Sheffield and the Crimean War

Wars have left their impact in Sheffield, and the Crimean War perhaps more than any. W.H.G. Armytage marks the metamorphosis of a large-scale industrial city


Trench fighting began in Sheffield on October 1st, 1852. The participants were two gas companies. One held the monopoly of lighting the town on its own terms; the other proposed to supply gas at a lower rate and better pressure.

When the new company began laying mains on October 1st, 1852, civic war began. Magistrates and higher courts delivered oracular judgments on the right of the new gas company to break up roads to lay pipes, and so the old gas company took to the streets, dispatching flying squads of husky workmen to fill in trenches as fast as the new gas company dug them.

First the old company would gain judgment, then the new company would get it reversed. Next, the old company would break the pipes of the new company (they did so in Castle Street on March 30th, 1853), and indict both the new gas company and the highway boards at the quarter sessions. Fractured gas pipes have a habit of exploding, and a formidable bang occurred on May 31st, 1853, in Spital Hill from one of these fractures.

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