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Sheffield 1800s help please

I wonder if somebody could point me in the direction of books (fact or fiction), films, websites etc that would help me understand life in the poorer areas of Sheffield. I have discovered Picture Sheffield and that was very helpful. I want to know everything! I even want to know what the place smelt like, please. All my other ancestors lived in rural areas and I am finding it hard to imagine life in such a big bustling place.Thank you.

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

Hi Shay, There are quite a lot of good photos on this site on Facebook showing the face of Sheffield in the 1800s. SHEFFIELD AND THE 1900-99 DOWN MEMORY LANE Regards Barry

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

The Walls Of Jericho by Ted Furniss.

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

Old Sheffield As I Knew It - by Joseph Woolhouse

A DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN OF SHEFFIELD In my remembrance wrote in the year 1832 at the time the
Cholera was raging in Sheffield.

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please


Yorkshire Film archives have a few films where you may get a flavour of the conditions in an industrial city.

Type one of these titles in the search box




Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

This should help with the smells:

(A report on the sanatory condition of the borough of Sheffield 1848)

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

Thank you very much for these great suggestions. I bought the Walls of Jericho ebook and looked into the other suggestions with a view to buying the more expensive ones on pension day. I really appreciate your kindness and help.

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

Bit late, but I wanted to share Joseph Pennell's paintings; they help me imagine it, I love that he came to Sheffield (some re-prints are labelled 20thC but he visited North England late 1880s, then later for WW1)- more than once and captured it so well, even if he complained about locals chucking bricks at him - though he also said that about Leeds, so maybe a bit've exaggeration - Or just Leeds :joy: And this 1884 1 by A, Morrow

Some of my relatives came from a quiet rural village straight into Sheffield's heaving industrialised east-end; what a shock to the system, wonder if they ever regretted it.
I've looked at late 19thC maps of Netherthorpe (free online) and that helped get an idea; it's insane, small houses with big families in courts crowded bang next to factories and foundries, & lots've Churches, schools & Pubs :purple_heart: - The noise must've been horrendous, non-stop? I can sometimes hear works at Attercliffe on a still night, 3 miles away; I actually like that, somehow comforting to know it's still there - but if it were right next to my house and all around me, constant with no escape, I think I'd go crackers. Watching early episodes of 'Peaky Blinders', fire intermittently erupted out've neighbourhood metal works like a dragon, I think ther'd be some of that too?
They might not notice smells; if you're living and working in one area 24/7 you'd get used to it? Having said that, I never got used to that weird hops smell from Whitbread's Brewery near the markets, though it's a real shame they're all gone now.

Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

Sara Roberts made a wonderful evocative post.

Re: noise - many of us will remember at the least the concept of the factory whistle or hooter, and whole big shifts of people all going home when the hooter went off.

I’ve seen mentions in old newspapers of people complaining about that, because in the 1800s pretty much all of the different works had whistles, sirens, or hooters powered by the steam engines which powered the works, and they used them to signal shift changes or the start and end of the working day.

Also there was a works somewhere which made steam sirens / whistles and of course tested them, which was the bad news bears for anyone trying to sleep in the vicinity of that works (no luck if you were on the night shift and wanted some kip in the day).

One of my relations who lived away up in Freedom Road complained about the noise from trains, because the train drivers would communicate with the station using the steam whistle of the engine. He claimed to have invented a system of silent communication from train to station.

For the smell question, some of my other relations had a knacker’s yard in the Pond Street area, and the young ladies who worked in the crinoline factory next door complained that the stench was so bad they couldn’t eat their sandwiches at lunchtime.

Regarding flames coming out of the works, many of us will recall what the various works used to look like at night just 50 years ago, you could often see men working inside, and impressive gouts of flame from various processes, but I don’t recall flames ever reaching outside the building, that would have been a bit hair-raising.



Re: Sheffield 1800s help please

Just to add to Andrews Post.

I used to travel to Leeds via train from Sheffield most weekends to visit my husband to be in the early 1960's.

I believe the train went through Attercliffe.(It took 90mins to travel the 37 miles) LOL.

During the winter months it was dark and the glow from the many huge blast furnaces was like looking down into hell. It was amazing. I always made sure I was seated on that side of the carriage I was in.

Another memory was the HAMMER that was somewhere around Owlerton that we could hear up at Crookes. Thud thud thud.

Another memory was the peasouper around 1957. Never seen anything like that.Long before the clean air rules.


Elaine in Ottawa.

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