Owning Portland Works for community benefit
"Personally, I am very pleased to be able to help by contributing relatively small amounts to such a good cause. I could not afford to give thousands, which one often has to do when investing in companies.
I really do wish all of you all the best. I drive shop assistants mad by asking "Is it made in Britain"? !! I do feel that we have to make things again, and that means we have to retain skills and pass them on to our young people."
Mrs JW, shareholder
The Portland Works project is a group of tenants and supporters, all volunteers, who are ensuring the survival of one of Sheffield's great buildings by community purchase and social ownership.
Portland Works, built in 1877, is one of the earliest surviving examples of an integrated metal trades complex. It is a Grade II* listed building, which in 1914 became the first place in the world to manufacture stainless steel cutlery - see History.
Remarkably, it still does what it was built for - offering low-cost workshop space to small manufacturing businesses and independent artists and craftspeople. You'll find here metalworkers, engineers and craftsmen, furniture makers, artists and musicians. They are a cross section of talent following in the footsteps of the 'Little Mesters' who made Sheffield famous - see Our Makers.
We will protect and develop this community of creative and traditional industries through ownership as a social enterprise.
Who are we?
We are a Comunity Benefit Society registered with the FSA, no 31143R. This and the campaign have been run entirely by volunteers since early 2009. The Society meets monthly in open session to plan and deliver the project.
Our supporters include a majority of the tenants together with local residents, city councillors and our MP. More people from across the country are joining us as they hear about this, one of the larger community ventures undertaken. We now have almost 500 individual shareholders.
Messages of support have come in from all over the world.
Andrew Cole, Shelley Hughes, Mark Jackson, Stuart Mitchell, Nuala Price, Mary Sewell and Paul Hopprich have been amongst the most enthusiastic tenants, and there are many more. From the community Julia Udall, Cllr Jillian Creasy and Alan Deadman of Stag Works have been there from the start, as was Richard Caborn, former MP Sheffield Central and Paul Blomfield the current MP. Cristina Cerulli, Stephen Connelly, Simon Parris and Malcolm Tait of Sheffield University have given great support, and Hugh Facey, Emma Green, Colin Havard, Derek Morton, Tim Reynolds, Nikky Wilson and many more have put in huge amounts of their own time along with their skills and enthusiasm for a fine building with a great future. Prominent local and national organisations who are supporting the campaign include Sheffield Town Trust, Sheffield Civic Trust, South Yorkshire Industrial History Society, Sheffield University, Hunter Archaeological Society, Victorian Society and the Heritage Craft Association.
We have achieved our initial target
In 2009, the future for the Works looked like conversion into 70 small flats, which would have ended 130 years of manufacturing. Our campaign eventually blocked the planning application, which was withdrawn in April 2011. By then we were looking at owning the building as a way forward.
In 2011 we established a Community Benefit Society, to buy, manage and conserve Portland Works. We wrote a business plan and spent 18 months selling community shares to the public and raised over £250,000.
We completed the purchase on 28 February 2013
We still need money!
The cash we've raised so far is sufficient, along with loans, to
start the urgent repair work. We then need to seek capital grant
funding, but this won't come on stream for a while. Even then some
of it will require match funding.
Or consider donating to the project. You'll be saving this wonderful building and securing jobs, skills and heritage, here in Sheffield.
Financial support from, and thanks to:
- South Yorkshire Community Fund - a £5000 grant for Open days 2011
- Sheffield City Council, £250 grant for start-up costs, 2011
- Sheffield City Council, Community Assembly - grants of £815 and £7000 to cover survey costs, 2011
- Sheffield Town Trust - a grant of £4000 to support the purchase process, 2011
- South Yorkshire Key Fund - grants of £1500 and £5000 linked to setting up the CBS, 2011 and 2012
- Sheffield Town Trust - a second grant of £2670 to support the publicity drive, 2012
- JG Graves Trust - £1500 towards renovation of the portico stonework, April 2012
- Freshgate Foundation - a grant of £1000 to support the purchase process
- And particular thanks to individuals, too modest to be named, who have donated around £5000 over the last year.
Derek Morton - Chairperson, Portland Works Little Sheffield Ltd
updated 16 Mar 2013
Contact us at email@example.com