Thursday, 7 March 2013

News - Historic Sheffield building saved by campaign

HISTORIC Portland Works has been bought outright by campaigners keen to save the Victorian building as an artistic and industrial base.
Purchase of the Grade II* listed complex, on Randall Street, Sheffield city centre, has been funded through a share and loan issue.
The announcement comes exactly 100 years since the world’s first stainless steel knives were made at the site in 1913 – and some of the tools created then are still in use.
Portland’s role within manufacturing history will be preserved under community ownership and developed as a home for manufacturing, artists and musicians.
An original purchase deal was struck a year ago and initially involved buying the building gradually in stages.
But Derek Morton, chairman of the Community Benefit Society which will run the works, has now accepted the keys to the full site on behalf of the group.
Legal difficulties nearly stopped the deal in December but the previous owners lowered the price so the sale could be completed.
A successful share and loan issue had been launched in 2011 but existing shareholders had to invest more cash for the new deal to enable the Works to be bought outright.
Incredibly, an appeal sent out on a Monday morning brought in more than £80,000 by the Wednesday before the sale was completed.
Derek said: “This isn’t a financial investment in the normal sense. No-one will make a killing out of this project, we just need people’s cash for quite a long time, which is a big ask these days.”  
The society will start work on the building very soon with a programme planned out for the next decade.  
Meanwhile the tenants – including metalworkers, engineers and craftsmen, furniture makers, artists and musicians – will be able to continue their work in the building as the restoration takes place around them.
Open days are being planned with tours of the site along with other events to make use of the spaces in the courtyard.

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