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“After more than 30 years of waiting, really quite a disappointment”

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet
Ranked #15 of 177 things to do in Sheffield
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Visitors discover the method of producing steel and how workers and their families lived their lives in Abbeydale, a small village that has been involved in metal-working for centuries.
Reviewed May 9, 2013

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.

2  Thank ScottEngering
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"water wheel"
in 8 reviews
"the managers"
in 6 reviews
"industrial revolution"
in 7 reviews
"workers cottages"
in 4 reviews
"lottery grant"
in 3 reviews
"step back in time"
in 5 reviews
"primary school"
in 3 reviews
"short video"
in 2 reviews
"raw materials"
in 2 reviews
"story teller"
in 2 reviews
"glass cases"
in 2 reviews
"industrial site"
in 2 reviews
"history buff"
in 2 reviews
"educational experience"
in 2 reviews
"brought back memories"
in 2 reviews
"hand to answer questions"
in 2 reviews
"local history"
in 6 reviews
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Reviewed April 7, 2013

I've been to the industrial hamlet a few times now, and I really love it, primarily because there are remarkably few cordons or fences stopping visitors from touching and interacting with all the industrial remnants. It's wonderful to see how complex the systems in place were, and to wander around it at your own pace without being overloaded with information and signs. There are, however, some nice activities for children (and adults), and on weekends in the Summer, there are lots more activities run by people in period fancy dress.

The whole place is extremely photogenic, and I don't see how people can be down on it when it's a free museum, staffed by extremely helpful people, and with a lovely shop and cafe. Perhaps they can donate to get the (formerly operational) Victorian engine repaired so that they do get to see some of the wheels working - it will be excellent when it's back on form.

This is a great place to spend a couple of hours, and it's all the better for the lack of museumification.

1  Thank Jess G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2013

Check out their website and also the Sheffield whats on guide as when the Hamlet has open workshops or it is fully working it is great for history and photographic opportunities.

Top tip is make sure there is something happening when you go and have a great day.
There's parks nearby so take a picnic for your lunch break too!

Thank eliteviewer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 12, 2013

If you want some place for a quick but of history I recommend the industrial hamlet, if you are going on your own and not having the guided tour it isn't an awful lot to see, the managers house was interesting but the rest is basically some old buildings.It is good for a little detour and they have a little cafe as well.

Thank crissybug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 12, 2013

Having lived in Sheffield for a few years, this was on my "to do" list. It is a very basic "museum"; a snapshot of industrial life in the 19th Century, but it is a fascinating visit if you have any interest in the manual way things were done 150 years ago.
Looking at the ingenuity of Victorian engineering as well as the sheer graft of the manual workers who used it truly makes you stop and think. Have a look at the Tilt Hammer then wonder what it sounded like at full bore.
This is a charming place to visit, especially on a sunny day since there is a bit of walking between exhibits; not far, but wet in the rain! Interesting to see the Master's Cottage with the books and ledgers. Rather basic compared with some places (but I like that) although it has a shop, a cafe and lavatories, so there is not much else to wish for.

Thank Bob C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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