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tommyking

Western Works - Cabaret Voltaire

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Hi everyone,

As part of my research at the University of Sheffield - I'm doing some reading into the demolished Western Works on Portobello, which used to lie between Broad Lane and West Street. As I understand it, the building become derelict after a number of years during the 1970's and then become something of a hang out for bands of the era like Cabaret Voltaire - until it was demolished in the late 80s/ early 90s.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who has memories/info on this building.

Cheers,

Tom

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Good call - I don't remember it myself but people on here will

Look forward to hearing about it

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Good call - I don't remember it myself but people on here will

Look forward to hearing about it

Cheers,

I'll let you know how I get on!

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You'd find this book useful I think - 'Industrial Evolution - through the eighties with Cabaret Voltaire'. It's listed on the publisher's website here: http://www.safpublishing.com/store/pages/html/saf_alt.html

Western Works wasn't just a hangout for bands - it was Cabaret Voltaire's own studio, which they used from the seventies and through the eighties. In those pre-computer days it was very unusual for a band to have their own studio, so the place became something of a magnet for other likeminded bands and musicians.

The author of that book would no doubt have a load of memories of the building if you can get in touch with him.

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You'd find this book useful I think - 'Industrial Evolution - through the eighties with Cabaret Voltaire'. It's listed on the publisher's website here: http://www.safpublishing.com/store/pages/html/saf_alt.html

Western Works wasn't just a hangout for bands - it was Cabaret Voltaire's own studio, which they used from the seventies and through the eighties. In those pre-computer days it was very unusual for a band to have their own studio, so the place became something of a magnet for other likeminded bands and musicians.

The author of that book would no doubt have a load of memories of the building if you can get in touch with him.

Cheers, Noise Heat Power... did you ever visit the works?

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Probably way too late for you but... I did get a nose around this place just before the mindless nerks at the Uni trashed it (as they have so much of the city over the years - they can't even respect their own fine original 60s Union building judging by the way this is being messed about with!). It was weird, the demolition guys had really cleaned it all out nicely inside in some rooms and I was sure this was so it could be restored!

Anyhow, I'm sure I took some pictures inside and out which I would have somewhere. I found the rooms the Cabs used to use too, and amazingly there were still a few old posters about so I rescued those. The slides would hopefully have the date on them and this was literally just a few days before the bulldozers went in.

I do regret not being able to lift an amazing cutlers anvil, embedded in a MASSIVE tree trunk.

Never met the band there, though I did photograph them once at a video shoot for one of their hit singles (!).

Simon

Hi everyone,

As part of my research at the University of Sheffield - I'm doing some reading into the demolished Western Works on Portobello, which used to lie between Broad Lane and West Street. As I understand it, the building become derelict after a number of years during the 1970's and then become something of a hang out for bands of the era like Cabaret Voltaire - until it was demolished in the late 80s/ early 90s.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who has memories/info on this building.

Cheers,

Tom

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Probably way too late for you but... I did get a nose around this place just before the mindless nerks at the Uni trashed it (as they have so much of the city over the years - they can't even respect their own fine original 60s Union building judging by the way this is being messed about with!). It was weird, the demolition guys had really cleaned it all out nicely inside in some rooms and I was sure this was so it could be restored!

Anyhow, I'm sure I took some pictures inside and out which I would have somewhere. I found the rooms the Cabs used to use too, and amazingly there were still a few old posters about so I rescued those. The slides would hopefully have the date on them and this was literally just a few days before the bulldozers went in.

I do regret not being able to lift an amazing cutlers anvil, embedded in a MASSIVE tree trunk.

Never met the band there, though I did photograph them once at a video shoot for one of their hit singles (!).

Simon

Hi Simon,

I would love to see the photographs if you still have them - my project can be found here; http://thomasmaxwellshore.wordpress.com/ma-dissertation-the-western-works-project-heterotopic-spaces-and-the-city/

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I used to go there and listen to the Cabs rehearsing, but I can only remember two of the rooms – the very neatly kept white-painted studio and another room where we used to sit and listen. I did have a photo of the outside of the building, but I've just gone through all my old negs and can't find it. It's 30-odd years ago, after all!

Most of the buildings were pretty much derelict. I've got an abiding memory of staggering out of the back of the building, blinking in the light, and having to pick my way through all sort of rubble – when, bizarrely, I found a very large spread of coins a little way away from the studio. There were far too many to have fallen out of someone's pocket, and I couldn't imagine for the life of me what they were doing there. They added up to several pounds, though, so I didn't mind picking them up!

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I worked at the Western Works in the early sixties for J. Donnelly making cutlery, his stock in trade was carver Forks but we also made a selection of specialised forks too, Grill Forks, Pickle Forks, Oyster Forks etc. plus the usual round tang work Table Spoons, Dessert Spoons, Tea Spoons & Soup Spoons. If you could work at Donnelly's for a month you could work anywhere, the working conditions were very harsh BUT I loved it and it set me up for fifty years in the Cutlery trade. The goods that we produced showed the world what Sheffield could produce. I actually went to school with John Donnelly's son Danny (John Donnelly's real family name was Mulcrone) I think he bought the business off his father but cant be sure, The works was built for Christopher Johnson around 1859, further reading on Christopher Johnson and the works can be found in "Tweedale's Directory Of Cutlery Manufacturers 1740 - 2010" strangely enough Donnelly's isn't mentioned in this edition but after contacting Geoff Tweedale the second edition has been amended to mention John Mulcrone, and quite rightly so, he was a real character something we don't seem to have now, The woman in the picture is Kath Russell alongside her is Dennis Edge now sadly dead, he was an accomplished mouth organ player and singer, they are working on Flush Pot Forks, the other photo shows the workforce of M.A.B. Products, which was run by Mr Donnelly's son John making Scissors but the workforce did work between Cutlery and Scissors, you had to be multi tasked.

it was a act of vandalism when the works was demolished just for student accommodation.

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