Cite this as: Tuck, A. and Rajic, M. 2021 Hollis Croft, Sheffield, South Yorkshire: Old site and new connections, Internet Archaeology 56. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.56.4
In 2017, a team from the Wessex Archaeology Sheffield office investigated a site, Hollis Croft (NGR 434990 387580), prior to the construction of a multi-million pound commercial and student housing development. Hollis Croft is one of many Sheffield’s sites where well-preserved industrial archaeology survives beneath the modern buildings.
Historic building recording was followed by a watching brief, a scheme of archaeological evaluation trenching and then strip, map and sample excavations, which revealed substantial 18th-/19th-century remains of steel conversion furnaces (both cementation and crucible, constructed by Burgin and Wells and W. Fearnehough Ltd respectively). We also discovered metres of entwined brick-built flues (likely related to later steelmaking methods such as the Siemens-Martin open hearth process or Bessemer process), traces of two pubs (The Cock and The Orange Branch) and a wide range of finds – all indicative of the industrial processes and the everyday lives of the workers. Apart from the discovery of a crozzle layer covering the entire interior of the furnace (not just its base as previously thought), and the detailed impressions of the ferrous bars visible in the surface of the crozzle layer, the remains were very familiar for Sheffield and industrial archaeology.
The post-excavation processes were carried out as usual following industry standards. All our findings have been brought together in a final report held in the digital archive and the physical archive (including the finds) was subsequently deposited with Museums Sheffield under SHEFM:2019.13 and Sheffield Archives. This publication is based on that final report, but edited and updated, so there are some minor differences between the documents. But, inspired by a great deal of public interest during the excavations (and Mili's love for comics), a comic book has also been created and is published here alongside what would otherwise be a more traditional offering.
Corresponding author: Milica Rajic
Illustrations by Ian Atkins incorporating work by Chris Breeden, Joanna Debska and Jack Fox Laverick
Figure 1: Site location and evaluation trial trench, strip, map and record area and watching brief test pit locations
Figure 2: Plan of Area A showing materials
Figure 3: Plan of Area A showing phasing
Figure 4: Plan of Area A overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1787–9
Figure 5: Plan of Area A overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 6: Plan of Area A overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 7: Sections of Area A: Pit 904 (top), Layers cut by drain 929 including layer 924 (bottom)
Figure 8: Plan of Area B showing materials
Figure 9: Plan of Area B showing phasing
Figure 10: Plan of Area B overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1787–9
Figure 11: Plan of Area B overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 12: Plan of Area B overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 13: Plan of Area C showing materials
Figure 14: Plan of Area C showing phasing
Figure 15: Plan of Area C overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1787–9
Figure 16: Plan of Area C overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 17: Plan of Area C overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 18: Plan of Area D showing materials
Figure 19: Plan of Area D showing phasing
Figure 20: Plan of Area D overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1781
Figure 21: Plan of Area D overlaid on OS Map of 1853
Figure 22: Plan of Area D overlaid on OS Map of 1890
Figure 23: Plan of Area E/F showing materials
Figure 24: Plan of Area E/F showing materials
Figure 25: Plan of Area E/F showing materials
Figure 26: Plan of Area E/F showing phasing
Figure 27: Plan of Area E/F showing phasing
Figure 28: Plan of Area E/F showing phasing
Figure 29: Plan of Area E/F overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1781/1787–9
Figure 30: Plan of Area E/F overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 31: Plan of Area E/F overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 32: Sections of Area E/F. 1. Profile showing curving wall 2070, flue 2071–2073, cellars 2074 and 2077, structures 2093 and 2096, and wall 2097; 2. East stoke hole of northern cementation furnace; 3. Gap between inner (2040) and outer (2039) structures of cementation furnace; 4. Section through north chest of south cementation furnace showing early crozzle 1545
