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Eye Witness Works, Sheffield, South Yorks, July 2019

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HughieD

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1. The History
Taylor's Eye Witness Works is situated on Milton Street in the Devonshire Quarter of Sheffield. It’s 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:

33531714488_307d12c586_b.jpgEy Witness Old 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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

46684282754_f79697a48a_b.jpgEy Witness Old 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The company became known as Needhams Ltd, before merging with forces with James Veall in 1876 and Tyzack’s 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 Taylor’s Eye Witness in 1965, ten year’s later it was acquired by 1975 Harrison Fisher & Co who retained the Taylor’s 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:

32465650697_b92078f818_b.jpg800px-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 ““There 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.” 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 “Mausoleum of Giants” which found a temporary home in the old works a few months back. There isn’t 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:

48357380297_a2f19994bd_b.jpg20190720_095457 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48368427207_d139035cfa_b.jpgEye witness 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357250191_01f736af28_b.jpg20190720_094744 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357250256_1964101ddd_b.jpg20190720_094717 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48368292376_f94e0d73d3_b.jpgEye witness 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Round the side:

48368294026_db4f1ffc39_b.jpgEye witness 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48368428802_d4d8e1f03e_b.jpgEye witness 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And view from the back:

48357247861_d14564a114_b.jpg20190720_095303 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357250231_d2e44ab8b9_b.jpg20190720_094636 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357254861_07066ab773_b.jpg20190720_093859 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Round the front:

48357380307_b10c5b1b0f_b.jpg20190720_095146 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357253976_bf250362e8_b.jpg20190720_094245 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357254031_260111992e_b.jpg20190720_094148 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And some internals:

48357248906_3ca34a6a6c_b.jpg20190720_095039 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357248916_4e73a0d155_b.jpg20190720_094925 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357383872_158771eca4_b.jpg20190720_094522 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Stripping the rads out:

48357384637_e6e0c3cae1_b.jpg20190720_094425 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48357385077_ae0f92c4fc_b.jpg20190720_094335 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The old pressing machine:

33531798878_5614508836_b.jpgimg9929bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

40442189053_c046724035_b.jpgimg9925 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32465590367_3048c3e74f_b.jpgimg9909 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

wolfism

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Well done, thanks for the update. An interesting and very historic place … 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. :)
 

Rolfey

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I was working just across road from this about 2 months ago and wanted to go check it out but with all lock down ect abit hard, I thought be work men in there as well! but I’m pleased I come across this post nicely done
 

Gripper66

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I was working near there a few years ago. Impressive building and heritage, Seems to be a few of the old buildings going in Sheffield at the moment. Once there gone, there gone...
 

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