New £21m cutlery works development will ‘celebrate Sheffield’s history’

History will play a major part in a new £21m development of some of Sheffield’s oldest industrial buildings.

By Sally Burton
Monday, 29 April, 2019, 21:05
Wrapping works

Construction of 97 new apartments and townhouses has begun at Eyewitness Works, as owners Capital&Centric reveal how they will honour the former cutlery works’ rich history.

The Eyewitness Works and Ceylon Works buildings have been prominent on Milton Street since 1852.

Pocket knives section

For 150 years the street was home to Taylor’s Eye Witness Ltd, a Sheffield success story producing pocket and kitchen knives in industrious pre-war Britain.

The buildings give a glimpse in to the workings of the cutlery industry in the nineteenth century.

Cutlery was ground, hardened, buffed, filed and polished by hand in separate workshops. Goods would arrive and depart by cart via one of three connected internal courtyards.

The layout of the works was typical of Sheffield’s metal trades and while built for industry, the fashionable Venetian windows demonstrate the importance of status at the time.

Workers knife sharpening

Workshops in shallow buildings were designed to maximise natural light, with long work benches under dual aspect windows.

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Now, the developers promise the two Grade II listed buildings will keep their original charm, with residents able to enjoy centuries-old features such as the 40ft chimney, 150 year old pressing machines, Victorian safes, exposed brickwork and impressive timber roof structure.

Courtyards will be re-opened, and a cobbled street with festoon lighting and lined with trees and foliage will be created.

A new six-storey building will emerge on the site of the former Brunswick Hotel - a pub built to serve hordes of cutlery workers, that closed in 1964.

Historic engraving

Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital&Centric said: “As the custodians of Eyewitness Works it’s always been important to us that we celebrate its awesome history.

“The building is one of the last examples of the cutlery industry that made Sheffield famous across the world. We've loved discovering all the souvenirs of the past, like the Victorian safes, fireplaces and pressing machines.

“You can live in a space that was once used to grind, file and polish cutlery. We’re keeping as many of the original features as we can, including the brickwork, timber roof and cobbles.”

The social impact developer recently announced its aspiration to spend up to £200m in the city centre over the next five-to-10 years. Their urban vision for the wider area could include over 2,500 residential units, café-bars and restaurants to activate the street scene.

Anyone interested in in the development can register interest at www.eyewitness-sheffield.com