Designed to shine

Stainless Steel art'a Stainlees Steel Wedding dress, made by a Sheffield Woman for her Daughters Wedding
Stainless Steel art'a Stainlees Steel Wedding dress, made by a Sheffield Woman for her Daughters Wedding
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Happy birthday Harry!

Today is the day the Sheffield man who discovered stainless steel and reaffirmed the city’s status on the international map, would have turned 142.

Harry Brearley’s discovery in 1913 changed the face of today’s world from iconic buildings to cutlery, jewellery and transport.

This year Sheffield is celebrating the centenary with a series of events including a new exhibition now open at the Millennium Gallery.

Designed to Shine: 100 Years of Stainless Steel explores the ways stainless steel has been used.

Harry Brearley was born in 1871 into a poor family who lived in one room at the back of Spital Street.

His father was a steelworker at Thomas Firth and Sons while his mother took in washing to support a family of nine children.

Harry went to Woodside Board School but left to begin working as a cellar lad at the age of 12.

A couple of years later he started as a bottle washer in the chemical laboratory at Firth’s. He began to study metallurgy and learnt so quickly that he was able to set a up a new laboratory at Kayser Ellison’s. In 1913, whilst working at Firth Brown’s research laboratory, he made the discovery that adding chromium to molten iron produced a metal that did not rust, a breakthrough which changed the face of the modern world and put Sheffield on the global map.

The Millennium Gallery exhibition features more than 100 pieces from the city’s renowned metalwork collection, as well as a host of significant loans.

Star objects include a striking stainless steel wedding dress made by senior lecturer in Fashion Design at Sheffield Hallam University, Lesley Campbell.

Another of the exhibition highlights is the Well Tempered Chair, an innovative stainless steel armchair created by the acclaimed Israeli artist, architect and designer, Ron Arad.

The exhibition will also feature a wealth of objects from tableware to medical instruments which were created in the city over the last century and helped seal Sheffield’s global reputation for stainless steel innovation.

Lucy Cooper, curator of Metalwork at Museums Sheffield, said: “Museums Sheffield is delighted to be opening the city’s 100 Years of Stainless Steel celebrations with the Designed to Shine exhibition.

“Harry Brearley’s discovery has had a huge impact, both in Sheffield and around the globe.

“It’s wonderful to explore the legacy of that discovery and also celebrate the stainless steel innovation, perfectly illustrated by Lesley Campbell’s wedding dress, that is still taking place today.”

* Designed to Shine: 100 Years of Stainless Steel open until October 13 – entry is free.

Sheffield is hosting a year-long programme of events to celebrate the stainless steel centenary and reaffirm the legacy of innovation which still exists in the city today.

A city wide arts and heritage partnership has been brought together to deliver the 100 Years of Stainless Steel programme, including Sheffield Newspapers, Marketing Sheffield, The Company of Cutlers, Museums Sheffield, Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, Sheffield Hallam University and The University of Sheffield.

Highlights are:

* Rustless- The Harry Brearley Story, Kelham Island Museum, April until November.

* BSSA & SMEA Conference and Exhibition, Sheffield University, June 11 until 13.

* David Mellor Exhibition, Sheffield Hallam University – date to be confirmed.

* Women of Steel Concert, Sheffield City Hall, Saturday, November 9.

Many projects and initiatives are still being developed as part of the celebrations and will be announced throughout 2013.

* The anniversary book, 100 Years of Stainless Steel: Sheffield, can be pre-ordered in The Star shop on York Street and will be available in March.