Portland Works history began in the 19th century with the construction of the building on Randall Street in the ‘John Street Triangle’, now a heritage conservation area. The Works is one of the last remaining working examples of a purpose built metal trades factory, most other similar buildings having being demolished or converted into flats and offices.
Commissioned in 1876 and completed by 1879, the building is little changed since then, only the showroom area and some extensions being added later. In 1914 Mosley’s became the first place to make stainless steel cutlery, in a collaboration between Harry Brearley and works manager Ernest Stuart. ‘Rusnorstain’ cutlery became famous and continued to be made at the works until the 1950s.
Today, some of the metal trade businesses that operate within the works still use original machinery and tools that have been there since the beginning. Andy Cole Tools (formerly Wigfull), Stuart Mitchell Knives, Shaw Engravings, PML Plating and Pam Hague Engineering continue to use and preserve these elements of the Works.
Since 2013 a volunteer team have been renovating the building, sadly ravaged by half a century of neglect. It’s a tribute to the original builders that much of the fabric can be rescued.