Sheffield Town Trust

History of Sheffield Town Trust


town gun imageHistory summary of the Sheffield Town Trust

The Sheffield Town Trust dates back to 10 August 1297 and for the greater part of the succeeding 6 centuries it was responsible for many of the obligations now undertaken by the Local Authority. It is one of the oldest Charities in England.

The Original Trust Deed of 1297 (which is still in existence and on loan to Sheffield Archives) put into effect a bargain struck by Thomas de Furnival, Lord of Hallamshire from 1294 to 1332, with his tenants. The trend of the times was for the great landowners to make such bargains with their tenants, but the tenants were usually released individually from their obligations and granted their lands individually in return for a capital sum. The Furnival bargain was different in that he granted his land to his tenants as a community to be managed by themselves in return for a chief rent (£3.6s.91/4d). Thus the Burgary or Sheffield Town Trust was incorporated and left as a body to work out its own salvation, to manage its own affairs, collect its own rents and pay the chief rent to the Lord of the Manor. The Citizens set up their organisation to carry this out which consisted of a Committee elected by the Free Tenants (the original Trustees) and a Collector of Rents. The Chairman of the Town Trust is still known as the Town Collector.

The objects of the Trust were defined a number of times over the centuries and in 1681 the Decree of Commissioners of Charitable Uses clarified them as follows:-

  1. The repair of Lady’s Bridge.
  2. The repair of and maintenance of Barker’s Pool and the rest of the Town’s water supply.
  3. The repair of causeways and highways.
  4. Other charitable and public purposes for the benefit of Sheffield as a whole and its inhabitants.

Statutory enactments in the middle and latter part of the 19th century removed the remaining vestiges of municipal responsibilities from the Town Trustees as lighting, Police, Fire fighting, water supply and highways passed to the Local Authority and finally the passing of The Sheffield Town Trustees Act 1873 saw the conversion of the Trust into a Charity pure and simple having as its main object “other charitable and public purposes for the benefit of Sheffield as a whole and its inhabitants” (see above).

Today the Trust has a disposable annual income of about £450,000 and supports many local charities and other local causes.



Origins of the Sheffield Town Trust

Written by Professor Clyde Binfield O.B.E.

Sheffield as a modern industrial city is a creation of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1843 it became a borough and in 1893 it became a city. That is to say, from 1843 Sheffield's municipal affairs were directed by a corporation answerable to a steadily enlarged electorate. But Sheffield is older and livelier than this suggests. Its population had made it a town of the second rank at least since the seventeenth century, and it had been an industrial centre for much longer. Indeed, the first documentary reference to Sheffield's cutlery trade comes from 1297, the year when the Town Trust was established.

Before 1843 Sheffield's administration was largely in the hands of three self-perpetuating bodies: the Town Trustees, the Church Burgesses, and the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire. The Cutlers' Company dates from 1624; its original responsibility was the organization of the local cutlery trades. The Church Burgesses date from 1554, although they share a common ancestry with the Town Trustees, whose charter, 10 August 1297, makes it one of the oldest charities in England.

Their complex evolution reflects that of Sheffield itself, for although the city’s present name can be identified in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as “Escafeld”, that in fact referred to the area now concentrated on Sheffield Park, while what is now Sheffield was there called “Hallun”, a name which survives (as “Hallam”) in the titles of the Roman Catholic diocese, one of the city’s two universities, its westernmost parliamen-tary constituency, and the area of the Cutlers’ Company’s jurisdiction.

At the time of Domesday, Hallam belonged to William the Conqueror’s niece, Judith, widow of Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland, last of the great Saxon earls, though ethnically at least half a Dane, whom her uncle had executed for conspiracy in 1076. Fifteen years before Domesday, Hallam, in common with much else of Yorkshire, had been devastated in revenge for an earlier rebellion. By the late thirteenth century “Sheffield” was replacing “Hallam” as the name of the place, and the manor, together with those of Bradfield, Ecclesfield, and Handsworth, was held by Thomas de Furnival. The Furnivals were Normans. Gilbert de Furnival had died in Palestine in 1219; Thomas de Furnival, his great-grandson, was married to Simon de Montfort’s niece. Large property was inseparable from compromising associations. In 1297 Furnival struck a bargain which was to determine the structure and temper of the town for generations. Regularising what had long been customary, he vested the administration of his property in his Sheffield tenants as a community, the Common Burgery, in return for the payment of a Chief Rent of £3.8.91/4d. This is the origin of the present Town Trust.

