RETRO: Taking a step back to look at the history of the city’s works

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Taking a step back in time, this week we take a look at Sheffield buildings of years gone by.

Today’s subject has nearly been lost by the passing of time and the harsh weather and I bet nobody knows it is there.

It can be read on the right hand stone gate opening of what was Moulson Brothers, steel converters and refiners and manufacturers of saws, files, edge tools and joiners tools on Green Lane.

It has now been incorporated into what was the Brooklyn Works of Alfred Beckett and Sons but this small works was originally called Union Works.

The Moulson name can just be made out on the opposite side of the gateway along with “Established 182-”, the last number has gone.

In the clue picture you can just make out the name Barton, and also Stables can be seen, Edward Barton was a joiner and wheelwright, the sign is high up on the gateway so carters and other customers could easily read it without having to get off their wagons.

Edward was very hard to find after 1856 but his premises, which he must have rented from the Moulson brothers, was taken on by Bown John, shoeing and jobbing smith, he was still there in 1879 but he just falls of the radar.

Moulson brothers pop up in the 1837 directory as working at the Union Works at 49 Division Street, they were producing the same products as they did on Green Lane but they also produced brace and bits and skates.

William Moulson was living at No 15 Victoria Street at this time, his house has gone unfortunately, also at this time Green Lane was more or less an area of public housing or slums as they are now called.

In 1856 Green Lane had only four manufacturers, they were HE Hoole and Co, stove and fender maker; Jasper Hutchinson and Co; plus Deakin and Sons who produced spring knife and surgeons instruments.

There were only thirteen other residents on the lane.

By 1862 the Moulson brothers moved into their new premises on Green Lane and called it Union Works after their old works.

The Union Works is now of the Alfred Beckett’s Brooklyn Works complex, Becketts was another firm that retained their works name when they left 2-4 Beet Street around 1860, previously having works at 211 Portobello Street.

Not long after moving into the new Brooklyn Works, they were hit by the Sheffield flood in 1864, ordinary householders, the poor of Sheffield were never paid what they claimed in damages but the businessmen of the town were paid out in full.

Becketts claimed £123-11s-2d and that’s what they received, while Mary Manuel, a widow of 25 Russell Street, claimed £13 –5s, she received £5. Fairness to all, I don’t think so.

A report at the time said, the works of Messrs Beckett and Slater, steel, saw, and file manufacturers, were injured to a serious extent.

The boundary wall was carried away, and a large steam engine boiler was torn from its bed, and washed down some hundreds of yards into the works of Messrs Wheatman and Smith.

A quantity of machinery was broken to pieces, furnaces were extinguished, and various finished goods were spoiled.

The poor widow lost everything she owned.

The Brooklyn Works were constructed in 1860s for the firm of Alfred Beckett, a manufacturer of steel, saws and files.

The building suffered seriously damaged in March 1864 when the Great Sheffield Flood surged down the Don Valley.

Alfred Beckett and Sons Ltd continued to manufacture at the Brooklyn Works until the mid-1960s using the “Matchless” trademark.

During this time there were several structural additions to the works.

Alfred Beckett and Sons took over several firms of both sorts during their long existence: Crookes Roberts, Charles Gray, Wheatman and Smith, Wm Jackson and Thomas Jowitt, all of which had made saws at some point during their pre-takeover existence, so that a saw with any of these names might have been made by the apparent maker, or by Alfred Beckett.

In 1967 Alfred Beckett and Sons was purchased by the Tempered Spring Company Ltd of Sheffield.

The building stood empty for a period of time and was declared a listed building in November 1985 to protect it from demolition.

In the 1990s the Brooklyn Works were a public relations agency, a firm of solicitors and a web design company.

The firm of AXIS Architecture turned the disused works into residential apartments and offices for small businesses.

Among the small businesses now using the buildings, one stands out and this is Dawson and Sorsby Pig Fanciers and Butterfly Wrestlers, they are still waiting for their first customer.

Green Lane would not be recognisable if any of the former residents had the power to return.

It’s just terrible, flats, flats, flats, where’s our heritage buildings?

The Green Lane Works are getting a makeover but what’s it going to be?

Apartments for the people who can afford them, plus to be renamed Little Kelham, it’s Kelham Island mate and always will be.

Even the Ball Inn is now called The Milestone? Why the change?