Industrial Revolution Heritage Walking Tour, Sheffield

Industrial Revolution Heritage Walking Tour (Self Guided), Sheffield

Considered the “Steel City” of the United Kingdom, Sheffield was internationally known as a major hub in steel production during the 19th century. It singlehandedly propelled the Industrial Revolution, establishing itself as the manufacturing center of the UK.

Advancements in the Industrial Revolution contributed greatly in the evolution of architectural design as we see them today. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, architecture celebrated both the ornamental and the unadorned and embraced mass production in an almost unbelievable display of goods and resources. The rise of heavy industry generated a multitude of new building materials such as cast iron, steel, and glass, which enabled architects to design structures that were never before possible.
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Industrial Revolution Heritage Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Industrial Revolution Heritage Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » Sheffield (See other walking tours in Sheffield)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: nicole
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Leah's Yard
  • Cementation Furnace
  • Well Meadow Street Crucible Furnace
  • Globe Works
  • Cornish Place
  • Brooklyn Works
  • Green Lane Works
  • Kelham Island Tavern
  • Kelham Island Industrial Museum
1
Leah's Yard

1) Leah's Yard

Leah's Yard is a former collection of small industrial workshops situated in the city centre of Sheffield. The building has been designated as a Grade II* listed building because of its importance as an example of Sheffield's industrial heritage and is currently undergoing a significant restoration to bring it back into use.

Leah's Yard was constructed in the early part of the 19th century as a works for the manufacture of shears and other hand tools. As was typical with small works of this type. Leah's Yard had many different trade occupants and as such the building underwent many alterations and additions which are evident today. Throughout the 19th century the yard was used by a horn dealer (who supplied the cutlery handle making trade), Sheffield platers, knife manufacturers and silver stampers. In the 1880s the building was known as the Cambridge Street Horn Works. In 1892 Henry Leah took over the building as a producer of die stamps for silverware, giving the building the name that it is known by today. Sharing the building at that time was Walter Walker & Co Ltd, who were piercers and stampers; the building was alternatively known as the Cambridge Stamping Works.

At the end of the 19th century steam power was introduced to run a grinding hull and drop hammers in a silver die stamping shop. The key to the success of buildings such as Leah's Yard was that they could be adapted to provide accommodation for a number of different metal industry trades on the same site. They provided adaptable, cheap work space by crowding buildings into a confined area. By 1905, the workshops around the courtyard of Leah's Yard were occupied by eighteen little mesters whose trades included dram flask manufacturer, hollow ware and silver buffers, palette knife makers, steel fork manufacturer, silver ferrule maker, brass and nickel silver turners, electroplate producer and a cutler.[

The front of the Leah's Yard building which faces onto Cambridge Street has a carriage entrance within it, this opens up into a small rear courtyard surrounded by small two and three storey brick workshops. There are external wooden staircases to give access to the upper floors and large casement windows to give plenty of natural light for the workmen.[

Until recently Leah's Yard stood in a derelict state, having not been used for over 20 years when the lower floor was used as a shop. The building is located between two public houses on Cambridge Street, The Benjamin Huntsman and The Tap and Tankard. The Benjamin Huntsman was constructed recently with older buildings being cleared to make way for the pub. The Leah's Yard buildings were left standing because of their listed building status. The site is part of Sheffield City Council's Heart of The City II project, and in February 2021 it was announced that Sheffield Science Park Company, which operates the similar premises Sheffield Technology Parks, had been successful in their bid to refurbish and operate Leah's Yard.[
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
2
Cementation Furnace

2) Cementation Furnace

The Cementation furnace in Sheffield is a Grade II Listed Building and is the only example of this type of steel making furnace to survive intact in Great Britain. It is situated in the St Vincent's Quarter just 0.6 miles (1 km) north west of the city centre.

