Stephenson Blake collection, Sheffield

The project will create a new permanent home for the collection which was purchased for the nation in 1996 with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and is currently being stored in London and Wiltshire.

The winner of the estimated £60,000 contract will carry out a feasibility study exploring the potential to relocate the Stephenson Blake collection of historic printing types, borders, brass rules and spacing to the museum.

An options appraisal has already been completed for housing, displaying and using the collection in Sheffield’s Kelham Island Museum. The winning team will be tasked with delivering a full feasibility study and developing the relocation proposal to RIBA stage 1.

The Stephenson Blake collection includes type specimens, archival materials, and several type casting machines from the 1850s. The latest project will return the collection – which is currently held by V&A and the Science Museum Group – to a site close to the original foundry on Upper Allen Street.

The completed study is expected to be completed by January 2024. Bids to deliver the contract will be evaluated 70 per cent on quality and 30 per cent on cost.

Competition details

Project title Stephenson Blake Feasibility Study
Client Sheffield Museums Trust
Contract value £60,000
First round deadline
5pm, 18 August 2023
Restrictions The consultants should have relevant knowledge and experience of the museums, heritage and cultural sectors and capital project development
More information


According to the brief: ‘Sheffield Museums is seeking an organisation to undertake a feasibility study of the return of the Stephenson Blake Collection to Sheffield to be housed, displayed and used at Kelham Island Museum.

Founded in 1818, the Stephenson Blake type foundry grew to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of moulds, tools, punches, and patterns in the mid-20th century but closed in the 1990s.

‘The collection comprises 2.5 million handmade artefacts relating to typefounding from the 16th-to-20th century and is currently in storage in London and Wiltshire.’