£70,000 start for Portland Works

HERITAGE

A CAMPAIGN to save Portland Works – a complex of workshops dating back to 1877 – has raised more than £70,000 since the city’s first community share issue last month.

Over 100 Sheffielders and others have been investing an average of £700 towards the purchase of the building, off Randall Street, near Bramall Lane.

The target is £750,000, through social shares, loans and donations, so that the works can be bought and run as a social enterprise, offering low-cost workshop space to small manufacturing businesses and independent artists and craftspeople. Already campaigners have fought off plans for a conversion to flats.

“We’re really pleased with the initial response,” said Derek Morton, who chairs the committee. “Now we need to grow this support across a wider network of people over the next six months so that we reach our goal by the end of January.

“We’ve a long way to go but already we’re impressed by the generosity of spirit and belief people have in our business plan.”

Anybody who buys shares becomes a member of the society and has the right to vote at AGMs and to influence the project. “We’ve prepared a 25-year business plan and ultimately we aim to return all the money that is sent to us to buy shares. So it’s effectively a long-term loan that people are making to us.”

Stuart Mitchell, who has been making knives at Portland Works since he was apprenticed to his dad there, said: “This is a one-off chance to save something special from Sheffield’s history, keep working space for local businesses and artists and restore the building to share with the people of Sheffield.”

Once the building has been bought, thr group aims to work with the Architectural Heritage Fund, English Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund and other agencies to raise funds. Visit www.portlandworks.co.uk.