Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold


21 Jul 2021, 12:30 p.m.

Back in the 1950's an Anglican priest called Ted Wickham worked in an industrial mission in Sheffield. 

His calling was to be among the foundry workers, the grime and the dirt that they endured, as he went about preaching God's word. He wrote a book called "Church and People in an Industrial City" which was acclaimed and became the blueprint for Christian outreach to the masses.

Ted Wickham became a bishop, retained his trenchant views about how the Church should get its hands dirty and continued his pioneering work in Manchester Diocese, opening one of the first soup kitchens for the homeless in the early Sixties. Bishop Ted, who died in 1994, would be delighted by the exhibition that has opened at Sheffield Cathedral, where he became a canon, as highlighted this week by the Yorkshire Post.

The earliest references to steel-making in South Yorkshire dates as far back as the 15th century, but it was 300 years later that Sheffield was to emerge as an industrial powerhouse.

With Benjamin Huntsman’s invention of crucible steel in 1742, the city began to capitalise on the Industrial Revolution centred on its prowess with the metal.

At the centre of The Foundry exhibition in Sheffield Cathedral is archive film footage from British Pathé, as the exhibition transports visitors back to an era at the height of the city’s steel-making industry.

It also showcases how artists, craftspeople and sculptors continue to use steel today to create thought-provoking and challenging pieces of work.

Artist Peter Walker, who is the director of the exhibition, said: “At the heart of The Foundry is a remarkable film showing historic Pathé footage of the steel industry in Sheffield.

“Around this there is an opportunity to explore how the city’s connection to the steel industry has inspired artists around the country over the past 50 years – sometimes playfully, sometimes intellectually, but always creatively to adapt and respond to the material and to explore different and diverse subjects.

"This is an exhibition for seeing something different, for connecting with the past and for cherishing the influence Sheffield’s legacy has, and continues to have, on the world around us.”

The Vice Dean and Canon Missioner of Sheffield Cathedral, the Rev Canon Keith Farrow, said: “The cathedral has stood here for hundreds of years and the city of Sheffield has grown around it.

“People working in the Sheffield steelworks will have worshipped here, been baptised here, got married here and been laid to rest here.

“So we are delighted to be able to host an exhibition like The Foundry, which reflects on the history of this great city and how the actions and lives of people in the past have shaped how we live our lives today.”

The Foundry exhibition, which has free admission, is being staged until September 2.