TitleSheffield Township - Riverside Industrial Areas (The Ponds, Millsands and other wheels)
DescriptionSheffield's brooks and rivers were the focal points of its early industrial growth. For several centuries corn mills and grinding wheels had been turned by the water power harnessed by numerous dams and gaits strung along the streams. In Millsands, the Ponds and below Lady's Bridge such works were particularly concentrated: the Town Corn-mill in Millsands dated from the middle ages and the Pond Mill from at least Elizabethan times, as did the Wicker grinding wheels. The general picture was repeated on a smaller scale wherever a sufficient head of water was available to turn a wheel. In Harrison's Survey of 1637 six water mills in Sheffield and Ecclesfield paid rent to the Lord of the Manor and there is a list of forty-two payments of rents for cutlers' wheels, though many of the tenants shared wheels and some held more than one.

The river banks, however, even in the Ponds, remained pleasant rural places. The old 'Hall in the ponds' was in the 16th century a country retreat and there was fishing in the river. When the Fairbank period opens the situation was little altered. There were pleasant gardens in the Castle Orchards (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1908) and such amenities as the Cold Bath and fishponds in the Ponds are shown on the earlier maps (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1597, 1595). At Brightside, lower down the river a salmon heck is shown in maps of 1760 and 1781.

As industry developed in the 18th century demands on water power grew. Dams were enlarged, new gaits cut, and meanders in the river straightened to increase the force of water. A number of maps in this collection illustrate this process, with the resultant reallotment of the land on either bank: the Ponds (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1934, 1935); the White Lead Works (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1931); Cooper Wheel (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1920). As works extended some of the old gaits were arched over, a particularly notable case being the tail gait of the Town Mill which carried the water on one side of The Isle. When this was covered and Bridge Street opened (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1424), The Islet ceased to be an appropriate name.

Industrial use of the land was increasing rapidly during the period covered by the maps. A tanyard, a white lead works, furnaces, forges and rolling mills were begun or extended. The plans of Simon Wheel and Park Furnace show particularly well the expansion from the little cutlers' wheels of 1753 (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1907) to the industrial agglomeration of 1805 (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1905). Several plans (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1493, 1494, 1495) show the expansion of Jonathan Marshall's steel furnaces. Perhaps most noteworthy of all was the pithead and coal yards of the Duke of Norfolk's Colliery. An excellent plan shows its layout in 1790 (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1627).

It is interesting to find in 1766 a proposed square, presumably of residential properties, planned in Shimmild Croft on the corner of Shude Hill (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1631). Nothing further is heard of this and as industrial development proceeded the new building plots tended to be laid out on the outskirts of the area, particularly at the southern end of Pond Lane, adjoining Alsop fields (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1619). At Harmer Lane a close was divided into the familiar garden allotments (ACM/MAPS/SheS/1937).

In this section of the ACM collection, the riverside industrial areas have been divided as follows: The Ponds; Millsands; other wheels and works within Sheffield township, arranged alphabetically. There is also a separate section for the riverside industrial area of Attercliffe and Brightside following the sections on those two townships. Such a division does not seem justified in the case of the other townships where there were no industrial concentrations, but where mills and wheels were scattered in a rural setting.
Datec. 1729 - 1917
Extent80 items
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