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A young visitor tries a historic bench vice at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. A young visitor tries a historic bench vice at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.
News | 26 October 2023

A bright future begins at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet this winter

© Andy Brown

One of Sheffield’s most significant historic sites, Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is set to undergo a series of improvements as part of a two-year project beginning this winter thanks to major funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The £235,000 grant will see the introduction of new interpretative materials to help visitors better connect with the site’s rich history, restoration of the Boring Shop and Blowing Engine Waterwheel, a new welcome area and shop, extended car park, new family resources including a playground, and more.

 

Situated on Abbeydale Road South just a five-minute walk from Millhouses Park, Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is one of six free entry sites operated by Sheffield Museums. With its waterwheels, tilt forge and other uniquely preserved insights into the early steel industry and 18 and 19th century homelife, the picturesque Hamlet transports visitors back through the centuries.  

With earliest records dating back to 1700s, Abbeydale Works was once a producer of agricultural tools and the largest water-powered industrial site on the River Sheaf. In 1935, the site was purchased for the city by the J G Graves Trust and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet opened as a museum in 1970. Today, the Hamlet it represents a significant group of preserved Grade I and Grade II listed buildings and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, offering a fascinating window into Sheffield’s steelmaking past.

A major grant from National Lottery Heritage Fund, alongside further support from Sheffield City Council and the J G Graves Charitable Trust, will begin an exciting new chapter in the Hamlet’s remarkable story.

 

Looking across open water towards Hamlet buildings framed by trees in autumnal shades.

© Ian M Spooner

Looking across open water towards Hamlet buildings framed by trees in autumnal shades.

© Ian M Spooner

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is a real jewel in Sheffield’s heritage crown and this vital funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will see it shine. The Hamlet offers an unparalleled opportunity to celebrate the city’s making history, provide an immersive visitor experience and deliver a fantastic resource embedded in the local community. We’re delighted to have received this support thanks to players of the National Lottery, and to Sheffield City Council and the J G Graves Charitable Trust.
Kim Streets, Chief Executive at Sheffield Museums

 

The funding will see work commence on a number of improvements taking place over the next two years, including:

  • A new welcome area and shop in the Workers’ Cottages which will help visitors to orientate and place the site in its historical context locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
  • A suite of new accessible interpretative materials, including film and audio, which will bring the Hamlet’s story to life through a range of perspectives and expertise.

  • Restoration/conservation the Boring Shop and the Blowing Engine Waterwheel, which historically provided air for the Hamlet’s forges.

  • New learning resources for families which help children discover the power of water and nature, including a bespoke playground area, subject to listed building consent.

  • New resources to support volunteers recruited for their woodworking, metalworking and maintenance skills, who will work with the staff team to support the upkeep of the waterwheels, the machinery and wider site.

  • An extension to the car park at the rear of the Hamlet’s Learning Centre, enabling more visitors to access the site.

  • Finally, the funding will see Sheffield Museums work with a specialist business advisor to develop ideas and plans for currently underused buildings and help establish the foundations of a business plan for the next decade.

 

A collection of historic industrial stone buildings. They have large green windows and the building to the left has steps leading up to the second storey. There are trees behind.

© Andy Brown

A collection of historic industrial stone buildings. They have large green windows and the building to the left has steps leading up to the second storey. There are trees behind.

© Andy Brown

We are delighted to support Sheffield Museums with this important project at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet which connects local people and those from further afield with the rich industrial heritage of Sheffield. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this exciting project will revitalise the unique spaces of the hamlet and help bring the stories of its amazing history to life.
Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund

 

In the coming months, work will also begin on repairs to the Hamlet’s historic dam. The remedial work, which will provide substantial repairs to the fabric of the dam, will be carried out by Sheffield City Council, in consultation with the Environment Agency, Historic England and Sheffield Museums.

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet will close from Monday 30 October as the first phase of work commences and will reopen next spring, with work continuing throughout 2024-25. Joni, the Hamlet café, will be open as usual throughout the winter. 

 

A hand with crossed fingers. To the right are the words: Made possible with Heritage Fund

 

 

  • © Andy Brown
  • © Richard Connolly
  • © Andy Brown
  • © Ian M Spooner
  • © Andy Brown
  • © Andy Brown
  • © Ian M Spooner