Since 2013, the iconic but dilapidated Sheffield cutlery works has been undergoing a transformation. It’ll take a long time, but the aim is to restore the whole Works into decent low-cost workspace where we can promote creativity and small scale manufacturing by skilled craftspeople, and provide opportunities for young people to become the craftspeople of tomorrow. Our work is focused in three key areas.
Portland Works is on Randall Street in the ‘John Street Triangle’, a heritage industrial 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.
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Supporting Our Makers
Portland Works is not just a historical building; it is also a thriving cooperative of craftsmen, artists and small manufacturing. While these “makers” may cover a variety of products, they all share the same essential characteristic. They use their unique skills and experience to produce something that is hand made with pride. This kind of artisanal art and manufacturing feeds the local economy, enriches the cultural heritage of Sheffield and is thriving at Portland Works.
Education and Community
Portland Works has been a host to a number of student projects including working across a number of universities in the UK and Europe, with colleges and with individuals pursuing their own personal research. Our partners have included Tecnische Universitat Munchen, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Birmingham and others.
Students and course leaders from a number of disciplines, including Architecture, Town and Regional Planning, English, History, Journalism, Sustainable Studies, Conservation and Urban Design have worked with us to develop mutually beneficial research. Please contact us if you would like more information on any of these projects- or read more here about what we did.
In autumn 2014, the University-linked Live Project “One Great Workshop” explored energy and making in Sheffield, working in partnership with the AHRC Connected Communities project “Stories of Change”. In 2013 we hosted Masters in Architecture and Architectural Design Students from Sheffield School of Architecture for their Live Project. Their brief was to look at shared spaces within the Works, and help develop the “makers space“. You can read more about this here on their blog. You can download the previous ‘Live Project’ (2011) here.
We also collaborated with Sheffield Hallam University in 2013 and 2014, where students re-developed our website and Facebook pages. A highly successful partnership evolved from this work, and we hope to maintain this in the future.
If you would like to use the Works for educational purposes, these resources may help you refine and develop your ideas. Have a look at what we have already done, and contact us to discuss taking your ideas forward.