Twelve objects stolen in Kelham Island Museum raid - Museums Association

Twelve objects stolen in Kelham Island Museum raid

Sheffield Museums asks for help recovering items following ‘carefully planned’ break-in
A range of metalwork items have been stolen from Kelham Island Museum
A range of metalwork items have been stolen from Kelham Island Museum

Sheffield Museums is appealing to the public for help recovering 12 stolen objects following a burglary at Kelham Island Museum on 14 May.

The stolen objects include knives and sculptures, as well as silver kitchenware dating back to the 1700s. Many of the items are very distinctive. Some were on loan from Sheffield Assay Office and others featured in displays created by the Ken Hawley Collection Trust, which is based at the museum.

Sheffield Museums, which runs Kelham Island Museum alongside Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Graves Gallery, Millennium Gallery, Shepherd Wheel Workshop and Weston Park Museum, has issued a public appeal.

“We’re deeply saddened by the break-in at Kelham Island Museum over the weekend, which appears to have been a carefully planned theft,” said Kim Streets, chief executive of Sheffield Museums Trust.

“Like museums across the country, we care for the objects entrusted to us and work with our partners and communities to celebrate the remarkable feats of innovation, creativity and excellence they represent. The historical significance of these items goes far beyond any financial value they hold. They span one of the first objects hallmarked by Sheffield Assay Office to knives made by one of our last Little Mesters, the much-missed Stan Shaw, and are irreplaceable touchstones of Sheffield’s rich heritage.”

“Some of these items are likely to find their way onto the market and are very distinctive. We’re appealing to the public to be vigilant and to share any information they have that might aid their recovery with South Yorkshire Police.”


Ashley Carson, assay master at Sheffield Assay Office, said: “I am devastated to hear this very sad news. Once again, similar to the Assay Office break-in earlier this year, the articles stolen do not have any real sell on value. To Sheffield Museums and the stories they celebrate, these represent a far wider loss and are totally irreplaceable. I would also like to appeal to anyone who has any information that may lead to the recovery of these items to please come forward and assist the police. This is the latest in a string of robberies in the city and these criminals need to be stopped.”

The objects include:

  • A 104-blade exhibition knife (1800) made by Greenhough.
  • A 14-blade display knife made from 14 carat gold, stainless steel and mother of pearl (1987) by Stan Shaw.
  • A multiblade knife with horn scales made by Stan Shaw.
  • A multiblade knife made by Steven Cocker using Joseph Rodger pattern.
  • A folding knife with 9 carat gold scales (1904) made by William Needham.
  • A folding knife with tortoise shell scales and gold decoration (1800s) made by Taylor’s Eye Witness.
  • A sterling silver coffee pot made (1773) by Matthew Fenton, Richard Creswick and William Watson.
  • A sterling silver tea kitchen caddy (1774) made by John Rowbotham and Co.
  • Four sculptures – of a Duckling, a Heron, a Dragonfly and a Kingfisher – made by Jason Heppenstall from stainless steel cutlery.

Images of the items can be seen below.

South Yorkshire Police want to hear from anybody who may have information about the burglary, or may have seen the items for sale online or in person. If you have any information, please contact them using live chat, their online portal or by calling 101 quoting incident number 193 of 14 May 2023. Access live chat and the online portal here.

Alternatively, information can be passed on anonymously by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers. Call its UK Contact Centre on freephone 0800 555 111, or complete a simple and secure anonymous online form at

Comments (1)

  1. Steve Davis says:

    Advice to Museums about security measures would be useful in such an article, as would details of the type/make of showcases or displays that were burgled. Such information could help many museums and collections take preventative measures.
    There are simple measures that can be applied and yes. they will cost to install, but better to do that rather than have your premises and spaces violated.
    Designers and manufacturers must take a lead in such matters when working with Museums.
    Steve Davis, Museum Designer

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