Why has this Sheffield building been named one of the 100 most important places in Britain?

The Brown Firth Research Laboratories.
The Brown Firth Research Laboratories.

This Sheffield building has been named one of 100 most important places in British history.

The Brown Firth Research Laboratories at Attercliffe have been chosen by acclaimed professor Robert Winston in the rundown of historic sites across the country which have helped shape the nation.

Harry Brearley, who invented stainless steel.

Harry Brearley, who invented stainless steel.

The Sheffield laboratory has been named as one of top ten science and discovery places in the A History of England in 100 Places campaign.

It was where scientist Harry Brearley accidentally discovered stainless steel which helped put Sheffield on the map and the creation of a product which has gained countless uses across the globe.

The list also includes the home of time, Greenwich as well as places such as Bletchley Park and Jodrell Bank.

Historic England’s campaign saw the Brown Firth building - now the English Pewter Company - chosen from a long list of public nominations by Prof. Winston to represent England’s remarkable scientific past

A brand new podcast hosted by well-known TV and radio presenter Emma Barnett explores the 10 selected places and how they’ve changed the world.

The year-long campaign aims to find the 100 places which best tell England’s remarkable story and its impact on the world.

Mr Brearley created stainless steel in 1913 when he incorporated chromium into steel.

The invention of a non-corroding steel revolutionised manufacturing worldwide - not only is stainless steel cutlery used by people around the world every day, but Brearley’s invention was also important for how buildings were constructed.

The metal trade has been alive in Sheffield since the Middle Ages and by the 18th century, Sheffield was the nation’s principal producer of different types of steel. The invention of stainless steel, a lucky accident, remains perhaps Sheffield’s most important contribution to the industry.

Jon Bradley, chairman of Joined Up Heritage Sheffield, said: “As much as the place itself, it’s the story that it tells that is equally important.

“Harry Brearley found his way to working at this lab after a childhood and youth struggling in school. Nonetheless, always hard working, his hungry and enquiring mind led him to the circumstances that created this landmark discovery of stainless steel.

“This is a very Sheffield people’s story, born from a modest background, told with graft and determination, but it’s also set against the ambition of Sheffield’s defining industry to modernise and look to the future.

“So, forms of this innovative new steel discovered by Brearley at the Brown Firth Research Laboratories were used on the turbine blading of the very first jet engines, just as today cutting edge materials technology is defining the future at the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

“Just a reminder that the kind of history that A History of England in 100 Places celebrates, more often than not has its eye set keenly on the future.”