1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sheffield

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SHEFFIELD, a city, and municipal, county and parliamentary borough in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, 158½ m. N.N.W. from London. Pop. (1901) 409,070. It is served by the Midland, Great Central and Great Northern railways, and has direct connexion with all the principal lines in the north of England. The principal stations are Victoria (Great Central) and Midland. Sheffield is situated on hilly ground in the extreme south of the county, and at the junction of several streams with the river Don, the principal of which are the Sheaf, the Porter, the Rivelin and the Loxley. The manufacturing quarter lies mainly in the Don valley, while the chief residential suburbs extend up the picturesque hills to the south. The centre of the city, with the majority of the public buildings, lies on the slope south of the Don, and here are several handsome thoroughfares. The older portions were somewhat irregular and overcrowded, but a great number of improvements were effected under an act of 1875, and have been steadily continued. There is an extensive system of tramways, serving the outlying townships. The parish church of St Peter is a cruciform building, mainly Perpendicular. The original Norman building is supposed to have been burned during the wars of Edward III, with the barons, and the most ancient existing part is the tower, dating from the 14th century. A restoration in 1880, when transepts and a W. front were added, improved the church by demolishing the galleries and other heavy internal fittings. There are a number of interesting mural monuments; and the Shrewsbury chapel contains a fine tomb of the 4th earl of Shrewsbury, who founded it in the 16th century. Of the principal public buildings, the town hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1897. It is a fine building in the style of the Renaissance, surmounted by a lofty tower, which is crowned by an emblematic statue in bronze. The Cutlers' hall was built in 1832 and enlarged in 1857 by the addition of a magnificent banqueting hall. The handsome corn exchange, in Tudor style, and the market hall were acquired from the duke of Norfolk by the corporation. Among several theatres, the Theatre Royal was originally erected in 1793. Others are the Alexandra, Lyceum and Alhambra. There are extensive barracks. Literary and social institutions include the Athenaeum (1847), with news-room and library; the literary and philosophical society (1822), the Sheffield club (1862), the Sheffield library, founded in 1777, and the free library (1856), with several branches. The public museum and the Mappin art gallery are situated in Weston Park; and in Meersbrook Hall is the fine Ruskin museum, containing Ruskin's art, mineralogical, natural history, and botanical collections, and some original drawings and valuable books. These are in the custody of the corporation. Beyond St Peter's church relics of antiquity are few, but there remains a part of the manor-house of Hallam, dating from the 16th century. In the S. of the city is Broom Hall, a fine ancient half-timbered building.

The educational establishments are important. University College, constituted by that title in 1897, was founded in 1879 as the Firth College by Mark Firth (1819–1880), an eminent steel-manufacturer. This institution was enlarged in 1892, and comprised, besides the college, a technical department (1886) occupying the buildings of the former grammar school, and equipped with metallurgical laboratories, steel works, iron foundry, a machine and fitting shop, &c.; and a medical school, together with a school of pharmacy. In 1903 the foundation was laid of a building, at Western Bank, to contain the departments of medicine, arts, pure science, commerce, &c. When the college became dissociated in 1904 from the Victoria University, Manchester, of which it had formed a constituent, the necessary financial and other preparations were taken in hand to enable the college to be incorporated as the Sheffield University, and it was opened as such by King Edward VII. Other educational institutions are the free writing school (1715, rebuilt in 1827), the boys' charity school (founded 1706), the girls' charity school (1786), the Church of England educational institute, the Roman Catholic reformatory (1861), the Wesley College, associated with London University, Ranmoor College of the Methodist New Connexion, the mechanics' institute, and the school of art.

Among numerous medical or benevolent institutions may be mentioned the general infirmary, opened in 1797; the public hospital, erected in 1858 in connexion with the Sheffield medical school established in 1792; the school and manufactory for the blind, 1879, and the South Yorkshire lunatic asylum, 1872. Among many charities founded by citizens the most noteworthy is the Shrewsbury hospital for twenty men and twenty women, originally founded by the 7th earl of Shrewsbury (d . 1616), but greatly enlarged by successive benefactions.

Among public monuments are the statue of Queen Victoria before the town hall; the statue to James Montgomery the poet (1771–1854), chiefly erected by the Sunday school teachers of Sheffield; the monument in Weston Park to Ebenezer Elliot (1781–1849), known as the Corn Law rhymer; the column to Godfrey Sykes the artist (1825–1866); the monument to those who died during an outbreak of cholera in 1833; and the monument to the natives of Sheffield who fell in the Crimean War. Sir Francis Chantrey, the eminent sculptor, was born (1781) and died (1842) near Norton in Derbyshire, in the neighbourhood of Sheffield, which was the scene of his earlier work.

