A wonderful example of living history. The site was used for iron forging for 500 years, although there is evidence of other metal working prior to 1200 AD. Its early history is intimately tied with the nearby Beauchief Abbey, which operated a smithy in the vicinity as well as number of mills along the River Sheaf. A 1725 map shows that the fields, subsequently flooded to provide the dam at the site, had been called "Sinder Hills", the cinders referring to the waste resulting from prior lead smelting activities in the area in the 16th. and early 17th. centuries. However, the "Abbey Dale Works" as such, the buildings of which now form the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, are first formally recorded in 1714 (though it may have derived directly from the "New Wheel" operated by Hugh Stephenson, as detailed in rent books from 1685). From there on the hamlet grew, in 1785 the dam was enlarged the tilt hammer was constructed in 1785. The workmen's cottages were built in 1793 followed, in 1817, by the grinding hull. s business boomed a manager's house was added along with a coach house and stabling two years later. In 1876 there was the construction of the first storey warehouse (above the blacking shop).
From the 17th century onwards, the site primarily operated as a scythe works until, in 1933, it was closed by Tyzak Sons and Turner (tenants since 1849). The fact that scythes primarily supported the complex reinforces the importance of rural production in the midst of the industrial revolution. In 1935 it was bought by the Alderman J. G. Graves Trust, which donated the site to the city. The works was briefly reopened during the Second World War to aid in Britain's war effort. The Council for the Conservation of Sheffield Antiquities explored and initiated the restoration of Abbeydale Works in 1964. They discovered the remains of 6 buildings in addition to those still standing. These were identified from a 1924 map of the site as: a "disused hardening shop", a "disused open furnace shed", a "lime and coke shed", a "boiler house and chimney", the "housing for the steam engine" and a "store for clay and anvils". Following the complete restoration the works were finally opened as a museum in 1970.
Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is run as a working museum, with works and buildings dating from between 1714 and 1876. The museum demonstrates the process making blister steel from iron and coke, then refining this steel using techniques that originated with Benjamin Huntsman's invention of the crucible steel process. The river provides water power via a water wheel. There are several wheels on the site for driving a tilt hammer, for the initial forging of the scythe blades; grinding machinery, which also has steam installed as backup for times of drought, and a set of bellows. The blades were also hand forged for finishing. The site is partly wheelchair accessible. Assistance dogs are warmly welcomed. Carers are admitted for free.
Location : Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield S72QW
Transport: Dore (National Rail) 1/2 mile. Bus Routes : Peakline 218, 97, 98, 745, 785 and 798 stop outside.
Opening Times : Monday to Thursday 10:00 to 16:00. Sunday 11:00 to 16:45
Tickets House: Adults: £4.00; Concessions: £3.00; Children (under 15): Free.
Tel: 0114 272 2106