Glimpse of the past in posh flats for future

SHEFFIELD University archaeologists made some unique finds while completing a survey of one of the city's most important surviving cutlery and grinding workshops.

Butcher Works on Arundel Street, in the Cultural Industries Quarter, has been converted into luxury apartments, and the ground floor is being taken over by Freeman College for young autistic people.

The Works is a Grade II* listed building recognised for its significant historical importance.

Among other finds, the team discovered a pan closet toilet, of which very few examples still exist.

The archaeologists also established the buildings originally grew from two small plots on Eyre Lane in the late 18th century, expanding through the 19th century to form the existing works.

As part of the redevelopment, the team has found evidence of grinding wheels in the site’s four main ranges, each of which extend to three or four storeys.

They surround an enclosed yard with a central toilet block and tall brick chimney.

One of the site’s ranges had grinding workshops arranged on three floors, supported on brick arches and cast iron columns.

The team also rediscovered and restored a mid 19th century Bramah pan closet toilet, which would have been formerly used by the company directors.

It was originally believed to have been manufactured by Thomas Crapper, although research has since revealed it is a more unusual design.

Very few examples of pan closets exist today as they had moving mechanical parts and tended to rust. Crucially they failed to provide an effective seal against sewer gases.

The cast iron bowl would originally have been topped by a ceramic bowl, possibly decorated, and the remnants of the seal between the cast iron and ceramic lip are still evident on the closet at Butcher Works.

Project leader Dr James Symonds said: “This development is an excellent example of how heritage-led regeneration can transform a down-at-heel location, while at the same time protecting one of Sheffield's most important historic buildings.”

n Butcher Works was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Arthur Dunworth, on Thursday. See Page 14 for full story.