The Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust put on a ‘do’ last weekend at the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, and I do like a good do.
It’s a pretty special place, the Hamlet, being one of only a few preserved historical industrial sites in the country. More than just a museum, it’s a living, breathing place where you can immerse yourself in our local working past.
I loved wandering around with my camera, soaking up the atmosphere, taking time to imagine the place as it would have been. It wasn’t difficult to do – the place had been restored to what seems like an authentic condition, with tools, benches, vessels and all sorts of artifacts dotted around as if the workers had just down-tools moments ago.
I’m not a believer in the afterlife, or of spirit worlds, ghosts and ghouls, but I did get the feeling that this place held a lot of lost lives within its walls. Some of the rooms had an eerie atmosphere, I often felt as if I was getting in the way, like a Victorian ‘Teemer’ would barge past at any moment to get back to work.
When I wasn’t wandering around, daydreaming, I enjoyed the buzz of activity in the courtyard: wolfed down an amazing burger from the lovely charity-run Whirlow Hall Farm BBQ; there were rousing anthems from the Escafeld Brass Band; heritage craft displays from forging, to woodworking and weaving; cupcakes, recycled cutlery sculptures, a visit from the Lord Mayor, and displays from the local craftspeople who make Abbeydale their home.
For me, there’s so much potential for inspiration in somewhere like the AIH. I’d love to spend time writing, playing and recording music in a venue like that. Whenever I’ve tried writing in a different place, away from my own territory, I’m always pleased with what comes out. AIH is also a great space for an event, with an enclosed courtyard providing a natural amphitheater, and loads of spaces in which you could set up site-specific installations. I’m hoping that I’ll get to spend a lot of time there in the future, and that I’ll be able to tell something of its story through the music I make.