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The Northern Powerhouse
Sheffield lies on seven hills in South Yorkshire, England, UK. The city is surrounded by countryside; roughly a third of it is in the Peak District National Park.
On This Page
Part of a series on
The Northern Powerhouse
Sheffield gets its name from the River Sheaf, which was once called Scheth or Sheath, meaning ‘border’ or ‘separate’. As it is located largely within the Peak District National Park, Sheffield is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, featuring stunning countryside views alongside a bustling city centre.
Today, Sheffield remains a digital heartland in its own right, having transitioned from steel and cutlery production into digital services, such as SEO, PPC and other forms of digital marketing. As part of the Northern Powerhouse, it remains one of the most exciting places in the UK to set up a digital business.
The general consensus is that the area Sheffield now sits on has been inhabited since the late Upper Paleolithic, about 12,000 years ago. It has been inhabited by many tribes and early Briton kingdoms between the departure of the Romans and before the arrival of the Normans, including the Brigantes, Elmet and Deira.
The city was founded in the 12th century by William de Lovetot, who built a castle on the site of Castle Market. The castle was burnt by rebels in 1266 and rebuilt in 1270.
William de Lovetot also built a church where Sheffield Cathedral now sits. A town subsequently grew between the castle and church. The town only had a population of a few hundred at the time.
The vast majority of the people in the town were farmers around this time. However, much like in Leeds, wool production was quickly on the rise.
Sheffield saw its first cutler at the end of the 13th century. By the 14th century, Sheffield was widely known for cutlery production. Sheffield played a role in the Industrial Revolution similar to that of Leeds.
Bishop’s House in the Norton Lees district was built at the beginning of the 16th century. It owed its name to brothers John and Geoffrey Blythe, both of whom lived in the house and became bishops.
Around this time, cutlery production was booming thanks to watermills being repurposed. This made Sheffield, South Yorkshire, one of the largest producers of cutlery. A survey in 1617 found that the population had grown to approximately 2200 people.
Despite the success of cutlery production, Sheffield was still rife with poverty. The number of people living below the poverty line led to the establishment of a workhouse in 1628. The workhouse provided the poor with a place to live and to be put to work.
The civil war of 1642 led to the royalists taking over Sheffield Castle. However, the parliamentarians successfully counterattacked two years later. Sheffield Castle was destroyed to prevent the royalists from reoccupying it.
The 1700s saw the population reach 10,000. A boys’ charity school and the first theatre in the city were also built. The town was big at this time but had a reputation for being grimy and poorly paved.
At this stage, the iron industry had also increased in size. Thomas Boulsover had discovered a way of plating copper with silver. Communications and navigation had also improved. The additions of lead and silk mills further positively contributed to the economy.
Sheffield’s population had grown to over 135,000 halfway through the 19th century. The growth came with unsanitary conditions, which led to a cholera outbreak in 1832. A governing body, known as the Improvement Commissioners, made an effort to clean and pave the streets.
Around this time, a corn exchange, dispensary, and botanical gardens were all opened. The botanical gardens were purchased by the council in 1898.
Sheffield today is unrecognisable, having expanded far beyond its early boundaries.
The population had soared to over 400,000 by 1900 due to the inclusion of Handsworth and Wadsley. Sheffield University and the first stainless steel cast were established in the first 20 years of the century.
World War I sent the largest industries of Sheffield into a recession. During this era, the first council houses were built, prompting slum clearances. The Second World War caused regression once again. 589 people were killed in Sheffield by the German bombings.
The end of the 20th century spelt substantial improvements in satellite communications. Meadow Hall Shopping Centre was built around this time. Traditional industries such as steel and cutlery declined in productivity. Instead, citizens shifted to service industries and made the city what it is today.
Sheffield Town Hall was opened via a ceremony in which Queen Victoria was in attendance. It’s home to an extensive collection of silverware for which Sheffield is famed. Access to the hall is free, and the building is a popular site for its Victorian architecture.
Beauchief Abbey has seen drastic changes since its 12th-century establishment. It serves as a key historical point of interest.
Sheffield’s underrated cathedral has been a site of worship for over a thousand years
Also referred to as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the structure is one of three Grade I listed buildings in Sheffield. The interior features dramatic stained glass windows and a grand structure. Sheffield Cathedral permits free access.
This ancient building was built at the beginning of the 16th century. It is most famous for serving as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots in its Turret House. Building tours can be arranged, but viewing primarily takes place from the exterior.
Paradise Square contains a series of Georgian townhouses dating back to the 1700s. The structures have been restored and the immediate surroundings are used for public events.
Whirlowbrook Hall is known for having picturesque gardens and wooded areas. It is located around 20 minutes outside of central Sheffield.
The Arts Tower is a 20-story building belonging to the University of Sheffield. It is one of the tallest buildings in the city. The building originally housed the university’s 18 art departments.
This monument honours the memory of those who lost their lives to a cholera epidemic in 1832.
This site is dedicated to English metallurgist Harry Brearley. Brearley is recognised as the inventor of stainless steel.
The Lost Castle dates back to the 13th century. It is alleged to be one of the most important strongholds in medieval England.