Furnival’s common-sense arrangement ensured a fixed income for him and a salutary exercise of collective responsibility for his tenants. It led to what has been described as a rather elementary committee, set up by the Burgery and relying particularly on the member responsible for collecting the rents. It also encouraged further gifts. Evidence for these is provided by some eighty deeds, now held by the Church Burgesses, which date back to 1304 and relate to property managed by the Vicar and his wardens, as the most visible and responsible local figures. These concentrate on the maintenance of the parish church, its services, its clergy, and its immediate approaches. One of these documents, William Hyne’s, 12 May 1498, in specifying funds for church services, among them a requiem for the Hyne family, also specifies an alternative expenditure by “the freeholders of Sheffield called the burgesses” on road or bridge repair “and in other deeds of charity as they shall think most meritorious”. This is the earliest surviving recorded recognition of the Burgery as a public body after 1297.

By the 1540s the Burgery’s property was yielding an income of some £27 a year, but provision for requiems and the maintenance of priests was a contentious matter at a time of religious reformation, especially when it accounted for £17 of that income, and in 1548 this element of the Burgery’s property was diverted by the Act for the Suppression of Chantries, returning to local control in 1554 with the incorporation of the “Twelve Capital Burgesses and the Commonalty of the Town and Parish of Sheffield”. These Church Burgesses, as they came to be known, kept the parish church in good repair, paid the salaries of its vicar’s three assistant ministers, made occasional charitable grants, and were empowered to improve the streets and bridges closest to the church. They might be seen as Sheffield’s first quango. Thanks to the protection of the Earl of Shrewsbury and a carefully worded petition to Queen Mary which one historian of the Town Trustees has called “a specious piece of special pleading”, the property, traditionally vested either in the Common Burgery or in the Vicar and Churchwardens on the Burgery’s behalf, which had been seized by the Crown in 1548, was returned to Sheffield by Letters Patent in l554. But it was returned to an entirely new body. Mary Tudor affected the temper of Sheffield life as significantly as Thomas de Furnival had done 250 years earlier.

Thus, from 1554 the management of Sheffield’s public property was divided between the new Church Burgesses and the rest of the burgery embodied in Town Trustees, as the Burgery’s elementary committee had become known by 1566, which is when their continuous records begin. Neither Church Burgesses nor Town Trustees could be described in any acceptable modern sense as “representative”. The former were not elected; when one died, the survivors elected his successor; and although the latter derived their authority from freeholders’ public meetings, their constituency was ill-defined. The Town Trust was well on its way to being a closed corporation when it was reorganised by Decree of the Commissioners of Charitable Uses in 1681.

Even so, given the nature of contemporary Sheffield, a rough degree of pragmatic representativeness could be claimed. It has been estimated that in 1681, a time of great political intensity and the year of the Trust’s reorganisation, of nine local men who were made Honorary Freemen of the Cutlers’ Company, five were at some point Town Trustees and five were Church Burgesses. Sheffield’s administration was less ramshackle than might appear.

That useful interconnectedness has continued to mark several aspects of Sheffield life. Thus, of the twenty one Town Collectors who have chaired the Trust between 1953 and 2008, ten have served as Master Cutler (and two were Lord Lieutenant), six were prominent in the City’s legal circles, three were surgeons, and two were accountants. On the face of it, indeed, today’s Town Trustees are very similar in occupation to those of a hundred years ago. There has, however, been at least one significant change. The first woman Trustee (Jennifer Ann Lee) was elected in 1996; a dozen years later, there were five women Trustees.

After 1681 the Trust was administered by thirteen Trustees, headed by a Town Collector and elected by a majority of the town’s inhabitants; that was taken to mean freeholders, a restrictive interpretation confirmed by the Court of Chancery in 1816. In fact elections for the Trust have been sporadic, because vacancies have usually arisen on death or, more recently, on resignation after long and notable service.

The Trustees had four duties: the repair of Lady’s Bridge; the repair and maintenance of Barker’s Pool and the rest of the town’s water supply; the repair of causeways and highways; and other charitable and public uses for the benefit of Sheffield and its inhabitants. They and the Burgesses were thus complementary, allowing for the latter’s necessary concentration on the parish church and its vicinity. Such complementarity of purpose and personnel, however, was less and less suited to the mounting social and political complexities of life in a growing industrial town. Resources which had been adequate in the earlier eighteenth century were stretched to the limit a hundred years later. The Trust was relieved of some of its duties in 1818 when Improvement Commissioners became responsible for street cleaning and lighting. In Sheffield, as in many other rapidly growing towns, an Improvement Commission was a precursor of municipal incorporation and after 1843 the story of Sheffield’s policing and fire-fighting, its water supply, its road improvements, and the rest of its infrastructure, belonged increasingly to its town, and later its city council.

