completed in 1869, covering 54 acres (22 ha) and impounding 453 million gallons (2,059 Megalitres (Ml)) of water. Agden Reservoir was completed in the same year, which covered 62 acres (25 ha) and held 559 million gallons (2541 Ml). The replacement Dale Dyke reservoir was completed in 1875. It covered the same area at Agden reservoir, and held 466 million gallons (2,118 Ml).[3]

When powers to raise the extra levy on water rates ceased in 1887, the Sheffield Water Company applied to parliament to make the charge permanent, and to make further increases to its charges. The Corporation of Sheffield decided that water supply should be in public ownership, and submitted a bill to buy the Water Company by compulsory purchase. Both sides fought for their cause vigorously, but the committee of the House of Lords which heard the cases ruled in favour of the Corporation, who paid the Water Company £2,092,014 for all of their assets, and took over responsibility for water supply.[2]

Under the new regime, Damflask Reservoir was completed in 1896. This was built as a compensation reservoir, rather than for drinking water, and was there to maintain a flow in the river, which protected the interests of those who abstracted water from the river, or used its flow to drive machinery. It covers 116 acres (47 ha) and holds 1,108 million gallons (5,037 Ml).[3]

Water power

The river has played an important part in the industrial history of Sheffield, as it descends through 280 feet (85 m) in the 6 miles (9.7 km) between Low Bradfield and the Don, and this has enabled many mills, forges and cutlers wheels to be powered by its waters.[4] A total of 24 are known to have existed at various times.[5] Each mill, including outbuildings, stables and housing for the owner, was known locally as a wheel. A weir was constructed across the river, creating a pond known as a dam. A leat called a head goit fed water to a water wheel, and a tail goit returned the water to the river, below the weir. In some cases, multiple water wheels were fed from the same dam, and in others, a wheel might drive several ends, which were connected to grinding wheels, and might be leased to several tenants.[6]

Low Bradfield Corn Mill is the earliest known installation, being recorded in documents from 1219, when it was transferred to Worksop Priory. It was destroyed by the flood in 1864, but was rebuilt, despite the fact that only £3,505 was received in compensation against the claim for £5,000. It was owned by Sheffield Corporation by 1905, and continued to use water power for some considerable time afterwards. It was destroyed by a fire during the Second World War.[7]

There were medieval corn mills at Bradfield, Damflask and Owlerton, and cutlers wheels were in use at Wisewood in 1521, at Ashton Carr in 1549, and at Slack Wheel, near the confluence with the Don, in 1581. Development after 1720 was rapid, and a shift to heavier industry occurred from the early 19th century, with forges replacing cutlers wheels, or in some cases being built alongside them. Many of 24 known mills, wheels and forges were swept away or damaged in 1864 by the flood, but although steam power was gradually replacing water power elsewhere, most of those rebuilt continued to use water power, at least in part. Although the mill buildings have mostly gone, several of the weirs and dams remain, and there are still water wheels at Malin Bridge corn mill and Low Matlock rolling mill.[7]

Low Matlock Wheel is first mentioned in 1732, when James Balguy leased some land to build a cutlers wheel. The size of the wheel and the number of grinding troughs were left to his discretion, and so were not mentioned in the deeds. By 1825, the site was described as having three works, the first containing two tilt hammers, the second, two forges, and the third, two more tilt hammers and a plating hammer. The site was extensively damaged by the 1864 flood, and the owners put in a claim for over £5,000 to repair the damage. The present buildings carry the date 1882, and the rolling mill is a grade II* listed structure. Water power continued to be used until 1956, after which much of the internal machinery was retained but adapted to allow electric power to drive it. Following the sale in 1999 of most of the site for development, the rolling mill was bought by Pro-Roll Ltd, who were using teams of four men to roll high-value bar by hand in 2006. An archaeological excavation of part of the site took place in 2001, prior to redevelopment.[8]

The upper river valley is now the site of Damflask reservoir, built in the 1870s, but not completed until 1896, due to problems with leakage. It covered the sites of Dam Flask Corn Mill, which was probably part of the complex mentioned in 1219, and Dam Flask Wheel, which was variously a cutlers' wheel, a paper mill, and a scythe and sickle manufactory, between 1750 and 1861. By 1864 it was probably a wire mill, as four wire-drawers were drowned there in the flood.[9]

Water quality

The Environment Agency measure water quality of the river systems in England. Each is given an overall ecological status, which may be one of five levels: high, good, moderate, poor and bad. There are several components that are used to determine this, including biological status, which looks at the quantity and varieties of invertebrates, angiosperms and fish, and chemical status, which compares the concentrations of various chemicals against known safe concentrations. Chemical status is rated good or fail.[10]

The water quality of the Loxley was as follows in 2015.