The furnace was built in 1848 to produce steel by the cementation process by the local steel firm of Daniel Doncasters and Sons, a firm which had been established in Sheffield in 1778. By 1860 there were 250 cementation furnaces in Sheffield capable of producing 80,000 tons of blister steel and the large conical structures were a characteristic feature of the city‘s industrial landscape. The furnace on Doncaster Street is the only remaining example which is undamaged although there are two other sites in the immediate area which have examples which are partially intact, these being at Bower Spring and Millsands. The Doncaster Street furnace operated throughout World War II and a blackout cover was fitted to the furnace outlet as a precaution during air raids, this is still in place today (painted white). The furnace ceased operation in 1951.

After standing unused for 40 years the furnace was restored in 1992/93 with financial assistance from the HSBC (then Midland) Bank. The furnace is surrounded by low fencing and a locked gate with the key being available from the curator at the nearby Kelham Island Museum.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
3
Well Meadow Street Crucible Furnace

3) Well Meadow Street Crucible Furnace

Well Meadow Street is the site of a house, attached workshops, courtyard complex and a crucible furnace. It is located in the St Vincent's Quarter of the City of Sheffield, it is also part of the Well Meadow Conservation Area. The buildings and furnace are grade II* listed buildings because of their importance as part of Sheffield’s industrial heritage and it is regarded as, “One of the most significant of the city’s 19th century industrial monuments”. It has now been converted into residences.

The Well Meadow area was developed from farmland, starting in the early part of the 19th century as the industrial city of Sheffield expanded in boundaries. The original development consisted of back-to-back houses combined with small industrial works. 35 Well Meadow Street dates from around 1840 and was built by the established industrial firm of Samuel Peace. The firm started in 1787 with premises in nearby Scotland Street and had a wide diversity of products such as files, saws, cutlery and scythes. When they opened the 35 Well Meadow Street premises it was as steel and file manufacturers' and iron merchants. The manufacturing process included primary steel production in the crucible furnace and the finishing of the final product in the adjacent workshop.

Small scale Crucible steel making remained economically viable into the 1930s although manufacturing at the Well Meadow site ended in 1926. Much of the social housing around the works was demolished in the 1930s under a slum clearance programme with the cleared space was used by small workshops of the metal trades industry. By the 1990s much of 35 Well Meadow Street was disused, boarded up and in a dilapidated state although one block was used for the production of scissors. Recent developments have seen some renovation to the building with new windows being installed. It now stands in the middle of the St Vincent Quarter, an action plan announced in 2004 proposes the restoration of all 16 Grade II* and Grade II listed buildings within the quarter.

The building is constructed from brick with stone dressings and a slate roof. The frontage of the building facing Well Meadow Street has an owner’s house to the right with a three storey workshop to the left incorporating the furnace with its stack, six crucible holes and vaulted brick cellar. The walls of the furnace building have been strengthened with vertical iron straps to withstand the heat. The courtyard to the rear has three storey workshops added in 1853 which were probably used for file cutting.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
4
Globe Works

4) Globe Works

The Globe Works are a former cutlery factory situated in the City of Sheffield. The Works are a Grade II* Listed Building which in the late 1980s were renovated to provide modern office space. It is part of the Kelham Island Conservation Area.

The Globe Works were built in 1825 by the architects Henry and William Ibbotson for the edge tool manufacturers Ibbotson & Roebank. The Works are one of England's oldest surviving cutlery and tool factories and were possibly the World's first purpose built cutlery factory. When opened the Works produced steel, tools and cutlery on the one site in an integrated process driven by steam power.

The Works has an ornamental façade frontage built in coarse square stone and brick in the Classical Revival style. The façade has two storeys with nine windows on each storey, the middle section is pedimented and this gives an additional half a storey to this section. Behind the ornamental façade were furnaces, a manager's residence and a courtyard which was surrounded by many small workshops in which numerous little mesters were employed. The owner had a house integrated into the design at the southern end of the Works and this is the probable reason for the grandness of the façade. The entrance to the house was on the side wall and had a pillared porch, today this is the main entrance and reception for the entire building.

