It has been dubbed the Silicon Valley of the industrial age for the part it played in making Sheffield a household name for steel production.
Taylor’s Eye Witness Works, led by entrepreneur John Taylor, blazed a trail in merchandising the hand-made production of premium kitchen knives forged from stainless steel.
The former cutlery works, which dates back to 1852, produced pocket and kitchen knives in industrious pre-war Britain, for 150 years.
In 1988 Historic England designated the factory, with its triple courtyard, as grade two listed.
Now the buildings that make up the complex are set to undergo a complete transformation in a £25m development.
Developer Capital & Centric has exchanged contracts to acquire the cutlery works from Sheffield City Council and is drawing up plans for the site on Milton Street in the Devonshire Quarter.
The company wants to build around 100 loft apartments and townhouses, alongside a new café/bar.
Restored heritage buildings will sit alongside new build elements.
There are also plans to develop open space and private gardens within the three central courtyards of the Eyewitness Works.
Sheffield City Council launched the competition for the site following a property swap with Taylor’s.
Relocating the cutlery business to a larger, modern production and distribution site at Sheffield Parkway freed up the opportunity for a company to acquire the buildings.
A planning application could be submitted and approved by the end of the year, with the first residents moving in by the end of 2020.
Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, said: “Sheffield has such a rich heritage and we’ve been anxious to get our hands on one of its historic buildings.
“Eyewitness Works is a perfect first venture for us in the city, it has stacks of untapped potential but has become dilapidated over the years.
“The building is right up our street, as we love industrial heritage. We take pride in retaining as much original charm as we possibly can, all the while delivering design-led homes that are a cut above some of the pokey, whitewashed flats you tend to find in our city centres.
“We want to create a real community at Eyewitness, delivering a lasting legacy for Sheffield that the city council can be proud of. We can’t wait to get started.”
Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at the city council, added: “These are exciting plans for Eyewitness Works from a great and forward-thinking company – it’s going to be exciting to see a new era for one of the city’s most iconic and historic buildings.
“The Devonshire Quarter is a key part of the city and its regeneration is an essential part of the future of the city centre.
“Parts of the area around West One and Devonshire Green are already well established but the area around Milton St is currently a bit run down with several vacant sites.
Mr Iqbal added: “We have all seen the way Kelham and St Vincent’s are changing at the moment and we want to ensure that the Devonshire Quarter, which is even closer to the heart of the city centre, can undergo a similar transformation.”
“The city centre is changing rapidly with more families and different communities choosing to live here to take full advantage of our excellent nightlife, dining and cultural offer.”