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Thread: Eye Witness Works, Sheffield, South Yorks, July 2019

  1. #1
    Join Date
    January 2013
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.

    Default Eye Witness Works, Sheffield, South Yorks, July 2019

    1. The History
    Taylor's Eye Witness Works is situated on Milton Street in the Devonshire Quarter of Sheffield. Itís a Grade II listed building which since its foundation in 1852 has specialised in producing kitchen and pocket knives. It was believed to be the only traditional works left in Sheffield still manufacturing original products, before its recent closure. Taylor founded a knife and edge tools firm in 1820 in the Netherthorpe area of the city. In 1838 Taylor applied for and was granted the Eye Witness trademark and in 1852 moved to the newly built Eye Witness Works on Milton Street. The works were driven by steam power and the 40-foot chimney stack remains in place today. Upon the death of John Taylor in 1854 the firm passed to his daughter who had married into the Needham family who were also knife producers.

    Illustration from 1897:

    Ey Witness Old 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And an old picture of the workshops from the same year:

    Ey Witness Old 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The company became known as Needhams Ltd, before merging with forces with James Veall in 1876 and Tyzackís in 1879 to form Needham, Veall & Tyzack. In 1870 the firm only employed 30 people, but after 20 years of rapid growth it employed several hundred people by the 1890s. In 1875, the Eye Witness Works were extended into three storeys and the firm become a limited company in 1897 with capital of £60,000. After the First World War the firm was hit by a downturn in demand due to the invention of stainless steel. However, it mechanised its production process and started to expand again, taking over several well-known Sheffield cutlery companies to the extent that new buildings were added on Thomas Street in 1950. Changing its name to Taylorís Eye Witness in 1965, ten yearís later it was acquired by 1975 Harrison Fisher & Co who retained the Taylorís Eye Witness brand name for many of its products as well as producing "own label" goods for department stores including John Lewis, Tesco and Sainsbury's. Finally, in June 2007, Harrison Fisher & Co Ltd changed its name to Taylors Eye Witness Limited.

    An advertisement for the Taylor's Eye Witness Works from the 1890s:

    800px-Taylor's_Eye_Witness_advertisement by HughieDW, on Flickr

    With the company now having vacated the building and having moved to new premises the works will be subject to a £21m restoration along with Ceylon Works and the construction of a six-storey building on the site that was formerly home to the Brunswick Hotel. CAPITAL&CENTRIC, the developers, state that ďďThere will be a mix of one, two and three bedroomed apartments and townhouses which will encourage and promote a real broad demographic to the area to help build a long-term sustainable community in this part of Sheffield.Ē As at July 2019 the clearing and demolition of parts of the works is under way.

    2. The Explore
    A bit of an up-date on this site, post-viewing the Phlegm exhibition entitled ďMausoleum of GiantsĒ which found a temporary home in the old works a few months back. There isnít much scope for looking round the whole factory as the site is very much live with the demo company doing their work. Managed to sneak a few shots on the ground floor but the other floors had workers from the demo company on. Shame that no one has managed a full explore of this place prior to the partial demo/conversion of this historical works.

    3. The Pictures

    A few externals. This bit dates back to 1950:

    20190720_095457 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Eye witness 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094744 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094717 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Eye witness 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Round the side:

    Eye witness 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Eye witness 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And view from the back:

    20190720_095303 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094636 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_093859 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Round the front:

    20190720_095146 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094245 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094148 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And some internals:

    20190720_095039 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094925 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094522 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Stripping the rads out:

    20190720_094425 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    20190720_094335 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The old pressing machine:

    img9929bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img9925 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img9909 by HughieDW, on Flickr

  2. Thanks given by: ducatidevil1, Hugh Jorgan, Ipcre55, Locksley, Mearing, MrGruffy, Sabtr
  4. #2
    Join Date
    January 2008


    Well done, thanks for the update. An interesting and very historic place Ö pretty much last of the inner city cutlery works in Sheffield, following Albert Works and Rutland Works into oblivion then conversion into other uses. There were a few interesting bits and pieces of machinery left behind when Taylors moved out, hopefully they were saved. :)

  5. Thanks given by: HughieD

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