During the First and Second World War the demand for steel rose.

Sheffield’s large foundries made hundreds of thousands of tons of steel for battleship parts, guns and aircraft.

Thousands of people now worked in the industry, in larger numbers than ever before. Other trades, such as the cutlery industry also adapted their production for the war effort to make fighting knives and swords.

Our display shows some of the items made in Sheffield for the war effort.

With so many factories making armaments, Sheffield became a target for enemy forces. 

During the Second World War the German Luftwaffe bombed the city.The end of the War in 1945 marked a decline in the Steel industry that was not to improve again until the 1950s and 1960s. 

During the next boom decade, Sheffield steel was used for ships, Rolls Royce engines and for the motorcar industry. Special Steels, such as Stainless steel became an everyday material for the new consumer and was used for everything from kitchen sinks to DIY tools and cutlery.

The good times however, were not to last and the heavy industries suffered again during the recession of the 1970s, with many of the firms merging and others closing down.