Report - Cannon Brewery, Sheffield, September 2015

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28DL Regular User
Regular User
Jan 15, 2013
It’s funny. You’re never a tourist at home right? Ironic that it’s taken up until now for me to do this place. It is one of the Sheffield Big 3 along with the former Law Courts and GBs. But the fact that the go-ahead as been given to demolish the former Stone’s Brewery in Neepsend finally pushed me to get my act together and explore this trashed but fascinating place. The place has been done to death but not that much recently so here’s the history bit again as a refresh.

The origins of Stones beer goes right back to 1847 when Joseph Watts of Dewsbury and William Stones (1827 -1894) of Sheffield began brewing together at the Cannon Brewery in Sheffield's Shalesmoor district. The name is most likely come from the nearby foundry that cast gun barrels. The Cannon Brewery site itself was the original premises of Shepherd, Green & Hatfield who started to brew here back in 1838 back when the area was still a respectable residential district. However, in 1868 Stones took over the lease from SG&H and renamed it the Cannon Brewery after its original premises in Shalesmoor. In 1894 William Stones died and left the brewery to his cashier James Haynes and Richard Wigfull, a corn miller. The following year Stones was incorporated and the brewery was equipped with an expensive plant, stores and cellars, covered and open yards, offices, stabling and workshops. The marketing and sales offices on the brewery site were completed in 1958. Another addition was a new half-a-million pound 5-storey brew-house building which was operational by 1962, representing one of the most up-to-date in the UK. An on-site pub followed two years later in 1964. Built in the basement of the brewery, it was initially called The Underground, but was later renamed The Pig and Whistle. At the brewery’s peak it was producing 50,000 hecto-litres of cask-conditioned Stones per annum.

Things were about to change though. Bass purchased Stones for £9 million (about £140 m in today’s money) in 1967 in what was termed a ‘friendly takeover’. Initially they retained the production of the popular Stones Bitter. However in 1970 Bass suggested that the Cannon Brewery might be shut down. The continuing popularity of Stones Bitter though ensured the Cannon brewery survived for the time being. The office building was sold off in 1985 and latterly occupied by an accountancy firm. In 1992 a visitor's centre building was opened and three years later the brewery became an unlikely film set for the film “When Saturday Comes” (starting Sean Bean as a hard-drinking brewery worker with aspirations of playing for his beloved Sheffield United).

Sadly, though, the inevitable happened and Bass closed the brewery in April 1999, citing the decline in sales of cask conditioned ales. The closure resulted in the loss of 57 jobs while allowing Bass realise efficiency savings of around £1 million. Since then site has become increasingly trashed as a decade and a half of abandonment has taken its toll. In August 2015 the City Council approved an application by site owners Hague Plant to demolish and redevelop the site.

Visited with non-member S-Kempy. In terms of the place as an explore, for me, it was fantastic. Although it is trashed the graffiti certainly adds something and the sheer size of the place means you can always find something of interest. I had real trouble editing the photos down to a manageable level for this report. And here they are.

The first thing that greets you is the brewery gates:

img1907 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And we’re in…

img1775 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This trailer isn’t going anywhere fast…

img1779 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A few clues as to the site’s former use:

img1785 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Was this water storage tower?

img1789 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Here’s the five-storey brew-house

img1790 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The main yard is a bit of a mess:

img1795 by HughieDW, on Flickr

OK…that’s were we’re heading!

img1799 by HughieDW, on Flickr

So…into the brew-house…

img1815 by HughieDW, on Flickr

He’s the brewery’s logo on a surviving window:

img1819 by HughieDW, on Flickr

These are the stairs up to where the vats were:

img1820 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And this is where the vats were:

img1822 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The view across from the third floor to the other side of the site:

img1829 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wires from the wall:

img1831 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And here’s the lift motor at the top on floor five:

img1832 by HughieDW, on Flickr

But it’s all about that staircase:

img1839 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Perhaps not this way down…

img1846 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In the building next to the brewhouse:

img1847 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1850 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Worker’s lockers:

img1851 by HughieDW, on Flickr

There’s loads of graff. Some good, some bad, some extraordinary. Won’t bore you with it all but this piece was quirky:

img1855 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On into the “Conditioned Beer Dept”

img1859 by HughieDW, on Flickr

OK, there’s some rather cool graff there!

img1873 by HughieDW, on Flickr

I do like a bit of Colorquix:

img1874 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Loving these old take-out casks:

img1887 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This place is near the visitors centre. Strange thing? Completely devoid of tags/graff etc:

img1900 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And it’s still about the staircases over this side of the site:

img1904 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Down in the basement it’s looking a tad untidy:

img1905 by HughieDW, on Flickr

But look at this beaut!

img1906 by HughieDW, on Flickr

OK…that’s enough. Will just leave you with this external of the brewhouse:

img1908 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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