Tales of the Urban Explorer: George Barnsley & Sons Ltd
It was getting late and it had been a long day. ‘George Barnsley & Sons’ was not on the agenda, and despite setting out with around 13 targets, they had all been visited and we needed more.
This is the reason I like to be organised, create a map on Google with all the targets in a line, with the least amount of driving between each. Occasionally this happens and we are left scrambling, googling on phones, and trying to find somewhere that doesn't want to be found.
George Barnsley and Sons Ltd were founded 1836. It was around 1850 that the business moved to Cornish Street. With the march of time and the progress the world made in the aftermath of World War II, George Barnsley started to decline, as did the wider Sheffield cutlery and tool industries.
George Barnsley stopped the production of files in the early 1970’s. The firm eventually closed in 2003/4; the buildings were in a seriously dilapidated condition by this point.
After driving down several streets we came across 'George Barnsley & Sons', tucked down a back street and close to 'Rutland House'.
…fifteen minutes later…
“How the fuck do we get in here?”.
It was all solid doors, wire-meshed windows and iron gates.
We had been walking around, looking for a way in with @anidiotexplores at one point tangling with a metal shutter making an almighty noise.
"Not that way man, you're going to alert the entire neighbourhood with all that clanging", I said quickly legging it away. He was part in, part out, his legs dangling and kicking at fresh air.
Walking away fast and into the same ‘garage’ as the ‘Rutland House’ access point we spotted a small hole. Surely that couldn’t be it?
Crawling through the hole was not a big deal, it beats climbing a 6-foot wall which I do have issues with. The other side's scenery changed dramatically on entering. It was hardly an 'Alice in Wonderland' vision but still seemed a little surreal.
Trying to avoid my eyes being poked out by a wayward tree, I spread my arms wide like the 'Karate Kid' and balanced down the uneven stones underfoot onto the edge of 'George Barnsley & Sons'.
"Nice hole", I remarked to @anidiotexplores who grinned at the double edged meaning.
We both spotted some artistry and hoped the area was not going to be too covered by ‘cock-shots’ and ‘SUCK MY DICK’ messages. The signatures I find pleasing.
This would be the first of many wooden cabinets we would see within the walls and compound of 'George Barnsley & Sons' who appeared to have quite an obsession with them.
‘Leave this place now”, scrawled in the dust makes me want to see more.
Which way, left or right? This was one big place and there was a lot to see. I had to make sure @anidiotexplores kept close or we would get lost and separated.
What I was seeing could only be described as ‘19th century', with cogs, pulleys, and levers everywhere, all thoroughly rusted.
I felt a little sorry for the tweed jacket perched up there, it looked tiny and would fit a small female.
The graffiti adds a lot to the colours.
Heading down some steps that appeared to go into the bowels of the earth we came across just that. I'm not a cave person so quickly backed out again. There were far more interesting things to see.
If we headed right initially, it was time to now head left and enter what used to be the offices' area of 'George Barnsley & Sons'.
What is this strange-looking device, complete with a qwerty broken keyboard but resembles an industrial sewing machine?
Plush offices, but with black plastic sheeting to deprive the workers of their daily dose of vitamin D. It would have been a tough call to work in here.
The décor, styling, drawers, and doors looked distinctly from another time. This would hit me more a little later in the explore.
If it was made of wood, it surely would have been rotten. We ascended into the main section of ‘George Barnsley & Sons’.
Parts of the complex had collapsed but it indicates the size.
This is where the mass of cupboards began and a strange feeling came over me. @anidiotexplores had wandered off and the room was totally silent. While I am accustomed to this feeling, another one entered my mind, one of the past, one hundred years ago, or more when this would have been a hive of activity.
What I was seeing was now very surreal and the atmosphere was palpable.
Each cubby hole was marked in white pen or something of that nature.
The floor was a cross-cross of corridors, many of these shelves all with their own markings. Some of them I could not walk down as the floor was starting to collapse.
Maybe that ‘sewing machine’ was a huge typewriter and this was generated from it.
We headed up, and then down again amazed and lost in another time. It's not often I feel like that and this was one of those special explores you don't experience very often.
There's always some twat who wants to sign their name, fucking idiot.
I don’t know what these are, but there were plenty of them.
Discarded machinery and gears.