After the Town Trust Act of 1827, the Trust published its annual accounts. These show that in the sixteen years before municipal incorporation the Trust’s annual income was between £1,350 and £1,950, drawn chiefly from investments and the rents of its 26,000 square yards of urban real estate and its seventy-eight acres of land elsewhere in Hallam. This significant, although not princely, sum was increasingly devoted to the last of the Trust’s main objects, its charitable and public uses. The Sheffield Town Trustees Act of 1873, which saw the Trust become a charity in both fact and principle, consolidated this development.

Whatever the Trust’s inadequacies in the light of retrospect, its records provide ample evidence of the seriousness with which it took its obligations. They also reflect national tensions and excitements. Thus, in the seventeenth century, the impact of the Civil War can be discerned with the Trust’s purchase of twenty-two muskets for £21.15.7d just before the war began. Sheffield supported the Parliamen-tary cause, but in April 1643 the town surrendered to the Earl of Newcastle, and a royalist garrison occupied the castle. A year later the Parliamentarians returned to the attack, and re-took the town. An entry for 1645 refers to this:

‘‘ Delivered to Robert Stacie when my Lord of Manchester’s army took this Castle… £6. ’’

From the eighteenth century one can extract a steady concern at the rising price of corn. In 1766 the Trustees paid half the cost of a petition to Parliament about the high price of corn, and in January 1783 they combined with the Church Burgesses and the Cutlers’ Company to relieve the poor “on account of the present high price of corn”. From the nineteenth-century records, attention might be drawn to the cholera epidemic which swept Europe in the early 1830s. In 1831 the Trustees considered how to prevent the disease from reaching Sheffield, and how to mitigate its impact should prevention fail. The Town Collector authorised a contribution towards any emergency fund, and by the end of the year £200 had been given to the Cholera Committee. The most notable Sheffield victim was the Master Cutler, John Blake.

The twentieth century has been stamped by the impact of two world wars. Two quite separate items from 1915 reflect the far-reaching implications of the First World War: one is a grant of £500 for the Sheffield Defence Corps, towards the cost of uniforms, rifles, and other equipment; the other is the increase to £250, for the duration of the War, of the Trust’s annual subscription to the University of Sheffield’s Applied Science Department. The Great War’s aftermath saw boom, industrial unrest, and economic depression, reflected in Sheffield by political transformation. That is the context for two grants of up to £250 made in 1929 and 1930 to the Sheffield Council of Social Service (now Voluntary Action Sheffield) towards the provision of allotments for the unemployed.

The wider implications of such disbursements provide a context for grants reflecting the four main objects set out in 1681. The first of these was the repair of Lady’s Bridge. The Trust’s earliest surviving account book shows a payment in 1566 of 26s 4d for pointing the bridge’s stonework, with a further 9s 4d for labour. There are regular payments for repair and maintenance together with occasional references to major work. Thus in 1787, three years after Furnival’s Chief Rent was at last commuted, several houses had to be purchased and demolished to allow for the bridge’s widening; and in 1866 some of the Trust’s land had to be released to allow for a further widening scheme. In this regard reference might also be made to an early collaboration with the Church Burgesses: the Burgery Accounts for 1596 record a joint project for the “Sheath” Bridge. This raised £8.1.1d. to cover construction costs of £7.14.9d.

The second of the Trust’s main concerns, Barker’s Pool, figures less frequently than Lady’s Bridge. Nonetheless it appears in the accounts for 1570:

‘‘ Item, paid to my Lordes greave for a mersyment of Barker Powle… 3s 4d.’’

And it would appear that a keeper was appointed, at a yearly wage, for the pool’s general upkeep. In 1672 it was agreed to enlarge the “Barker poole”, “as much as conveniently itt can”; and the pool served as a public reservoir until the end of the following century. In 1850 the minutes record that the public pumps in Barker’s Pool, Workhouse Croft, Little Sheffield, and Highfield were to be examined and repaired. In due course the Town Collector reported that all had been put in order save the Highfield pump, and that was useless “on account of the water having been fouled by certain drains”, an unfortunate circumstance mitigated by the proximity of the Little Sheffield pump “where the water is good and abundant”.

