The conversion and reuse of the Butcher Wheel, a former Sheffield cutlery works on Arundel Street, included a programme of archaeological building recording and detailed analysis of its evolution and operation. The works, which grew as the family business of William and Samuel Butcher at the start of the 19th century, rapidly expanded in size and output making it by the 1860s one of the principal manufacturers in the city. This growth coincided with the demand for knives and edge tools for the overseas market, initially in the colonies and then during the settlement of the west coast of America.
The standing buildings comprising the Butcher Wheel today were investigated in advance of, and during, the redevelopment of the site by J. F. Finnegan between 2005 and 2006. The archaeological investigations identified 12 broad phases of alteration and change, including hand forges, grinding workshops, assembly shops, offices, packing rooms, warehouses and a caretaker’s house. This publication sets the works in its historical context within the Sheffield metal trades, and examines the techniques and processes utilised by the cutlery industry.
The Butcher Wheel contained some of the only surviving upper-floor grinding workshops in Sheffield, which were surveyed and archaeologically excavated as part of the project. Three principal designs of trough were identified, which would have required a substantial investment in the construction of strong fireproof ranges, more in keeping with the cotton mills located elsewhere in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Motive power was provided by two steam engines, which were replaced in the 20th century by electric motors.
The publication report is available here, and will in due course be published in the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society Journal. Due to copyright restrictions some of the figures and plates have not been included.