While I will happily conform, @anidiotexplores who generally 'smokes on the job' likely won’t.
The messages on the doors were getting more insistent. Could there be a stash of combustible gelignite behind this one?
Not so, but it was getting even more ‘woody’ the further along this floor we ventured. Some smouldering ash could well set the whole place off easily.
For once that 'blue snake' is not part of an illegal cannabis farm.
When a place is so big, you need to find the highlights. I figured the building we were in was just that.
It’s a long way down.
… and that’s real glass, only partially smashed.
My family had this very model when I was a kid, yeah… that means it's REALLY old.
Back down that spiral staircase…
… and past the 19th-century door, we made out way back outside and on to the final sections.
I would like to say it’s from the 9th century, but it’s just one of those cheap-arse copies.
Crossing over a bridge we made it only yet another room filled with cabinets and cubbyholes.
Look at the typeface on the numbering. People don’t write like that anymore.
This was one strange room and the culmination of all those boxes, cubby holes, and... holes!. Wherever you looked there was a small pokey hole.
We left the ‘hole room’ behind and came across this walkway. Should we walk it and possibly lose limbs, or find an alternative route?
…’If there’s nothing to hold on to, better forget it’…
I see ‘George Barnsley & Sons’ is bang up to date regarding current health and safety issues.
We hit the ground floor figuring it was a smidge safer than the ‘Bridge of Suicide'. See there's always an easier route.
Something that struck me was most of the writing is not from dickheads with their mindless graffiti. These are the original scrawlings of someone who once worked here, long ago in the deep past.
It is a lift, a little rusty but quite serviceable if you were to give it some love with a tin of Mr. Sheen.
Up, down and STOP.
It doesn’t half look a mess, but ‘George Barnsley & Sons’ had a lot of character still left and you could feel it.
@anidiotexplores escapes the compound, feet first through another hole. Holes were something we saw no shortage of.
FOOTNOTE: I am not the first HIVE writer to explore ‘George Barnsley & Sons’. @fastchrisuk wrote about it first. Tagging him as I know he will enjoy this.
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I also thought it was an industrial sewing machine but a clearer look says not.
Haha... I did have fun reading as always. Thanks for sharing and I did enjoy the 'Karate Kid' style you did. Hehe don't worry, my brain had it figured out.
I do that often, the things I stand on not knowing what's underneath. Sometimes I hear a crunch and my foot sinks lower than expected. One of those things.
But in the end, you end up good and get your ink filled up to write these lovies. Thanks for that.
Esse post sobre os exploradores urbanos que visitaram a antiga fábrica da George Barnsley and Sons Ltd é fascinante! Eu sempre me interessei por lugares abandonados e a história por trás deles, então foi muito interessante ver as fotos e ler sobre a história da fábrica e seus donos. É impressionante como o tempo e a natureza tomam conta desses lugares quando eles são deixados para trás, mas ao mesmo tempo é triste ver um prédio tão bonito e histórico ser deixado ao abandono. É uma pena que não exista um plano para restaurá-lo e devolvê-lo à sua antiga glória, mas é bom saber que existem pessoas dispostas a documentar esses lugares e compartilhar suas histórias com o mundo. Definitivamente vou seguir o autor deste post e ver o que mais ele tem a compartilhar sobre suas aventuras de exploração urbana!
Este foi um pouco especial e eu vou me lembrar por muito tempo. Isso foi no verão passado, então acho que as coisas podem ter mudado em 'George Barnsley' agora.
Wow @slobberchops friend, this time you have got a really huge place to explore!... And what a place full of things to photograph!...
I have been ecstatic looking at each photograph (I like to take photos, it's almost the only thing I do apart from selling some devices and supplies for wired and wireless networks)... As always the editing is fantastic and you take advantage of everything you find, including excellent composition and using fuge points in very good way... It's like you organize chaos into a nice photo!... Congratulations again for it!...
That strange device with a keyboard seems to me something that in the 70s was called "Print Terminal" in company data centers (I remember have seen similar devices in some old company warehouses where I worked as an IT professional)... But these are too old even for me, so I never saw them operational... But I think they were connected to the old servers (called Main Frames) and were used to interact with them through commands whose flow was written on perforated paper instead of a screen. .. Kind of crazy, but in the 60's and 70's anything possible to imagine happened in the emerging world of IT!...
