Welcome to Sheffield… Virginia

Sheffield is a neighbourhood in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Continuing our look at places called Sheffield around the world.

In the United States there are fourteen locations named Sheffield. One of the smallest is a neighbourhood of Lynchburg, an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, there doesn’t appear to be any connection with our steel city, but Lynchburg is known as the “City of Seven Hills” or the “Hill City.” Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the Sheffield district looks incredibly flat.

Lynchburg was named for its founder, John Lynch, who at the age of 17 started a ferry service across the James River in 1757. Tobacco and iron were the chief products of early Lynchburg and extensive use of Lynch’s ferry system on the James River resulted in it becoming one of the largest tobacco markets in the US. In the 1860s, Lynchburg was the only city in Virginia that was not recaptured by the Union before the end of the American Civil War.

Houses, shops, and eating-houses line the roads of modern Sheffield and perhaps its most famous building is Sheffield Elementary School.

Photograph: Sheffield Elementary School, Lynchburg, Virginia

Welcome to Sheffield… Cornwall

Cornwall has its own Sheffield. Photograph: Alex Young

We are looking at our Sheffield namesakes around the globe, starting with the only other Sheffield to exist in the UK.

Sheffield, Cornwall, is a small village, near the village of Paul, about two miles from Newlyn. According to locals, unlike other namesakes, this Sheffield is nothing to do with us.

Not, according to Cornwall Live.

“Cornwall’s got its own Sheffield. The Sheffield up north is known for being a powerhouse of steel production, (had) a premier league football team (with another being named after a day of the week) and a population of just over half a million people.

“Only in Cornwall is Sheffield bigger than Barcelona (near the village of Pelynt). It’s near Penzance and is a series of houses built along the B3315.”

It was first known as Sheffield Terrace in 1841, probably named after the row of houses built by a group of Yorkshire quarrymen who came to work at the nearby quarry and surrounding farms.

Sheffield, Cornwall. Photograph: Peter Wood

“Sheffield has a festering pool in the midst of a foul waste before the doors of the larger village, and a disgusting drain running close to the entrances of the houses in the smaller,” said a Cornish newspaper afterwards.

The principal stone of the district was Land’s End granite, which was extensively mined at Sheffield Quarry until the late 1920s, when it was closed in favour of cheaper imports. At the time, Sheffield Granite was used to build the piers and streets and houses of some of the finest cities in the world.

Sheffield eventually acquired a Chapel and Sunday school. The Teetotal Wesleyan Chapel, built around 1845, was later a Wesleyan School and is now a house.

The most famous inhabitant was Australian-born artist Barbara Tribe (1913-2000) who moved into the old Sunday School after World War Two, and became a lecturer in Modelling and Sculpture at the Penzance School of Art.

By this time, “the summer sunshine, the fine stretch of country, and the sweet sound of children’s voices wafting on the breeze, gave it a fine setting,” said Herbert Richards in The Cornishman in 1947. Not unlike today.

Former Sheffield Granite Quarry, Cornwall. Photograph: Elizabeth Scott

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.