The South Yorkshire Trades Historical Trust, the charity set up by volunteers to preserve and maintain Wortley Top Forge, Thurgoland, has started work on safeguarding the supply of water which powers the three working water wheels at the only remaining heavy iron forge in the country, now run as a museum.
In the recent dry summers, the water supply has not always been sufficient for demonstrations of how the forge operates to go ahead. As the first step in establishing a plan to protect the water supply, the Trust has commissioned Jones Kingswell Partnership, specialists in the preservation and restoration of historic structures, to carry out a survey of the whole water management system. This runs from the weir across the river upstream of the forge, along a channel which feeds the water into a small pond or dam, where it is stored until required for turning any one of the three water wheels in the building below.
As the survey is being conducted on structures containing water, the underwater inspections have been carried out using a trained diver. The Trust has also commissioned Groundwork Dearne Valley to investigate the ownership of the various structures forming the water management system, and the land upon which they are located, and to manage the project. This initial feasibility study is being funded by the East Peak Industrial Heritage Support Programme, which is jointly funded by English Heritage and the East Peak leader Programme (with funding from Defra and the European Union).