Steel Industry, Press Forging a propellor shaft, Cammell Laird (s10827)
Photo generously permitted by Sheffield Local Studies Library (Picture Sheffield Collection).

The Sheffield Steel Industry

The South Yorkshire Steel Industry and the Industrial Revolution

"SHEFFIELD WAS A CUTLERY TOWN long before it became Steel City. The first documentary reference to a Sheffield Cutler comes from 1297, but steel was not made there until just after 1700. The town was known as a smoky centre of industry long before the first steel furnace was erected...

...In the first half of the nineteenth century the steel industry was still dependent on the handicraft skills of its workforce. A clever, hard-working, risk-taking mechanic could make his fortune, however humble his beginnings. The trade was easy to enter, as Huntsman had shown, and nearly all the capital that was invested came from local sources. The subsequent history of the Sheffield and Rotherham steel industry has been well covered by Dr Geoffrey Tweedale, who has shown how the American market was largely responsible for the remarkable expansion of the Sheffield crucible steel industry between the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War.  In good years a third or more of Sheffield's steel output was sent across the Atlantic, in addition to the vast trade in cutlery and edge tools.  Large fortunes were made from the American trade by the steel firms of Sanderson, Jessop, VICKERS, Greaves, Butcher, and Cammell...[from an article by David Hey, University of Sheffield 2005].

Additional Info

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet & More -
Industrial History of Sheffield, with particular reference to Abbeydale, an 18th Century Scythe Works.  The Tilt Hammer site includes an extensive list of links to Sheffield & the Cutlery Trade, Water Wheel & Watermill Sites, Museums & Galleries, Archaeology & Scythe Links etc.

Millhouses was, until the 1870's, a small hamlet near Sheffield, distinguished only because it had a corn mill which had been operating since the 12th century. It lay in the Manor and Parish of Ecclesall, and was in border country - lying on the Yorkshire side of the River Sheaf with Derbyshire opposite.  See also other Parks and Woodlands in Sheffield.

Rotherham Iron & Steel
Rotherham - a town and a borough situated in the county of South Yorkshire, England. Despite the demise of most of the collieries and the closure of many steelworks Rotherham is still an industrial town. The metropolitan borough of Rotherham includes suburban areas, rural villages, open countryside and the towns of Maltby and Wath-upon-Dearne.

Fork Making at Shiregreen           << MORE
Sheffield has been renowned for the quality of it's cutlery at least since the time of Chaucer.  The history of the origins of the fork is somewhat obscure - courtesy of Ann Halford

Wortley Top Forge & Industrial Museum
Wortley Top Forge is a Water Powered Iron Forge whose history can be traced back to 1640. The site has been used for various processes but it is best known for the Wrought Iron Railway Axles that were produced between 1840 and production stopping around 1910. Following the final abandonment of the site in 1929, various bodies have been involved in securing the site which now forms the heart of an Industrial Museum.

Trade Marks/Makers Marks            << MORE
Sheffield Indexers collection of links relating to Assessments, Makers Marks on Steel, Stainless Steel, Silver and more.

Master Cutlers, Mayors and Lord Mayors of Sheffield
When the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1624, the local cutlery industry in Sheffield was already over three centuries old.  Sheffield Indexers provides a list of Cutlers and Mayors from 1624 to 1950.  See also
360° Views of Cutlers' Hall and Hadfield Hall and the website of the Company of Cutlers.

Stainless Steel - Harry Brearley
Harry Brearley, born in Sheffield, England in 1871, was appointed lead researcher at Brown Firth Laboratories in 1908. In 1912 Brearley was given a task by a small arms manufacturer who wished to prolong the life of their gun barrels which were eroding away too quickly. Brearley set out to create an erosion resistant steel, not a corrosion resistant one, and began experimenting with steel alloys containing chromium.

The Hawley Collection
The Hawley Collection is an internationally important collection of edge-tools and cutlery, mainly from Sheffield, but with complementary material from Britain and the rest of the world.  The Collection is owned by a charitable Trust and is housed at the University of Sheffield in a building specially modified for it. Almost all of the the S & C Wardlow, steel manufacturers factory, has been rebuilt, but the surviving building on the right, the steel warehouse, now houses the collection.

Benjamin Huntsman - Materialising Sheffield
A visit to Benjamin Huntsman's (1704-1776) steelworks in Attercliffe in 1771, who founded Sheffield’s industrial fortunes through the invention of the crucible steel process.

Ironworks & Steelworks in England           << NEW
Wikipedia information on Ironworks and Steelworks in England including;
Hadfields Steel Foundry Co. Ltd. known as East Hecla Works, Jessop Saville and Company or William Jessop & Sons and Samuel Osborn and Company to name a few.

Vickers Sons & Co. Ltd.
Formed and based initially in Sheffield in 1867 it was attached to the steelworks at the River Don Works. They were world renowned, among other things, for high quality steel castings, including church bells.  Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Co. Ltd. (London) was acquired in 1897 where a wide range of military equipment was then produced. See also Vickers links of interest page on Sheffield Indexers.

North East History Pages - Sheffield Steel
Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster. Information includes: Celtic Sheffield, Anglo-Saxon Sheffield, Medieval Sheffield, Sheffield Steel, Sheffield Plate, Modern/Victorian Sheffield, Rotherham and Conisborough, Barnsley and the River Dearne, Doncaster- Romans and Races, Adwick, Burghwallis & Hatfield, Bawtry, Austerfield & Tickhill and much more.

The Song of Steel
The Don Valley, between Sheffield and Rotherham, was once full of steelworks relied upon by many thousands of families for their daily bread. The Song of Steel offers a glimpse inside the lives of these men and women. The work was tough and dangerous and accidents were commonplace, but a special camaraderie was forged along with the steel.

Trades, Directories & Unions
Sheffield indexers collections of the links to workers trades, unions and Directories. 

More Sheffield History

Sheffield Indexers, Sheffield History
Sheffield Indexers collection of links to historical Sheffield including; Sheffield History, Laws & Acts, Living & Working Conditions, Historical Land & Buildings, Sheffield Flood and War Memories.

Sheffield Indexers, Other Historical Info
Sheffield Indexers collection of links to more articles of interest relating to Sheffield including; Sheffield Stories, Newspaper Articles, Editorials & General Interests, Sheffield Rhymes Etc, Cherished Sheffield Family Memories, Recipes of Olde Yorkshire, Old Sheffield Picture Post Cards and Yorkshire Expressions.

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