We live in an old house in Nether Edge, a suburb of Sheffield that was laid out by George Wolstenholm, one of Sheffields largest manufacturers of cutlery.
When I write cutlery, if you’re not from Sheffield, don’t think of cutlery, think of knives. As in cutting. People from Sheffield are generally familiar with this.
The cutlery trade was the mainstay of Sheffield industry for over 200 years, dating back to the mid 18th century. Sheffield is a steel city, and the main reason for steel used to be blades.
Our house was build in around 1867 by a publican, and perhaps local entrepenuer, called Benjamin Beeley, but he was already sixty eight years old when it was complete and he died in 1869 at the age of 70. It was bought by Samuel Staniforth, a young and innovative forger of knife blades. Staniforth founded a firm in 1864, after some initial troubles he became an extremel succesful local manufacturer.
He died in 1910, having retired some ten or twenty years earlier. And we bought our house in 2001 (between ourselves and Samuel Staniforth it was owned by only two families: the Ormes who ran the local Grocers and the Kingslands).
Every so often I do a little search to try and find out more about Samuel Staniforth. Recently I found that his firm is still going. It is now owned by Chris Hopkinson, and has moved from its central location in Sheffield to Halfway, a town halfway between Sheffield and Rotherham. It has also moved from making the forged blanks to making a range of quality catering and custom made knives. You can see reviews of their knives here. The Staniforth range is still their catering range, but they make a range of military and hunting knives under the “Scorpion Kives” brand.
There’s a profile of Chris and a review of the firm here.
It was a great pleasure to visit the firm, it’s impressive how many custom knives they make, and yet they were also delivering orders of to major firms and catering colleges.
For Marta’s anniversary present Chris and the team at Staniforth are making us a set of nine knives with rosewood handles. Each blade is hand made to order: hand ground and hand polished. The tools and ideas are modern, but the trade is the same that Samuel Staniforth knew 150 years ago.