Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

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Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby SpyderEdgeForever » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:09 pm

As you may know, Sheffield, England, UK, was one of if not the main center for great innovations in steel and knife materials in the 1700s to the 20th century. Sheffield Steel was world reknowned. I am glad to say that there are still some companies that manufacture knives and edged tools in that and related areas of the UK. I understand that with the world economy changes, alot of that manufacturing was lost from there. Can it be rebooted and redone to once again be a center of great knife and steel making?

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby demoncase » Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:18 pm

As an Englishman to the core, it pains me to say I serously doubt it.

The majority of Sheffield product today is made on worn out machines that need millions of investment. And no government is going go do that in the UK when we are in a tabloid-fueled-tizzy about knife crime.....Heck, governments of both stripes have let bigger Industries than knife making die or dwindle.

Likewise, they are trading on past glories in terms of style and materials. Low end steels and stag horn grips. Nary a thumb stud in sight, let alone a hole ;)

For me, the Roadie embodies what Sheffield would be producing if the lived in the 21st century- I'm glad Sal, Eric and co produced it.
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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby Bloke » Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:56 pm

demoncase wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:18 pm
an Englishman
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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby JD Spydo » Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:24 pm

I think it was about a year or so ago I had a thread on this part of the Forum about "British Blades". I guess I ought to try to pull it up being you've brought up the subject of the Sheffield Steel Co. Here in Kansas City, MO USA where I currently live we had a division of Sheffield Steel Co here in KC.. It was eventually bought out by Armco Steel Co and then Armco went down along with most of the US steel companies..

On the British Blades thread we discussed Sheffield and various other British companies. And it truly saddened me to discover that so many of the older, more reputable British steel companies were long as well as many of their American counterparts.

I have owned a couple of Martindale Machetes and they were well made tools. I also came to discover that Britain had several steel companies at one time and they were great in their day.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby Bodog » Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:49 pm

England allowed their competitors to kill them. That's life.
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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby JD Spydo » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:56 pm

Also I heard on that previous thread that I launched a few months back on British Blades that the Brits also were known as excellent sword producers. The old shaving razor company "Wilkinson Sword" at one time did indeed make swords>> and very good ones from what I was told. I'm doubtful if anyone made any that were superior to the Japanese Samurai swords from what I've been told. At least until recently anyway.

But few people that I've talked to on the 3 knife forums I belong to even knew anything about the British made "MARTINDALE" machetes. Until I got a couple of Cold Steels high quality Gurkha Kukri knives I had never had anything that could compete with the Marindale machetes. BEcause unfortunately most of the machetes I used when I was still in the tree business >> even the ones that were USA made were not anywhere near as good of quality as the Martindale tools were.

But recently I've also seen a couple of Cold Steel's newer machetes that I've also been impressed with. Also the Germans are not the cutlery geniuses that they used to be known for a few years back. It is a shame to see a lot of these great older tool companies go down the tubes like a lot of the British steel and cutlery companies have done.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby cbrstar » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:57 am

I don't think it could be what it used to be. When the British auto industry collapsed in the 70's it wiped out all the steel factory's and its just not Sheffield steel without them.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby JD Spydo » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:18 am

cbrstar wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:57 am
I don't think it could be what it used to be. When the British auto industry collapsed in the 70's it wiped out all the steel factory's and its just not Sheffield steel without them.
I heard that Ford had bought out Jaguar some time back. I've even wondered if Jaguar and Rolls Royce still even have factories over there :confused: ??

It really is strange how the entire business landscape has changed so much in the USA and the UK both in the past 30 years >> especially in the steel and auto industries :confused:

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby demoncase » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:55 am

JD Spydo wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:18 am
cbrstar wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:57 am
I don't think it could be what it used to be. When the British auto industry collapsed in the 70's it wiped out all the steel factory's and its just not Sheffield steel without them.
I heard that Ford had bought out Jaguar some time back. I've even wondered if Jaguar and Rolls Royce still even have factories over there :confused: ??

It really is strange how the entire business landscape has changed so much in the USA and the UK both in the past 30 years >> especially in the steel and auto industries :confused:
JLR and Rolls most definitely do still have plants in the UK employing 1000s of people.
Warhammer 40000 is- basically- Lord Of The Rings on a cocktail of every drug known to man and genuine lunar dust, stuck in a blender with Alien, Mechwarrior, Dune, Starship Troopers, Fahrenheit 451 and Star Wars, bathed in blood, turned up to eleventy billion, set on fire, and catapulted off into space screaming "WAAAGH!" and waving a chainsaw sword- without the happy ending.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby demoncase » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:56 am

Bloke wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:56 pm
Snip
Fake news