Sheffield is well supplied with parks and public grounds. In the western suburbs is Weston Park, occupying the grounds of Weston Hall, purchased by the corporation in 1873. The Firth Park, of 36 acres, on the N.E. of the city, was presented by Mark Firth, and was opened in 1875 by King Edward VII. and Queen Alexandra when prince and princess of Wales. There are botanical gardens of 18 acres in the western suburbs. A park and other recreation grounds have been presented by the duke of Norfolk as lord of the manor. To the N.W., towards Penistone, is Wharncliffe, retaining much of the characteristics of an ancient forest, and overlooking the valley of the Don from bold rocky terraces and ridges. The Bramall Lane cricket ground in Sheffield is the scene of many of the Yorkshire county cricket matches.

The prosperity of Sheffield is chiefly dependent on the manufacture of steel. The smelting of iron in the district is supposed to date from Roman times, and there is distinct proof carrying it back as far as the Norman Conquest. The town had become famed for its cutlery by the 14th century, as is shown by allusions in Chaucer. There was an important trade carried on in knives in the reign of Elizabeth, and the Cutlers' Company was incorporated in 1624. In early times cutlery was made of blister or bar steel; afterwards shear steel was introduced for the same purpose; but in 1740 Benjamin Huntsman of Handsworth introduced the manufacture of cast steel, and Sheffield retains its supremacy in steel manufacture, notwithstanding foreign competition, especially that of Germany and the United States, its trade in heavy steel having kept pace with that in the other branches. It was with the aid of Sheffield capital that Henry Bessemer founded his pioneer works to develop the manufacture of his invention, and a large quantity of Bessemer steel is still made in Sheffield. The heavy branch of the steel manufacture includes armour plates, rails, tyres, axles, large castings for engines, steel shot, and steel for rifles. The cutlery trade embraces almost every variety of instrument and tool—spring and table knives, razors, scissors, surgical instruments, mathematical instruments, edge tools, files, saws, scythes, sickles, spades, shovels, engineering tools, hammers, vices, &c. The manufacture of engines and machinery is also largely carried on, as well`as that of stoves and grates. The art of silver plating was introduced by Thomas Bolsover in 1742, and specimens of early Sheffield plate are highly prized. Among the other industries of the town are tanning, confectionery, cabinet-making, bicycle-making, iron and brass founding, silver refining, the manufacture of brushes, combs, optical instruments, horse-hair cloth, and railway fittings, and testing. The Cutlers' Company (1624) exercises, by acts of 1883–1888, jurisdiction in all matters relating to the registration of trade marks, over all goods composed in whole or in part of any metal, wrought or unwrought, as also over all persons carrying on business in Hallamshire and within 6 m. thereof. There are numerous collieries in the neighbourhood.

Sheffield is the seat of a suffragan bishop in the diocese of York. The town trust for the administration of property belonging to the town dates from the 14th century, and in 1681 the number and manner of election of the " town trustees" was definitely settled by a decree of the Court of Chancery. Additional powers were conferred on the trustees by an act passed in 1874. The town first returned members to parliament in 1832. In 1885 the representation was increased from two to five members, the parliamentary divisions being Attercliffe, Brightside, Central, Ecclesall and Hallam. The county borough was created in 1888, and in 1893 the town became a city. The corporation consists of a lord mayor (the title was conferred on the chief magistrate in 1897), 16 aldermen, and 48 councillors. Area, 23,662 acres.

At the time of the Domesday Survey the four manors of Grimesthorpe, Hallam, Attercliffe and Sheffield (Escafeld) made up what is now the borough of Sheffield. Of these Hallam was the most important, being the place where Earl Waltheof, the Saxon lord of the manors, had his court. After the Conquest the earl was allowed to retain his possessions, and when he was executed for treason they passed to his widow Judith, niece of William the Conqueror, of whom Roger de Busli was holding Hallam with the three less important manors at the time of the Domesday Survey. From him the manors passed to the family of de Lovetot, but in the reign of Henry II., William de Lovetot, the 2nd lord, died without male issue, and his property passed to his daughter Maud, afterwards married to Gerard de Furnival. By the end of the 14th century Sheffield had become more important than Hallam, partly no doubt on account of the castle which one of the Furnivals had built here. Thomas de Furnival, great-great-grandson of Gerard and Maud, in 1296 obtained a grant of a market every Tuesday and a fair every year on the eve, day and morrow of Holy Trinity, and in the following year he gave the inhabitants a charter granting them the privileges of holding the town at a fee-farm rent of £3, 8s. 9½d. yearly, of having a court baron held every three weeks, and of freedom from toll throughout the whole of Hallamshire. From the Furnivals the manor passed by marriage to John Talbot, afterwards earl of Shrewsbury, whose descendant the 6th earl was entrusted with the care of Mary Queen of Scots during her twelve years' imprisonment in Sheffield castle. In the reign of Edward VI. the property belonging to the town which had been amalgamated with other land left to the burgesses in trust for certain charitable uses was forfeited to the crown under the act for the suppression of colleges and chantries, but on their petition it was restored in 1554 by Queen Mary, who at the same time incorporated the town under the government of twelve capital burgesses.

See Victoria County History, Yorkshire: Joseph Hunter, Hallamshire. the history and topography of the parish of Sheffield (1869).