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Eye Witness Works, Sheffield, South Yorks, March 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.”

2. The Explore
Well, I guess you’d call this a ‘permission’ visit of sorts as my way into the works, after watching it for some time, was to view the new Phlegm exhibition entitled “Mausoleum of Giants” which has just opened in its temporary home in the old works. There wasn’t much scope for looking round the rest of the factory as it was locked down and tightly controlled, although I did get a few shots here and there.

3. The Pictures

A few externals:

46426795294_93ef6b1e68_b.jpgEye Works 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

33274960048_e16566f85e_b.jpgEye Works 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46426822784_60cd0cb263_b.jpgEye Works 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46426830244_8e59719d34_b.jpgEye Works 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

40442100823_ab0fc77ac1_b.jpgEye witness 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46506879835_ef2c5d7557_b.jpg2019-03-19_07-22-24 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside the first court-yard:

32465502967_ea4b0f60d7_b.jpgEye witness 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And some internals:

46684282074_e066a3ac20_b.jpgEye witness 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46684281774_53d6a8f140_b.jpgEye witness 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46684281494_99a6f315a4_b.jpgEye witness 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47407618881_6f36677c8e_b.jpgEye witness 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

An 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

And a few of the stunning Phlegm exhibition:

40442096923_c2af51f510_b.jpgPhlegm 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46492310775_85761a4f01_b.jpgPhlegm 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47354735902_f5a7048657_b.jpgPhlegm 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

40442042883_2d8a7c65e4_b.jpgPhlegm 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

33531680798_dde140e0c4_b.jpgPhlegm 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

40442072563_3e2193267c_b.jpgPhlegm 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 
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Sabtr

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The rooms are incredibly interesting. It's as if nothing was ever touched or updated as the company progressed.
Excellent write-up which contained so many familiar names I recognise. Also interesting is that cutlery was not always stainless - not many will realise that..

The art? I'm probably losing it but is it actually in the rooms or is it photographs with digital art added? Can't believe I'm asking that!!
 

HughieD

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The rooms are incredibly interesting. It's as if nothing was ever touched or updated as the company progressed.
Excellent write-up which contained so many familiar names I recognise. Also interesting is that cutlery was not always stainless - not many will realise that..

The art? I'm probably losing it but is it actually in the rooms or is it photographs with digital art added? Can't believe I'm asking that!!

Real three dimensional modules mate. Incredible stuff.
 

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