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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(432,000 in 1991)
City in South Yorkshire on the river Don, historically the centre of the British steel industry. Local iron ore, stone suitable for grinding, and power from the abundant streams tumbling from the Pennines enabled Sheffield to specialize in cutlery from at least the 15C. In the 1740s Benjamin *Huntsman made a breakthrough with the development of the crucible and Thomas Boulsover pioneered *Sheffield plate. When *Bessemer perfected his new technique for steel production in the 1850s, it was at Sheffield that he set up his works; and stainless steel was pioneered here from 1903 (it was developed separately at the same time in the USA and Germany).

The vast tower of the Renaissance-style town hall (1897, by E.W. Mountford) is appropriately crowned by a statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metal. A more direct memento of Sheffield's achievement is the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, southwest of the city, where a restored scythe-making factory of 1742 is now the setting for a museum of steel, with a Huntsman crucible furnace and water-powered tilt-hammers. The City Museum has an outstanding collection of cutlery and Sheffield plate.

In 1914 Sheffield was made a diocese and the old parish church (15C) became the cathedral; the Roman Catholic cathedral, completed 1850, is by Matthew Hadfield, a pupil of Pugin. The Graves Art Gallery (given to the city in the 1930s by a local businessman who had established Britain's first mail-order firm) is particularly strong in British painting of the 19–20C and in oriental art. The Crucible Theatre (1971) is for most of the year one of the country's leading repertory theatres, but it has also played a major part in the modern promotion of *snooker.

Sheffield has acquired in recent years outstanding sports facilities in the Don Valley Stadium and Pond's Forge water sports centre – both built at very great cost to accommodate the World Student Games of 1991. Meadowhall, a vast shopping centre opened in 1990 on an out-of-town area of abandoned steelworks, became a controversial issue because of its damaging effect on retail business in the heart of the city.

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