It could have been a quote straight from William Shakespeare that has resulted in a master-stroke solution for Sheffield’s heritage and one of its most loved businesses.
Taylor’s Eye Witness Ltd, whose premium brand name kitchen knives trade dates back to 1820, has been seeking to modernise its business.
In 1852 the company moved its factory from St. Phillip’s Road in the Netherthorpe area into the newly built Eye Witness Works on Milton Street. The modern premises at the time consisted of five single storey bays, driven by steam power with a 40-foot chimney stack which is still in place today. Over the years it expanded outward and upward.
Fast forward to the 21st century and the premises are no longer fit for purpose. They do not have a proper foundation, are energy-inefficient and the internal layout with many small workshops across different levels is inefficient. The company therefore wants to redevelop and sell what is now a Grade II listed building to move to a modern site where it can operate more efficiently.
The cost of restoration however would have been more than they could have sold it for and here enters Sheffield City Council.
The council has swapped one of its buildings – a 32,000 square foot single storey unit off the Sheffield Parkway for the Grade II listed building. Taylor’s Eye Witness now has a modern factory space and room for their growing distribution business.
Alastair Fisher, joint Managing Director of Taylor’s Eye Witness Ltd says this new facility provides them with “a great opportunity to continue to meet consumer demand, expand our business and give even better service to our worldwide customer base. It also demonstrates our continuing commitment to manufacturing in Sheffield, home to Taylor’s Eye Witness for the last 176 years.”
Would founder John Taylor approve? It is said that his trademark name was based on William Shakespeare’s “No eye hath seen better” from Henry IV. If he were to see the new facility Mr Fisher feels he would definitely approve.