The society was formed in 1933 as one of the Sheffield Trade Technical Societies. Its inception was brought about by the efforts of Mr. David Flathers and Mr. W.H.Bolton, the secretary of the Trades Technical Societies with the object of collecting and preserving industrial tools and machinery which were becoming obsolete.
For this reason it was called the Society for the Preservation of Old Sheffield Tools and Machinery, and included amongst its members, leading Sheffield Industrialists and members of the University academic staff. In the years before the War the society arranged demonstrations of grinding at Shepherds Wheel at Easter, Whitsuntide and the August Bank Holiday which attracted widespread interest. In 1936 the Society published a Glossary of some 500 words of dialect formally used in Sheffield Trades. In 1937 the Abbeydale Works was put up for sale, it being proposed that the buildings should be demolished and the dam filled in with a view to building houses. A successful appeal was launched by the society to raise £1000 to preserve the Works which had been purchased by Alderman J.G. Graves with the idea of turning it into an industrial museum where the Societies collection of industrial tools and machinery could be preserved.
The money collected was handed over to the Sheffield City Council who undertook to restore the buildings but the outbreak of the War brought this to a stop. At the end of the War the Sheffield City Council returned the money and vetoed the proposal to make an industrial museum, wishing to demolish the buildings and turn the site into a park. However, before this could be done the tilt hammer given by William Jessop and mounted on a massive bed of concrete in the middle of the yard, had to be removed. The tilt hammer belonged to the society (which had changed its name to the Sheffield Trades Historical Society) but there was no where to which the hammer could be moved nor did the society have sufficient funds to pay for its removal, so a position of stalemate set in which lasted until about 1952 when the buildings were scheduled.
In 1954 the Council for the Conservation of Sheffield Antiquities was formed which soon turned its attention to the Abbeydale Works and work commenced to turn it into an Industrial Museum.
In 1952 the Society purchased the Wortley Top Forge and the Rockley Blast Furnace & Engine House near Birdwell, both dating from the 15th Century. restoration was commenced and has continued steadily ever since.
Amongst other activities has been the making of a film by the Society on the Wortle Plate, which had been in use for wire drawing for a century or more but has now been superceded by other methods.
The Cutting Edge - No.1 - Autumn 1984
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