THE CITY OF SHEFFIELDCategory: Land + People
The modern city, with over half a million people, has grown from the tiny hamlet of Escafeld. Here, from small scattered beginnings, arose the great industries which have made the words “Sheffield, England” famous throughout the world. For the people who for centuries have lived among the hills learned from before the days of Chaucer how to shape metal for the service of man; proud of their craft and zealous for its survival they passed on their knowledge and experience from father to son.
The people of Sheffield are fortunate also in their homes, for the lovely hillsides of their widespread city provide them with delightful residential suburbs, and most of the valleys still retain vestiges of the woods which grew close to the hamlet by the Sheaf. But where the Don, the principal river, flows through the modern city, its banks are lined with steel works, products mainly of-the industrial nineteenth century. Furnaces give no quarter to nature. First the nearby forests were felled for charcoal; then, in the coal age, the spreading steel works denuded the hillsides of their vegetation. Where the railways run through the Don Valley, there is no beauty save that which, with a splendour all its own, marks the tapping of great furnaces and the incandescent splash of molten steel.
When the casual traveller through Sheffield by rail sees these packed workshops, knowing nothing of the beauty they have marred and judging Sheffield by them, he may perhaps be forgiven for thinking that the whole city is dull and grimy. He is unaware that her people have managed to concentrate their industries in one place, leaving the natural beauty of the other valleys and the hilltops free for their homes and their pursuits. It is this industrial concentration which makes Sheffield unique among English manufacturing towns in allowing astonishing contrasts; for there is scarcely a street in the city’s centre from which green fields and wooded hillsides cannot be seen. Few such cities can boast that grouse can be shot within their boundaries.
(From Sheffield, England by J. P. Lamb)