Concern over Sheffield’s air quality stretches back at least 400 years. As early as 1608, Sir John Bentley expected to be ‘half choked with town smoke’ while visiting Sheffield.
By the 19th century, it was apparent that measures were necessary to reduce atmospheric pollution in urban areas. Nevertheless, air pollution problems persisted into the 20th century, partly due to the fact that most smoke pollution came from less regulated domestic coal fires rather than industrial processes.
In 1956, the Clean Air Act established 'smokeless zones' in which only smokeless fuels could be burned; by 1972 the whole of the city had become a smokeless zone.
The study guide below lists information available in Sheffield Local Studies Library & Archives for the study of Sheffield’s 400 year battle for clean air.