Historic Sheffield silver mill that dates back to 1760 goes up for sale - and the owner hopes it could become a pub
When businessman Roger Bannister and his wife Wendy bought a historic Sheffield silver mill in the 1990s they had high hopes of converting it into a pub.
But thirty years later, Sheffield has weathered many declines and storms, and their plan for a new social venue at the former Old Park silver rolling mill – the first to start making Sheffield plate - have not been realised.
Now Roger is selling the fascinating building off Club Mill Road in Neepsend, which dates back to the 1760s, around the dawn of the industrial revolution, and today has fallen into disrepair, visited only by graffiti artists and fly-tippers.
He is hopeful the potential buyer will continue his vision and bring new life to the site, which still has its own water wheel.
He has even been in contact with John Hutson, the chief executive of Wetherspoons, to discuss the suitability of the mill as a location for a new pub and said there had previously been interest from local breweries.
Roger told the Sheffield Telegraph: “There are no restaurants in that area so it would be nice if the person who buys it turns it into a restaurant or pub where people can enjoy it.
"In the 1990s Sheffield became a ghost town after the demise of mining.
“A lot of materials have been stolen from the site and there was a big problem with fly tipping. They don’t take into consideration that someone else has to clean it.
"Over the years we’ve put such a lot of money into it because of these letters from the council regarding fly tipping.
“So we never got the chance to open as a pub, although we had received offers of interest from local breweries.”
Roger can’t remember how much he and his wife paid when they purchased the building and land, although he recalls that he bought the mill, and Wendy bought the car park.
He said that the price he paid originally was “immaterial”.
He added: “You can’t win them all. At the end of the day, it will be worth whatever somebody is willing to pay for it.
"Even if nothing comes of it and it’s not sold, it’s not the end of the world.”
"Some things you put your money into and they don’t work. We had the same problem with Grimethorpe Hall in Barnsley when the mines shut.
Roger had received licences from magistrates to make changes to Grimethorpe Hall, but after the decline in popularity of the area, his plans again fell through.
Roger remains optimistic that the silver mill, part of the Sheffield silver trade since the 1760s, will now find a buyer.
He added: “If it does sell, we’ll probably put the money towards another property.
"If someone wants to do something with it but doesn’t have the money, we might be part of that, as a partnership.
"It will be so nice to see what happens to the mill.”
Peter Shaw, aged 77, worked at the silver mill as a bite roller in the 1960s when he was just 17.
He said: “I had to keep putting ingots in all the time until they were a certain thickness. I sat on a little plank and rolled out the ingots for it to go to a silver smiths to make cutlery.
"It could be dangerous, the back of the roller would rip your trousers and burn the side of your legs.
“The security used to make us put brown paper under the rollers to catch the little bits that fell off so that they could collect it at the end of the day.
"People used to say that there was a little door in the caretaker’s house with a secret passage.
“I don’t know where it went, but it was definitely there.”
At the time Peter lived on the other side of the River Don and had a long walk each day to the building.
Despite his torn trousers, burnt legs, and the arduous journey to work, Peter has a fondness for the mill.
He said: “They were the good old days.
"I saw in the Telegraph that the mill was up for sale, it’s a lot of years old now.”
Peter agreed that it would be nice if a new owner could find a use for the site that would rejuvenate the mill – although Wetherspoons confirmed to the Telegraph that it was not interested in the site.
The Old Park silver rolling mill was established in the early 1760s, although a corn mill existed on the site even earlier than that.
It was the first mill to roll Sheffield plate, a combination of silver and copper which was used in many household items in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Since the closure of the mill in the 1980s, it has fallen into a state of heavy disrepair, with a collapsed roof, overgrown vegetation, and significant vandalism.
However, the remaining water wheel, which was once used to power the mill, provides an enduring insight into the importance of this location in Sheffield’s industrial history.
Anyone interested in buying the mill should call or text 07932140621.