Former Sanderson's Darnall Steelworks and Don Valley Glassworks, Darnall Road


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Former Sanderson's Darnall Steelworks and Don Valley Glassworks, Darnall Road
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 38488 88386

Reasons for Designation

By the late 19th century, Sheffield was one of the world's most influential industrial cities. Underpinning its manufacturing base was the quality of the steel it produced contributing to the international success of the city's cutlery and edge-tool industries. A particularly significant development in this supremacy was the invention, by Benjamin Huntsman in 1745, of crucible steel: cast steel produced using crucible furnaces. This technique allowed the production of high quality carbon steel of superior quality to blister steel that was produced in cementation furnaces. This major technological innovation secured Sheffield's economic position as a major metal trades centre; the two manufacturing processes (cementation and crucible) together were known as the 'Sheffield Methods'. By 1843 Sheffield was producing 90% of British steel and almost 50% of European output. Although by later in the 19th century other countries had developed bulk steelmaking industries which outstripped Sheffield in terms of quantity, the city retained its reputation for quality with a wide range of special steels, the preferred means of production remaining the crucible process which continued to be used up until the 1970s. In 1860 there were over 200 cementation furnaces in Sheffield of which only a single example, in Hoyle Street, still survives in complete form. Over half of their output of blister steel was then converted to crucible steel in large numbers of crucible shops spread across the city. Darnall's large crucible shop and continuous range of four small interconnecting crucible shops with their ancillary rooms are unique survivals in Britain. The large crucible shop is the sole remaining example of a building used to produce the quantity of crucible steel required for large-scale castings, a method which was generally superseded by new methods of bulk steel production in the later 19th century. Small crucible shops are also rare survivals with only fifteen other small crucible shops remaining in the Sheffield area. None of these other examples are organised as an integrated unit as are the four at Darnall, and few are of such a complete state of survival. Although long disused, the features that provide the technological and historical interest of these buildings all survive well. The national importance of the monument is further heightened by the in situ survival of archaeological remains. This includes the remains of the Siemens gas fired crucible shop with its gas plant which are of particular national significance because no other surviving remains of a gas fired works are known to survive in the country. The archaeological remains of the 1830s steel works are also of particular interest as they will allow an understanding of the development of steel production through the mid 19th century, complementing the evidence provided by the later standing buildings. Any surviving remains related to the cementation furnaces will be of particular importance given the very rare survival of such furnaces nationally. The surviving standing structures including the offices, boundary wall and entrance buildings, contribute significantly to the site by allowing an appreciation of the character and appearance of the original works, as well as an understanding of its organisation. Any deposits of waste materials and discarded tools and equipment will retain technological information that will compliment surviving documentary evidence. The Don Glass Works dates from a period of rapid growth in the glass industry, when technological advances facilitated the mass production of glass for a growing market. Glass has been produced in England since the Roman period, although field evidence is scarce until the late medieval period. From the early 17th century there was a change in the fuel generally used from wood to coal resulting in a shift in glass production centres to the coalfields, Sheffield and Barnsley being important areas for the industry nationally. The manufacturing process involves three stages, fritting, melting and annealing. Fritting was a common practice before the 19th century involving heating the main glass constituents to produce an unmolten material for grinding, melting and annealing. Melting involved the remelting of previously formed glass, and the production of new glass from raw materials. Until the late 19th century, glass was normally melted in pre-fired crucibles of refractory clay, within the melting furnace. These melting furnaces were typically circular with below ground flue systems which, from the mid 18th century onwards, were covered by distinctive conical structures known as glass cones. Only four standing examples of glass cones survive in Britain. The third process is annealing: because the rapid cooling of molten glass can give rise to internal stresses, glass was treated in furnaces designed to heat the glass to a point where deformation begins, then cooled gradually. Limited archaeological work at the Don Glass Works site in 2005 confirmed that there is good potential for the survival of significant buried remains such as the lower level of the glass cone complete with its below ground flue system and other furnace features, together with ancillary buildings and deposits of glassmaking waste and other material. This archaeological potential combined with the documentary evidence for the site justifies its inclusion within the scheduling. The association of the glassworks with the establishment of Darnall steelworks provides additional interest with the potential for surviving evidence of the cross fertilisation of technology between glass and steel production in the mid 19th century. Taken as a whole the monument represents a uniquely well preserved, nationally important complex tracing the evolution of the site from an early 19th century glassworks to a 20th century steelmaking centre.


