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West Riding
Sights of Sheffield
Grid reference: SK356874
Location: 53°22’59"N, 1°27’58"W
Post town: Sheffield
Postcode: S
Dialling code: 0114
Local Government
Council: Sheffield

Sheffield is a city in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. The core of the city is in Yorkshire, though in its growth it has spread across the Shirebrook and some of its southern suburbs are in Derbyshire.

Sheffield was built on steel. From the Middle Ages it was known for the fine quality of its steel knives, and it become known as "the Cutlers' Town". During the 19th century, steel became big and industrial, and Sheffield switched from knives and forks to gain an international reputation for large steel manufacture. Many innovations were developed locally, including crucible and stainless steel, fuelling an almost tenfold increase in the population during the Industrial Revolution.

The city is in the historic area of Hallamshire, and lies within the valleys of the River Don and its four tributaries, the Loxley, the Porter Brook, the Rivelin, and the Sheaf. There are more than 200 parks, woodlands and gardens in Sheffield and its surrounding districts.[1]

Sheffield received its municipal charter in 1893, officially becoming the City of Sheffield.

The city today

Steel was always the city's great industry, and steel factories still produce high-quality heavy steel, though international competition in iron and steel caused a decline in traditional local industries during the 1970s and 1980s, coinciding with the collapse of coal mining in the area.

The 21st century has seen extensive redevelopment in Sheffield along with other British cities. Sheffield's gross value added (GVA) has increased by 60% since 1997, standing at £9.2 billion in 2007. The economy has experienced steady growth averaging around 5% annually, greater than that of Yorkshire as a whole.


Sheffield Manor in 1819

The earliest evidence of human occupation in the Sheffield area was found at Creswell Crags to the east of the city.

As the Dark Ages opened, the new English kingdoms expanded across Britain, though the native British kingdom of Elmet survived for some centuries in the Pennines, and Sheffield might have been within its borders, the rivers Sheaf and Don forming part of the boundary between Elmet and the English.[2] It is suggested that the villages named Wales and Waleswood close to Sheffield indicate a native British, or "Welsh" presence.[3] For the most part though, Sheffield and the villages which became its suburbs are of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian origin.[4] The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that King Eanred of Northumbria submitted to King Egbert of Wessex at the hamlet of Dore, now a suburb of Sheffield, in 829,[5]

After the Norman conquest, Sheffield Castle was built to protect the local settlements, and a small town developed that is the nucleus of the modern city.[6] By 1296, a market had been established at what is now known as Castle Square]],[7] and Sheffield subsequently grew into a small market town.

In the 14th century, Sheffield was already noted for the making of fine knives, as mentioned in the Reeve's Tale in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales:

"Ther was no man, for peril, dorste hym touche.

A Sheffeld þwitel baar he in his hose. Round was his face, and camus was his nose"[8]

By the early 1600s Sheffield had become the main centre of cutlery manufacture in England outside of London, overseen by the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.[9] From 1570 to 1584, Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Sheffield Castle and Sheffield Manor.[10]

Dale Dike Reservoir

During the 1740s, a form of the crucible steel process was discovered that allowed the manufacture of a better quality of steel than had previously been possible.[11] In about the same period, a technique was developed for fusing a thin sheet of silver onto a copper ingot to produce silver plating, which became widely known as Sheffield plate.[12] These innovations spurred Sheffield's growth as an industrial town, but the loss of some important export markets led to a recession in the late 18th and early 19th century. The resulting poor conditions culminated in a cholera epidemic that killed 402 people in 1832.[4]

The population of the town grew rapidly throughout the 19th century; increasing from 60,095 in 1801 to 451,195 by 1901.[4] The town was incorporated as a borough in 1842 and was granted a city charter in 1893.[13] The influx of people also led to demand for better water supplies, and a number of new reservoirs were constructed on the outskirts of the town. The collapse of the dam wall of one of these reservoirs in 1864 resulted in the Great Sheffield Flood, which killed 270 people and devastated large parts of the town.[14] The growing population led to the construction of many back-to-back dwellings that, along with severe pollution from the factories, inspired George Orwell in 1937 to write: "Sheffield, I suppose, could justly claim to be called the ugliest town in the Old World".[15]

A recession in the 1930s was halted by increasing international tensions as the Second World War loomed; Sheffield's steel factories were set to work manufacturing weapons and ammunition for the war effort. As a result, the city became a target for bombing raids, the heaviest of which occurred on the nights of 12 and 15 December 1940, now known as the Sheffield Blitz. More than 660 lives were lost and many buildings destroyed.[16]

Park Hill flats

In the 1950s and 1960s, many of the city's poor houses were demolished, and replaced with housing schemes such as the Park Hill flats. Large parts of the city centre were also cleared to make way for a new system of roads.[4] Increased automation and competition from abroad resulted in the closure of many steel mills. The 1980s saw the worst of this run-down of Sheffield's industries, along with those of many other areas of the UK.[17]

The building of the Meadowhall shopping centre on the site of a former steelworks in 1990 was a mixed blessing, creating much needed jobs but hastening the decline of the city centre. Attempts to regenerate the city were kick-started when the city hosted the 1991 World Student Games, which saw the construction of new sporting facilities such as the Sheffield Arena, Don Valley Stadium, and the Ponds Forge complex.[4]


Don Valley Stadium

Sheffield has a long sporting heritage. In 1857 a collective of cricketers formed the world's first-ever official football club, Sheffield FC,[18] and the world's second-ever, Hallam FC, who also play at the world's oldest football ground in the suburb of Crosspool. By 1860 there were 15 football clubs in Sheffield, with the first ever amateur league and cup competitions taking place in the city.[19]

There are two professional clubs in the Football League: Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. There are also two major non-league sides: Sheffield FC and Hallam FC, although Sheffield now play just outside the city in nearby Dronfield, in Derbyshire. Sheffield and Hallam contest what has become known as the Sheffield derby, whilst United and Wednesday contest the Steel City derby.

