The centre of an industrial works complex
In 2006–8 archaeologists from ARCUS (Archaeological Research and Consultancy at the University of Sheffield) investigated a large development site in Sheffield which had been at the heart of the town’s (and, from 1893, the city’s) rapid industrial expansion, contributing to its world-wide reputation for innovative steel production and manufacture. A combination of historical research, building recording and archaeological excavation revealed the complex history of the site that in 1800 was still surrounded by fields on the town’s north-western edge, but which soon after was swallowed up by steel works, foundries and workers’ housing. Sheffield’s burgeoning population provided the workforce for the series of industrial premises – Roscoe Place Works, William Hoole’s Works (later Malinda Works), Hoyle Street Works, Progress Works, Titanic Works and Australian Works – which occupied the development site, and which were soon surrounded by the cramped terraces where their workers lived.
Two crucible furnace cellars were excavated, one at William Hoole’s steelworks (the Malinda Works) built by 1816, the other at the Hoyle Street Works probably built by 1832. A further three intact crucible furnace cellars were recorded at the Titanic Works, these being built between the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Buildings associated with related aspects of production were also recorded, particularly at the Hoyle Street Works, where part of a cementation furnace, producing the blister steel used in the crucible furnaces, was excavated. Infrastructure features, such as boiler and engine bases, a crane base and a silt trap were also identified.
These industrial complexes were located among the cramped housing of the local working populations, and a number of cellars belonging to the back-to-back tenements and terraced houses were excavated, revealing evidence of possible cottage industry.
The results of the archaeological investigations at Hoyle Street are now available as a fully illustrated short monograph, or download or read the specialist report on crucible fragments and metallurgical residues below.