Sheffield’s heritage in £2.2m lottery win

An artist impression of the new Cathedral entrance
An artist impression of the new Cathedral entrance

TWO of Sheffield’s oldest and best known landmarks are to receive a total of £2.2m from the lottery to help give them a new lease of life, it is announced today, writes Peter Kay.

The Anglican Cathedral is being given more than £1.3m towards a new entrance and improvements inside the building.

A grant of just under £900,000 to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet will pay for the restoration of waterwheels and other machinery and help make the complex more interesting and attractive to visitors.

Support for the grade I listed buildings is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Fiona Spiers, head of the fund for Yorkshire and the Humber, described the announcement as “fantastic news for Sheffield, as we see two of the city’s much-loved heritage sites awarded funding to improve their visitor experience and bring them alive for the next generation.

“A stunning Cathedral, dating back to 1430, and an 18th century steelworks, a rare time capsule from a bygone industrial age, will now offer exciting opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in the heritage on their doorstep.”

The £1,337,600 for the Cathedral will finance 60% of its ‘Place for All People Project’, which will see the 1960s main entrance glazed in and a new entrance created to ensure level access to new learning and exhibition spaces.

It will also enable an expansion of the Cathedral’s learning activities programme for children and adults, training for staff and volunteers and a new lighting system.

The scheme is part of the ‘Gateway Project’, which also aims to provide new heating, flooring and seating in the main body of the Cathedral and to install a pipe organ.

The Dean, the Very Rev Peter Bradley, said: “Sheffield Cathedral has worked for many years to become a ‘place for all people’.

“This significant HLF grant will now make it possible for that vision to become a reality. The grant will be used to build a thrilling new entrance, full of light, so that it is much easier to come into the building. Just as importantly, working with the HLF and our other partners, we will now be able to develop many new ways for visitors, especially young people, to access, understand and enjoy our common heritage.”

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, which holds its annual steam gathering this weekend, is receiving £895,700, which amounts to 90% of the cost of a project to revitalise the complex off Abbeydale Road South, which features many listed 18th and 19th century buildings and was in use until the 1930s.

The future of the Scheduled Ancient Monument was once in doubt in the hands of the council, but it has been managed by Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust since 1998 and currently gives 30,000 visitors a year a glimpse of the city’s industrial heritage.

It features the only intact crucible steel furnace in the world, along with other industrial buildings and former workers’ cottages.

But the trust is keen to attract more visitors and improve the experience.

The lottery grant will mean that the waterwheels and other machinery can be saved and brought back into working order.

A heritage and learning centre will be built to provide interpretation for visitors and training programmes for volunteers with the aim of encouraging the local community to get involved more in the preservation of traditional skills.

John Hamshere, chief executive of SIMT, said: “We are delighted the bid has been successful. Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is a place of outstanding historical significance and the funding will allow us to preserve the site and help safeguard its future.

“It will enable us to make fundamental changes to the way people can enjoy and engage with the site and allow us to build a team that is experienced in heritage skills and can provide a sustainable solution to maintaining the site’s working machinery in the future.”

The annual Steam Gathering, one of the most popular events on the Abbeydale calendar, is on Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 5pm and will feature steam rollers, traction engines and road locomotives.

It is also an occasion for the showcasing of traditional skills, including demonstrations ranging from charcoal making to iron smelting and traditional forgework.

SIMT events and marketing manager Niki Connolly said: “Steam has played a key role in Sheffield’s industrial heritage and is arguably the most important technology of the industrial revolution.

“We are passionate about Sheffield’s history and our events try to help people embrace it.

The Steam Gathering rounds off what has been a fantastic series of family focused events this year.”

Admission is £3, free for children.