The landscape around the Rivelin Valley has inspired both Contemporary and Victorian poets as well as artists. We mention a few poets here – if you know of others, or if you would like your own Rivelin-inspired poem included here, then please get in touch at

Victorian Poetry

Ebenezer Elliott (1781–1849)

Rivelin Valley was a place that was loved by poet and social reformer Ebenezer Elliott, an iron merchant and steel manufacturer who was born in Masbrough (Rotherham) and lived in Upperthorpe (Sheffield) from 1834 to 1841 (there is a blue plaque on the house at 22 Blake Grove Road), he is buried in Darfield Churchyard, near Barnsley.

He was known as the ‘Corn-Law Rhymer’, due to his most famous work Corn Law Rhymes (1831–1834), in which he campaigned against the Corn Laws,  which he regarded as a subsidy for the rich and a ‘bread-tax’ on the poor. Elliott liked to spend time walking and botanising in the Rivelin Valley.

The ‘Ruskin at Walkley‘ website has a description of a Rivelin walk taken by Ebenezer Elliott and his biographer, John Watkins.

“After breakfast we sallied forth, and took our course up a hill, till the vale of the Rivilin [sic] opened to our view, which he described with the eye of a painter. The mills on the stream, and the weirs belonging to them, made a succession of beautiful landscapes. We looked in at one of those mills, and saw an old man of thirty, a grinder. He said they seldom reached forty, yet would not use the grinder’s life- preserver […]


We walked about five miles up the valley, till we came to a streamlet hich he had christened Ribbledin, from the music of its waters as it flowed. We came to a little waterfall at the head. He said it was Nature’s boudoir, and indeed, it might have served for a fountain for  Diana. After crossing the stream on bridges of fallen trees, and remarking the great age of the hollies, we clambered, with some difficulty, which he made light of, up a rocky ascent, and returned by the moors”.


John Watkins, Life, Poetry, and Letters of Ebenezer Elliott, The Corn-Law Rhymer, London: John Mortimer, 1850, pp. 141–2
Portrait of Ebenezer Elliott. Sheffield City Council, Libraries Archives and Information: Image s08112.

Elliott also wrote extensively about nature.

The poem Farewell to Rivelin, starts with the lines …

“Beautiful River! goldenly shining,

Where with the cistus woodbines are twining;

(Birklands around thee, mountains above thee,)

Rivilin wildest! do I not love thee? ….”


Another Elliott poem ‘The Tree of Rivelin starts:

“The lightning, like an Arab, cross’d

The moon’s dark path on high,

And wild on Rivelin writhed and toss’d

The stars and troubled sky,

Where lone the tree of ages grew,

With branches wide and tall; ….”

The curved Swallow weir is built of large pitched stones, now in fairly poor condition other than at the northern end (foreground). Photo: Sue Shaw, January 2016.

One of Ebenezer Elliot’s favourite Rivelin haunts was Blackbrook stream, which runs from the Hallamshire Golf Course down to the river near Third Coppice wheel. The stream can be reached via a public footpath which starts just below Rivelin Lodge on Lodge Lane. After walking on the path for about ten minutes,  the brook can be heard tinkling below – it is a bit of a scramble to get down there and find a stone with ELLIOT carved on it, although over the years the letters  have eroded somewhat. The view of the valley, where two form seats have recently been placed is simply breath-taking and it is no wonder that Ebenezer went there for inspiration for his poetry.

The famous rock at the foot of Blackbrook stream bearing the name ‘Elliott’

A collection of his poems Ebenezer Elliott, Corn Law Rhymer: Poems of Sheffield & Environs was brought together in 2012 by Agnes Lehoczky &  Adam Piette. Several poems in the collection mention ‘Rivilin’, including one called ‘Ribbledin; Or The Christening’.

Another collection of poems ‘No True Bard’ selected by Neil Kay and illustrated by Steven Kay, was published in 2019 and is available from 1889books.

In Weston Park, Sheffield, there is a Grade II Listed bronze statue of Ebenezer Elliott by Neville Northey Burnard. The granite rock upon which he is seated reflects a favourite rock in the valley where he used to sit. The statue was commissioned by Sheffield Town Council in 1853 and paid for by public subscription. It was restored and waxed in 2008 as part of the restoration of Weston Park and its structures.

Ebenezer Elliott statue in weston park

Other, more recent, tributes can be seen locally. In 2009 an artwork called ‘Harvest’, depicting giant wheat ears blowing in the wind, was erected on a Rotherham traffic island in celebration of his famous ‘Corn Law Rhymes’. And in 2010, two pillars with poems by Elliott sandblasted into the surface, one entitled ‘The Ranter’ and the other ‘Withered Wild Flowers’, were installed on Wincobank Hill as part of a ‘Journeys to Hidden Places’ public art project.

For more information about Ebenezer Elliot and details of the Weston Park statue and see the entry on the Historic England website.

Henry Waterfall (19 th Century)

A collection of poems called Rivelin Rhymes, by Henry Waterfall, was published in 1880. This is available online in hardback, or via a free download.

It includes such titles as ‘A Morning Walk in Rivelin’, ‘The Blackcap Warbler’, ‘Rivelin’s Waters, Song and Sunrise’ and ‘My Native Rivelin’.