Riverbank Project 2023

This article, written by Stuart Barlow, originally appeared in the Totley Independent.

If you walked across the road bridge on Baslow Road over Old Hay Brook near Totley Rise Methodist Church in late summer, you may have noticed some works in the river. This work was necessary following the development of a mini-sink hole in the car park of the Methodist Church. The hole was a result of erosion of the riverbank by the river running alongside the boundary of the Church. It was obvious that something had to be done to protect the riverbank from further erosion threatening the future of the Church car park, which served both the Church and the community centre adjacent to it, and provided access to the Quiet Garden which is open to the public on a daily basis, with its peaceful woodland, lawn and river. Furthermore, the car park is used in the early evening as an outdoor play area for the After-School Club operating from the community centre during which time there is restricted access for cars.

Quotes from suitable contractors indicated the cost of the necessary construction to protect the riverbank was of the order of £45,000, a sum probably well beyond the means of church members. Following considerable prayer, it was decided to have an appeal to church members in March to see how much could be raised. This resulted in a gift day totalling £32,000, a sum well beyond the expectations of the Church Council, but still short of the required amount. Successful appeals to the

made up the deficit. Unknown to the Church Council the privately run after-schools club, Play in Dore, organised a home-made cake sale raising £167.26, which was the “icing on the cake” for the Church Council and reminded us all of Jesus’ story of the Widow’s Mite.

Our problems were not yet over. Before the work could start, we had to get the permissions of the national Environment Agency and Sheffield City Council. Both agencies required a great deal of paperwork and long and detailed assessments. The Environment Agency finally gave agreement at end of April, with a number of technical constraints and a stipulation that the work must be completed by end-September in order to protect salmonids in the river. Sheffield City Council gave their permission at end of July after requiring a Crayfish Survey and a Flood Risk Assessment. This left a short window to appoint contractors and get the work completed before the 1st October 2023.

The good news is that the work was been completed on time thanks to the professionalism of the Contractor, Grant Stewart, and the diligence of our volunteer Manager, Mr Ipsa Biana CEng, MICE. And it was work completed within budget. Eat your heart out HS2!

Post Script – Just in time!

Only a month after completion of the project, along came Storm Babet, demonstrating just why it was so important to strengthen the riverbank. Hearts were in mouths as the water levels rose to the top of the gabion blocks but they held, and the bank and the car park remained in safely in place – which they would probably not have done if the rain had come last spring. Thank the Lord!