According to the Sheffield Genealogy & Family History web page:
Pigot's Directory of 1834 mentions a John & Matthew Nicholson who were Pen & Pocket Knife Manufacturers at Pond Street. The 1852 Directory mentions a John Clayton Nicholson who was a springknife manufacturer at 34 Pond Street. Lead Mill Road in the map shown to the right turns into Pond Street going North. Matthew's wife Maria was resourceful in maintaining a house business and raising a large family. She was shown as being a beer house keeper on Fornham Street, Sheffield in the 1841 and 1851 census. The City Directory mentions her again at 17 Fornham Street in 1852. Fornham Street was in the Central Part of the City to the Southwest of where the Midlands Railway Station was to be later built. The map above shows some of the surrounding industries and dams around the city. One of the City's dams, the Dale Dyke Dam was to later burst in 1864 before William and his family moved to Philadelphia. Here is an article about an incident at the beerhouse:
"The Conditions of the Working-Class in England in 1844"
by Frederick Engels
"By far the most unwholesome work is the grinding of knife-blades and forks, which, especially when done with a dry stone, entails certain early death. The unwholesomeness of this work lies in part in the bent posture, in which chest and stomach are cramped; but especially in the quantity of sharp-edged metal dust particles freed in the cutting, which fill the atmosphere, and are necessarily inhaled. The dry grinders' average life is hardly thirty-five years, the wet grinders' rarely
Dr Knight, in Sheffield, says:
I can convey some idea of the injuriousness of this occupation only by asserting that the hardest drinkers among the grinders are the longest lived among them, because they are longest and oftenest absent from their work. There are, in all, some 2,500 grinders in Sheffield. About 150 (80 men and 70 boys) are fork grinders; these die between the twenty-eighth and thirty-second years of age. The razor grinders, who grind wet as well as dry, die between forty and forty-five years, and the table cutlery grinders, who grind wet, die between fortieth and fiftieth year.
The same physician gives the following description of the course of the disease called grinders' asthma:
They usually begin their work in the fourteenth year, and if they have good constitutions, rarely notice any symptoms before the twentieth year. Then the symptoms of their peculiar disease appear. They suffer from shortness of breath at the slightest effort in going up hill or up stairs, they habitually raise the shoulders to relieve the permanent and increasing want of breath; they bend forward, and seem, in general, to feel most comfortable in the crouching position in which they work. Their complex ion becomes dirty yellow, their features express anxiety, they complain of pressure on the chest. Their voices become rough and hoarse, they cough loudly, and the sound is as if air were driven through a wooden tube. From time to time they expectorate considerable quantities of dust, either mixed with phlegm or in balls or cylindrical masses, with a thin coating of mucus. Spitting blood, inability to lie down, night sweat, colliquative diarrhoea, unusual loss of flesh, and all the usual symptoms of consumption of the lungs finally carry them off, after they have lingered months or even years, unfit to support themselves or those dependent upon them. I must add that all attempts which have hitherto been made to prevent grinders' asthma, or to cure it, have wholly failed.
All this Knight wrote ten years ago; since then the number of grinders and the violence of the disease have increased though attempts have been made to prevent it by covered grindstones and carrying off the dust by artificial draught. These methods have been at least partially successful, but the grinders do not desire their adoption, and have even destroyed the contrivance here and there, in the belief that more workers may be attracted to the business and wages thus reduced; they are for a short life and a merry one. Dr Knight has often told grinders who came to him with the first symptoms of asthma that a return to grinding means certain death, but with no avail. He who is once a grinder falls into despair, as though he had sold himself to the devil" ...