The architecture of the Globe Works

The architectural design of the oldest most complete example of a purpose-built cutlery works in Sheffield

The Globe Works was constructed, fronting Penistone Road, by the Ibbotson Brothers, William and Henry, and was completed in 1825. The forerunner of Ibbotson Bros was ‘Ibbotson and Roebuck’ and was listed in 1821 as a merchant and manufacturer of saws, stove grates, fenders, scythes and steel at Bower Spring, not far from Kelham Island. The partners were the brother-in-laws William and Henry Ibbotson, and Jonathan Roebuck.

The Globe Works remains an early purpose-built, large integrated works, and has been identified as being of particular importance as the earliest known surviving of its kind to retain both its front display range and its rear workshop ranges.

Most integrated works followed a similar plan form in arrangement, being generally rectangular, albeit with some variation as a result of the constraints of the site. In addition, the layouts would differ site to site depending on individual business requirements. However, buildings were positioned to enclose at least one yard, some works had two, with some of the larger works, including the Globe Works, having three.

Earlier integrated works also had more architecturally ostentatious front ranges, usually Classical in styling. The front ranges were the public face of the works, designed to impress prospective clients on their approach. They were often also depicted on letterheads and advertisements, and were intended to instil a sense of quality and respectability in the business and its products. The principal/front range at the Globe Works, fronting Penistone Road, is a particularly fine example, built with stone and designed to look like a Classical country house. It comprises two storeys over a basement with a pedimented central three-bay projection with attic storey, and pedimented end bays. Unusually, however, at the Globe Works there are no entrances within the principal elevation; here they are located to the sides. In addition, the Globe Works also incorporated the owner’s house within the principal range.

To the rear of the works the ranges are more utilitarian in nature, accessed via cart passages, and arranged around the courtyards to maximise natural light and to enable the industrial process flow through the works. Most works included cart passages within their front ranges, but at the Globe Works its principal cart passage is situated to the side.

Integrated works included powered and unpowered processes, and the Globe Works was no exception. When the Globe Works opened in 1825, it was marketed as ‘Ibbotson and Roebuck, merchants of edge tools, jointers tools, fenders, saws, scythes, stove grates, &c. Globe Works’. Quick growth of the works led to the expansion of additional courtyards to include cementation and crucible furnaces, hand forges and additional grinding wheels.

The furnaces, engine house and powered processes such as grinding were located at the rear of the works; the noisier, heavier, and dirtier process all being located away from the principal range.

Why not go and check out The Globe Works for yourself? You can even enjoy sipping something chilled from our tenants Saw Grinders Union as you soak up the historic atmosphere...