£300,000 Sheffield grant to save historical workshop

A £300,000 grant has been pledged to help save a historical 1870s steel-making workshop in Sheffield.

English Heritable has awarded the grant to help restore what is thought to be the only surviving large scale crucible workshop in the world.

Located on the Darnall Works in the Lower Don Valley, the site is owned by Sheffield businessman, Andrew Dunigan, who will meet the remaining 500,000 project costs.

The Grade II building escaped demolition after it became redundant in the early 20th century.

The new restoration scheme will restore brickwork and replace the badly decaying slate roof.

Four 30 foot high chimney stacks will be rebuilt to their full height and the rotten roof beams and rafters restored.

Work will also involve repairs to an adjoining range of buildings, which once housed smaller crucible workshops.

Repairs are due to be completed by April, allowing the building to be put to new uses such as warehouse space or offices.

Giles Proctor, English Heritage historic buildings architect, said: "The crucible workshop has assumed iconic status as possibly the world's only known survivor of this type of steelworks.

"For years we have been working with partners to find a solution and revive the building's fortunes.

"Now we have real progress, with the scaffolding going up and repairs underway to weatherproof the structure and adjoining range.

"That will ensure that a national historic treasure remains a Sheffield landmark, playing a part in the city's commercial future as well as being a link with the past."

English Heritage said crucible steel production was the key to Sheffield's 19th century economic growth, which eventually saw it supply half of all Europe's steel.

The technology was developed by Benjamin Huntsman, from Doncaster, a clockmaker in search of better steel for clock springs, and involved melting steel in deep crucible pots, producing higher quality metal than previous methods, perfect for making cutting edge tools.

The Darnall crucible works was one of the sites featured in the English Heritage publication One Great Workshop, in 2001, which highlighted the potential of metal trade buildings in Sheffield to contribute to the city's regeneration.

Darnall Works was established by Sandersons, one of Sheffield's leading 19th century steel firms. It acquired glassworks on the site and built a small cementation and crucible works in 1835. Eventually it opted to expand at Darnall, creating a large crucible steel works with 132 coke-fired holes.

Sandersons closed the works in 1934 after opening a new electric melting shop at Newhall Road, but it may have reopened briefly during the Second World War.

English Heritage is a Government funded body that aims to protect and promote England's spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood.

For more information www.english-heritage.org.uk.

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