George Barnsley & Sons Cornish Works, Sheffield
George Barnsley & Sons were the world’s largest producer of files and cutting tools for the shoemaking industry, based at the Cornish Works in Sheffield.
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George Barnsley & Sons Ltd was founded in 1836 and were originally situated on Wheeldon Street, Sheffield. By 1849 they had moved to the Cornish Works, which were much larger premises. They specialised in the manufacture of files and cutting tools for use in the shoe making industry. 1
There are a number of family names that are known to have deep roots in the Sheffield area, and the Barnsley name is undoubtedly one of them. In 1650 George Barnsley became Master Cutler, a role fulfilled by another George Barnsley in 1883. This George Barnsley was of the second generation of the firm of George Barnsley and Sons, toolmakers. 2
The business grew to become the world’s leading producer of tools for shoemakers. The technological revolution of the 20th century saw a decline in the need for traditional tools. George Barnsley’s survived until 2003 when the premises finally closed.
This was such a relaxed and enjoyable explore, walking into the buildings is like going back in time. Traditional timber-built workspaces and higgledy-piggledy rooms squeezed in all over the place give such an olde-worlde feel. We visited after another explore and we were running out of light by the time we left but the sunset shining into the building was lovely. Getting out was fun, finding ourselves locked in because our entry point had been closed off! After a bit of a scout around luckily we found another way out.
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