Report - - Atkinson Walker Saws, Falcon Works, Sheffield, May 2019 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Atkinson Walker Saws, Falcon Works, Sheffield, May 2019


feeling drained?
Regular User

As far as explores of Sheffield tool makers go, this place is no George Barnsleys, or even Stanley Tools, but it's still worth a look. In spite of the fact that it's pretty much an empty space I was quite taken with it, prompting me to put some time into researching the history.

Falcoln Works is located in the Kelham Island area of Sheffield. There’s currently a planning application for demolition and - surprise surprise - replacement with multi-storey residential accommodation:

"Demolition of existing buildings and erection of 4-storey building comprising 88 no residential apartments and 2 no commercial units and associated infrastructure including bicycle/refuse storage"
(Source: https://planningapps.sheffield.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=PN6KLFNYFKX00 )

On the plus side, the planning application has resulted in a really comprehensive historical survey of the building. It's available in full (link below) but I'll summarise some of the relevant bits. The report also features a load of external photos, so I won't put too many on here.

'The standing buildings of the mid-20th-century Falcon Works include workshops that were purpose-built as a saw manufactory. The buildings, including offices in the southern part of the site, are legible as mid-20th-century light industrial worlds and their role in post-war redevelopment of the wider historic urban landscape is likely to be reality understood. The standing buildings therefore do provide evidence of the type of historic light industrial activity that occurred within the site and could be said to make a contribution to a specific historic landscape…

A short section of wall constructed from handmade bricks survives within the east elevation… This material is likely to be a remnant of the early 19th-century houses that were constructed between 1808 and 1815.

The mid-20th-century Falcon Works include buildings that were purpose built as a saw manufactory and other light industrial units, such as the former Alma Firewood Factory, that were converted for the manufacture of saws.'

(Source: https://planningapps.sheffield.gov.uk/online-applications/files/29217F89F500E749F7D1C3D157D52F5E/pdf/19_00622_FUL-HERITAGE_REPORT-1324057.pdf )

The building as it stands now originally housed R. H. Walker and Sons, who became Atkinson Walker. An archived version of the Atkinson Walker website details the history of the firm as follows:

“We are one of the leading UK manufacturers of high quality Tungsten Carbide Tipped circular saw blades, incorporating modern equipment and techniques alongside the traditional skills of saw making.

Our founder Richard Henry Walker (b1864) worked in the Sheffield Saw Industry from 1880. He and his son, John, started R H Walker and Son Limited during the 1930s. Ownership and control of the company has remained in the Walker family ever since. In 1937 part of the present site in Cotton Mill Row was taken over to enlarge the premises and in the early 1940s a Cardiff company, Atkinson & Co (Saws) Limited, was taken over by R H Walker.”

This factory was closed in 1954 and handsaw, bandsaw and circular saw blade production consolidated in Sheffield. Further premises were acquired on Bower Street and R H Walker and Son incorporated into the current trading title of Atkinson-Walker (Saws) Limited in 1975. Still based at the centre of Sheffield's heritage area, Atkinson-Walker (Saws) currently employs 20 people and is managed by Chris Walker and his wife, Marg.”

( Source: http://www.wikiville.org.uk/dead-sites-96/history.html )

The company went into administration in February 2018. However, the company was then bought out by ‘Sheffield Industrial Saws’. Thirteen jobs were saved and the company moved to new premises in Sheffield, leaving this place empty.

Sources ( https://www.thegazette.co.uk/notice/2967660
https://www.awsaws.uk/ )

This advert is for Atkinson Saws, just a couple of years before they were taken over by Walker's (albeit when they were still located in Cardiff). Check out the nice trademark on the blade.

( https://gracesguide.co.uk/File:Im1951Benn-Atkinson.jpg )

And here's a more recent pic I found, taken of the smithing workshop (that's the room in the first pic and the next pic in this report) whilst the works were still operational, where the work was done by hand on the saw blades. Elsewhere I found a video (https://sawfest.co.uk/saw-smithing/2018/03/04/lighting-when-smithing-saws/) explaining that the lights in this room were angled towards the blinds, and the back wall painted black, in order to achieve the right lighting conditions for working with the saws.

( source: http://workshopheaven.blogspot.com/2013/12/hand-smythed-saws.html )

I had been meaning to try out an old film camera for quite some time, but it was a recent report by @Olkka elsewhere on the forums that actually made me seek out the right batteries to get it working. So, I'll start with the 35mm film pics I took...










And now onto digital (I didn't trust myself or the camera enough to rely on it solely this time) taken mainly with my phone...

Outside... The offices at this end weren't accessible.



Perhaps most interesting on the outside was the barely visible ghost signage on the other end of the building.



And back inside...


Steps worn by years of feet going up and down.


Not much upstairs other than these shelves...


The range and more shelving.


And a few more bits and pieces...








Workplace bantz


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Irresponsible & Reckless
Regular User
Fantastic report mate. What a great place with some interesting history too. Nice that in the end 13 jobs we’re saved, that makes a nice change.

The old archive shot of your man working on that huge circular saw blade though. Jesus! I thought my DeWalt chop saw blade was big enough ha.

35mm shots are lovely.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The number of times ive walked past this place and wondered what it was like inside thanks for posting a great report.


feeling drained?
Regular User
Fantastic report mate. What a great place with some interesting history too. Nice that in the end 13 jobs we’re saved, that makes a nice change.
Thanks, and yeah it’s good to know that they’re still making massive saws elsewhere in the city!

The old archive shot of your man working on that huge circular saw blade though. Jesus! I thought my DeWalt chop saw blade was big enough ha.
Check this one out too! Mansize saws R us.


35mm shots are lovely.
I was happy with how these turned out so will defo use again.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sad to hear that has gone.

A little empty but enough left to make it look a decent mooch. Great report!


Regular User
Great stuff. The old photos really add a lot. Am I allowed to use the word 'ghost'?....the ghost signs are wonderful.