From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Kelham Island Museum

Industrial Museum
South Yorkshire
53° 23' 22.4" N 1° 28' 21.3" W

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
The Kelham Island Museum is located on Alma Street next to the river Don on what is known as Kelham island in the centre of Sheffield. It is an industrial museum that exhibits Sheffield's heritage and was opened in 1982.

The Museum sits on a man made island constructed in the 12th century to form a mill race in the river Don to power a corn mill.

In 1637 the island was named after the town armourer, one Kellam Homer whom owned a grinding workshop on the other side of the mill race. It is assumed he owned the island and left it as meadow land.

John Crowley obtained the land to build his iron foundry in 1829. The foundry closed some time in the 1890's to be replaced by a power station which provided electricity for the then new fleet of trams in the city. It is this building the museum is housed in.

The museum has exhibits on science and Sheffield's industry which includes reconstructed workshops and the largest surviving Bessemer converter. It also has a 12,000 horsepower or 9 MW 1905 River Don steam engine which originally powered a local armor plate rolling mill. The engine can change direction very quickly which helped with the efficiency of rolling armor plate. It was used in the late 1960's and early 1970's to roll steel for nuclear reactors until it was decommissioned in 1974. The engine is run for short demonstrations.

The museum is operated by the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust. It was adversely affected by the floods of 2007.