Eminent industrialist Charles Cammell worked at the Globe Works for Ibbotson Brothers between 1830 and 1837 before leaving to set up his own firm of Johnson, Cammell and Company with Thomas Johnson, this firm later became part of the Cammell Laird group. Another well known industrialist William Edgar Allen worked at the Globe Works as a young man before setting up the Edgar Allen and Company steelworks in 1867. In 1852 John Walters moved his business from the city centre to the Globe Works, his factory made table knives, spring knives, steel and tools and specialised in making Bowie knives for the American market.

The entrance to the factories surrounding the courtyard was under an enormous archway to the right and below the portcullis of the original house. This was originally built to allow horses and carts/carriages into the cobbled courtyard. The upstairs packing rooms and office had to be accessed by an outside staircase.

In 1970, Sheffield Town Planning Committee called for the Globe Works to be removed from the register of listed buildings so it could be bulldozed to make way for an urban motorway, however the request was rejected. The Works became derelict in the 1970s when it was extensively damaged by an arson attack in 1978. In 1987 restoration work costing £1.5 million was started.

The work retained as much of the original fabric of the building as was possible after the fire and created a building with a floor space of approximately 30,000 square feet. Now known as the Globe Business Centre, it is home to around 22 companies with the office space being managed by Davison Property Management, providing various sized offices suitable for micro, small and medium-sized businesses.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
5
Cornish Place

5) Cornish Place

Cornish Place is a listed building situated in the Neepsend area of the City of Sheffield. The building was formerly the factory of James Dixon & Sons, a Britannia metal, Sheffield plate and Cutlery manufacturer. In the late 1990s the disused building was cleaned and converted into apartments, it is regarded as the most impressive cutlery works that still stands in Sheffield and rivals the cotton mills of Lancashire and the West Riding in terms of architectural quality and heritage.
The most impressive parts of the building are the east and west ranges which have Grade II* listed status while the rest of the works have the lower Grade II rating. The "Cornish" in the buildings name is thought to derive from the manufacture of Britannia metal which is made up of 93% tin which came from Cornwall.

The east range which fronts onto Ball Street and the River Don is constructed from ashlar and brick with ashlar dressings and a Gablet roof made from slate and asbestos cement. There are four floors with the ground and first floor having attractive arched windows. The ground floor was made to be fireproof with extensive use of cast iron. The west range on Green Lane is brick built with ashlar dressing and decorative arched windows. The adjoining plating shop has distinctive large windows with clerestories above.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
6
Brooklyn Works

6) Brooklyn Works

The Brooklyn Works is a former site of steel, saw and file manufacture, it is situated on Green Lane in the Kelham Island Quarter of the City of Sheffield In recent years the works have been converted into residential apartments and offices. The structure is a Grade II listed building because of its importance as an example of Sheffield’s industrial heritage. The works stand adjacent to the listed industrial buildings of the Green Lane Works and Cornish Place in what has been called, “the most coherent stretch of industrial landscape in inner Sheffield”

The Brooklyn Works were constructed in the mid 19th century for the firm of Alfred Beckett, a manufacturer of steel, saws and files. The building suffered seriously damaged in March 1864 when the Great Sheffield Flood surged down the Don valley.

The building is constructed from red brick, partly rendered with ashlars dressing with a slate roof. It is a series of four ranges of two- and three-storey buildings making a square with an inner courtyard. The northern range of buildings fronts onto the River Don and consists of seven blocks of three storey apartments. These are newly built and replace the original single-storey building which was demolished in the 1990s refurbishment. The old cart entrance has been adapted to allow vehicles access to the inner courtyard where there is parking. The restored building has retained some of the original signage from the days of Alfred Beckett & Sons.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
7
Green Lane Works

7) Green Lane Works

The Green Lane Works are a disused industrial facility situated in the City of Sheffield. The entrance gate to the works is particularly ornate and has been designated as a Grade II* listed building. Nikolaus Pevsner called the gate “the most spectacular survival of factory architecture in the city”. The works are situated in the suburb of Neepsend within the Kelham Island Quarter of the city and date from 1795 although there were extensive alterations in 1860.

