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Definition: Sheffield from Philip's Encyclopedia

City and county district in South Yorkshire, N England. A hilly city, it lies at the confluence of the River Don and its tributaries, the Sheaf, Rivelin, and Lordey. It is a major industrial centre, noted for its steel. Pop. (2001) 513,234.


Summary Article: Sheffield from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Industrial city and metropolitan borough on the River Don, South Yorkshire, England; population of metropolitan district (2001 est) 513,100. From the 12th century, iron smelting was the chief industry, and by the 14th century, Sheffield cutlery, silverware, and plate were being made. During the Industrial Revolution the iron and steel industries developed rapidly. It now produces alloys and special steels, cutlery of all kinds, permanent magnets, drills, and precision tools. Other industries include electroplating, type-founding, and the manufacture of optical glass. It is an important conference centre.

History Thomas de Furnival granted Sheffield a

charter in 1297. Under the Talbot Earls of Shrewsbury, it was closely connected with one of the foremost noble families until 1616. The Talbot Earls often resided in the town, and in the early 16th century built the Manor Lodge and the Shrewsbury chapel in the parish church. In 1616 the manor passed to the Howard family; the present Duke of Norfolk retains considerable interests in the city as ground landlord. Mary Queen of Scots was held in custody in the manor and castle, 1569–83, by the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1843 Sheffield was incorporated as a borough, and made a city 50 years later. It was first represented in Parliament in 1832.

Location Situated on coal measures with workable seams, including the famous Silkstone seam within the city boundary, Sheffield is bisected by the Don and its tributaries, the Loxley, Rivelin, Porter, and Sheaf, flowing from the millstone grit to the west. Sheffield is flanked to the west and south by moorlands, including the Peak District National Park, and the southern Pennines.

Features The parish church of St Peter and St Paul (14th–15th centuries) is the cathedral of Sheffield bishopric established in 1914. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Sheffield 1570–84, part of the time in the Norman castle, which was captured by the Parliamentarians in 1644 and subsequently destroyed. There are two art galleries (Graves Art Gallery and Mappin Art Gallery); the Ruskin museum, opened in 1877 and revived in 1985; and the Cutlers' Hall (erected in 1832 on the site of previous buildings). Public buildings include the town hall, opened in 1897 and extended in 1923; the city hall, opened in 1932, with six halls including the magnificent oval hall seating 2,500; and the Castle Market Building (completed in 1959). There are also three theatres: (the Crucible (1971), the Lyric (designed by W R Sprague in 1897), and the restored Lyceum (reopened in 1990); and two universities (the University of Sheffield, which obtained its charter in 1905, and Sheffield Hallam University, formerly Sheffield Polytechnic, which obtained its charter in 1992). The Sheffield Supertram, Britain's most modern light rail system, opened in 1995. The city is a touring centre for the Peak District. The Meadowhall shopping centre in the old steel works area is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. The Winter and Peace Gardens and Millennium Galleries were built as part of the Heart of the City project to revitalize the city centre.

A few old grinding mills still stand beside the streams; one, Shepherd Wheel in Whiteley Woods, has been completely restored. On the River Sheaf the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet is a restored industrial complex with its millponds, water-wheels, and numerous workshops for a wide variety of old craft industries; Kelham Island Industrial Museum on the River Don has a working steam engine. The remains of Beauchief Abbey (1183) are within the city boundary. In addition to an extensive green belt, over 1,375 ha/3,437 acres of the city are publicly owned parks and open space. Over 240 ha/600 acres of the Peak District National Park are within the city boundary. The city museum in Weston Park has unique collections of cutlery and old Sheffield plate and an important collection of British antiquities particularly rich in Bronze Age specimens. The ‘Grice’ collection of Chinese ivories is displayed in the Graves Art Gallery. The Botanical Gardens have glass houses (1836) designed by Joseph Paxton, which are being restored with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Fitzwilliam muniments (title deeds) from Wentworth Woodhouse, the Arundel Castle muniments, and the Crewe muniments are all in the Sheffield Archives.

The cathedrals The parish church of St Peter and St Paul, a 12th-century foundation, became the cathedral in 1914 when the diocese of Sheffield was created from part of that of York. Enlargement of the cathedral, begun in 1937, was partially completed in 1942 and further building began in 1963. There is also a Roman Catholic cathedral, the church of St Marie (1847) which was made a cathedral for the new diocese of Hallam in 1980.

The Cutlers' Company ‘The Master, Wardens, Searchers, Assistants and Commonalty of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire in the County of York’ was incorporated in 1624. The Company owns the trademark ‘Sheffield’, and elects a Master Cutler annually. This office is regarded in the city as second only to that of Lord Mayor. The Cutlers' Feast, Forfeit Feast, and installation of the Master are important events in the calendar of the Cutlers' Company.

Industrial history Iron was worked in the vicinity in the 12th century, and Sheffield was famed for its knives by the time of Chaucer. Cutlery long remained the industry of the ‘little mester’ (self-employed cutler), but the 18th century saw many industrial changes. The invention by Thomas Boulsover in 1742 of the method of coating copper with silver to form ‘old Sheffield plate’, established an industry which flourished until it was superseded by electroplating in the 1850s. In 1740 Benjamin Huntsman invented the process for making crucible steel and later established his works at Attercliffe. At the same time coke began to be widely used for smelting; even more important was Henry Bessemer's converter of 1856. At the same time there arose a demand for steel for railways, armaments, and constructional purposes.

Present-day industry Little steel for general purposes is produced today. Sheffield's unique position depends on its production of alloy and special steels made to withstand high pressures or temperatures, to be acid-resistant, or possess other unusual qualities. Most were invented in Sheffield laboratories and works (including stainless steel). Much emphasis is placed on the importance of research in the industry. Sheffield has a high reputation for craftsmanship,

apparent also in its heavy engineering industry. Melting shops, heavy forges, rolling mills, plate and wire mills make up the industrial conurbation of Sheffield. Its cutlery industry includes knives, razors, scissors, surgical instruments, agricultural and other machine knives, joiners', carvers', mechanics', and garden tools, and coal-cutting and boring tools. The production of silver and electroplated goods, with silver and gold refining, forms another group of industries. There are important subsidiary industries including type-founding, snuff, confectionery, food, refractory materials, and cardboard-box making, and media-related industries in the new Cultural Industries Quarter. There are reservoirs in the Loxley, Rivelin, and Ewden valleys.

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