Sheffield's proud history as the nation's Steel City highlighted in new exhibition

IT WAS an industry which shaped the economic and social history of Sheffield, carving out a reputation around the globe as the Steel City.

Sheffield Cathedral's Vice Dean and Canon Missioner, The Reverend Canon Keith Farrow, at a new exhibition, The Foundry, which celebrates the South Yorkshire city's long history of steel-making. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

The earliest references to steel-making in South Yorkshire dates as far back as the 15th century, but it was 300 years later that Sheffield was to emerge as an industrial powerhouse.

With Benjamin Huntsman’s invention of crucible steel in 1742, the city began to capitalise on the Industrial Revolution centred on its prowess with the metal.

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And now an exhibition is being staged to celebrate Sheffield’s long and proud industrial past, giving an insight into how steel-making shaped the city’s history.

One of the works on show in a new exhibition, The Foundry, at Sheffield Cathedral which celebrates the South Yorkshire city's long history of steel-making. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

At the centre of The Foundry exhibition in Sheffield Cathedral is archive film footage from British Pathé, as the exhibition transports visitors back to an era at the height of the city’s steel-making industry.

It also showcases how artists, craftspeople and sculptors continue to use steel today to create thought-provoking and challenging pieces of work.

Artist Peter Walker, who is the director of the exhibition, said: “At the heart of The Foundry is a remarkable film showing historic Pathé footage of the steel industry in Sheffield.

“Around this there is an opportunity to explore how the city’s connection to the steel industry has inspired artists around the country over the past 50 years – sometimes playfully, sometimes intellectually, but always creatively to adapt and respond to the material and to explore different and diverse subjects.

Sheffield Cathedral's Vice Dean and Canon Missioner, The Reverend Canon Keith Farrow, with one of the exhibits at a new exhibition, The Foundry, which celebrates the South Yorkshire city's long history of steel-making. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

"This is an exhibition for seeing something different, for connecting with the past and for cherishing the influence Sheffield’s legacy has, and continues to have, on the world around us.”

The Foundry exhibition is being supported by Corrin Mellor, the son of David Mellor, who became known as the ‘Cutlery King’ after emerging as one of the best-known designers in Britain specialised in metalwork before his death in 2009. Both born in Sheffield, Corrin Mellor is following in his family’s tradition by working in the metal industry.

A selection of pieces of silver will be on display in cabinets outside the 1554 Coffee Shop, which is located inside the cathedral, after being loaned by David Mellor Design for the exhibition.

The Vice Dean and Canon Missioner of Sheffield Cathedral, the Rev Canon Keith Farrow, said: “The cathedral has stood here for hundreds of years and the city of Sheffield has grown around it.

“People working in the Sheffield steelworks will have worshipped here, been baptised here, got married here and been laid to rest here.

“So we are delighted to be able to host an exhibition like The Foundry, which reflects on the history of this great city and how the actions and lives of people in the past have shaped how we live our lives today.”

The Foundry exhibition, which has free admission, is being staged until September 2.