Postcard of Sheffield, with Mount Roland in the background (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)
Sheffield is a scenic rural town servicing the agriculturally rich Kentish district between Devonport and Cradle Mountain. Surveyor JM Dooley named it in 1860 because the first settlers, the Powlett family, came from Sheffield, England. Mining and potato exports during the 1880s made Sheffield a thriving country town. In 1908 it became the centre of the new Kentish municipality, which during the First World War had one of the state's highest volunteer enlistment rates. Between 1914 and 1957 a branch railway linked Sheffield with the main north-west coast line.
The first area school in Tasmania was opened in 1936, and construction of the huge Mersey-Forth power development scheme (1963-73) also greatly benefited the town. One result, Lake Barrington, hosted the world rowing championships in 1990. From 1985 artists painted about forty large murals on the walls of Sheffield's shops and buildings, turning the town into a popular tourist destination. Today tourism is the town's main industry.
Further reading: K von Stieglitz, A short history of Sheffield, Launceston, ; B Argent (ed), The Sheffield School, Latrobe, 1984; A Dyer, Dying to be healthy, Sheffield, 2003.