Former Education Secretary David Blunkett has urged Britain to use centenary celebrations for the discovery of stainless steel in Sheffield to enthuse a generation of youngsters about manufacturing.
The Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough Labour MP made the call at the British Stainless Steel Association’s annual meeting and luncheon, in the Cutlers’ Hall.
The Association is one of a number of organisations planning a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of stainless steel in Sheffield by metallurgist and entrepreneur Harry Brearley.
Mr Blunkett told BSSA members and guests: “Harry Brearley’s is a great story and a great life.
“Harry Brearley’s innovation built on the heritage we have in this city. What he did is so significant to our nation, said Mr Blunkett, adding: “The innovation and the enterprise of Sheffield was a driving force for the prosperity of our country.”
David Blunkett said with political parties all agreeing that the UK economy needed rebalancing and shifting back towards manufacturing, stainless steel’s centenary was an ideal opportunity to promote that shift.
Manufacturing in Sheffield itself had had its ups and downs – periods of terrific innovation and creativity, followed by times when manufacturers had rested on their laurels.
Thanks to developments in recent years, like the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, its associated facilities and the partnerships it had fostered, the region had “returned to the Harry Brearley school of innovation.”
If young people could be shown how engineering and a lasting pride in innovation and excellence could help them to make a major contribution to the economy then “We can bring this country alive in new ways,” Mr Blunkett concluded.