A next-generation Little Mester has fulfilled a lifelong ambition by launching his own studio workshop in a historic Sheffield works.
Stonemason and letter cutter Steve Roche was thrilled when a unit became available recently at Stag Works, on John Street, and jumped at the chance to move to the historic setting.
And he marked the move with a ‘workshop warming’ at his new unit on Saturday.
The 37-year-old, of Hunters Bar, said: “Places like Stag Works and Portland Works are what Sheffield is all about and I’m proud to be a part of that community now.
“The workshop warming was because I wanted people to be able to see me work, see what I do and even have a go for themselves.”
Steve, was already outgrowing his first workshop in Shalesmoor when his new premises became available in the listed former cutlery manufacturing building of Stag Works.
The Little Mester – a self-employed worker who rents space in a factory or works from their own workshop – said: “My place in Shalesmoor was about the size of a sofa.
“I couldn’t get anything in or out of it easily and the dust – an occupational hazard of stonework – got everywhere. This new unit is fantastic with a wall that opens right up into the yard which will certainly make life simpler when it comes to dusting.”
Steve’s interest in stonemasonry began when he was just a boy, but it was not until he was made redundant from a job in sales that he decided to pursue his passion.
He said: “I just thought ‘why not’ and decided to take an enormous leap of faith.
“It was also a leap into the unknown, as not many people in Sheffield do what I do it was tough to say whether there was a market for it, but business is really good.”
He is also trained in the traditional art of letter carving – and says there is no such thing as a ‘normal day’ in his line of work.
He said: “About 40 per cent of the calls I get begin with ‘it’s a bit of a weird one, but...’ he explained.
“I’ve been asked to do a bit of everything since I got into this line of work, from work on houses and walls that have fallen over, to memorial stones and decorative pieces for the garden.
“I’ve recently done a pet memorial for three farm dogs who worked all their lives for the same farmer who wanted to commemorate them properly.
“I really believe Sheffield still has a reputation in the UK, and across the world, for quality hand-crafted items.
“It’s fantastic to be able to build on and add to the tradition of highly skilled craftspeople in this area.”