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Behind the Scenes at Kelham Creators

Posted on by Website Administrator

Craft, bang, thud!

Got a mini-making youngster who loves to learn?

Kelham Creators is a pioneering new toddler play group inspired by the creative and industrial themes of the museum.

From the roar of the mighty River Don Engine to the tap-tap of the die-sinkers mark-making hammers, these weekly taster sessions throughout the school holidays have been enthralling young explorers through child-led play, where sounds, songs and stories bring Sheffield’s industrial history to life.

Our volunteer-led Kelham Creators are getting ready for the launch of a new toddler session for 2-5 year olds starting on 6 September, 10am - 12pm, and then following on the first Tuesday of every month this year.

Created as part of the Heritage Lottery funded project ‘Sheffield 1916: Steel, Steam and Power’, families can expect to see activities exploring the workings of engines, waterwheels and trams,  mark-making, tools and people at work and the story of Lizzie the steelworking elephant. There’s also dressing up, colouring and family trails and every session says goodbye with the River Don Engine in steam!

‘Kelham Creators’ brings together the community and learning aspects of the Sheffield 1916 project, in providing much needed activities for under-fives, both planned and delivered by a growing team of volunteers wanting to be involved with this exciting project.

Maria Flude, Community Participation Officer at Kelham Island Museum who developed Kelham Creators with her volunteers said,

“Our ethos is that these brand new sessions champion both child and volunteer led creativity and aim to lead the way for museum’s like ours to offer something different to capture a younger audience.

We take a collaborative approach in planning the activities, involving all museum departments from volunteers and engineering to marketing, learning and collections for an all-round engaging and holistic experience for inquisitive young minds.” 


Megan Rigby, a Kelham Creator volunteer who is a Project Co-ordinator for Sheffield Student Union, chose to get involved as she wanted to support the museum through local volunteering and expand on the positivity of her previous volunteering experience elsewhere. Megan enjoys the learning side of the museum and working alongside the families and children attending these sessions. She would love to work in a museum one day.

“I love to see the kids and families having a good time,” says Megan, “I also enjoy planning the sessions. From a blank canvas we’re coming up with fresh ideas for themes and activities inspired by the project and coming from the children themselves making us think again about how we portray our industrial heritage - for example this week we’ve been songwriting!”

Fellow volunteer, Miranda Hobson, a teaching assistant and artist, was enjoying her second Kelham Creators session with a view to experiencing different creative sectors and exploring the arts outside of her usual workplace.

“I also want to share my experiences with a good cause and it’s a great way of meeting new people” said Miranda. “What surprises us most are the sheer amount of creative opportunities the museum has to offer, it’s a chance to look again beyond the ordinary and discover all the new things to see under one roof”. And these are not just isolated activities. “We’re creating memories”, continues Miranda “people remember things better if they interact with them, whatever their age, but this is especially so for the children attending our sessions.”


Youngster Harry, aged 7, loves sports and was enthusiastic about the painting activity taking place in the museum’s Metal Lab, whilst Lauren, aged 6, named her colourful elephant creation ‘Lizzie’ after Sheffield’s famous steelworking elephant. Joined by their families, they were excited to be seeing the River Don Engine in steam for the first time!

“The faster it gets the noisier it gets!” says Lauren, whilst Harry was really interested in what makes the mighty engine run! “Steam”, replied mum whose family history is not short of working knowledge of engines with family members having worked in the steelmaking industry over the years.  

Its memories like this that we hope will help inform our new exhibitions as part of the Sheffield 1916: Steel, Steam and Power project and encourage our growing volunteer base, all helping provide an authentic, engaging experience for our visitors.

“We’re really interested in hearing from the local community and people who have stories about the River Don Engine that they’d like to share with others” says Maria. “We’re also looking to recruit more volunteers to work across the museum’s many areas, from visitor services to events and community history, and of course as Kelham Creators!”

Kelham Creators drop in taster sessions for all ages take place for the remainder of the school holidays on Tuesday 23 and 30 August. Normal museum admission applies.

Our new Kelham Creators toddler session for 2-5 year olds starts on Tuesday 6 September priced at £2 per session.

To book your place for Kelham Creators on Tuesday 6 September or to find out more about being a museum volunteer, please contact Maria Flude, Community Participation Officer on 0114 221 0827 or


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