Sheffield Smoke

Sheffield Smoke. Albert George Morrow (1863-1927). c. 1884. Drawing. Source: “Cutlery and Cutlers at Sheffield” in the 1881 English Illustrated Magazine. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Such is Sheffield, as nearly as three short words can describe it. It is much late in day to venture on the demurrer that the parent home of the steel-trade is not so black as it is painted, by a good many coats. The world has quite made up its mind about it. Railway travellers have whirled through the blinding smoke-fog that darkens the valley of the Don, and have murmured to each other a devout thanksgiving that their lot has at least been cast in a transparent air. Adventurous visitors have stood for five minutes under the porticos of the railway stations (both of which unceremoniously discharge their crowds into the most unpromising of localities), and have turned and fled. So the bad name has been given, and the dog has been hanged, and there's an end of him. But while two blacks do not make a white, half-a-dozen might very fairly be held to reduce a capital charge to a petty offence; and if there are not six other towns in England with Brightsides and Attercliffes as sooty in their habits and as Cimmerian in their aspect as Sheffield's brawny pair of arms, then the story that the ancient emporium of steel has forfeited large slices of its trade to the enterprise of younger rivals is a weak invention of the enemy, and "Steelopolis" will, with joy and pride, wear the stigma as a garland. The main peculiarity of Sheffield is that she turns her seamy side to the world and belches nine-tenths of her smoke in the faces of those who pass over the great trunk lines, instead of planting her industrial Inferno at a respectful distance from the railway-king's highway. — Henry J. Palmer

You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust and Pennsylvania State University and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. — George P. Landow.


Palmer, Henry J. “Cutlery and Cutlers at Sheffield” The English Illustrated Magazine. 1 (August 1881): 659-69. Hathi Trust version of a copy in the Pennsylvania State University Library. Web. 4 March 2021. [Complete text in the Victorian Web.]

Last modified 5 March 2021