Economy of Sheffield

Economy of Sheffield

Sheffield has an international reputation for metallurgy and steel-making. It was this industry that established it as one of England's main industrial cities during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This industry used Sheffield's unique combination of local Iron, Coal and water power supplied by the local rivers. This fueled a massive growth in the city's population that expanded from 60,995 in 1801 to a peak of 577,050 in 1951. However, due to increasing competition from imports, it has seen a decline in heavy engineering industries since the 1960s, which has forced the sector to streamline its operations and lay off the majority of the local employment.

Today the city is trying to regenerate itself as modern sports and technology based city. The steel industry now concentrates on more specialist steel-making and, despite appearances, currently produces more steel per year than at any other time in its history. [ [ Government News Network] (Accessed 23 October 2005)] However, the industry is now less noticeable as it has become highly automated and employs far fewer staff than in the past. Today the economy is worth over £7 billion a year. [ [ Make It in Sheffield] Economy worth (Accessed 26 October 2005)]


The steel industry dates back to at least the 14th century. In 1740 Benjamin Huntsman discovered the crucible technique for steel manufacture, at his workshop in the district of Handsworth. This process had an enormous impact on the quantity and quality of steel production and was only made obsolete, a century later, in 1856 by Henry Bessemer's invention of the Bessemer converter which allowed the true mass production of steel. Bessemer had moved his Bessemer Steel Company to Sheffield to be at the heart of the industry. Thomas Boulsover invented Sheffield Plate (silver-plated copper), in the early 18th century. A more recent major Sheffield steel invention was that of stainless steel by Harry Brearley in 1912, and the work of Profs. F. B. Pickering and T. Gladman throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s was fundamental to the development of modern high strength low alloy steels.

The Sheffield Assay Office, which opened in 1773, stamps precious metals with the city's crown mark. The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was created in 1624 to promote the city's steel industry around the world. The head of this company (the Master Cutler) is held in equal regard as the city's lord mayor and it has powers over the trademarking of steel with the Sheffield area.

While iron and steel have always been the main industries of Sheffield, coal mining has been a major feature of the outlying areas, and the Palace of Westminster in London was built using limestone from quarries in the nearby village of Anston.

The Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, a partnership between Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University and The Cutlers Company of Hallamshire, has preserved key sites associated with the city's industrial heritage, some of which actually still operate ancient equipment for the public, such as the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet and the Kelham Island Museum. Northwest of the city lies Wortley Top Forge, which was a heavy ironworks of international renown. It is a site of historical and industrial importance, contributing to Sheffield's reputation for manufacturing high-quality, precision steel goods, though actually it is located within the boundaries of neighbouring Barnsley.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added (GVA) of Sheffield at current basic prices [ published] (pp.240-253) by "Office for National Statistics" with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

fnb|1 includes hunting and forestry

fnb|2 includes energy and construction

fnb|3 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

fnb|4 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

Today's Economy

The city once spearheaded the knowledge advances which gave it preeminence in steel and cutlery production, today the transfer of technology from Sheffield's universities is guaranteeing Sheffield's continuing industrial and commercial evolution, creating cutting-edge enterprises across the city. High technology businesses such as the US company Fluent, Inc., for example, have chosen Sheffield as the centre for their international operations and so has Jennic, specialists in semiconductor design for the home automation, commercial building automation, and industrial process monitoring and control markets.

Insight Enterprises will invest £50m in a new European headquarters in the city resulting in 1700 jobs over the 2005-2008 period, while Boeing, through its collaboration with the University of Sheffield will be at the centre of an Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) on the edge of the City, home to a cluster of businesses in the advanced manufacturing sector. Other areas of employment include call centres, the City Council, universities and hospitals. After many years of decline there are now signs that the Sheffield economy is seeing a revival. The 2004 Barclays Bank Financial Planning study [" [ Wealth hotspots 'outside London'] ". "BBC News". (Accessed 7 July 2004)] revealed that, in 2003, the Sheffield district of Hallam was the highest ranking area outside London for overall wealth, the proportion of people earning over £60,000 a year standing at almost 12%. A survey by Knight Frank [ [ Sheffield 'hotbed' for investment] "BBC News" (Accessed 17 October 2005)] revealed that Sheffield was the fastest growing city outside of London for office and residential space and rents during the second half of 2004.

As an example of the City's move away from traditional industry, Sheffield is now the home to one of the Countries fastest growing online job boards, My Job Group, whose HQ is based there and serves the City with its very own jobs board. This site competes strongly with the traditional way of finding employment in Sheffield which is through the local newspaper whos main vacancies day is Thursday.

Regeneration and development

Several organisations have been created in the past 20 years with the purpose of regenerating Sheffield's economy. The Sheffield Development Corporation was established in 1988 in order to regenerate Lower Don Valley area of Sheffield, which had been the location of much of the city's traditional industry. In its 11 year existence it replaced much of the derelict land with new business ventures, the most famous project being the creation of Meadowhall shopping centre. More recently a new city economic development company, Creative Sheffield, has been established and, in April 2007, Sheffield First for Investment, Sheffield One and the Cultural Industries Quarter Agency were all integrated into the one organisation. Sheffield is also home to UK Steel Enterprise, the regeneration and investment subsidiary of Corus Group plc.

Like other major cities in the United Kingdom, Sheffield is undergoing large-scale redevelopment. Some of the projects proposed or currently under construction in Sheffield are the improvement of Sheffield Midland Station, the New Retail Quarter, Victoria Quays and Riverside Exchange, and the redevelopment of The Moor shopping district.

As well as these large-scale projects, there are lots of other public works buildings, luxury accommodation and office space being built in the city. The city centre population is expected to increase from 5,000 in 2005 to 15,000 by 2015. £250 million pounds has also been invested in the city during the first half of 2005.


External links

* [ Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP)]
* [ Creative Sheffield]
* [ Sheffield City Council]
* [ Sheffield Jobs Site]

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