Figure 33: Sections of Area E/F: 5. Access cellar 2123 and associated contexts; 6. Early walls 2103 and 2098 below wall 2097 and machine bases 2100; 7. Flue 2149 with iron 'guillotine'-style door fitting 2184; 8. Cellar 2112 with chimney wall 2014 and later wall 2105
Figure 34: Plan of Area G: A. Late 19th Century/Early 20th Century phase showing materials; B. 20th Century phase showing materials
Figure 35: Plan of Area G overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 36: Plan of Area H showing materials
Figure 37: Plan of Area H showing phasing
Figure 38: Plan of Area H overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1787–9
Figure 39: Plan of Area H overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 40: Plan of Area H overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 41: Plan of Area I showing materials
Figure 42: Plan of Area I showing phasing
Figure 43: Plan of Area I overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1787–9
Figure 44: Plan of Area I overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 45: Plan of Area I overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 46: Sections of Area I: 1. Deposits 1136 and 1131 and construction cuts 1133 and 1134 beneath floor 1109; 2. Section showing structures 1107, 1108 and 1111
Figure 47: Plan of Area K showing materials
Figure 48: Plan of Area K showing materials
Figure 49: Plan of Area K showing phasing
Figure 50: Plan of Area K showing phasing
Figure 51: Plan of Area K overlaid on Fairbank plan of 1787–9
Figure 52: Plan of Area K overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 53: Plan of Area K overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 54: Section of Area K: Construction cut 1238 for wall 1233
Figure 55: Plan of watching brief Test Pit 18
Figure 56: Plan of watching brief Test Pits 3A and 18 overlaid on OS map of 1853
Figure 57: Plan of watching brief Test Pits 3A and 18 overlaid on OS map of 1890
Figure 58: Clay Pipe Figures 1–10
Figure 59: Clay Pipe Figures 11–22
Figure 60: Cementation furnace fire bar
Figure 61: Photographs of the chest furnace samples 2139 and 1515 from Hollis Croft analysed in this report. Analysed areas indicated by yellow box
Figure 62: Thin section and SEM photomicrographs of chest furnace sample 2139 from Hollis Croft analysed in this report. sample. PPL = plane polarised light, XP = crossed polars. D-F taken in backscattered electron imaging mode. Scale bars A = 2mm, B, C = 0.2mm.
Figure 63: Thin section and SEM photomicrographs of chest furnace sample 1515 from Hollis Croft analysed in this report. sample. PPL = plane polarised light. D-F taken in backscattered electron imaging mode. Scale bars A-C = 2mm.
Figure 64: Thin section and SEM photomicrographs of 'crozzle' sample from Hollis Croft analysed in this report. sample. PPL = plane polarised light, XP = crossed polars. D-F taken in backscattered electron imaging mode. Scale bars A = 2mm, B, C = 0.2mm.
Figure 65: Ternary diagram showing the chemical composition of chest furnace samples 2139 and 1515 analysed from Hollis Croft, compared with those of a Sheffield Huntsman crucible and other earlier metalworking crucibles (Freestone and Tite 1986), plus 18th century steel making crucibles from Sheffield (Quinn 2013b) and Derwentcote (Andrews et al. 2017). Modified from (Andrews et al. 2017, fig. 9).
Plate 1: Cementation furnaces at Hollis Croft from Footprint Sheffield archive. These are not the same furnaces as those excavated. View probably from east?
Plate 2: Cementation furnaces at Hollis Croft from Footprint Sheffield archive. These are not the same furnaces as those excavated. View from north-east
Plate 3: Cementation furnaces at Hollis Croft from Footprint Sheffield archive. These are not the same furnaces as those excavated. View from west
Plate 4: Rubbish pit 904 from west
Plate 5: Walls 913, 914 from south-west
Plate 6: Wooden beam or plank shoring 912 within foundation cut 910 from north
Plate 7: Overview of eastern end of Area A from south-west
Plate 8: Wall 3006 with sockets for wooden floor joists from east
Plate 9: Western end of Area A with possible pit 908 at bottom right. From north
Plate 10: Wall 1017 from east
Plate 11: Structures 1004, 1008 and 1013 (foreground) with 1032 and 1035-1037 (background) from north
Plate 12: Pit 1033 machined to full depth from east
Plate 13: Wall 1006 from south
Plate 14: Area C showing relative elevations from east
Plate 15: Area C showing overview from south-east
Plate 16: Area C showing chimney 1618, 1625–1628, 1630 and 1631 from north-west
Plate 17: Structure 1631 from north-east
Plate 18: Walls 1705, 1707, 1712-1715, 1718 and 1722 from north-east prior to removal of red brick structure 1711 and setts 1709
Plate 19: Wall 1723 and associated contexts from east
Plate 20: Cellar vaults 1734 and 1735 and associated contexts south-east
Plate 21: Bull nosed bricks ends on wall 1736 and vault 1735 and modern wall 1753 from south-east
