There’s nowhere quite like Neepsend’s mix of trendy and traditional businesses - as The Mowbray shows.
This new conference and meeting venue, which is also home to a design company, is next door to CTW Hardfacing and opposite EE Ingleton Engineering.
It is among a growing number of firms creating a neighbourhood where Victoria Works Performing Arts and Circus Space is next door to Thomas Flinn and Co saw manufacturers and PJ McAnearney machine tools is just down from Campbell’s Flowers and FTF Sound Systems.
But while cheap rents and the short walk to the city centre and Kelham Island will account for some, The Mowbray is there for another reason.
The bosses wanted to be shoulder to shoulder with the “realness of people grafting, because we are too,” according to co-owner Sally Hubbard.
“Down here you can hear some good hammering and clanging sometimes, it’s part of the area. We are not hiding where we are, it’s in all our photos, it’s who we are.
“There’s a certain romance to the area. The thing we really like is it feels a bit wild and spontaneous. It’s a bit off the beaten track.”
Inside, where you can’t hear the noise, the decor also reflects an appreciation of manufacturing. It is ‘industrial chic’ and features brick, metalwork, bare wood and glass.
The firm has a workshop, also in Neepsend, and made or revamped many items. It also had a policy of having everything designed and made within a mile of the building, handing out work to 10 local companies.
Sally added: “We believe in supporting local businesses, there are some incredible manufacturers and artisans. It feels good. I’m proud to say we support people in Sheffield. It’s a working relationship we have had on all the projects we push through 93ft.”
93ft is a 20-strong design company housed in the mezzanine. The Mowbray is a showcase for its speciality of revamping industrial buildings.
It found fame recently, winning awards for its interior design of Sheffield marketing firm Jaywing’s headquarters in the former Albert Works forge on Sydney Street.
Sally added: “There’s a real interest in repurposing old buildings. One hundred came to a breakfast event here, including the guys from over the road. People are really curious. Reclaimed items have stood the test of time, sometimes for 100 years. You know it’s not going to fall to bits.”
Sally, Tim Hubbard and her brother Nick Clark are co-owners of both companies. They also own the Chimney House venue in Kelham Island, another revamped industrial building, although smaller.
Sally added: “Doing that gave us the confidence we could do this.”
The Mowbray was built in 1889 as a steel and iron merchants.
It was designed to look like a Methodist chapel, reflecting the religion of owner Robert Huntley.
More recently it was a secondhand furniture warehouse but fell into dilapidation and when Sally and co bought it in 2014 it was a wreck.
“It was fully derelict, the roof had caved in. It had to have a lot of work and all new windows and a new mezzanine.”
Three years and hundreds of thousands of pounds later it can seat 200.
The Mowbray is proving popular and 93ft’s awards - including a RIBA national gong - have opened doors, Sally states.
Neepsend is on the up.
PROUD TO USE BUSINESSES WITHIN A MILE TO SUPPORT SHEFFIELD
The Mowbray team fitted out the building using businesses within a mile radius.
Local firms also helped the company supply 1,000 items to London hotel The Pilgrim, designed inside by 93ft.
They include Garretty Glass, Chop Shop for plywood, W.Wright cutlery, Mini Anchor fabrications, Two Brothers for powder coating, loud speakers from FTF Sound, Broadblast for shot blasting and Ingleton Fabrication.
Projects in the pipeline include revamps of South Yorkshire Housing Association’s base on Rockingham Street and a new office for Redbrik estate agents.