Football does not have a monopoly on sport and fitness; the city has facilities for golf, climbing, and bowling, as well as a newly inaugurated national ice-skating arena (IceSheffield).

Sheffield Eagles RLFC are the city's professional Rugby league team who play their matches at Bramall Lane, where they ground share with owners Sheffield United Football Club. Their most successful moment came in 1998, when, against all the odds they defeated Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup final, despite being huge underdogs. The team then hit troubled times before reforming in 2003. Since then they have played their rugby in the Championship (second tier). In 2011, they made the play offs finishing in 5th place. They made the Grand Final, by defeating Leigh, who were huge favourites in a play off semi final. In the final, they were comprehensively beaten by Featherstone. Sheffield also put in a bid to be a host city for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, but their bid was unsuccessful.

Sheffield is also home to the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team who play out of the 8,500-seater Sheffield Arena. They play in the professional Elite Ice Hockey League.

Many of Sheffield's sporting facilities were built for the World Student Games, which the city hosted in 1991. They include the Don Valley International Athletics Stadium, the largest athletics stadium in the United Kingdom, with a capacity of 25,000,[20] Sheffield Arena, and the Ponds Forge international diving and swimming complex. Ponds Forge is also the home of Sheffield City Swimming Club, a local swimming club competing in the speedo league.

The Sheffield Ski Village is the largest artificial ski resort in Europe. The city also has three indoor climbing centres. Sheffield was the UK's first National City of Sport and is now home to the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield, where British athletes trained for the 2012 Olympics.[21]

Sheffield also has close ties with snooker, with the city's Crucible Theatre being the venue for the World Snooker Championships.[22] The English Institute of Sport hosts most of the top fencing competitions each year, including the National Championships for Seniors, Juniors (U20's) and Cadets (U17's) as well as the 2011 Senior European Fencing Championships. The English squash open is also held in the city every year. The International Open and World Matchplay Championship bowls tournaments have both been held at Ponds Forge.

The city also hosts the Sheffield Tigers rugby union, Sheffield Sharks basketball, Sheffield University Bankers hockey, Sheffield Steelers ice hockey and Sheffield Tigers speedway teams.

Outside links


  1. Millhouses Park, Sheffield. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  2. Cox, Tony (2003). "The Ancient Kingdom of Elmet". The Barwicker 39: 43. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  3. S O Addy: A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighbourhood of Sheffield, p. 274 - "The Anglo-Saxon invaders or settlers called the old inhabitants or aborigines of this country wealas, or foreigners."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Vickers, J. Edward (1999). Old Sheffield Town. An Historical Miscellany (2nd ed.). The Hallamshire Press Limited. ISBN 1-874718-44-X. 
  5. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  (827) "Egbert led an army against the Northumbrians as far as Dore, where they met him, and offered terms of obedience and subjection, on the acceptance of which they returned home".
  6. Hunter, Joseph (1819). "Sheffield under De Busli and De Lovetot". Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York. Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mayor, and Jones. pp. 24–29. 
  7. "Markets history – 1700s and before". Sheffield City Council. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 
  8. Geoffrey Chaucer: The Reeve's Tale
  9. Hey, David (1997). "The Establishment of the Cutlers Company". in Clyde Binfield & David Hey. Mesters to Masters: a History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire. Oxford University Press. pp. 12–25. ISBN 0198289979. 
  10. Leader, John Daniel (1880). Mary queen of Scots in captivity: a narrative of events from January 1569, to December, 1584, whilst George Earl of Shrewsbury was the guardian of the Scottish Queen. Leader & Sons. ISBN 1177406640. OCLC 57701910. 
  11. Tweedale, Geoffrey (1986). Metallurgy and Technological Change: A Case Study of Sheffield Specialty Steel and America, 1830–1930. 27. The Johns Hopkins University Press on behalf of the Society for the History of Technology. 189–222. doi:10.2307/3105143. 
  12. Phillips, Helen L. (2004). "Boulsover, Thomas (1705–1788)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/53918. 
  13. "History of the Lord Mayor". Sheffield City Council. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  14. Harrison, Samuel (1864). A complete history of the great flood at Sheffield on March 11 & 12, 1864. S. Harrison. ISBN 0904293017. OCLC 2905832. 
  15. Orwell, George (1937). "Chapter 7". The Road to Wigan Pier. Victor Gollancz Ltd. p. 72. ISBN 0905712455. 
  16. Walton, Mary; Lamb, Joseph Percy (1980). Raiders over Sheffield: the story of the air raids of 12th & 15th December 1940. Sheffield City Libraries. ISBN 0900660554. OCLC 7273086. 
  17. Taylor, Ian R.; Evans, Karen & Fraser, Penny (1996). "The catastrophic decline of Sheffield's industrial district". A tale of two cities: global change, local feeling and everyday life in the North of England : a study in Manchester and Sheffield. Taylor & Francis. pp. 63–72. ISBN 0415138299. 
  18. "Stars mark team's 150th birthday". BBC News (BBC). 24 November 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2009. 
  19. Harvey, Adrian (2005). "Britain's first football culture—Sheffield 1857–67". Football: the first hundred years: the untold story. Routledge. pp. 92–125. ISBN 0415350190. 
  20. Grose, Tim (2003). "Sheffield: Don Valley Stadium". UK Running Track Directory. Tim Grose. Retrieved 19 July 2009. 
  21. Fielder, Nancy (27 December 2008). "Party time as EIS celebrates five years". The Star (Johnston Press Digital Publishing). Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  22. "World Snooker to stay at Crucible". BBC Sport (BBC). 28 April 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
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