Plate 22: Crucible furnace 1757–1764 from east
Plate 23: Potential additional crucible hole associated with furnace 1757–1764 from south
Plate 24: Crucible furnace 1746–1750 from north
Plate 25: Wall 1745 and associated structures with crucible furnace 1747–1750 in background from north-west
Plate 26: Stakehole 2166 and foundation 2165 from west
Plate 27: Early structures 2024 etc. (bottom left of shot) with stoke hole entrance (1529) at rear from north-west
Plate 28: Overview of cementation furnaces from south
Plate 29: South-east corner of outer conical chimney of south cementation furnace (2002/2003) from south
Plate 30: Wall 2070 (lime mortared and curving towards scale) with flue (2071–2073) to left from north-west
Plate 31: Arrangement of stoke hole entrances showing stoke hole entrance wall (2037) iron door 2047 and firebrick lintel 2051 from west
Plate 32: Iron door 2047 detail from west
Plate 33: Fire pit of north cementation furnace (3007) revealed during watching brief from north
Plate 34: Relationship between fire bars and stoke hole entrance door 2047 revealed during watching brief from east
Plate 35: Longitudinal bars seen on edge of fire pit and decommissioning stone 3010 (at rear) from east
Plate 36: North-east part of northern furnace separated from rest of furnace by truncation showing foundation 2036 from east
Plate 37: West part of north furnace (furnace continues beyond truncation at left of photograph) from north
Plate 38: West part of south furnace (furnace continues beyond truncation at left of photograph) from north
Plate 39: Truncated section across north furnace from east showing impression of ferrous bars in surface of the crozzle
Plate 40: Section through north chest of south cementation furnace showing early crozzle layer 1545 from north (see also Figure 30)
Plate 41: Overview of cellars accessing cementation furnaces on west side of furnaces from south
Plate 42: Structures 2103 and 2098 overlain by wall 2097 and thresholds 2100 from south
Plate 43: Far north-east of Area E/F including wall 2060 etc, from east
Plate 44: Far north-west of Area E/F including drain 2052 etc. from west
Plate 45: Cellar 3017 recorded during watching brief from south-east
Plate 46: Surfaces 2089 and 2090 and associated contexts with boundary wall 2091 and truncating wall 2020 in bottom left and southern limit of south furnace in bottom right from north
Plate 47: Wall 2163 from west
Plate 48: Northern cellars and flues from west
Plate 49: South end of cellar 2041 built in to earlier cellar 2046 from south
Plate 50: Opening in west side of cellar 2041 (removed) seen during watching brief from east. Vaulting 2074 is visible at right of shot
Plate 51: Small communication between cellars 2074 and 2077 seen during watching brief from north. Vaulting 2041 is visible at left of shot
Plate 52: Firebrick surface 2095 from east
Plate 53: Flue 2080–2083 and associated structures from north
Plate 54: Concrete base 2172 and associated flue structures from south
Plate 55: Flues 2149 and 2145 from south
Plate 56: Decommissioning structure 2048 (foreground), vaulting 2046 (centre) and walls 2067, 2069, 2068 (left to right). From east
Plate 57: Floors 1509, 1510 and 1512 cut through deposit 1513 in east of Area E/F from west
Plate 58: Overview of Area G from south-east
Plate 59: Bay at west of Area G from west
Plate 60: Overview of Area H from west
Plate 61: Flue 1405 from north-east
Plate 62: Exposed interiors of flues 1304/1305 and 1306 from south-west
Plate 63: Structures in the north of Area I
Plate 64: Drain 1110/1125 from east
Plate 65: Structures 1108, 1107 and 1106 in west section of Area I from east
Plate 66: Overview of Area K from north
Plate 67: Overview of Area K from south
Plate 68: Cellar 1218–1221, 1239 and 1240 from south-west
Plate 69: Watching brief 'Test Pit' 3A from north-east
Plate 70: Watching brief 'Test Pit' 18 from east
Plate 71: Watching brief 'Test Pit' 23 from east
Plate 72: Crucible base used for copper alloy
Plate 73: Pottery and clay tobacco pipe from 905
Plate 74: Worked bone from 905 (1/2)
Plate 75: Worked bone from 905 (2/2)
Plate 76: Clay Tobacco pipe from 1034
Plate 77: Pottery from 1034
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Sheffield Archives JC/29/53. Rules and Regulations of the News Room adjoining the Old Church yard in Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives LC/6/1. Fragment of abstract of accounts of Joseph Dixon Skelton, Master Cutler.
Sheffield Archives LD1792/2. Mortgage by way of assignment of the lease.
Sheffield Archives LD1792/7. Copy of the will of Samuel Marples, of Sheffield, cutler, [will, 27 Sep 1841; probate, 4 Jan 1843].
Sheffield Archives LD2006/7. Assignment of mortgage.
Sheffield Archives LD2006/8. Further mortgage.
