Urban guru is forking into music nights

CREATIVE ARTS SPACE   Manager Steve Rimmer at Creative Arts Development Space(CADS) at Shalesmoor.     22 March 2011
CREATIVE ARTS SPACE Manager Steve Rimmer at Creative Arts Development Space(CADS) at Shalesmoor. 22 March 2011
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IT is midnight in the heart of Sheffield’s old Smithfield cutlery quarter, and from somewhere comes the faint sound of music.

IT is midnight in the heart of Sheffield’s old Smithfield cutlery quarter, and from somewhere comes the faint sound of music.

An anonymous-looking door on one of the old industrial buildings is opened and your Diarist is led down a narrow corridor

Within, in the workshop of the old Nickel Blank Company where generations of men made knives and forks to send around the world, almost 200 revellers are dancing in strobe-lit abandon.

This is urban regeneration as done by Steve Rimmer, a 25-year-old Sheffield lad.

He’s transformed the old cutlery works into a place to party – but, perhaps more importantly, a place to create, to work, to manufacture and to exhibit.

“We keep finding forks everywhere,” he says. “Proper quality stuff – they’re like these awesome relics from Sheffield’s past.”

The massive building – long since left empty from the glory days when Made In Sheffield was printed on cutlery used at tables across the globe – has been divided into a series of studios, offices, a gallery and, of course, that events and performance area.

It is suddenly once more at the heart of a new booming Sheffield industry: the creative sector.

Jewellers, artists, graphic designers and manufacturers are all based here in the 15 separate units dotted around the main workshop space.

Although, when we say he’s transformed it, Steve would be among the first to say that might be a slight exaggeration.

“It’s such an incredible old building with so much history attached to it, we’ve really just left it as it always was,” the Hallam University business graduate says.

“We’ve cleaned it, done a bit of plastering, knocked down the odd unsound wall and obviously wired it up but really we wanted to keep that ‘Made In Sheffield’ feel, because that’s what makes it special.

“You can sense the heritage.

“There’s these old cutlery stickers on the walls saying stuff like ‘You’re eating with the best’. It’s inspiring.”

Steve, of Onslow Road, Greystones, took over the building 12 months ago and since then the low-rent and high ceilings have attracted so many start-up businesses he’s already looking to expand into the huge warehouse next door.

“The demand is definitely there,” he says. “There are so many creative businesses it’s an exciting time for the city.”

Before that he managed a similar set-up at converted units in Kelham Island.

He’d moved there in 2008 because he needed office space for his own events company, Endless Promotions, but when demand from other businesses for the extra space outstripped what he could supply, he moved to the old Nickel Blank factory, calling the new venture CADS - Creative Arts Development Space

And those occasional club nights in the old workshop? He throws them to bring a sense of excitement to the place.

And it works.

“There’s a great atmosphere,” he says. “People come because it’s a bit different, and we play music you probably wouldn’t hear anywhere else.”

The onsite businesses get a special invite, as they do to all the exhibitions in the gallery space.

It’s gone midnight and your Diarist is off home to bed content with the knowledge this old cutlery works is in safe hands.