When it came to the Trust’s third area of responsibility, the repair of causeways and highways, the relevant duties included road widening and construction as well as contributing towards the work of the Surveyor of Highways. The significance of the Trust’s involvement can be seen in the construction of The Flouch (1777), the re-routing of the Sheffield-Chesterfield Turnpike (1795), the road to Baslow via Abbeydale (1812), and the Snake Pass or “Glossop Turnpike Road” (1818). The minutes record the Trust’s agreement to advance £200 towards the last of these “provided the said road enter the town of Sheffield at Town Head Cross, through West Street”. Although that road, now the A57, today enters Sheffield as Manchester Road, to follow Whitham Road past Western Bank to the Brook Hill roundabout, the route of the old road, still called Glossop Road, can be followed down from Broomhill, across Upper Hanover Street, and into West Street.

In the eighteenth century waterways rivalled highways in their potential for profitable communication. In the 1720s and 1730s the Trust, with the Cutlers’ Company, played a key role in the River Don Navigation project, and later in building the canal from Goole to Sheffield. Its investment in the Don Navigation furnished an increasingly useful part of Trust income.

That leaves charitable and public uses, an umbrella category which has ranged from relief of the poor to the provision of public buildings, taking in policing, fire-fighting, street cleaning and street lighting en route. Thus, in 1700 the Trust undertook the erection of a Town Hall at the corner of Church Yard and Church Street. The architect was paid £2.3.0d for his plans and the first installment of £50 towards the building itself was paid 8 May 1700. The Duke of Norfolk - the successor of Countess Judith, the Furnivals, and the Earls of Shrewsbury, whose estate should figure with the Cutlers’ Company, the Church Burgesses, and the Town Trust as the fourth pillar of Sheffield’s ancien régime - contributed £100, of which £80 had been received by 1704. By the turn of the century this building was “unfit for any public business”. An agreement in 1804 to build a new Town Hall was followed by the old hall’s sale at auction for £l60 and the construction of a new one in Castle Green. That was in 1808. The Trust contributed £1,000 of the cost. When the Cutlers’ Hall, a stone’s throw from the Old Town Hall, was rebuilt in 1832, the Trust’s contribution was £500.

Street lighting and cleaning were more constant concerns than town hall building. In 1734 the Trustees arranged and paid for lighting Sheffield’s streets by oil lamps. In 1777 the overseer of highways received £2.10.0d for street cleaning. By 1809 there were 599 street lamps, each one costing 1s.4d. to light and maintain during the winter season, which ran from October to March. Sheffield’s lamplighter was a considerable contractor. By 1809, however, the Trustees were helping to promote the Bill which led to the formation of the Sheffield Gas Company in 1811. As for fire-fighting, in 1784 the Trustees purchased a new fire engine for £45.17.0d.

So to the poor and, not necessarily to be separated, policing. These items appear among the Burgery Accounts for 1607:

‘‘ Imprimis paid the 24 day of Maye last for the constables churchwardens and collectors for the pore … 3s Item, to Robert Staniforth constable going about the six weekes sessions … 6s 8d. Item, paid for maymed souldiers at fower severally tymes … 14s 8d.’’

Two hundred years later concern for the poor is reflected in concern for education: ten guineas in 1811 towards the new Lancasterian School, and £50 in 1813 towards Bell’s School. These were the Sheffield reflections of the two chief contemporary innovations in educational methods.

It has already been suggested that the Trust’s disposable annual income, which currently stands at about, £450,000 was relatively modest in the nineteenth century: £1,954 in 1842-3; £6,216 in 1897. The growth, allowing for inflation, can be attributed in part to sensible stewardship and in part to the properties and bequests which the Trust has steadily received as its charitable role has increased. Thus, in 1869 Daniel Holy bequeathed property “to the Burgesses or free tenants and Trustees of certain messuages and hereditaments vested in them for Charitable and public purposes within the Town of Sheffield commonly called the Sheffield Town Trustees”, whom he appointed as devisees in trust of his estate to establish and maintain an institution for the blind in Sheffield. That legally couched act of imaginative generosity is not unique. In 1870 a former Trustee, Samuel Bailey, banker, politician, and pillar of the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society in its great days, left the residue of his estate, amounting to £102,000, to the Trust; and since then a whole procession of names has continued the tradition. Many have been notable in Sheffield life. Sir William Ellis, industrialist and Church Burgess, was for forty-three years a governor of Sheffield's Royal Infirmary. Sir Samuel Osborn, Gerard Young, Stephen de Bartolome, and Arthur Connell served as Pro-Chancellor and Treasurer of the University of Sheffield. Like Ellis, the first three were industrialists. Each of the three was Master Cutler, each was Town Collector; the fourth was a solicitor.

