Engines steam in to Sheffield to bring industrial history to life

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History was brought to life as a Sheffield attraction paid tribute to the age of steam.

Century-old engines, blacksmiths at work and traditional crafts helped Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet stepback in time at its annual steam gathering.

Old traction engines were always of interest at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet's annual steam festival in Sheffield.

Old traction engines were always of interest at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet's annual steam festival in Sheffield.

The venue welcomed hundreds of people for a weekend of family fun and insight into the city’s industrial past.

Among the stars of the show was a 1905-built steam-powered farm tractor.

Chugging away, the vehicle – prized possession of Andrew Bigland, of Norton – proved a draw for the crowds.

The steam engine’s life began in Leeds, where it was built.

The tractor operated until 1940 and was transported to Australia before making a welcome return to home to Yorkshire.

Mr Bigland said: “We tour it around during rally season, but the rest of the time it lives at home with us.

“I think the top speed we’ve managed is 4mph. It gets pretty noisy on the road.

“Events like this remind us of how important steam was. It amazes me that even now when you ask children what noise a train makes they still make that choo-choo sound.”

Elsewhere on the site, lace makers shared their expertise with youngstersm while there were live demonstrations from blacksmiths and basket-weavers.

Students from Sheffield University’s archaeology department recreated iron ore production using a clay-built bloomery furnace.

Professor Roger Doonan said: “This is the earliest and most original way we would have made iron ore.

“It’s one of humanity’s longest-enduring technologies. It changed little from the beginning of the Iron Age thousands of years ago to the late 18th century.

“We do this about three or four times a year as part of the university’s outreach programme. It feels good to bring this to Abbeydale, which is such a part of Sheffield’s heritage.”

Meanwhile, music from the Anything Goes Orchestra provided light entertainment for festival-goers.

Father-of-two Matthew Raper, aged 25, of Woodseats, took daughter Alissia, two, and 15-month-old son Alife along.

He said: “I think it’s great. Sheffield’s past is all about industry and something like this makes it part of our present. I find it interesting and the children come away having learned something.”

Railway enthusiast Cei Tuxill, aged 70, of Meersbrook, said: “I’d come again. It’s good to see children here learning a little bit. Steam is such part of history and we don’t want to lose it.”