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Sheffield has a long and proud history as a producer city. It became famous for products with a cutting edge, which have been made in the areas surrounding Sheffield for a very long time. The first official reference is a tax return of Robert the Cutler, which was filed in 1297.
The area was ideally suited to the production of items with a cutting edge (the original definition of the word cutlery).The valleys with streams gave access to water power, the crags overlooking the Hope Valley provided the grit stone for producing grinding wheels, and the availability of iron ore provided the basic raw material.
By 1624, the date of the original Act establishing the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, there was a thriving industry producing cutlery (knives), edge tools (items such as wood chisels) and agricultural implements (e.g. scythes and sickles). Most of these were produced for markets outside the immediate vicinity. Thus began Sheffield's reputation for quality products supplied to worldwide markets.
Moving on through the centuries, Benjamin Huntsman invented the crucible process for making greater quantities of better quality steel. This was followed by developments such as the Bessemer Converter, which enabled Sheffield to keep pace with the burgeoning demand for steel during the mid-19th century, with the growth of the Empire and the expansion of international trade during the Victorian era.
As the city entered the 20th century, the city leaders recognised the value of the words "Made in Sheffield", and the likelihood that other parts of the world would seek to emulate Sheffield's success by misusing the word Sheffield. Therefore, in the early 1900's, the Sheffield Defence Committee was formed, possibly the first partnership organisation in the city comprising the Cutlers Company, the Chamber of Commerce and the City Council. This committee was charged with defending the good name of Sheffield throughout the world. In many countries the word Sheffield was registered as a trademark, to ensure that it could not be "usurped".
To bring us up to the present time, a great deal has changed since Robert the Cutler filed his tax return, but Sheffield remains at the forefront internationally in metals and metal products and in materials related technology. It is home to many companies which are probably better known internationally than they are in Sheffield, world class in their own fields. It is also home to a number of new industries in the medical and bioscience fields, creative and digital industries and much more besides. It is said that our past shapes our future. This initiative is intended to encourage locally based companies in the producer sector to utilise the undoubted strengths of the "Sheffield" brand and in so doing building on the past for the benefit not only of the present generation of Sheffield businesses, but also Sheffield companies of the future. www.madeinsheffield.org