Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust manages three historic industrial museums in Sheffield:

Kelham Island Museum

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet

Shepherd Wheel

The Trust was formed in 1998, taking over from Kelham Island Museum Ltd, when it adopted Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. Kelham Island Museum opened in 1982 and was owned and managed by Sheffield City Council,it became an independent organisation in 1994 creating Kelham Island Museum Limited.

The Mission of the Trust is:

"To create an accessible and inclusive experience, which is a tribute to past achievement, is a showcase for Sheffield industry and innovation and an inspiration for future generations to continue the tradition of scientific and technological progress"

To fulfil this mission there are a number of objectives, the two key ones being:

"To tell the story of Sheffield from its beginning to the present day"

"To develop and manage the collections, machinery and historic buildings"




The story of the Trust is marked by numerous development and building projects following on from fund raising success from many grant sources. Over the life of the Trust Kelham Island Museum has trebled in size with every building on the island brought into use for displays, activities and events, or storage for the city’s industrial collection. Every space in these buildings has been renewed, some several times over.

The first new build project in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University created a new Education area in 1996. This was quickly followed in 1997 by the creation of the innovative children’s experience – The Melting Shop – where they are processed like steel, ‘melted, poured, rolled and hammered’! In 1999 the Raymond Douglas Education Centre was built at the end of the Island, opening in 2001.

The Trust has made seven successful Heritage Lottery Fund bids and another in partnership with the Upper Don Walk Trust for a trail around the industrial archaeology around Kelham Island. At the same time funding has been secured from other sources to enhance and expand the Museum and it activities. The projects funded have included:

  • Kelham Phase 1 opened in 2003 – the refurbishment of the main galleries, creation of a Collection Management Centre including a curatorial suite of offices, research areas, library and new stores
  • Kelham Phase 2 opened in 2005 – the new Charlesworth Transport Gallery, new Conservation Workshops including a visible Large Object Open Store, accessible Large Object Store, re-roofing the main Museum buildings, lifts to make all floors in the Museum buildings accessible for all. At the same time the River Don Millowners Association funded the rescue and restoration of a 19th Century Crucible Steel Works on the island which has since been listed Grade 2.
  • Kelham Phase 3 – The Hawley Collection Project opened in 2010 creating a new gallery, research areas and stores for the most important hand tool collection in the world.

In between Phase 2 and 3 Kelham Island was engulfed in a devastating flood in 2007 which destroyed all the ground floor galleries and facilities in the Museum. There had to be a £1.4m rebuild funded by insurance and the new galleries, workshops and stores were opened in 2009.

We are now in Kelham Phase 4 comprising two Projects funded by the River Don Millowners Association:

  • Hawley Phase 2 – The success of the original Hawley building has led to a doubling of the number of volunteers and so a new-build extension is providing additional research space, workshops, stores, kitchen and mess room. 
  • The Millowners Arms – A new gallery in the form of a pub has been created to mark another important aspect of Sheffield’s industrial heritage. It was at one time a great centre of the brewing industry and now is at the heart of the real ale revival with many new small and micro-breweries in the city and neighbouring towns. Kelham Island itself is central in the ‘valley of beer’ with many excellent pubs within walking distance of the Museum. 

The Trust has at the same time raised funds for numerous projects at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet including new displays, audio interpretation, repairs to the waterwheels and machinery; and a three year Heritage Lottery Funded Learning and Access programme, 2003-2006 which doubled school numbers. However, this was all in preparation for the current £1m Heritage Lottery funded project to completely rejuvenate the site, Abbeydale Works! launched April 2013.

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