Ebenezer Street School, 28 Ebenezer Street, Kelham Island Sheffield,Ebenezer Elliott was born in an iron foundry at Masbrough, Rotherham in 1781. Twenty four years later, he was the owner of the foundry, but suffered the total disgrace of going bankrupt in 1816.
Sheffield soon drew Elliott and by 1821 he was living in Burgess Street where he had set up in business as an iron dealer. With a bankruptcy behind him, Elliott's approach was cautious enabling him to prosper, since he didn't overextend during good times; this helped him to ride the downturns in trade which sent others to the wall. In 1829 additional premises in Gibraltar Street were acquired, and trade directories now listed Elliott as an iron merchant and steel manufacturer.
In 1834 Elliott left his Burgess Street home and workshop to concentrate on his Gibraltar Street works and to set up home in a handsome villa in rural Upperthorpe.
Although Elliott was a steel maker and refiner, he was never a member of the Cutlers' Company - that wasn't his style. Elliott's sympathies lay not with the capitalist owners but with the working man, since he was one of them himself. When he was bankrupt, he had been homeless and out of work; he had faced starvation and contemplated suicide. He knew what it was like to be impoverished and desperate and, as a result, he always identified with the poor people of Sheffield.
As a steel maker with a conscience, Elliott was very unusual. He was interested in poetry and politics, believing that the Corn Laws had been responsible for his bankruptcy and campaigning forthrightly against them. He became well known in Sheffield for his strident views demanding changes which would improve conditions both for the manufacturer and the poor worker.
Elliott was ahead of his time in forming the first society in the whole country calling for reform of the Corn Laws: this was the Sheffield Mechanics' Anti-Bread Tax Society founded in 1830.
Four years later, he was the prime mover in establishing the Sheffield Anti-Corn Law Society and he just about single-handedly set up the Sheffield Mechanics' Institute in Surrey Street.
He was very active, too, in the Sheffield Political Union campaigning hard for the 1832 Reform Bill. Until the Chartist Movement advocated the use of violence, Elliott was a big wheel in the Sheffield organisation. He was the Sheffield delegate to the Great Public Meeting in Westminster in 1838 and he chaired the meeting in Sheffield when the Charter was introduced to local people.