Welcome to Heritage Open Day 2020

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,000 organisations, 5,500 events and 46,000 volunteers. Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences, and it’s all free.

For 2020, Portland Works has created a virtual programme of events to celebrate this Grade 2* listed building. It is a great opportunity to view the progress of restoration and repair completed over the last 7 years in a new and exciting way.

A little history

Portland Works is a Grade 2* listed building. It was bought in 2013 through a community financed project after 5 years of campaigning. It is a rare example of a Victorian integrated cutlery factory, and is the place where stainless steel knives were made commercially for the very first time by R F Mosley in 1914. Today it is the home of over 30 businesses housed in the workshops refurbished and restored by a fantastic group of (mainly) volunteers. You can see and hear from volunteers, tenants, supporters and the Friends of Portland Works showing some of their current restoration work. All included in our online event.

As you view the online tour with commentary, photography exhibition and short films you will be encouraged to imagine the people who worked here and learn about the conditions they experienced and how things have changed for factory workers since 1879.

Virtual Tour with Richard Attwood

Explore Portland Works with this new virtual tour written and narrated by our volunteer Richard and filmed in August 2020 at Portland Works by Carl Whitham.  Let yourself be transported back to the heyday of cutlery manufacturing at this integrated cutlery works and find out some fascinating facts about the works.

A unique opportunity to see and hear more about the history of Portland Works with Richard as your guide.

Meet the Works’ Tenants

Learn about a few of our current tenants with these short films highlighting the work carried out in their Portland Works workshops. Thanks to Carl Whitham who made the films.

Andy Cole Tools

Andrew Cole has worked the forge since 1978. He began with Eric Wigfull’s, Wigfull Tools and in 2011, set up his own business ‘A Cole Tools’ forging made-to-measure hand tools that are sent all around the world. Learn more about Andy Cole here.

Andy works in the well-preserved 19th century forge at Portland Works. He uses a lot of the original equipment to create the hand-crafted tools.

Re-Made Crafts

Sam Clarke is one of the newest tenants at Portland Works. His startup company crafts unique, beautiful pens and pencils from recycled plastic waste.

Sam has designed and built all of the machinary for this innovative process and is working hard to expand his designs and setup an online store now.

Meet the “Tuesday Volunteers”

The Tuesday Volunteers have spent countless hours working to restore and refurbish the building back to life. Since the purchase of the building in 2013 they have met every Tuesday to work on a huge variety of tasks and learning new skills along the way.

If you’d like to get involved with the works, learn more at the volunteering page.

Derek and Bill

This film is a conversation with two of the longstanding Tuesday volunteers, Derek Morton and Bill Gray. We asked them about their experiences and are sure you will find the film of the conversation most enlightening.

Interview with Chris

This next film features Chris Cooper, another of the longstanding Tuesday volunteers. It was filmed in the MakerSpace by Carl Whitham. The group of Volunteers turn out rain or shine, week in week out. Portland Works is as it is today as a result of their hard work.

Families and the ‘Works

Interview with Fiona

This film features Fiona Lemmon. A longstanding supporter of Portland Works, Fiona has a family connection with organisation. Find out all about it in this film shot in the Makerspace at Portland Works by Carl Whitham.

Interview with Gillian

Gillian Johnson has a family connection with Portland Works going back to the 2nd World War. Her family ran a business here. Find out all about E. Atkinson and Sons Ltd in this short film, again shot upstairs in the MakerSpace at Portland Works.

Anna de Lange

Anna de Lange is our Volunteer historian here at Portland Works. She has recently published her second book, “Portland Works Stainless Steel Cutlery”. In this short film, Stella Howe asks about her involvement at Portland works and her new publication.

Anna’s book is available to purchase from our online shop.

Photographic exhibition

Welcome to Portland Works old and new. Many photographs have been taken of Portland Works over time.  It is one of those inspiring buildings that makes you want to reach for your camera or phone to capture what you see. The photographers here answered a call for their favourite images of Portland Works.  All were taken between 2009 and the 2020.

We hope you enjoy exploring.

Mary Sewell, Artist

Mary is one of the artists here at Portland Works. She shares her Studio with several artists in the space known as the lantern room which was the original showroom for R.F. Mosley’s factory. This short video shows Mary hard at work. Learn more about Mary at www.marysewell.co.uk

Visitor’s Guide

A new visitors welcome guide giving more information about Portland Works is available to download here. It would normally be available for in-person visitors to our Heritage Open Day.

The Friends of Portland Works

Our charitable arm, the Friends of Portland Works, have contributed more than £60,000 towards our restoration projects over recent years. This film is narrated by Mark Pickering, chair of trustees, and showcases some of the most recent projects funded by the Friends. The interview was filmed by Bill Gray.

Learn more at www.friendsofportlandworks.org.

Shelagh’s Sewing Circle

Shelagh’s Sewing Circle is a volunteer group that sews and delivers cotton face masks made from donated fabric to key workers and frontline staff in our local communities, absolutely free of cost. Portland Works has been delighted to donate the use of it’s Makerspace events room during the lockdown period to this great cause.

Find out more about their work in the film below and and at www.shelaghssewingcircle.org.uk.

Thank you

I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this Heritage Open Day online event. Thanks to those who have agreed to be filmed, made the films, written scripts and been interviewed, and submitted their photographs for the exhibition.

Please visit our online store where you will also find a donation button if you feel able to support Portland Works in its care of this wonderful building.

I really hope you have enjoyed your virtual visit and get the opportunity to visit in person at future Heritage Open Day events.  Thank you all for your support.

Stella Howe
Education and outreach officer

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