Tiger Works has become a mainstay of West Street’s nightlife, establishing itself as a modern bar within an old building. It’s been open nearly ten years now, lasting much longer than previous uses as a fitness centre, Indian restaurant, nightclub and a Tequila bar.
Officially known as 136-138 West Street, the three-storey building is dated at 1884, with the name “Tiger Works” incised on a narrow but ornate façade at the front. And you can’t fail to notice the two carved tigers that sit above ground floor level.
It doesn’t take you long to realise that the bar adopted the name of the former factory, but its unique moniker has long puzzled locals. The clue REALLY does rest with the carved lions.
You might be surprised to learn that this was the second Tiger Works built in Sheffield.
The first Tiger Works belonged to Joseph Tingle Deakin, a Britannica metals manufacturer, who set up a factory at Green Lane, Kelham Island, in 1860, going into partnership with Henry Ecroyd, Ernest George Reuss and John Bottomley.
Deakin, Ecroyd and Company, were manufacturers of steel files, tools, saws, springs and table cutlery, its trademark consisting of a tiger, standing upon an arrow, with the word “Tiger” underneath. It was no surprise that the factory was named after its hallmark.
The partnership was dissolved in 1874, Deakin and Reuss continuing the business as Deakin Reuss and Company, establishing links with the Spanish and South American cutlery trade and exporting general hardware.
In 1884, the firm relocated to these new premises at West Street, although there is evidence that it had been operating on the site two years before. And it was here that the distinctive carved tigers appeared and have remained ever since.
Joseph Deakin died in 1896, by which time the company had changed its name to Deakin and Sons.
Despite the relatively small frontage, Tiger Works was deceivingly large, with an entrance to the factory through a cart entrance (now forming the main entrance to today’s bar), into a small courtyard surrounded by workshops.
The company moved out after Deakin’s death, with John Townroe and Sons, electro-platers, taking over No. 138 West Street in 1898, sharing with John Scholey, mark manufacturers, who occupied No. 136.
Scholey’s lease was subsequently taken over by J.G. Graves, the famous Sheffield mail order company, which used Tiger Works to sell jewellery, cameras, electro-plate musical instruments, clocks, phonographs and records.
Between 1910 and 1914 , Willie and Emile Viener, electro plate manufacturers, had taken over No. 136, and after they vacated, this section of the building was regularly offered to rent.
John Townroe and Sons, famous for its chromium stainless plating, remained until the 1940s, when it was taken over by the Aurora Gear and Engineering Company.
With various uses for the building ever since, it is somewhat remarkable that the “Tiger Works” name survives, in a very different manner, to that first created 160 years ago.