The monument includes standing, earthwork and associated buried remains of a steelworks established in the late 1830s, as well as the buried remains of a late eighteenth century glassworks. The site retains its original boundaries to the north (Darnall Road), east (Wilfrid Road) and south, but has been partly truncated to the west in the 20th century by later steel works and other redevelopment. HISTORY Originally agricultural land in the 18th century, the Don Glassworks is possibly the glassworks that was advertised for rent in the 1793 Sheffield Register. It first appears, but is not named, on a survey of 1795 which matches a more detailed plan of 1819. This 1819 plan labels the glassworks and shows other details such as a short terrace of houses within the work's plot to the east of the glass cone. In 1835 the glassworks was leased by Sanderson Brothers, one of Sheffield's largest steel producers, who then established Darnall Steelworks on adjacent land to the south. It is thought that Sanderson Brothers leased the glassworks to aid their steel business, learning from glass manufacturing technology, possibly adapting the glass cone into a cementation furnace. However the glassworks, still shown by the 1853 Ordnance Survey map, reverted to glass manufacture by 1859 under the management of Melling, Carr and Co., and ceased production, with the demolition of the glass cone, by 1905. Sanderson's 1830s steelworks complex, incorporating both cementation and crucible furnaces, was depicted in a contemporary illustration and shown on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map. After Sanderson's became a limited company in 1869, they abandoned their works at West Street, Sheffield, and expanded their operations at Darnall. Additional land was purchased and further crucible furnaces and administrative buildings were built in 1871-2. This included two parallel ranges of small, single storey crucible shops with a large crucible shop to the south. All of these shops were coke-fired, providing a total of 132 melting holes, the large shop housing 48 melting holes, with the small shops having 12 each. In 1873-4 a Siemens gas-fired crucible shop, complete with an adjacent gas production plant, was built to the west of the large coke fired shop. This gas-fired shop was about the same size as the coke-fired large shop and provided the equivalent capacity of 60 coke-fired melting holes. In 1934 Sanderson's passed their Darnall works to Kayser Ellison, the operators of the steelworks on land immediately to the west that was established in 1913. Kayser Ellison used electric arc furnaces and although they operated the older Darnall works plant for a while, soon switched to all-electric melting, expanding their works with the demolition of the 1830s cementation furnaces, which had been working into the 1920s, and the western range of small 1870s crucible shops. In 1960 a company merger resulted in the whole complex being operated by Sanderson Kayser Ltd. Following the merger, the gas-fired plant was demolished, but its site was not redeveloped and significant buried remains are believed to still survive in situ. Alterations were also made to some of the small crucible shops, such as widening of doorways and removal of interior fittings, to adapt them for re-use as stores. By the end of the 20th century steel production had ceased at Darnall with the surviving 19th century buildings either derelict or used for storage. The monument has been the subject of a number of archaeological, building recording and historical studies. This includes survey and small scale evaluation excavations of the glassworks site and the 1830s steelworks which confirmed the survival of in situ archaeological remains. The standing crucible shop buildings were recorded by English Heritage in 2003 and the whole complex, including the former Kayser Ellison Works to the west of the monument, was the subject of a pilot study (from 2004), for the Government's review of Heritage Protection Legislation. More detailed description of the various parts of the monument can be found in these earlier studies. DESCRIPTION Access to the Sanderson's Works was from Darnall Road, close to the junction with Wilfrid Road. Extending inside from the boundary wall flanking the entrance is a 2-storey gate lodge and a single-storey weighbridge office. Both are believed to date to the 1870s and are included in the scheduling as well as being Listed at Grade II. The boundary wall, which also extends up Wilfrid Road and is thought to date to this time, is also included in the scheduling. A short distance up the hill to the south east of the main entrance is the two-storey former office building. This Grade II listed building, again included in the scheduling, also formed part of the 1870s expansion of the works. Probably designed to impress clients, it has some architectural embellishment provided by Venetian windows and other decorative features. The glassworks, with its ancillary yards and related buildings, occupied the area of the monument to the west of the steelworks entrance. The eastern part of the glassworks plot shown on the 1795 map was later given over to housing, probably for workers employed at the glass and steelworks, but possibly also including small scale workshops. This area is considered to include archaeological deposits related to the earliest phases of the glassworks and is thus also included in the scheduling. Following the demolition of the glassworks, its site was occupied by an edged tool works which has also been subsequently demolished along with the former housing. However, ground surfaces here have been raised so that significant in situ remains of the glassworks and other features related to the use of the site by the steelmakers Sanderson Brothers are believed to survive over much of this area. A small scale evaluation excavation in 2004 confirmed survival of in situ remains. The 1830s steelworks was formed around a rectangular yard just up hill to the south west of the later office building. Forming the north western side of the yard was a building housing four cementation furnaces which was demolished sometime after 1935. On the opposite side of the yard was a range including six crucible shops, probably each with 6 melting holes. Although these shops were demolished before 1891, archaeological investigation in 2002 demonstrated the in situ survival of their vaulted cellars, including large quantities of crucible and other steel manufacturing material. Within the area of the monument, land surface levels have not generally been lowered. Further significant remains of the 1830s steelworks are thus