This generous tradition, which is far from over, and which is positively encouraged has allowed for wide and flexible giving. Some of it has been designated for specific purposes. Thus silverware given by Samuel Bailey has been lodged with Sheffield's Millennium Galleries. Thanks to the Charles Henry Maleham Bequest, paintings by artists ranging from Sir Peter Lely to Augustus John, and including two Turners, have been purchased for public display, twenty-four of them in the city's art galleries and two (David Jagger's portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh, and its preliminary sketch) on loan to the Cutlers' Company. The Harry Fisher Fund has contributed to the maintenance of Sheffield's Botanical Gardens. Most of the bequests, however, have not been earmarked in this way. They have been prompted by their donors' wish to be of continued assistance to their fellow citizens in a steadily changing Sheffield, and by their confidence that the Town Trust will interpret that wish responsibly and imaginatively. To give one example, between 1979 and the final payment in 2007, the fund initiated by the late Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Wood made available over £125,000 for their city's charitable and public purposes. Thus a continuing succession of donors has made possible, through the mechanism triggered in 1297 by Thomas de Furnival when he allowed Sheffield's Common Burgery to stand on its own feet, a modern response to a daunting variety of need. That response is a reflection of chronic human inadequacy. It is also a tribute to the determined creativity of Sheffielders in setting about the improvement of their neighbours' lives.


The Trust Today

This range of giving has continued into the twenty-first century, although the size of the grants has risen to reflect inflation, even if it has proved impossible to keep pace with it. At the close of the new century's first decade the Trust might expect to make some twenty-five recurring grants to causes which it felt needed regular support, and over a hundred non-recurring grants. In 2007, for example, the recurring grants ranged from £750 (Happy Outings) to £8,000 (Voluntary Action Sheffield) and the non-recurring grants from £170 (Hinde House 3-16 School) to £25,000 (Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice). Relatively few of these were for large sums. In 2007 there were fifteen grants (three of them recurring) for upwards of £5,000; four of these were for upwards of £10,000. Over the years the thrust of applications has changed but in any one year their balance accurately reflects the local need: churches of all denominations and other faith groups, community associations, ethnic minorities, youth groups, equal opportunities, health, the arts, recreation, education. The Trust can seldom fully meet an applicant's need, but its constructive role in recognising that need has had a profound effect in keeping the city's communities lively and determined.

The Town Trustees have also rediscovered their role in safeguarding the city's environment and heritage in ways which are firmly in line with the Trust's own history. In its sixth centenary year the Trust's concern for the built (and paved, and grassed) environment, already reflected in the two earlier Town Halls and the Cutlers' Hall, found expression in the purchase of the Botanical Gardens for the benefit of the citizens of Sheffield. The Gardens were subsequently leased to the City Council and by 1996 they were in urgent need of restoration. Over the next ten years a steering group, chaired by the University of Sheffield's Landscape Department and with the Town Trust, the City Council’s Parks Woodlands and Countryside Department, the Friends of the Botanical Gardens, and the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust as key partners, was responsible for one of the city's most imaginatively successful regeneration projects. The Trust's own grant of £50,000, conditional upon Heritage Lottery funding, was towards restoring the Gardens' triumphal arch of a gatehouse. That was paid in 2000, in celebration of a new century and a new millennium.

A not dissimilar scheme has involved the restoration, indeed the survival, of the General Cemetery, across the valley from the Botanical Gardens. Together the Cemetery and the Gardens form two of the city's most important examples of nineteenth-century landscape design. Between 1998 and 2001 the Trust gave £40,000 to the Friends of the General Cemetery.

Landscape of a different order is encompassed by the Five Weirs Walk to which the Trust granted £55,000 between 1988 and 1999.

What such grants have in common is regeneration. That word must also be applied to the city's museums, hence the £30,000 given since 1999 to the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and the £37,500 given to the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust. The bulk of the latter was towards the reconstruction of Weston Park Museum, but £6,500 was to purchase a set of cast steel bells to be housed in the concourse of the Millennium Gallery, that landmark for increasingly rapid change in the direction of Sheffield's affairs.