Section Ecological Status Chemical Status Overall Status Length Catchment
Loxley from Source to Strines Dyke[11] Moderate Good Moderate 3.97 miles (6.39 km) 4.82 square miles (12.5 km2)
Loxley from Strines Dyke to River Don[12] Moderate Good Moderate 8.66 miles (13.94 km) 10.44 square miles (27.0 km2)
Strines Dyke from Source to River Loxley[13] Moderate Good Moderate 4.74 miles (7.63 km) 7.62 square miles (19.7 km2)

The Environment Agency are hoping to achieve good overall status by 2027. The river channel is heavily modified, and this contributes to its biological status. The reservoirs at the upper end trap sediments, and prevent the recharge of gravel beds further downstream. Additionally, there are no major tributaries on the upper and middle section, to provide alternative sources of sediment. The controlling of the flow by releases from Damflask Reservoir and some high flow or spill events have further removed finer gravels, leaving larger rocks and boulders, which are not ideal for fish propagation. The remaining weirs have a detrimental effect both on the movement of gravel and the migration of fish and other species. Some sections of the river have also been protected by hard banking, and near Hillsborough, by channellisation.[14]

There is an ongoing project to improve the river for fish migration, with the focus on allowing salmon to return to the river to breed by 2020, but any work carried out will also benefit populations of brown trout, grayling, eels and lamprey. In 2012, most of the fish in the river were brown trout, with no established coarse fish.[15] In order to achieve regeneration, an archaeological survey was carried out in 2012, examining the eight weirs from Stacey Wheel to Owlerton Wheels. The reason for the survey was that any modification to the weirs, which are historic structures, would require both planning consent and ancient monument consent. Modification would be necessary to provide fish passes at each of the sites.[16]

Subsequently, the Don Catchment Rivers Trust commissioned the engineers Arup Group to assess how fish migration could be encouraged. They only considered the weirs from Old Wheel to Owlerton Wheel, as the weir at Stacey Wheel is very close to the reservoir dam, and would not increase the length of river accessible to fish by very much. The two weirs below Hillsborough, at Birley Wheel and Black Wheels, are the subject of a separate study being carried out by the Environment Agency.[17] The Environment Agency also assessed the impact on the river of removing the weir at Limbrick Wheel entirely.[18] Arup's report considered two options at each site, from complete removal of the weir, partial removal, provision of a technical fish pass, construction of a bypass channel, easement, and the installation of a low-cost baffle system. Removal of the weir was only considered at Limbrick Wheel, and was ruled out for Low Matlock Wheel, as that is a scheduled ancient monument, and for Olive Wheel, as there is a flow measurement gauging station immediately above it. Partial removal of the weir was not thought to be appropriate in any of the cases, and only the option of easement was considered for Loxley Old Wheel.[19] Various easement options are available, including notches and gaps, baulks, baffle systems, preliminary weirs, and rock ramps, and at any one site, several of the options may be required. Easements are generally not subject to the same rigorous technical assessment as the other options, and the process of deciding what needs to be done is somewhat subjective.[20]

Planned flood defence scheme

In September 2014 Sheffield Council announced plans to create a flood alleviation programme in the Upper Don Catchment area, including the River Loxley.[21][22]


  • Ball, Christine; Crossley, David; Flavell, Neville (2006). Water Power on the Sheffield Rivers: Second Edition. South Yorkshire Industrial History Society. ISBN 978-0-9556644-0-3.
  • Firth, Christopher (1997). Domesday to the dawn of the New Millennium – 900 years of the Don fishery. Environment Agency. (This is available online at The Don Catchment Rivers Trust. Page numbers refer to the pdf file).
  • Rab, Sarah (14 May 2013). River Loxley: Fish Passage Scoping Study. Don Catchment Rivers Trust. (This is available online at The Don Catchment Rivers Trust).
  • Turnball, Percival (7 November 2012). Weirs on the River Loxley: Heritage Statement. Brigantia Archaeological Practice. (This is available online at The Don Catchment Rivers Trust).