considered to survive archaeologically and are included in the scheduling. Uphill and to the south west of the 1830s steelworks, the two parallel ranges of small crucible shops were constructed in the early 1870s. The longer, eastern range still survives as standing buildings (listed at Grade II*) and are included in the scheduling. The western range has been demolished with most of its former footprint lying outside the area of the monument, within a part of the original site where the land surface has been significantly reduced. The surviving eastern range is complete with only minor alterations. It is single storey, brick built, and is of 23 bays stepping up the hillside. In plan the range consists of four crucible shops with eleven ancillary rooms, all linked internally by a passageway running behind the front wall, accessed from the yard through doorways at various points in the front elevation. The layout suggests that the row worked both as a series of individually accessed industrial units (the crucible shops, each with its own charge room) but also sharing resources, particularly the manufacture of crucibles and storage space. Each crucible shop had two opposing stacks built transversely across the row, with the main casting floor between where the molten steel was cast into moulds. Each stack has flues for six melting holes where the crucibles were heated to melt the steel, and one of the pair also has an annealing furnace, (a lower temperature furnace used for tempering or hardening the steel). The southernmost crucible shop retains its iron plate floor covering, infilled melting holes and casting pits, along with hatches providing access to the cellars which contain the ash-pits for the melting holes. Crucibles, hand-made out of refractory clay and other clays, lasted at most a day in use and consequently their constant manufacture was an integral part of the functioning of crucible steelworks. Many of the ancillary rooms are related to their manufacture. At the centre of the row is a wet clay store which is flanked by two pot shops where the crucibles were made. These pot shops also separate the wet clay store from any heat source. Between each pair of crucible shops are two unlit narrow bays which are thought to have been crucible curing rooms, utilising the heat from the cross walls formed by adjacent stacks to dry out the crucibles prior to use. On the other side of each crucible shop is a charge room for the storage of fuel for the furnaces. Other ancillary rooms were probably used for general storage. At the south end of the range of small crucible shops are a further four bays which form ancillary rooms to the large crucible shop that extends to the north west and which is also Grade II* Listed as well as being included in the scheduling. This double height building was designed to enable the casting of large items using the continuous teeming method, whereby a large number of crucibles were poured in rapid succession into a single mould. The large shop allowed an increase in the scale of castings by having a greater number of melting holes next to a larger working floor than provided in the smaller crucible shops. The internal arrangement is also different in that the stacks run lengthways, rather than across the building, and are inset from the outer walls so that narrow side aisles are formed between the stacks and the outer sidewalls. Most of the internal space of the building is taken up by the large casting floor, served by a timber crane and flanked by 48 evenly spaced melting holes, 24 each side divided into two groups of 12 either side of a central arched opening through the stacks. At both ends of each stack there is also an annealing furnace. On the lower inner face of the stacks are three rows of metal brackets for shelving, on which the crucible pots would have stood before use. Further shelf brackets and other features survive on the other side of the stacks within the narrow side aisles which formed ancillary rooms. Two cellars, accessed from outside the building, run longitudinally underneath the melting floor and contain individual ash-pits for the melting holes above. The building was entered by three symmetrically-placed doorways in the front, north eastern, elevation and the centrally-placed north-west gable doorway. The four ancillary rooms to the south east of the crucible shop include a pot shop, a wet clay store and a charge room, with a room of unknown use in the south-eastern corner containing two inserted furnaces. The pot shop, where crucibles were manufactured, retains its stone-built treading tray where clay was processed by being trodden under foot. It also retains the brackets for storage shelving for new crucibles. To the west of the large crucible shop was the 1873-4 Siemens gas-fired crucible shop with its associated gas production plant. Part of the rear wall still survives, acting as a retaining wall to the hillside to the south. Cellars, wall footings and other features of technological interest of both the crucible shop and gas plant are considered to survive as in situ archaeological remains. Evidence of these structures has been revealed during various groundwork operations in recent years and they are thus included within the scheduling. To the west of the site of the gas plant is an infilled former quarry which is shown as being part of the steelworks on historic maps. This area is specifically included within the scheduling for its potential for retaining large quantities of discarded tools, waste and other material from the steelworks. These deposits also have the potential of retaining highly significant technological information about steel production in the 19th to 20th centuries that will complement documentary evidence. The original southern boundary of the works was just beyond the south exterior walls of the large crucible shops. The boundary of the monument follows this original works boundary to include evidence of any auxiliary structures as well as to ensure future access to the rear wall of buildings included in the scheduling for maintenance purposes.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Desk based assessment, ARCUS, Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of Darnall Works, (2002)
Desk based assessment, ARCUS, Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of Darnall Works, (2002)
EH Architectural Investigation, Nicola Wray, Darnall Works, Reports and Papers B/001/2003, (2003)
Evaluation Report, ARCUS, Archaeological Field Evaluation at Darnall Works, (2006)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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