Second phase of construction launched at heavy engineering business

A demolition programme at Sheffield Forgemasters’ Brightside Lane base has opened the site up for the next phase of construction for the UK’s largest open die forge.

With a footprint of 150 metres by 84 metres, the location is now undergoing piling works for the foundations and base, which will support a 148,000 sq ft building containing a new 13,000 tonne heavy forging press, furnaces, quenching pits and cranes.

Partnered by Vinci Building, which has has secured a £138m contract to deliver the forge building, Sheffield Forgemasters is undertaking a site-wide recapitalisation programme to produce a new level of technological advancements and production facilities in support of the UK’s defence programmes.

Craig Fisher, recapitalisation and transformation director at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “We are now at a notable milestone in our Forge project, with the site fully cleared and processed so that piling works can proceed.

“This moves the project into its next phase, which is where the pace of delivery ramps up.”

Demolition and remediation works have been underway for the past seven months, including removal of internal steel structures, stabilising the ground, removal of any contaminants, processing more than 25,000 cubic metres of spoil, and crushing 4,500 cubic metres of old concrete to clear the site.

Chris Winspear, from VINCI Building, said “We are pleased that we have now completed the demolition and prepared the first areas of site ready to receive the substructure works for the new building.

“We are looking forward to the next phase of the project working in collaboration with our supply chain partner, Cementation Skanska, appointed to undertake piling and ground engineering package of works.”

Working with VINCI Building, piling specialist Cementation Skanska will construct a 200-metre long secant pile wall for the new forge, between eight and ten metres deep. In total, 1,500 piles will be required for the project.

The forging line is set to be operational in the summer of 2027 and will be complemented by a new machining facility, which is currently being scoped, containing multiple versions of the world’s largest, most advanced, five-axis vertical turning lathes.

Fisher added: “The scope of what we are undertaking at Sheffield Forgemasters is unmatched since the Victorian era, with facilities which will work to create a new standard of large-scale engineering accuracy, innovation and speed for complex, nuclear-grade components.

“An uplift in defence contracts has meant that we need the capacity of our facilities to be able to match increased throughput.”

The forging line and proposed machine shop will service defence and commercial work in sectors such as civil nuclear power, creating a new generation of engineers and designers, trained to work with Industry 4.0 technologies.

Turner & Townsend is also a supporting partner for the Sheffield Forgemasters project, alongside Tetra-Tech.