Abbeydale Rd S, Beauchief, Sheffield S7 2QW
Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is a nugget of preserved 19th century English industry. Once the biggest works on the Sheaf, the river which gives Sheffield its name, now restored with a lottery grant, it’s a fun and educational day out for all the family.
Abbeydale is probably unique in that it is virtually self-contained. The edged tools that were produced here were taken from iron ore and through to the finished product through a series of process which are all on display, from the crucible, through to the forge, and completed by grinding the edges using water power. The Sheaf is central to the story, and the river drives the large water wheel, via the large and picturesque mill pond above, which provided the power to the wheels made of local gritstone. Even the crucibles in which the steel was made were hand-fired on site.
The Sheffield Museums Trust, which runs Abbeydale, together with its sister sites at Shepherd Wheel and Kelham Island has a mission to entertain and inform, with due respect to what was a hard and world-leading industry in its day. It has recently completed a £1m refurbishment of the site, adding a fully accessible learning centre and incorporating multimedia displays and guides so you can really make to most of a day on site.
The regular workshops concern glass blowing and jewellery and metal working, all done using traditional methods by visiting experts. On Wednesdays, the water wheel is in operation, though Shepherd wheel possibly has a better demonstration of a full grinding shop at work.
In addition to the workshops and displays, there is a café for hot and cold drinks and light refreshments on-site, a large museum shop filled with products from Sheffield, and ample free on-site parking plus various facilities for disabled visitors.