Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,686 pages of information and 235,430 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Sheaf Works

From Graces Guide

Maltravers Street, Sheffield


The 1903 O.S. map[1] shows the works on the north bank of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal (Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation). The north and west sides are bounded by Sussex Street, Effingham Lane, and Maltravers Street. The site is crossed by the Great Central Railway's diverging approach to Victoria Station. This may not have been quite as inconvenient as the map suggests, because the line is elevated on a viaduct. Less conveniently, another part of the works was on the opposite side of the canal. Access was via the Cadman Street Bridge (Cadman's Bridge).

A number of early engravings from billheads are reproduced in 'Sheffield Steel' by K C Barraclough (Sheffield City Museums, 1976). These show the works in c.1850, 1855, and 1858. A notable feature is the presence of about sixteen cementation furnaces. The author says that Sheaf Works was built by William Greaves, probably in the early 1820s, and that by 1855 it had passed to Eyre, Wood and Co. In 1858 the owners were Thomas Turton and Sons


1834 'Fatal Accident.—On Friday week, a fatal accident occurred to a young man, twenty-two years of age, named Edward Parkin, who was employed at the Sheaf Works, in the rolling of steel. Some repairs were going on in the steel furnace there, in which the unfortunate man was engaged ; and while he was standing under a large iron plate, weighing from 15 to 16 cwt, a temporary prop by which it was supported gave way, and fell upon him, crushing him the most dreadful manner. He was taken and conveyed to his home, where his sufferings were terminated after two hours and a half - Sheffield Mercury.' [2]

1855 'Fatal Accident at Sheaf Works.—An inquest was held last night (Tuesday) by T. Badger, Esq., at the White Horse inn, Cattle-market, on the body of Samuel Turner, aged 13. A lad named William Cook, about 15 years of age, said he was working at the Sheaf Works yesterday (Tuesday) morning, along with the deceased. About ten o'clock, whilst they were employed at a steel-slitting machine, the band broke which connected the engine and the machinery. In order to replace the band it was necessary to go into the race-box, a sort of excavation in the ground, in which the shaft and drums are placed, allowing very little space for workmen to effect what repairs may be required. The deceased, however, undertook the task of replacing the broken strap, and during the operation some part of his smock or apron was caught in the coupling-box, and was whirled round with the shaft at the rate of 120 revolutions per minute.

The witness immediately went to the engine-tenter to tell him stop the engine, but could not find him. Another workman, named Ince, had in the meantime discovered the accident and stopped the engine, and when witness returned the deceased had been released from the machinery by the other workmen.

It was part of deceased's duty to put the strap on the drum. By a juryman: It was only on the occasion of the strap breaking that it was necessary to go into the race-box. The strap was on other occasions worked by a lever. Henry Pearson, railway-spring maker, at the Sheaf Works, said this morning, about ten o'clock, I saw Ince going through the shop where I was at work, to stop the engine ; he said a boy was killed. I immediately went, and saw the boy Turner revolving with the drum. When Ince stopped the engine I removed the boy; his slop and apron were entangled, and his head, arms, and ancles were severely bruised. We took him to the White Horse public-house, and sent for Dr. Durant, who ordered him to be taken home, where he died in a few minutes. Other witnesses corroborated the above evidence. Wm. Wilson, engine-tenter, in explanation of his absence from the engine, said he had gone to another engine for some tallow, and had not been absent two minutes when the accident occurred. He was cross-examined, but gave satisfactory answers all the questions. Other witnesses spoke to his general efficiency of the engine-tenter, and stated that in this case the engine was stopped as soon as it could have been if he had been the spot.

The jury returned verdict of "accidental death, and requested the Coroner to convey to the proprietors of the works their opinion of the necessity which existed enlarging the race-box, and using such other means may be deemed likely to prevent the recurrence of similar accident.' [3]

Steam Hammer Nuisance

'THE NASMYTH HAMMERS AT THE SHEAF WORKS. CADMAN v. MAPPIN. (From our London Reporter.) Court of Chancery, Thursday. —Before Vice-Chancellor James. —This was an application for an injunction by the plaintiff, Mr. Henry Cadman, of Sheffield, against Mr. Fredk. Thorpe Mappin, under the following circumstances: Plaintiff holds under the Duke of Norfolk certain premises where he carries on the business of steel manufacturer, the "Canal Steel Works," under the style of "Charles Cadman and Sons." Mr. Mappin is proprietor of the "Sheaf Works," adjoining the premises, and the plaintiffs complaint is that the working of certain Nasmyth's Steam hammers in the Sheaf Works is an injury and a nuisance to him in conduct of his business, and he accordingly seeks to restrain the working of these hammers. On the part of the plaintiff it is alleged that up to within the last few years the buildings of the Sheaf Works did not come within yards of any part of the Canal Works, and that up to about three years ago there was only one steam hammer at the Sheaf Works, and that so far off that it could not be heard on the plaintiff's premises. Within the last five years, however, the Sheaf Works have been extended until they now are brought close up to the west side of Cadman-street, and there is now row of five steam hammers immediately along the east side of the plaintiff's premises, while somewhat farther off are three smaller steam hammers. The five Nasmyth's steam hammers are represented as unusually large and powerful; one or more or all of them are worked almost constantly day and night; and when worked they occasion a deafening noise and great vibration of the ground and air. The result is alleged to be that whilst they are being worked the plaintiff and his sons cannot transact their business in the counting-house, and some of the clerks have found their health injured by the noise and vibration that several have left the plaintiff's service in consequence. It is further declared that many of the occupiers of the plaintiff’s cottages in Cadman-street have left and others have demanded a reduction of their rents. Moreover, the structure both of the cottages and of the file warehouse and packing rooms has been injured by working of the hammers, while the manufacture of steel has suffered materially from vibration; and in September last part of the front of one of the melting furnaces gave way and fell owing this vibration. Another nuisance complained of the emission of steam from the Sheaf Works, which steam blows across Cadman-street, and entering the plaintiff’s warehouses corrodes and injures the steel goods stored there.

An attempt has been made to refer the matter to arbitration, but the negotiations fell through. It appears also that the plaintiff commenced an action for damages, but has discontinued it, and now seeks to restrain the defendant from working his steam hammers, or emitting steam from the works so as occasion a nuisance to the plaintiff, his clerks or tenants, or any injury to his buildings or works, or the goods stored there. He also claims from Mr. Mappin compensation in damages for the nuisance and injury sustained by him up to the time of the suit.

Mr. Campbell, Q.C., and Mr. Bagshawe are for the plaintiff; Mr. Druce, Q.C., for the defence. The case has been more than once mentioned in Court, on motion for injunction, when Mr. Amphlett explained the circumstances under which he moved and the nature of the nuisance. The case was fixed be heard this morning, but the counsel now stated it had been agreed that the motion should stand over till the hearing. Ordered accordingly. The solicitors for the plaintiff were Messrs. Singleton and Tattershall, agents for Mr. H. T. Dyson, Sheffield; and for the defendants Messrs. Johnson and Weatherall, agents for Messrs. Smith and Burdekin, Sheffield.' [4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Godfrey Edition map: Yorkshire Sheet 294.08: Sheffield 1903 [1]
  2. Yorkshire Gazette, Saturday 20th September 1834
  3. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 27th June 1855
  4. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 22nd January 1869