Report - - Eyewitness Works, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, July 2019 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Eyewitness Works, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, July 2019


28DL Regular User
Regular User
1. The History
Taylor's Eye Witness Works is situated on Milton Street in the Devonshire Quarter of Sheffield. It’s a Grade II listed building which since its foundation in 1852 has specialised in producing kitchen and pocket knives. It was believed to be the only traditional works left in Sheffield still manufacturing original products, before its recent closure. Taylor founded a knife and edge tools firm in 1820 in the Netherthorpe area of the city. In 1838 Taylor applied for and was granted the Eye Witness trademark and in 1852 moved to the newly built Eye Witness Works on Milton Street. The works were driven by steam power and the 40-foot chimney stack remains in place today. Upon the death of John Taylor in 1854 the firm passed to his daughter who had married into the Needham family who were also knife producers.

Illustration from 1897:

Ey Witness Old 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And an old picture of the workshops from the same year:

Ey Witness Old 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The company became known as Needhams Ltd, before merging with forces with James Veall in 1876 and Tyzack’s in 1879 to form Needham, Veall & Tyzack. In 1870 the firm only employed 30 people, but after 20 years of rapid growth it employed several hundred people by the 1890s. In 1875, the Eye Witness Works were extended into three storeys and the firm become a limited company in 1897 with capital of £60,000. After the First World War the firm was hit by a downturn in demand due to the invention of stainless steel. However, it mechanised its production process and started to expand again, taking over several well-known Sheffield cutlery companies to the extent that new buildings were added on Thomas Street in 1950. Changing its name to Taylor’s Eye Witness in 1965, ten year’s later it was acquired by 1975 Harrison Fisher & Co who retained the Taylor’s Eye Witness brand name for many of its products as well as producing "own label" goods for department stores including John Lewis, Tesco and Sainsbury's. Finally, in June 2007, Harrison Fisher & Co Ltd changed its name to Taylors Eye Witness Limited.

An advertisement for the Taylor's Eye Witness Works from the 1890s:

800px-Taylor's_Eye_Witness_advertisement by HughieDW, on Flickr

With the company now having vacated the building and having moved to new premises the works will be subject to a £21m restoration along with Ceylon Works and the construction of a six-storey building on the site that was formerly home to the Brunswick Hotel. CAPITAL&CENTRIC, the developers, state that ““There will be a mix of one, two and three bedroomed apartments and townhouses which will encourage and promote a real broad demographic to the area to help build a long-term sustainable community in this part of Sheffield.” As at July 2019 the clearing and demolition of parts of the works is under way.

2. The Explore
A bit of an up-date on this site, post-viewing the Phlegm exhibition entitled “Mausoleum of Giants” which found a temporary home in the old works a few months back. There isn’t much scope for looking round the whole factory as the site is very much live with the demo company doing their work. Managed to sneak a few shots on the ground floor but the other floors had workers from the demo company on. Shame that no one has managed a full explore of this place prior to the partial demo/conversion of this historical works.

3. The Pictures
A few externals. This bit dates back to 1950:

20190720_095457 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Eye witness 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094744 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094717 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Eye witness 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Round the side:

Eye witness 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Eye witness 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And view from the back:

20190720_095303 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094636 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_093859 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Round the front:

20190720_095146 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094245 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094148 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And some internals:

20190720_095039 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094925 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094522 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Stripping the rads out:

20190720_094425 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20190720_094335 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The old pressing machine:

img9929bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9925 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9909 by HughieDW, on Flickr


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Good explore mate, I had a peek around the outside not too long ago. good to see there is some way in (which I think I might have seen)
keep up the good work!


Super Moderator
Staff member
How disappointing... always hoped this would be the last great explore of the cutlery trade, it never really lived up to that.

I really hope someone makes it in there with the time to properly get to look round it, sadly time is not on my side at the moment to have a go


28DL Regular User
Regular User
I thought this was getting converted some time ago. Where’s the massive press ?? Good report non the less


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Very sad the way all these old works are getting converted to apartments. Not many places left now for the little mesters to work.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
very very few little mesters left now anyway, one of them who once worked there is doing very well indeed, but it was a long time since that place had a little mester in the true sense of the word. i hate to see these places converted from what they once was, but at least the building hasn't been abandoned, abused by ferals, left to rot before getting squshed like so many over places in Sheffield, and also at the least the company that was there once is doing as well as ever and in new modern premises.

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