Tales of the Urban Explorer: Hepworth Refractories

in Urban Exploration4 months ago (edited)

A walk around Hepworth Refractories was more akin to checking out an art illegal gallery. There is no stealth needed as you can simply walk on to this derelict site and look around.

That's not to say a visit does not constitutes civil trespass. It does, and while I was there saw nobody, not even another spray paint artist adding to the fantastic work on show.


I was not sure what to expect besides graffiti, seeing that the whole city of Sheffield is encased with the stuff and better quality than I am used to viewing.

Hepworth Refractories was a brick-making factory complex located in northeast Sheffield, which first opened in November 1954.

The site closed in the 1990s and fell into abandonment. However, in 2006, the site was bought by Bovis Homes who had a vision of building 500 new homes on the site.

These plans were defeated by local opposition, who objected because the local area's infrastructure could not support this level of development. - Source

My first impression was that it was big.., very big, and it would take a while to look around.


Some areas I noticed had artwork in strange places, such as buildings that were too dangerous to access or climb.


Like how do you balance up there (on the left), if there are no longer any stairs?

Assuming Sheffield graffiti monsters are also skilled climbers who bring ropes and ladders, I continued looking around.


Getting inside any of the numerous buildings was hardly a challenge unless you find ducking down a strain.


Some of these proved to be shells, so it was a question of moving to the next one in search of more interesting sights.


These human monsters with large black eyes and jagged teeth are distinctive. It's a style I saw all over the city (you will see more in my future posts) and is obviously the work of the same artist.


There's always the wannabees, this one needs a little more work. It's better than I could do but would probably be better elsewhere. It doesn't fit here.


How one gets up there, I will never know. Some of the art was new, and I can only guess that being higher up (and less accessible) detracts from some of the wankers who spray paint over the better ones.




Many artists sign their work, well why not.., even if I don’t know what it’s supposed to be.




This style I know is from a Sheffield artist who has been already featured on HIVE. I wish I could remember the name, but all that sticks in my head is that it starts with 'C'. Coloquix or something?


Some more from Mr. Scary Big Teeth; I love the style.



There was a little evidence left that Hepworth Refractories was more than a playground for graffiti artists, but it was tough to find.



After walking into one of the largest abandoned buildings ever I wondered if they produced Jets or something here. You could easily fit several inside.

It might be big and took fucking ages to walk to the other end, but was devoid of anything interesting.


Unless you figure this bath to be just that?


This is probably my favourite piece on the entire site, just look at the shades and lighting. Someone has pure talent.


Recognise the style on the right-most face popping up. That's been sprayed over. There is plenty of room elsewhere, is it artistic jealousy?





Yes it’s fresh, probably painted in the last week. I think we can figure that one out.


This is also really great and the chains make it look all the better. Again, some dickhead had gotten jealous and sprayed mindless words over it.


Besides the artwork, there was little else to see in Hepworth Refractories. I was hoping there might be some artist doing so new work but it was not to be.



That would be for another adventure in the City of Steel.


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Great set mate. Coincidentally we visited today looking for the clay mine above the site but never found.... Also you've missed the other side of the site with the long kilns. As you reach the bottom of the hill walk left and there is more to see. Gimme a shout if you go again and I'll give you the 10 cent tour!

There's so much to see, it doesn't surprise me that we missed things. I have now identified some of the artists such as Coloquix (spelt correct), Mars and Trik 9 (the awesome one). I still can't identify the one who makes the Scream type heads with big teeth, do you have any idea?


The graff with the big teeth is by braykGB. Goes under @brayk_graff on Instagram. I've met him a few times on my travels while he's been painting and he's even been with us for a spot of lightpainting.

That's awesome, I wish there could have been just one there when we visited. I have since looked braykGB up, he's everywhere around the city. I have more Sheffield posts to come soon.

Some really distinctive pieces there, love that kind of good graffiti. They must use ropes and stuff. I see it in Glasgow, my old train route used to go through some abandoned factory sites and you would see some great graffiti in some really god awful hard bits to get up onto

I remember years ago pulling into Euston Station in London, the walls were full of it.., and then it was suddenly all gone. Painting there would have been super-illegal right next to a live very busy railway line.

I do wonder if I am correct in my assumption about this artist jealously. It looks that way to me.

It does look that way and I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't some bitter rivalries in the same town. Shame tho

Ah man, I love graff culture. I've heard plenty of friends talk about some of the ways they get up to those hard to reach places; but I don't want to give away their secrets. It certainly is kind of a status thing, and additionally it discourages vandalism by some of the more disrespectful "artists"(morons) and gets more exposure.

I saw a lot of controversy even just looking at your photos. A few of these fools have death wishes doing shitty tags over those pieces!

It looks like a cool place. I would've enjoyed street art a lot more with a place like that when I was younger. I just played look out for my actually talented friends though. My shit was never meant to meet the public's eye 😂

Great photos, as always! Love reading your posts.

I guess you are from the USA looking at your profile. Would it be dangerous to visit somewhere like this over there? It never feels like that here, no guns helps.

Nah not at all. It's the type of thing where every mother and father will tell their kids stuff like this is dangerous, and sure it is, but so is walking down the street. The rumors that the homeless are gonna stab some random kid for exploring and just that- rumors made up by people who have never had to sleep a night outside in their entire lives. The USA boogeymen you hear of are usually completely harmless and just people going through a tough time created by our fucked up economic system. The real boogeymen here, that would endanger a stranger, are usually successful people that breeze their way through life. I've found more safety and love in homeless encampments than in any job or school I've ever been to.

That’s a great set of snaps, I had heard sheffield was good for street art, very nice

This content is from a day out in Sheffield. We hit around 8-9 locations and I have never seen so much graffiti. I would love to get the street names of these two artists, they are so distinct. Every other building is derelict there, you can't fail. !WINE

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Everyone a winner I have a few to do over that way as far down as Chesterfield

Got a few to do that way, as far down as Chesterfield

Oh, this one was a winner! I know you were going for something else, but, I truly love a good set of graffiti. But, can we still call this graffiti?

They really have fancied this place up. I have seen some of them bring their own ladders to paint with.

I am trying to identify the artists and have found some of them. I saw the same styles time and time again while in the city. It was a great day out.

It used to be a huge factory, now it looks like a canvas for artists, a space to practice. Good works to be found in that place

Wow, that is definitely some high end stuff there. One of the things I love about graffiti is like you said, trying to figure out how they got there to do what they did. You have to imagine that it takes a lot of time to do some of these pieces. That's why when I see stuff like this on overpasses you have to wonder how they did it with no one seeing them or killing themselves.

This city is full of it, and there's a lot more that I haven't looked at yet. May go back this summer for another day of it.

Some amazing work there. I'd love to see it in person and interesting its called the Hepworth, as there is a more traditional art gallery in Wakefield named after the great local artist Barbara Hepworth....that's coincidental synergy!
I see your photo editing is improving no end mate :-)

I see your photo editing is improving no end mate :-)

Thanks, I'm not doing anything different though. Trying to capture the memories for all-times sake!

Some great graffiti here. I wonder if there is a graffiti community yet?

There is one for StreetArt.

I shall take a leek. Seeing no end under the tunnels on the canals. Some crap some funny and some just really good

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Some of that graffiti is really good.

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some great graf art there... really fucks me off no end when pricks just scrawl over the art with their 'tag'