  1. ^ Firth 1997, p. p12.
  2. ^ a b Firth 1997, p. 102.
  3. ^ a b Firth 1997, p. 13.
  4. ^ Ball, Crossley & Flavell 2006, p. 39.
  5. ^ Turnball 2012, p. 5.
  6. ^ Turnball 2012, p. 7.
  7. ^ a b Ball, Crossley & Flavell 2006, p. 41.
  8. ^ Ball, Crossley & Flavell 2006, pp. 56–57.
  9. ^ Ball, Crossley & Flavell 2006, pp. 42–44.
  10. ^ "Catchment Data Explorer Glossary (see Biological quality element; Chemical status; and Ecological status)". Environment Agency. 17 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Loxley from Source to Strines Dyke". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency.
  12. ^ "Loxley from Strines Dyke to River Don". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency.
  13. ^ "Strines Dyke from Source to River Loxley". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency.
  14. ^ Rab 2013, pp. 10–11.
  15. ^ Rab 2013, p. 6.
  16. ^ Turnball 2012, p. 2.
  17. ^ Rab 2013, pp. 5–6.
  18. ^ Rab 2013, p. 8.
  19. ^ Rab 2013, pp. 20–21.
  20. ^ Rab 2013, p. 15.
  21. ^ "£55m flood scheme plans backed". BBC News. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Flood Risk in the Upper Don Catchment | Protecting Sheffield from Flooding". www.floodprotectionsheffield.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
Bradfield Dale

Bradfield Dale is a rural valley which lies 12 km west-northwest of the City of Sheffield in England. The valley stands within the north eastern boundary of the Peak District National Park just to the west of the village of Low Bradfield. The dale is drained by the Strines Dike which becomes the Dale Dike lower down the valley, these being the headwaters of the River Loxley. The dale contains two reservoirs Strines and Dale Dike, and a third Agden Reservoir stands in a side valley just above Low Bradfield. The dale is characterised by agricultural land interspersed with farming and residential buildings. It is approximately 5 km in length from its foot at Low Bradfield to its head on Strines Moor.

Dale Dike Reservoir

Dale Dike Reservoir or Dale Dyke Reservoir (grid reference SK240913) is a reservoir in the north-east Peak District, in the City of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, a mile (1.6 km) west of Bradfield and eight miles (13 km) from the centre of Sheffield, on the Dale Dike, a tributary of the River Loxley.

Along with three other reservoirs around the village of Bradfield – Agden, Damflask and Strines – it was constructed between 1859 and 1864 by the Sheffield Waterworks Company to guarantee a supply of water to power the mills downstream and to supply drinking water to the growing population of Sheffield. The architect was John Gunson.

Damflask Reservoir

Damflask Reservoir is situated at grid reference SK277907 five miles (eight kilometres) west of the centre of Sheffield in the Loxley valley close to the village of Low Bradfield and within the city's boundaries. The hamlet of Stacey Bank is located to the east. The reservoir has a capacity of 4,250.9 million litres (1,123.1 million gallons) and has a surface area of 47 hectares (116 acres) with a maximum depth of 27 metres (88 ft). The dam wall is approximately 400 metres (1,312 ft) wide with a height of 28 metres (92 ft).

Great Sheffield Flood

Not to be confused with the floods in Sheffield in 2007.The Great Sheffield Flood was a flood that devastated parts of Sheffield, England, on 11 March 1864, when the Dale Dyke Dam broke as its reservoir was being filled for the first time. At least 240 people died and more than 600 houses were damaged or destroyed by the flood. The immediate cause was a crack in the embankment, the cause of which was never determined. The dam's failure led to reforms in engineering practice, setting standards on specifics that needed to be met when constructing such large-scale structures. The dam was rebuilt in 1875.

Hillsborough (ward)

Hillsborough is an electoral ward which includes the districts of Malin Bridge, Owlerton, Wadsley and Wisewood. It is one of the 28 electoral wards in City of Sheffield, England. It is located in the northwestern part of the city and covers an area of 4.6 km2. The population of this ward in 2011 was 18,605 people in 8,012 households.

