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Kelham Island, Sheffield

Historic England has played a pivotal role in kick-starting the regeneration of the Kelham Island Industrial Conservation Area in Sheffield.

Medieval in origin, it developed into a thriving industrial area from the late 18th century onwards. Its factories produced steel and cutlery for a world market, until the area began to suffer economic decline in the 1980s as a result of the contraction of the steel and cutlery industries, and major competition from the Far East.

By the 1990's, many of Kelham's more significant historic buildings were empty, poorly maintained and deteriorating badly. These included buildings such as the Grade II* Green Lane Works Clock Tower, a former metal trades building and two nearby Grade II listed metal trades complexes. 

How we were able to help

It was clear that action needed to be taken, so in 2012 we added the area to our Heritage at Risk Register and then spearheaded a strategy, in partnership with Sheffield City Council to stimulate the regeneration of Kelham Island.

Horsemann Works with Kelham Island Museum in foreground
Horsemann Works with Kelham Island Museum in foreground

The strategy focussed on three key areas:

  • Halting the decline of key sites and buildings through Urgent Works Notices and urgent works to Council owned buildings.  As a result certain owners carried out the necessary works and, in at least one case, a site has been sold so that development can proceed. 
  • Providing Historic England grant aid for repairs to Green Lane Works Clock Tower and Eagle Works, in the Little Kelham development site.
  • Encouraging developers, who were no longer able or willing to develop the buildings, to sell the site to other prospective developers who might take a more flexible approach to regenerating these sites.

The beginning of Kelham’s renaissance

Today although Kelham Island is still on the At Risk Register, the area is improving fast. 

  • Retail premises that were created in earlier phases of regeneration but remained empty, have now been let.
  • There is a thriving network of real ale pubs, gastro-pubs and restaurants.
  • New apartments and housing have been developed and Citu are now building the second phase of Little Kelham, with a strong emphasis on creating a new community spirit within the area. Historic England worked with Citu over a sustained period, providing grant aid and advice on planning applications.
  • The Green Lane Works Clock Tower and Eagle Works have both been repaired and are being converted into apartments and studio workspace.  
  • The Little Kelham developers have now secured Planning Permission on the former site of Richardson's Cutlery Works. This cleared site with no existing buildings on it will provide more low carbon family housing and other community facilities.

Working closely with the Council, we have also published a book and organised exhibitions to help raise awareness and increase understanding of Sheffield's Metal Trades.

One Great Workshop: The buildings of the Sheffield metal trades

One Great Workshop: The buildings of the Sheffield metal trades

Published 15 December 2001

Summarises the history of Sheffield’s metal trades, describes the processes involved and illustrates the special environment produced by the buildings of the industry. Examines the challenges of finding ways to keep these buildings economically viable.

We also host walking tours of the area for the public and promote the work done at Kelham by running training events there for heritage professionals.

Today Kelham is an economically vibrant area once more.

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