A hundred years later

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The suffragettes were fighting for women’s rights, Houdini was standing on his head underwater and buses were a whole new concept ... that’s Sheffield a hundred years ago.

In some ways it is amazing how much can change in a city over a century.

Just take a look at the outfits, the transport and the trends of the day.

In other ways though, it is just as obvious how many things have stayed the same. The photos on these pages were all taken in Sheffield in 1913. Together they can literally give us a snapshot of what life was like here several generations ago.

Perhaps the most important historical milestone of 1913 could be seen as the fact it was the year before World War I and all the monumental decisions taking place.

However, what about every day life for ordinary folk – your grandparents or mine?

If they fancied a night out then the Empire would have been a good bet for the chance to witness Houdini in action.

The world famous self-liberator promised to free himself from a water torture cell while standing on his head with his ankles clamped. If that wasn’t enough Houdini offered £200 to anyone who could prove that it was possible for him to get air while inside.

But many other pastimes have stayed largely the same - thousands turned out to see the city’s football teams every Saturday, sport was popular whether you watched or played, amateur dramatics attracted quite a crowd and young couples loved heading to Sheffield nightspots to dance.

The outfits though were a world away from what we wear today, whether people were playing tennis, going for a walk or heading to school.

An one end of the city’s employment scale Sheffield’s workhouses provided what would be considered a shockingly cruel existence for scores of destitute families. At the other, the steel industry was booming and Harry Brearley’s discovery of stainless steel was about to have a massive impact on the world. In a bid to capture the spirit of the city 100 years on, The Star will be working with Sheffield University and Sheffield Archives in a new project, Sheffield 1914.

Find out more about it, and how you can get involved, in Saturday’s Retro.