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A History of Sheffield


As is the case with many towns in England, Sheffield town sits between two rivers, the Sheaf and the Don. The former lent its name to the city. Lord William Lovetot first established the city and built a castle for its defense in the 12th century. The original Sheffield Castle was burnt by rebels but was later rebuilt together with a church a short distance a way.

The town received a charter in 1927, including the right to hold a market on a weekly basis and an annual trade fair. Sheffield became famous for cutlery and is widely believed to be the home of the Swiss army knife. Trade in cutlery grew to an all time high by 1600 when the townspeople discovered the use of watermills to forge steel.

Other professions that thrived in Sheffield included carpenters, shoemakers and brewers. However, the town was deeply mired in poverty. It is said, due to poverty, a workhouse was established in the town where the really poor would live and be given both food and work. The first grammar school in the town came in the 1600s.

Sheffield bears very little brunt of war except for the 1644 counterattack of parliamentary soldiers against the royalists. Parliamentarians destroyed Sheffield castle in 1648. Industrially, Sheffield began to grow from the iron industry. High quality steel was first manufactured in the town. Silver plating of copper items was also invented in Sheffield town leading to the popularity of silverware. The town also built its own lead mill in 1750s and a silk mill in 1760s.

The population of Sheffield grew by leaps and bounds through the years and had reached 135,000 by 1851. However, a cholera outbreak in 1832 due to poor sanitary conditions claimed 402 lives. The town got its first clean up of the streets and pavements through an act of parliament in 1818. The town also formed a police force to maintain law and order and streetlights were set up.

The period between 1830 and 1900 saw Sheffield town get its first cemetery, a dispensary, and the town hall. Also in place were botanical gardens and two art galleries. Sheffield was given another charter in 1843. Piped water was provided to residents of the town and a sewage treatment was also built. Other amenities that the town got over this period are a library and trams.

Germans bombed Sheffield in the First World War killing 28 people. Heavy industries bore the brunt of the World War I effects. Presently Sheffield is a thriving commercial hub.

Posted in: Latest News - On: 21st of June, 2011