Sheffield is England’s fifth largest city, and is famous for its proud steelmaking heritage.
Sheffield Before The 1930s
“Sheffield and the Influenza pandemic of 1918 – 1920”
Towards the end of the Great War, and lasting about a year, a flu pandemic swept around the planet. It was commonly known as Spanish flu, although it did not originate there. Spain had a high casualty rate which included the King of Spain. Plus, Spain was not at war while most European nations had newspapers full of war news rather than concerns about yet another deadly illness.
In Sheffield, the flu outbreak caused the deaths of up to 300 people a week at its height. Over time, 3000 local residents died from the illness.
Schools saw outbreaks and had periods of closure. Theatres and cinemas were affected by restrictions to public gatherings, requiring 30 minute gaps between audiences and ventilated premises. Tram services were seriously disrupted by staff shortages. There were coffin shortages and night burials.
SheffieldArchives1 put together this 2 minute video showing some of the resources available to those interested in finding out more.
“Earl Haig Aka Earl Haig Visits Sheffield (1920)”
In 1920 the famous Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, visited Sheffield’s Cammell Laird steel works. It was barely two years since the end of the Great War. A small crowd turned out to wave their union flags as he walks by.
“Freight Steam Train Tested in Sheffield, 1920’s – Film 33791”
In two short clips of just under 1 minute in total, this HuntleyFilmArchives footage shows two steam freight trains being tested in Sheffield.
The City In The 1930s
“Sheffield’s New City Hall (1932)”
The new City Hall took 16 years to build, and cost a breathtaking £500,000. At the time, a house cost just a few hundred pounds.
The City Hall was officially opened by the city’s Lord Mayor.
Thousands of people came to watch the long line of city dignatories in their traditional garb processing into the new building. Inside, the Lord Mayor gives a speech, although lots of coughing can be heard in the background.
“Sheffield – Famous Cities Of Britain No. 7 (1933)”
The narrator of this British Pathé film from 1933 is the Lord Mayor, Alderman Ernest Wilson, J.P.
At the time, the population of Sheffield was just over half a million people, roughly the same as in 2011 although it has grown slightly since then.
In 1933, Sheffield was the 5th largest city in England, and remains the same today.
The film starts with the moorland in the city’s outskirts, then pans across the rooftops of the city centre. Next we see the high street, with trolley buses, a lot of pedestrians and just a few cars. Then we see steam freight trains packed between the backs of buildings.
The scene then moves to a steel mill where tram lines are being made, before moving again to a stainless steel production line. The workers appear to be protecting their airways with cloth collars, and have no apparent safety equipment. Men clamber about on the huge furnace they are making for Russia, where it will be used to make steel.
Then we see women at work in overalls, creating the magnets for the moving coil loud speakers. The next production line of women are sitting down, creating Sheffield plate.
A man is shown creating a filigree design on a silver cake basket.
Then we see two men at a furnace creating individual knives by hand, before glimpsing a beautiful canteen full of the famous Sheffield steel cutlery.
Next we see scissor blanks created at a furnace at a fast pace, before the long production line of stooped women polish each item into the finished pair of scissors.
A man hammers a giant circular saw by hand, flattening it down.
Finally we see a plane racing over a seascape as the narrator reminds us how Sheffield steel was used for many of the vehicles which broke speed records in Britain.
25 years after Sheffield’s old parish church became a cathedral, 1939 saw the official opening of an extension containing a new chapel and a chapter house. The Princess Royal (Princess Mary) and the Earl of Harewood attended the official opening ceremony. The bishop carved a cross in the stone doorway of the new extension.
“Sheffield, 1940’s – Film 33216”
Trams and their overhead cables dominate the street scenes in this two minute silent footage. The surroundings become a little clearer at the end.
Factory Workers In The 1960s
“Sheffield Workers leave factory, early 1960’s. Archive film 99493”
Only 39 seconds long, this HuntleyFilmArchives footage shows a small crowd of factory workers leaving the premises and others walking along crowded pavements. Finally we see shots of the nearby countryside, so close to the city’s industry.
Amazing Photos Of Sheffield In The 1970s
YouTube channel corvideos.com uploaded this great montage of photos taken by Pete Hill in Sheffield in the 1970s. The images are crisp and clear, move at a good pace, and show a variety of people and locations. The final shot shows Jarvis Cocker from Pulp probably still in his teens.
Reminiscent of Tish Murtha in Newcastle, Pete Hill in Sheffield captured the daily lives of ordinary people in overlooked communities.
City Locations In 1980
“Vintage Sheffield | Aerials of Sheffield | Finding out | 1980”
First broadcast on 24th November 1980, this ThamesTv footage shows a wide variety of locations of Sheffield at the time. Plus, many of the aerial views show how the city has changed with developments since then. The street scenes are busy with pedestrians.
More South Yorkshire pages
- Old Images of Doncaster, South Yorkshire
- Sheffield, South Yorkshire: Old Photos & Films
- South Yorkshire: Local History Resources
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