The Mi Amigo Memorial marks the crash site of the USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress Mi Amigo during World War II. The site is located in Endcliffe Park.
Thomas Boulsover was a Sheffield cutler and the inventor of the Sheffield Plate. Boulsover played a significant role in driving forth the success of the city and was honoured as a result.
Sheffielders, known informally as Dee-Dars, have a reputation for being happy and friendly. Residents speak primarily in a Yorkshire accent that draws influence from North Derbyshire. There are slight variations in the accent when comparing the North and South regions.
The city is the second-largest in Yorkshire, with a population of around 570,000. Sheffield is ethnically diverse; around 19% of its population are from minority groups. Pakistanis are the largest minority group.
Jarvis Cocker, Kyle Walker, and Sean Bean are among some of the most famous names from Sheffield.
Sean Bean is arguably Sheffield’s most famous son.
The steel industry in Sheffield is not as prevalent as it used to be. Growth in the financial, IT, and health sectors has created many employment opportunities. The cost of living in Sheffield is much lower in comparison to London, and also slightly lower than other cities in northern England including Manchester.
Buses and trams are the primary modes of transport in Sheffield. The tram is referred to as the Supertram, and the bus service is run by Stagecoach.
The city is located within a National Park, making it popular for families with children and pets.
Initially founded as the Corporation of Sheffield. Sheffield City Council is tasked with overseeing the metropolitan borough. The council comprises 8000 personnel. The 84 councillors are elected to represent 28 wards and ensure the delivery of services. The Sheffield City Council divides its services and employees into four portfolios.
Sheffield has an oceanic climate, and summer is often seen as the best time to visit. Checking forecasts before visiting is still highly advisable.
Sheffield can be quite warm during the summer, with daytime temperatures averaging 19°C to 21°C.
Rain is consistent throughout the year, but showers in summer are significantly shorter.
Winters provide ample rainfall, strong winds, and noticeable dampness throughout the city. Snowfall is not too common or heavy in this part of the UK. During winter daytime, the temperature sits at around 7°C before dropping to around 2°C at night.
Autumn in Sheffield begins with summer-like temperatures. Days are overcast and temperatures average around 18°C.
As the season progresses, temperatures drop and the daytime average plummets to about 4°C.
The city begins to warm in spring. The daytime temperature increases from 10°C in March to 16°C by May. Nighttime temperatures also increase. During this season, sunshine and precipitation patterns are like that of summer.
Sheffield is home to 141 primary schools, 28 secondary schools, and two universities. The city is popular among international students due to its affordability and diversity.
The University of Sheffield was established in 1905. It is the city’s oldest university and is one of the founding members of the Russell Group. The public research university consists of 50 academic departments divided into five faculties.
The institution ranks among the top 100 international universities in the world.
Sheffield Hallam is a public research university. It has campuses located in the city centre and in the Broomhall Estate.
The institution is ranked as the 14th-largest in the UK by number of students. It has performed well in terms of student course satisfaction and received awards.
Other notable institutions include The Sheffield College and Chapeltown Academy.
The art scene in Sheffield is highly immersive and has seen consistent growth over the years. Over 20,000 people work within creative industries in Sheffield.
The Sheffield City council created a designated art district. The district functions as a cluster of music, film, and science-based businesses.
Sheffield’s architecture is inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome. The city has numerous Victorian-era and early 20th-century buildings. Many of the older buildings in Sheffield were built during the industrial revolution.
Sheffield hosts noteworthy annual events such as The Tramlines Festival. Tramlines was founded in 2009 and features both local and national artists.
London Road in Sheffield is known as a prime destination for a culinary tour. The street is lined with a variety of Greek, Turkish, and Malaysian restaurants.
Sheffield has several orchestras and choirs. It has given rise to a number of synthpop and electronic bands. Some notable acts include Joe Cocker, Def Leppard, Paul Carrack, and Arctic Monkeys.
The National Center for Popular Music was opened in 1999 and further shows the city’s love for music.
The West End district in the city centre has many pubs, bars, and nightclubs. Popular destinations include places such as Code and Corporation.
Cricket was the first organised sport in Sheffield, but football became preferable. The two main football teams both originated from a cricket team. In 1995, Sheffield became the first UK National City of Sport.
Founded over 150 years ago, Sheffield Wednesday is one of the oldest football clubs in the world. They have won four league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and one Community Shield. Hillsborough Stadium is the club’s home ground and it is the largest stadium in Sheffield.
Sheffield United are the main rival to Sheffield Wednesday. They are nicknamed ‘The Blades’ due to the city being famed for its cutlery production.
The club has won a First Division title and multiple FA Cup titles. They most notably hold the record of scoring the first-ever Premier League goal.
Sheffield F.C. is the world’s first and oldest football club. Their highest honour is winning the FA Amateur Cup. The club is based in Dronfield across the county boundary in Derbyshire.
Six boxing world champions have come from Sheffield. This includes Naseem Hamed, Kell Brook, and Johnny Nelson.
The Sheffield Steelers are a professional ice hockey team formed in 1991. They play their games at the multipurpose Utilita Arena.
The Sheffield Sharks are one of the most successful teams in British Basketball. They enjoyed great success during the 1990s and early 2000s.