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Sheffield is a city in the English county of South Yorkshire. In the city centre, the Millennium Gallery shows metalwork and art from Sheffield and around the world. It adjoins the Winter Garden, a large temperate glasshouse filled with plants. Kelham Island Museum covers the city’s industrial heritage. The nearby countryside is part of Peak District National Park, characterised by moorland and rocky ridges.
Sheffield industrial History
Sheffield was once the undisputed iron, steel and cutlery captial of the world. The city’s association with metalworking is almost as old at the city itself. Evidence of cutlery dates back more than 700 years.
The city’s hills provided it with the necessary raw materials for the industry that led to it becoming known as ‘Steel City’: coal, iron and millstone grit for the grinding wheels of its workshops. And its seven rivers provided the water power it needed in the days before steam, while its forests supplied it with plentiful supplies of wood and charcoal.
As early as the 14th century Sheffield was noted for the production of knives by Geoffrey Chaucer in his book The Canterbury Tales.
In the 16th century Sheffield became more famous for its cutlery. Before 1500 watermills were adapted to grinding tools and the cutlery trade boomed. By 1600 Sheffield was the main town in England (apart from London) for cutlery.
In 1624 The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was formed to oversee the trade. Examples of water-powered blade and cutlery workshops surviving from around this time can be seen at the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet and Shepherd Wheel museums.
The city reached its zenith in the 17th and 18th centuaries Thanks to three major innovations. In the 1740’s, two developments took place that put Sheffield at the head of the new techniques that were to revolutionise steel production and cutlery manufacture: