Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet – Norton, England - Atlas Obscura

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet

Norton, England

A preserved 18th century steel factory. 


Contains working water mills, tilt forge hammers, and a steam engine. Most of the various industrial buildings all function as a time capsule with the rusted tools the last workers used lying all over the place. The former domestic areas have been turned into living history structures.

Built by Tyzack, this is one of the factories that first produced the top-quality stainless steel for which Sheffield is known. Tyzack agricultural tools (mostly scythes) were exported all over the globe and examples have been traced to Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and China. Using the nearby dam races, the factory boasted four waterwheels to drive the tilt hammers, bellows, grindstones, and lathes. Almost every step of production was carried out on the site (only the rolling of the crucible steel bars flat was done in nearby Totley).

The site was closed in 1933, but reopened during World War II to meet wartime demands. At the same time, many of the empty buildings were used to house bombed out Sheffield citizens.

Still preserved are the crucible furnaces, tilt forge, and grinding hall. Abbeydale was abandoned due to technological advances and therefore acts as a time capsule complete with decaying hats and aprons and rusted tools. If you go when there are no events, the sensation is of urban exploration with only the living quarters restored to 18th-century shine. The tours are not be missed, however, as the staff lets the water into the wooden wheel, activates the tilt hammers and operates the steam engine for the occasion.

From Around the Web