As always, it has been a pleasure to visit, enjoy and appreciate your excellent article... I repeat: Majestic photos!... Happy week to you!!!!...
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You would probably do better, given the chance to come with me!
If so.. it's before my time. I am to an IT pro and have been since the mid 80's.
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Was there any sign of other electronics to suggest the keyboard contraption was an old hard-copy dumb terminal from a 1960s computer system? It doesn't look like the kind of business which would use that level of tech, but one never knows, especially if they were in decline at the time and trying to spend their way out of a collapse with upgrades.
Not that I noticed, mind you we tend to go at some speed, though I'm not as fast as my comrade who acts like's hes permanently on acid.
Now this is a place that calls out to my curiosity! I tried to imagine all those cogs and pulleys in working order! I’d love to know the history of this place. In my head, I want to see a reconstruction, like the end scene of the titanic film, where leonardo is waiting for Kate on the stairs 🤣🤣🤣 a very interesting tour, thank you! 😁
There is more history in the source link. I try to add a little but not over-do it as the focus is the tale and the photography.
This one was a little special and some of the photography didn't come over as well as expected. It was so moody in there, you could almost taste the past.
I think you captured the mood really well. I was drawn in to the pictures
You've got dem moves!
That was quite the 'splore, all those cubby holes were a sight to behold. I wonder what/where that tunnel led to. You can't beat caves!
There were a couple of them caves next to each other, both holding a load of sludgy shit inside.., not for me!
Right enough, you never know what weird sludgy shit places store underground.
There is an old quarry near me which they decided to fill with toxic metal sludge when they were done with. Now they are kicking themselves because they can't develop on the land!
Imagine how many people might have worked there... As you say it may have been a hive of people.. Im sure no pun intended 😂👀 and now it's nothing, nobody but you setting foot there in years. Something that would have seemed to be in existence forever is now blown out like a candle.
The info I got regarding it's history was that it was in bad shape during 2003/2004. This one was a bit of a gem, not being heavily vandalised and most of the decay being natural. That's what made it stand out so well.
Very cool.. Thanks for the tour.. 1972 lol.. Those were the days :)
Cracking set pal and thanks for the name check :-) It looks like you got some good light too. Makes me want to go back and shoot it some more but I keep driving past the entry point to see it blocked up....
I figured as much, they don't tend to stay open long. Will be doing a Sheffield trip soon, and that bloody Canon place will be on this list heheh...!
Well when you know you're doing Cannon's, let me know and I'll check access again....
Wow, despite being an abandoned place, the photos turned out amazing. I really liked your post 🤗 greetings.
Wow. That's a place ! Lots to see there indeed. And not even burnt to the ground yet ! Quite an impressive explore
I have given up on this place, massive fails everytime. You were lucky!!
According to @fastchrisuk, it's sealed again. As always it's a timing thing. You would have loved it, it had proper atmosphere. You could always try the Brothel 😃
I might be recognised 😂😂
Gosh this place would be AMAZING as an artist space? Kilns, painting rooms, rooms for draughting...maybe when the robot overlords AI us into the woodland, and artists have to return to setting type by hand and using pig bristle brushes, places like this will be just that haha.
That tweed coat made me sad, looks like some hanging in my own closet.
The cubbies are what really stir my 'art space' juices and most likely the white lettering is probably oil paint, it gets into wood and stays, not like pen and acrylic that sit on top of things and peel off.
Such an amazing place this was, I'm also a sucker for a winding spiral metal staircase.
I think you would have a great time in there as artist space! The owners may not like the idea quite so much.
As in all parts of the world, when we scrutinize we realize that the operation of many businesses in the world was so neat and it seemed that they worked honestly, since they emerged and were successful, with those machines that for one are obsolete, but for the times worked, as when the word was the truth. They are things from that time, now we have so much technology and how many businesses do not go bankrupt. Those of us who are over 70 years old, are surprised that there are no businesses that function as you show in your publication, which are no longer very old. Your publication is interesting, it brings back fond memories,George Barnsley and Sons Ltd se fundó en 1836. Fue alrededor de 1850 que el negocio se mudó a Cornish Street. Hits dear @slobberchops