See inside Sheffield’s historic former cutlery works being converted to flats

Part of a historic former cutlery works in Sheffield is being transformed into flats, bringing the long-abandoned building back to life.

Friday, 29th March 2019, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 3:03 pm
Lion Works on Spital Hill

Lion Works opposite the Tesco superstore on Spital Hill housed some of the city’s biggest metalworkers, including toolmakers John Sorby and Sons, before falling into disrepair as the industry declined.

Much of the Grade II-listed property remains in a sorry state, but a new chapter is beginning for the row of three-storey terraces fronting Spital Hill which were built as offices for the old factory site.

Lion Works on Spital Hill

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They were bought at auction three years ago by dentist Khalid Al-Kufaishi and his family, who paid around £450,000, and are being converted into student lodgings.

The work is nearly complete and the Al-Kufaishis are confident it will be ready for the first tenants to move in before the new academic year begins this September.

Mr Al-Kufaishi’s son Adam, who has worked on the development with his younger brother Jamie and older sister Jenna, says they are proud to be bringing a part of Sheffield’s history back into use.

Adam Al-Kufaishi in a kitchen of the student lodgings at Lion Works

“It's such a historic building, which played a big part in making Sheffield what it is today, so it’s an honour for us to be involved in its restoration,” said the 31-year-old trainee accountant who grew up in Arbourthorne and now lives in Ecclesall.

“Hopefully this shows what can be done and will help the ongoing regeneration of this area, which is very close to the city centre and has good connections.”

The terraces’ upper storeys, above shops including a barbers, tailors and homewares store on the ground floor, had been used as offices for a housing association and adult education provider after the works closed.

Jenna Al-Kufaishi outside the remaining buildings at the old Lion Works site, which have yet to be developed despite planning permission being granted

But Adam said they had been vacant for around six years before his family bought the building, during which time they were damaged by vandals and infested by pigeons.

The bulk of the former works, where according to Historic England the surviving buildings date back to around 1870, remains derelict.

Riath Hamed, the brother and former business manager of former boxing world champion Naseem Hamed, was granted planning permission last summer to convert those premises into nearly 90 homes and a cafe/bar.

Jamie Al-Kufaishi in the corridor of the new student accommodation which is being created at the old Lion Works site

But work is yet to begin, and Khalid is growing impatient at the delay.

“Those buildings were bought in 2002 and nothing’s been done by the owners,” he said.

“It’s a mess and it’s dangerous, with windows which could fall at any moment, and it needs attention as soon as possible.

“We only bought this building three years ago and we’ve nearly finished the work, yet they bought that part of the site 17 years ago and they’ve yet to begin work. I know it was in a worse state than this building ever was but that’s too long in my opinion.”

The rest of the Lion Works site, which is badly dilapidated