PRESSURE is mounting for campaigners trying to save a Victorian cutlery works in Sheffield from being taken over by commercial developers.
Those trying to protect the history of Portland Works, which still houses metalworking businesses as well as artists and craftspeople, have until June to raise the remaining £250,000 which they will need to buy the Grade II-listed building.
The building in Randall Street, which has fallen into disrepair, came under threat in 2009 when a planning application was submitted which would have seen it converted into apartments.
Those keen to preserve the site’s history then formed the Portland Works Campaign, which successfully blocked the planning application.
However, although the immediate threat was lifted, the current owner still wants to sell – and supporters say the future for those who work there remains bleak
The Portland Works Campaign is now raising funds to buy the building, through the largest community share offer in the country, and needs to raise £400,000 by June.
So far, £135,000 has been taken in share sales and loans have also been arranged, but the group still needs to find a further £250,000.
Derek Morton, chairman of the committee running the Portland Works Campaign, said: “Portland Works represents much to be proud of in Sheffield – traditional skills, innovation, creativity and an iconic building with a unique history.
“Add to this a community project that will restore the building, retain the workshops as commercial enterprises, and add educational and visitor facilities and the result will be a fine resource for the city and a tribute to the cutlery industry.
“Buying shares in Portland Works will give people a say in the project and a social return on their investment.”
If the purchase is accomplished the organisation will seek funding to renovate the works and also offer apprenticeships and training in manufacturing skills.
Stuart Mitchell, a tenant whose family business has been making knives at the works since 1980, said: “We have to ensure the building has a future, but also the businesses based there.”
Portland Works will be featured on the Britain’s Heritage Heroes television programme, presented by Jules Hudson and John Craven, on Thursday, February 9.