Hillsborough Barracks

Hillsborough Barracks is a walled complex of buildings between Langsett Road and Penistone Road in the Hillsborough District of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

List of floods in Sheffield

This is a list of floods in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

List of rivers of Yorkshire

This is a list of named rivers that flow either wholly or partially within the boundaries of the four ceremonial counties that form Yorkshire. There are twenty five rivers of at least 20 kilometres (12 mi) in total. The majority of these waterways lie wholly within the county boundaries, except for; the Ribble, which flows into the Irish Sea at Lytham; the Rother, whose source is located in Derbyshire Peak District; the Greta, which flows into Lancashire to join the River Lune; and the Tees, which flows partly within County Durham and forms some of the boundary with North Yorkshire.

The direction of stream flow in Yorkshire is influenced by the three major drainage divides. The Pennines in the west and south, the North York Moors in the north-east and the Yorkshire Wolds, the coastal range of hills on the east. This represents a large drainage area that mostly flows into the Vale of York and into the North Sea via the River Humber. Though named a river, the Humber is considered to be an estuary.

The Humber river system is tidal as far inland as Naburn Lock on the River Ouse, Knottingley on the River Aire and Askern on the River Don. The River Humber has the second largest tidal range in the UK at 7.2 metres (24 ft). The largest is the Bristol Channel at nearly double that range.Source data for the table below came from the National Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency and Google Earth. In the table, total lengths are given in miles (mi) and kilometres (km), and elevations are in feet (ft) and metres (m). River lengths are taken from actual source when wholly within the Yorkshire County boundary, else measured from where the river enters or leaves the county.

Little Matlock Rolling Mill

Little Matlock Rolling Mill also known as Low Matlock Rolling Mill is a Grade II* Listed building situated on the River Loxley in the village of Loxley on the outskirts of the City of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. The building continues to operate as a rolling mill, owned and operated by Pro-Roll Ltd, a specialist hand rolling company. A brick building extension was added to the original 1882 structure in 1939.

Loxley, South Yorkshire

Loxley is a village and a suburb of the city of Sheffield, England. It is a long linear community which stretches by the side of the River Loxley and along the B6077 (Loxley Road) for almost 2.5 miles (4 km). Loxley extends from its borders with the suburbs of Malin Bridge and Wisewood westward to the hamlet of Stacey Bank near Damflask Reservoir. The centre of the suburb is situated at the junction of Rodney Hill and Loxley Road where the old village green stands and this is located 3 miles (5 km) north west of Sheffield city centre. The suburb falls within the Stannington ward of the City of Sheffield.

Loxley was previously a village in the West Riding of Yorkshire and came under the jurisdiction of Wortley Rural District Council until it became part of the City of Sheffield in the 1974 boundary changes brought on by the Local Government Act 1972. Today the suburb is within Bradfield Parish Council and consists almost exclusively of residential housing but it did have some industrial activity in the past. Much of the Loxley Valley is designated as green belt land.The place-name derives from the Old English words lox, meaning 'lynx', and leah, meaning "glade". Loxley had a population of 1,775 in 2011.

Malin Bridge

Malin Bridge is a suburb of the city of Sheffield, England. It is located at grid reference SK325893 and stands 2½ miles north-west of the city centre where the rivers Loxley and Rivelin meet. Malin Bridge is only a small district centred on the road bridge over the River Loxley which carries the B6076 road to Stannington (in whose ward the suburb lies); it is surrounded by the suburbs of Hillsborough, Wisewood, Walkley and Stannington.


Owlerton () is a suburb of the city of Sheffield, it lies 2.2 miles (3.5 km) northwest of the city centre near the confluence of the River Don and River Loxley. Owlerton was formerly a small rural village with its origins in the Early Middle Ages; it became part of Sheffield in the early 1900s as the city expanded. Owlerton stands just east of the adjacent suburb of Hillsborough and the division between the two districts is difficult to delineate. The suburb falls within the Hillsborough ward of the city. This is further complicated by the fact that certain buildings such as Hillsborough Stadium, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and Hillsborough College lie firmly within Owlerton. The name Owlerton is believed to come from the abundant growth of alder trees in the area.It was the home of Owlerton F.C., a football team in the 19th century.

Peace Gardens

The Peace Gardens are an inner city square in Sheffield, England. It was created as part of the Heart of the City project by Sheffield City Council.The Gardens themselves front onto Sheffield's gothic town hall—not to be confused with the Sheffield City Hall, a concert venue.

