Sheffield - Steel City

Sheffield - Steel City


The pictures show us that Sheffield lies in a flat valley which is good to get to other places, even the Romans built a road from Doncaster to Chester through this valley. Because of the river in this valley people did not want to live there, because in case of heavy rains, they were afraid of floods. So they did not decide to build a big city.

In 1750 Benjamin Hunstman developed the first steelworks in Sheffield. The best steel was made there at this that time. They also needed transports, so they built a canal from Sheffield to the North Sea in 1819 and George Stephenson built a railwayy line in 1837. Until 1850 there were built a lot of steelworks and small houses for the workers. The air was very polluted, so it was not healthy to live there. Sheffield got a black belt instead of a green one around the city. The factory owners lived in big houses on the other side of the town in a clean area.

80% of the steel of Britain and 40% of the steel of the world was produced in Sheffield. Its competition were Pittsburgh in the USA and Essen in Germany.

In 1930 stainless steel was invented and for a long time people only wanted to buy steel with 'Made in Sheffield' on it.

Even today steel is used fpr trains, cars, planes, bridges, ships, kitchen and electrical equipment and for buildings. The steel is quite heavy, but very strong. Today most of the work is done by machines and computers, that is why many steelworkers are gone. Only the skilled workers are still needed.

The number of steelworkers changed a lot through the years. In the 1850 there were 5,000 steelworkers. From 1920 to 1950 there were about 50,000 workers in Sheffield. 20 years later 45,000 steelworkers. And because of the huge unemployment in 1988 (about 16%) there were only 8,000 steelworkers in the year 2000.

After 235 years Benjamin Hunstman closed his factories. Instead of the factory buildings there are now shopping centres, restaurants, stadiums and concert halls.