Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is a place that I heard about when I first visited Sheffield, over 30 years ago, but I have never visited until now. Other than being an important part of Sheffield’s metalworking history, I knew very little about it before I arrived on the 97/98 Mainline bus, which drops you right outside the entrance.
My first impression was that, here, there is an exceptionally well preserved set of historic buildings – with its fixtures and fittings - that, I have since learned, command Scheduled Ancient Monument, Grade I and Grade II* Listed status.
Going in, the Jessop Tilt Hammer made a great impression and the toilet block, car park and outside “pub style” tables suggested that it would be frequented by tourists.
Perhaps I just arrived on an “off day” because, although quite a large Primary School group seemed to be having a thoroughly good time with the “costumed” on site staff that were laid on for them, it didn’t seem very well prepared to receive older visitors.
Working as an English language teacher and field trip leader, I have been on the lookout for some new places to show to intelligent Spanish teenagers – which will break away from the destinations that I have shown to previous summer schools.
Having taken some of these to Kelham Island Museum last summer, which had been put out of action by Sheffield’s floods a few years earlier, I had expected to see a well laid out plan of this impressive range of buildings, in which the contents were well presented and which gave a good impression of what I was looking at, even though I might not have any specific interest in the local metalworking industry.
Instead, in places, I got a seemingly random pile of junk that was just spread out everywhere - like a set of rotting and rusting tools that might be found anywhere in the cellar of a long since forgotten old house, in the manner of Miss Havisham’s.
There are loads of nooks and crannies to explore, with lots of going upstairs and downstairs but, when you got to the end of them, there is nothing to explain what you are finding there. However, I did note numbers on the walls that were presumably “stopping places” for visitors who can use audio equipment that may be available but I wasn’t offered this facility or any other information when I arrived.
For me, there were all sorts of interesting pieces of stone, ceramics, metal, wood and other miscellaneous materials just lying around that I wanted to know more about, as well as the machinery itself, which is nothing like I have seen before.
In view of the changes and cutbacks that have affected Sheffield City Council in recent years, I can see how financial resources might be considered best used elsewhere but, somehow, I think that someone high up in Sheffield council is missing a trick here with this magnificent resource.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.