River Don, Yorkshire

The River Don (also called Dun in some stretches) is a river in South Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It rises in the Pennines and flows for 70 miles (110 km) eastwards, through the Don Valley, via Penistone, Sheffield, Rotherham, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Doncaster and Stainforth. It originally joined the Trent, but was re-engineered by Cornelius Vermuyden as the Dutch River in the 1620s, and now joins the River Ouse at Goole. Don Valley is the local UK parliamentary constituency near the Doncaster stretch of the river.

River Rivelin

The River Rivelin is a river in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

It rises on the Hallam moors, in north west Sheffield, and joins the River Loxley (at Malin Bridge). The Rivelin Valley, through which the river flows, is a three and a half mile long woodland valley which includes the popular Rivelin Valley Nature Trail that was created in 1967. The valley has farmland on its gentler upper slopes.

A relatively fast-flowing river (it drops 80 metres between Rivelin Mill Bridge and Malin Bridge), the Rivelin is fed by a constant release of water from the nearby moorland peat. Its flow was exploited for centuries as a power source, driving the water wheels of up to twenty industries (forges, metal-working and flour mills) along its course.

Stannington, Sheffield

Stannington is a suburb in the City of Sheffield, England. The area is located in the civil parish of Bradfield, and is in the electoral ward of Stannington. Stannington is situated right on the western edge of the Sheffield urban area

Storrs, South Yorkshire

Storrs is a hamlet within the boundaries of the City of Sheffield in England, it is situated 6.5 km (4 miles) west-northwest of the city centre. Storrs is located between the suburb of Stannington and the village of Dungworth in the civil parish of Bradfield at a height of 210 metres above sea level between the Loxley and Rivelin valleys. Although historically a farming settlement, water-powered milling on the Storrs Brook and small scale cutlery making has also taken place in the hamlet.

Strines Reservoir

Strines Reservoir is a water storage reservoir situated at 53.4099°N 1.6557°W / 53.4099; -1.6557 (Strines_Reservoir), 8 miles (13 km) west of the centre of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England.

River Loxley
Strines Dike
Foulstone Dike
Holling Dale Brook
Strines Resr
Hobson Moss Dike
Dale Dike Resr
Agden Resr
Low Bradfield bridges
Damflask Resr
 B6076  New Road
Stacey Wheel weir
Old Wheel weir
Rowel Bridge
Storrs Brook
Olive Wheel weir
Low Matlock Wheel weir
Green Wheel weir
Wisewood Forge Wheel weir
 B6076  Malin Bridge
River Rivelin
 A6101  Rivelin Valley Road
Limbrick Wheels weir
Walkley Lane
 B6079  Langsett Road
Owlerton Wheels weir
 A61  Penistone Road, Owlerton
Birley Wheel weir
Black Wheels weir
River Don
Point Coordinates
(Links to map resources)
OS Grid Ref Notes
Strines Dike 53°24′31″N 1°42′01″W / 53.4086°N 1.7004°W SK200902 multiple springs
Foulstone Dike 53°25′00″N 1°42′17″W / 53.4166°N 1.7046°W SK197911 multiple springs
Hilling Dale Brook 53°25′44″N 1°40′10″W / 53.4289°N 1.6694°W SK220925 multiple springs
Strines Reservoir outlet 53°24′35″N 1°39′06″W / 53.4096°N 1.6516°W SK232903
Dale Dike Reservoir outlet 53°25′13″N 1°38′02″W / 53.4203°N 1.6339°W SK244915
Agden Reservoir outlet 53°25′33″N 1°36′44″W / 53.4259°N 1.6121°W SK258921
Damflask Reservoir outlet 53°24′39″N 1°34′33″W / 53.4107°N 1.5759°W SK282905
Junction with Storrs Brook 53°24′06″N 1°33′06″W / 53.4016°N 1.5518°W SK298895
Junction with River Rivelin 53°23′59″N 1°30′42″W / 53.3998°N 1.5117°W SK325893 Malinbridge
Junction with River Don 53°24′02″N 1°29′14″W / 53.4005°N 1.4872°W SK341894 mouth
Rivers of Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
East Riding of Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
Rivers in Sheffield
Main river
Other rivers
Minor rivers, streams and brooks

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