The original Green Lane Works were established in 1795 by the firm of Hoole and Company who were manufacturers of ornamental stove grates and fenders in Bronze and metal. The firm flourished and their products won a first Council medal at The Great Exhibition of 1851 and a Medaille d'honneur at the Exposition Universelle of 1855. This success brought considerable prestige to the firm and its proprietor at the time Henry E. Hoole. In 1859 Hoole was elected Lord Mayor of Sheffield and to celebrate this he had major alterations carried out to the works.

The most important part of the 1860 rebuilding was the construction of the decorative entrance arch on Green Lane. It is thought that the sculptor Alfred Stevens designed the gatehouse and may have been responsible for the relief sculptured decoration. Stevens had worked for Hoole and Company between 1850 and 1852 as chief designer on a salary of £20 per annum and had designed much of the firms award winning work for the 1851 exhibition. When he returned to London after two years with Hooles he left behind him many drawings and designs for apprentices to study.

The Gateway is constructed of ashlar, stucco and brick and takes the form of a tripartite triumphal arch with a carving of a female head on the keystone above the main (central) arch. The two outer (pedestrian) arches have relief panels of the Greek gods Hephaestus (left) and Athena (right) above them. The name of the works is carved above the central arch and above this is an apex roof which at one time had a coat of arms on it which is now missing. The gateway is topped off by a cupola with clock and weather vane.

The works were considerably damaged in the Great Sheffield Flood of March 1864. In late 2009, the works was disused with its future unknown. The gateway was partly boarded up to protect it from vandalism. In 2013, the works was added to the Heritage at Risk Register. In 2015, it was removed from the register following repairs. As of 2018, it has been converted in four commercial spaces as part of the Little Kelham development.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
8
Kelham Island Tavern

8) Kelham Island Tavern

The Kelham Island Tavern is a public house in Sheffield. It is the only pub to have become the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) National Pub of the Year two years running.

The pub lies on Russell Street, in the Kelham Island area of the city. It was constructed in the 1830s as part of a terrace, and originally operated as "The Sawmaker". It was later renamed the "White Hart", and in the early 1990s became the "Kelham Island Tavern", but closed soon after.

The derelict building was re-opened as the "Kelham Island Tavern" in 2002, specialising in real ales. By the following year, the local press mentioned it as one of five pubs in the area among the "best real ale pubs in Yorkshire". Following an inundation during the 2007 United Kingdom floods, it closed for a five-week refurbishment. It won the CAMRA pub of the year award for 2008, and took the title again the following year, becoming the first pub to win the title two years running. It has also won the Yorkshire Pub of the Year title in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and the Sheffield Pub of the Year award every year from 2004 to 2011 and later from 2013 to 2018.

The pub has a small garden featuring palm trees, and is also a venue for traditional English folk music.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
9
Kelham Island Industrial Museum

9) Kelham Island Industrial Museum (must see)

The Kelham Island Museum is an industrial museum on Alma Street, alongside the River Don, in the centre of The City of Sheffield, England. It was opened in 1982. The museum houses exhibitions on science and Sheffield industry, including examples of reconstructed little mesters' workshops and England's largest surviving Bessemer converter. The museum gives tours to local schools and has regular demonstrations of the 1905 River Don Engine, a 12,000 horsepower (9 MW) steam engine, which originally powered a local armour plate rolling mill. The engine is remarkable for its ability to change direction very quickly, a facet that was necessary for the efficient rolling of heavy steel. The engine rolled steel for nuclear reactors towards the end of its life (it was last used in production in 1974 at the River Don Works). The museum is operated by the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust. It is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage.

Operation hours: Monday - Thursday: 10 am - 4 pm; Sunday: 11 am - 4:45 pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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