In the Town Hall such change has been reflected in the shifting balance of local and national party politics. In the city at large it has been reflected in the uneasy balance between local and national government and the intermediary bodies, often called "quangos", some of them "partnerships", which have been a feature of recent decades. Sheffield's independent and voluntary sectors, its long established charitable trusts and corporate bodies, have also changed with the times. They have had constantly to adjust their response to the pressures and priorities of local and national government and the replacement in many areas of local government by local administration, which is not quite the same thing. What has not changed is their sense of corporate responsibility and communal commitment and the often imaginative expertise which they have contributed to the city's quality of life.

Like most British cities, Sheffield seemed to reinvent itself at the turn of the twenty-first century. Three suggestive instances might be selected of the Trust's part in this process, each of them illustrating the theme of change in continuity. The first was the allocation in 2006 of £100,000 to the Sheffield Investment Bond, interest free and due to mature in July 2011. The second, also in 2006, was the grant of £100,000 to Voluntary Action Sheffield (V.A.S.) which was moving across the road from purpose-built but outmoded premises in Division Street to purpose-built but state-of-the-art premises in Rockingham Lane. For over eighty years VAS had been the Sheffield voluntary sector's forum and nerve centre, adapting to radically changing social and political conditions rather as the Town Trust had done; the grant is commemorated by a Town Trust Room in the new V.A.S. building. The third instance brings into the picture the growing partnership with the Shrewsbury Hospital Trust.

The Shrewsbury Hospital was founded by the 7th Earl of Shrewsbury (d. 1616), a successor of Thomas de Furnival as Lord of the Manor. The early nineteenth-century buildings of these almshouses form one of Sheffield's less expected oases. In the early twenty-first century the Town Trust started to provide assistance for the distribution of a proportion of the Shrewsbury Trust’s surplus income, furnishing a good example of the cooperation that has developed between the historic, and surprisingly numerous, Sheffield Trusts. The focus of the Shrewsbury Hospital Trust's periodic contributions, which by 2006 had reached £60,000, is the sick aged and infirm.

No-one can second guess the future, but three more examples, each a marker for the changing city, each different, and each adding to the variety of the Trust's portfolio of initiative, should be noted here.

The first was in November 1994, when £25,000 was granted towards the transformation of Cathedral Square. That scheme, initiated by the Cathedral, reinforced by the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, presented as a partnership between the Cathedral, the Cutlers' Company, and the City Council, and largely made possible by European Regional Development money, had the Church Burgesses and the Town Trustees as the most significant donors from the charitable and corporate sectors. It celebrated the continued commitment of Sheffield's oldest institutions to their city's welfare. Since then the Cathedral itself has also been in process of transformation, the Town Trust's part commemorated in one of the rooms in the new Cathedral Resource Centre.

The second example occurred in January 1998. The Trust wished to commission a sculpture in celebration of seven centuries of civic usefulness. It was to be a commanding work of art at the point where Leopold, Surrey, and Pinstone Streets, Fargate, and Barker's Pool, converge on the Town Hall. Three sculptures were shortlisted, the one chosen by the selection committee being by Shirahaz Houshiary, but, after wide consultation, no agreement could be reached. Over a decade later, in a city centre poised for regeneration, the opportunity remains.

The third example reconciles heritage, conflict, natural disaster, regeneration - and constant opportunity.

In July 1821, after they had fired a royal salute in honour of George IV's coronation, the Town Guns were presented to the Town Trustees. The guns are two bronze six pounders purchased in 1795 by the Sheffield Loyal Independent Volunteers to repel a French invasion and to guard against the civil unrest for which Sheffield was notorious. They were never needed for the former and almost certainly never used for the latter. Their display and their conservation have posed problems ever since. In June 2007 severe floods caused devastation in the Don Valley; the Kelham Island Museum was among the seriously damaged sites. A Town Trust grant of £10,000 to help administer the relief funds raised in the aftermath of the flood was a prime example of prompt and practical ambulance work; and the subsequent restoration of Kelham Island has allowed for the provision of new galleries in which, for the first time in nearly 190 years, Sheffield's Town Guns might be properly, locally, and publicly displayed. The guns served a public if at times controversial purpose. Their conservation at Kelham Island serves a purpose which is both charitable and public and marks a small but significant stage in Sheffield's regeneration, a salute, from which conflict has been banished, to work undertaken for the young, the ill, the needy, the disadvantaged, the creative, and the industrious - all, in short, who live in Sheffield.


The Trust's Town Collectors since 1564

The PDF document that can be viewed here provides a list of the Trust's Town Collectors since 1564. For further details about Town Collectors please contact the Law Clerk.


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Registered Charity Number 223760