Music and film event celebrates the spirit of the River Dearne

19 September 2018

A free event which celebrates the spirit of the River Dearne through music, film and art will take place next month in Elsecar.

‘Of the River’ will take place in The Ironworks at Elsecar Heritage Centre on Wednesday 3 October from 7-9pm. A group of South Yorkshire artists, poets and musicians will present a special screening of a new short film, with an original soundtrack featuring sounds and stories of the River Dearne.

The event is a culmination of research work by artist partnership Andy Seward, Hayley Youell and James Lockey. The artists were commissioned by the Dearne Valley Partnership (DVLP) to create a response to the landscape as part of the ‘Art of the Dearne’ project.

They have worked with acclaimed choral arranger Barry Coope to create an original soundtrack recorded with Thurnscoe Male Harmonic Voice Choir.

Barnsley poet and songwriter Ray Hearne has also collaborated on the project and will perform a live set at the evening event.

Artist Hayley Youell, who lives in Barnsley Town Centre, said: “Using music, film and sound, the aim of this project is to tell the story of the River Dearne and raise awareness of the river.

“We have gathered all sorts of media including drone footage, artistic responses and hydrophone recordings of the river flowing to create a film which tells the story of the way the river has changed over time, and how the river’s story reflects the Dearne Valley itself. We want our work to encourage people to reconnect with the river and enjoy the landscape which surrounds it.”

The Art of the Dearne project uses art and community engagement activities to collect and tell the stories of the Dearne and its people through innovative creative formats.

Of the River on 3 October will also provide the first opportunity for people to see a textile mural created by Barnsley artist Louise Wright. Louise worked with schoolchildren in the Dearne Valley to capture the wildlife and landscape which surrounds the river.

Sally Gawthorpe, community officer at the DVLP, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming people to Elsecar for this event which is designed to celebrate the fantastic Dearne Valley and the River Dearne at its heart. The artists have worked incredibly hard and we’re really excited to present their work to the audience on the night.

“It’s also the first opportunity to see Louise’s stunning mural which has been created with the help of local schoolchildren.”

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is a five-year scheme running until June 2019, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project team based at Elsecar Heritage Centre in Barnsley, is made up of four people working on a range of environmental, heritage and community projects.

Free tickets for Of the River can be booked through Eventbrite.

For more information on the DVLP, visit:

Notes to editor

Media contact: Chris Coates at Capital B Media on 01226 766900 or at

Attached photograph shows Hayley Youell.

Photo/broadcast opportunity: Members of the press are invited to attend ‘Of the River’ – a music, film and art event at The Ironworks, Elsecar Heritage Centre on Wednesday 3rd October at 6.30pm. Artist Hayley Youell and Sally Gawthorpe from the DVLP will be available for interview.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership

The lead partner of the The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is Barnsley Council with a partnership that includes Rotherham and Doncaster Councils, the RSPB, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Garganey Trust and others. The DVLP is part of Barnsley Museums & Heritage Services and is based at Elsecar Heritage Centre.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, the HLF invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery @HLFYandH

The River Dearne

In the late 1700s the river held a good population of fish, however at the height of industry the river became polluted and undervalued. It became an outlet for both domestic and industrial waste and by the 1900s sections had become lifeless, with fish being unable to survive in the cocktail of chemicals. The river continued to exist in this polluted state well into the 20th century.

It has taken decades for the water quality to improve but in recent years, wildlife has returned, supported by a series of re-stocking and improvement initiatives. Large-scale flood alleviation works have also linked the river to newly created wetland sites, which are becoming havens for wildlife. The DVLP is also currently delivering a project to improve the connectivity of the river for fish, by introducing schemes to overcome existing barriers to fish migration. Building on this wide-reaching environmental improvement, there is also now the opportunity for communities in the Dearne Valley to reconnect with the river.

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more information, please visit

View current news