Sheffield Archives LD315/2/6. Copy award of arbitrators in a dispute between John Kenyon and George Grayson.
Sheffield Archives MD4056/10/1. Conveyance of Plot of ground formerly part of a close called Beanfield or Westbar Close and formed into a street now called Silver Street (with plan), together with the use of a sough or drain made through the same at the expense of Spooner for the common advantage of the proprietors.
Sheffield Archives MD4056/11/2. Conveyance of parcel of land in Silver Street, Sheffield and parcel adjoining.
Sheffield Archives MD4056/14. Deeds to property in Silver Street and Silver Street Head, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives MD4056/9/1. Conveyance of a plot of ground staked out, being part of a close lately belonging to John Spooner called the Beanfield or Westbarr Close, and abutting on another plot belonging to Jonathan Dixon and lately part of the same close; together with free use and benefit of the thoroughfare (already set out and opened and in some degree formed as a street).
Sheffield Archives MD5716/5/12. Bundle of title deeds relating to 3 messuages and closes (named) at Gleadless and 3 other closes at Hollins End (WR) which were Joseph Skelton's.
Sheffield Archives MD6316. Deeds mostly relating to Wild and White Families.
Sheffield Archives MD6862–6870. John Fearn Limited (later Sheffield Cooperage Limited), Upperthorpe, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives MD7761/1. Thos R Ellin (Footprint Works) Ltd, Hollis Croft, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives PR54/17/2/18. Surrender of 1 1/2 acres of land in Sternhill Close, near the Queen's Way.
Sheffield Archives PR54/22/3/10/2. Apprenticeship indenture of Christian Hall, a poor child of Ecclesfield, apprenticed to John Moore
Sheffield Archives PR54/22/3/10/3. Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith, a poor child of Ecclesfield, apprenticed to John Moore.
Sheffield Archives SSC1/7/2/1. Assignment.
Sheffield Archives SY244. John Kenyon and Sons Ltd, Saw Manufacturers, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives SY244/B5/2. Letter of indemnity to Mr Davison as the liquidator of John Kenyon and Co (Sheffield) Ltd.
Sheffield Archives SYCRO 1398. Industries of Sheffield Business Review.
Sheffield Archives TT/10/11/2. Copy of an 1806 lease and release regarding land and property in Upper Hallam.
Sheffield Archives TT/10/39. Lease of 370 square yards of land at the corner of Tenter Street and School Croft, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives TT/10/42/26. Copy of the will of John Turner, of Sheffield, merchant.
Sheffield Archives TT/10/43/18. Copy of the will of John Wait, of Sheffield, gentleman.
Sheffield Archives TT/10/43/24–26. Conveyance and assignment of a mortgage term to attend the inheritance: two freehold messuages in Hartshead formerly in the tenure of James Mycock for £10 10s annual rent and Walter Vavasour for £10 rent, but now one is in the tenure of William Wild and the other, lately of Marshall Webster, is now vacant.
Sheffield Archives TT/10/67/1–2. Lease and release of 16 square yards in Trippett Lane, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/1/44. Articles of Agreement: Between Richard Thorp of Banks Hall, Cawthorne, Joseph Skelton of Middlewood, Henry Wilson of the Elms, West Derby (Lancs), and Mark Skelton of the Yews all esquires, and trustees of the estate of the late Samuel Thorp of Banks Hall; to Joseph Beckett of Barnsley esquire.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/1/53. Observations on a draft lease: Mr Beckett to Messrs Richard Thorp, Joseph Skelton, Henry Wilson and Ark Skelton.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/1/54. Legal opinion on the administration of the late S Thorp's trust.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/2/1/5. Copy of Probate of Will of Mrs Martha Wilson (nee Thorp), of Birthwaite Hall, Darton, widow of late Henry Wilson.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/2/2/13. Memorandum of Agreement to a lease from year to year: Joseph Dixon Skelton of Middlewood (also on behalf of his brother Mark Skelton, now abroad).
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/2/2/17. Memorandum of Agreement for a lease: John Kenyon Skelton (as agent for Mark Skelton) of Middlewood, to Rev William Gill of the Yews.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/2/2/24. Letter: Holman Shephard of York to [?Mrs Elizabeth Skelton of Middlewood Hall].
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/2/2/3a–c. Rough draft of sales.
Sheffield Archives X450. Oral history interviews conducted by Tony Tingle, Community Development Worker on the Manor Estate, Sheffield.
Sheffield Archives Wil D/8/2/2/16. Letter: T Beckitt to the executors of Joseph Dixon Skelton.
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