Restoration work has begun on one of Sheffield’s most important industrial heritage sites.
Sipelia Works, close to Sheffield’s Canal Basin, is now the home of Emmaus Sheffield, the working community with quality, self-contained accommodation, training facilities and a workspace for previously homeless men and women aged 18 years and over.
But its story goes back to the very early days of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of the city’s steel industry.
Built for industrialists Eyre, Ward & Co between 1850 and 1855, it then became part of Sheaf Works, which was built by William Greaves & Sons in 1825 and was the first integrated steel works in Sheffield, the base for a revolution in the process of making cutlery and edge tools.
In the 1930s the works were acquired by the Sipel brothers – hence its present name – German Jewish cutlers who had escaped persecution in their home country.
This family firm, which was headed by the daughter of one of the original brothers following their retirement, continued to trade until the mid 1970s when, like many Sheffield firms they became unable to compete with the cutlery industry of the far east.
The site is now the home of the Emmaus Sheffield community – as well as the popular Emmaus Sheffield Second Hand Superstore – and it is the charity that has come up with the £30,000 needed for vital work to save one of the site’s main buildings.
“We have had to begin work on securing the roof because there was some very bad leaking that was starting to affect the fabric of the whole building,” said the charity’s Community Manager Charley Fedorenko.
“What many of our visitors may not realise is that this is a Grade II listed building, one of the few sites to have survived the Industrial revolution more or less intact and we see it as very much part of our duty to maintain it for future generations.
“Water was coming though the roof to such a severe extent that it was freezing in the walls and making cracks.
“It’s a massive task but now the work has started we are beginning to explore how we utilise this part of the complex in the future.
“We are certainly looking at ways in which the space, once secured from the elements, can be used to extend the facilities for our companions, possibly creating better community space for them to enjoy.”