The Shafts of light breaking through the skyscape, makes a bleak comparison to the spiral of dirty, black smoke coming out from the tall chimney stack of the steel plant. These smoking chimneys in Sheffield, otherwise known as the City of Steel, reveals how production, rather than pollution was the concern of steel company owners: steel is the most vital industrial metal - and during the Thirties it expanded its output from five million tones of steel in 1931 to 13 million tons in 1937. The companies had a legitimate way to exercise their self-interest when they set up the British Iron and Steel Federation. The Federation closed down certain works as uneconomic and planned the building of new larger works. The industry also benefited from the tariff against imports, which helped manufacturers which used steel, like the fast-growing motor-vehicles industry, to sell more goods in Britain.

Wheels were being put in motion for an increase in demand, after the breakdown and failure of the Disarmament Conference the previous year. Preparing for war was on the international agenda. In March, Germany announced that it had created the German airforce, or Luftwaffe, the fleet of planes whose speeds and power caused tremendous fear and foreboding. Although France, Britain and Italy had agreed on a united front against Germany rearmament, more clinks in the peace-keeping armour of the League of Nations occurred every month. By May, Britain had decided to treble the size of the RAF, which was welcomed by the 29,000 people who applied to join the RAF before the month was over.

The League of Nations was still trying to paper over the cracks. In June, the new British government, under Stanley Baldwin, introduced Anthony Eden as the first Minister for League of Nations Affairs. However, his achievements in this post were more on the domestic side, and this unwittingly revealed how thin the League's international influence was. Italy's invasion of Abyssinia in October had been condemned by the League, and economic sanctions were meant to make it impossible for her to get the materials to wage a war. However, in December Sir Samuel Hoare, the Foreign Secretary, went to meet the Foreign Minister of France. They drew up the Hoare-Laval Pact which would have allowed Italy to take two-thirds of Abyssinia. Public outcry led to Antony Eden calling for Hoare's resignation. The damage had been done, and with Italy's defiance, and Germany's official resignation from the League, the League of Nations had revealed how impotent it was as a diplomatic peace keeping body.

Photo 98 is a series of high profile national events and exhibitions: for information events and exhibitions; call 01484 559888 or refer to

Current Exhibitions: "The New Ukraine". Yorkshire is home to the largest expatriate community of Ukranians. Tim Smith's photographs alongside historical images and personal testimonies explore the Ukranian culture and people. At The Piece Hall Art Gallery, The Piece Hall, Halifax HX1 (01422 358 087).

Jennifer Rodger