Like theres enough sun in Wolverhampton to get that kind of burn. :)
Warhammer 40000 is- basically- Lord Of The Rings on a cocktail of every drug known to man and genuine lunar dust, stuck in a blender with Alien, Mechwarrior, Dune, Starship Troopers, Fahrenheit 451 and Star Wars, bathed in blood, turned up to eleventy billion, set on fire, and catapulted off into space screaming "WAAAGH!" and waving a chainsaw sword- without the happy ending.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby Bloke » Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:13 am

demoncase wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:56 am
Bloke wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:56 pm
Snip
Fake news

Like theres enough sun in Wolverhampton to get that kind of burn. :)
Ah, hahaha! Hello Demon. :)

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby JD Spydo » Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:05 am

demoncase wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:55 am
JD Spydo wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:18 am
cbrstar wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:57 am
I don't think it could be what it used to be. When the British auto industry collapsed in the 70's it wiped out all the steel factory's and its just not Sheffield steel without them.
I heard that Ford had bought out Jaguar some time back. I've even wondered if Jaguar and Rolls Royce still even have factories over there :confused: ??

It really is strange how the entire business landscape has changed so much in the USA and the UK both in the past 30 years >> especially in the steel and auto industries :confused:
JLR and Rolls most definitely do still have plants in the UK employing 1000s of people.
Well that's good news and I'm glad to hear it. I couldn't imagine Jaguars and Rolls being made anywhere else but the UK. It' seems like many of the European nations are hanging on to their heritage much better than the USA has done in the past 20 years or so.

I've been trying to find out if Martindale machetes are still in business? Because it's getting hard to find out anything about them at all anymore.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby Johnnie1801 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:11 am

JD Spydo wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:05 am
Well that's good news and I'm glad to hear it. I couldn't imagine Jaguars and Rolls being made anywhere else but the UK. It' seems like many of the European nations are hanging on to their heritage much better than the USA has done in the past 20 years or so.
Hi JD, it's not quite as good news as it sounds. Jaguar/Land Rover make cars in the UK but the parent company is the Indian company Tata.When Tata purchased the company, the UK Government gave them subsidies and tax breaks to keep manufacturing in the UK, likewise with Rolls Royce/Mini which are owned by BMW and Bentley by Volkswagen. Tata being an Indian company have zero interest in protecting jobs in the UK, in December they recently halted Jaguar production because of poor sales and they're talking about moving to Poland after Brexit. They have form for this as they also own numerous steel manufacturing plants accross Europe and threaten to close them without more state aid.

Ford have had a presence in the UK since the 1930's and Honda and Nissan make cars in the UK (who only built their car plants in the UK to avoid tariffs and to benefit from free access to the EU market.). We'll see how it goes after Brexit on the 29th March but the future isn't looking rosy
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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby ChrisinHove » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:26 am

Having visited Sheffield this week all I can say is - who needs industry when you can have artisanal coffee shops?

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby James Y » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:14 pm

I would imagine it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to reboot the Sheffield cutlery industry. There would have to be a desire and capability to do so, and a large enough market for it. Finding those with a genuine desire to do so would, IMO, be pretty hard.

I've heard that it's been happening in Seki, Japan. For the most part, the younger generation there have no desire to go into the knife-making industry, preferring to get into other professions. Someday, we will probably be asking the same questions about Seki, when the current generation of knife-makers retires.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby SpyderEdgeForever » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:40 pm

James Y wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:14 pm
I would imagine it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to reboot the Sheffield cutlery industry. There would have to be a desire and capability to do so, and a large enough market for it. Finding those with a genuine desire to do so would, IMO, be pretty hard.

I've heard that it's been happening in Seki, Japan. For the most part, the younger generation there have no desire to go into the knife-making industry, preferring to get into other professions. Someday, we will probably be asking the same questions about Seki, when the current generation of knife-makers retires.

Jim
This is horrible news :( I read something similiar, about the famous Japanese higonokami folders. Supposedly the younger generation is not interested in learning the traditional Japanese knife and steel making techniques, and go into other fields that they consider to be more fashionable and/or lucrative like technology and computer and other things. They look at the former generation of smiths as backwards. The anti knife laws have also effected this. Do you think the anti knife laws in England have also effected the Sheffield knife making industry badly?

And so now in Japan you have a handful of older and middle-age men and even some women (the women work on some of the final finishing steps like polishing and buffing and sharpening and packaging) who make the Higonokami and the youth don't.

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby James Y » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:32 pm

SpyderEdgeForever wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:40 pm
James Y wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:14 pm
I would imagine it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to reboot the Sheffield cutlery industry. There would have to be a desire and capability to do so, and a large enough market for it. Finding those with a genuine desire to do so would, IMO, be pretty hard.

I've heard that it's been happening in Seki, Japan. For the most part, the younger generation there have no desire to go into the knife-making industry, preferring to get into other professions. Someday, we will probably be asking the same questions about Seki, when the current generation of knife-makers retires.

Jim
This is horrible news :( I read something similiar, about the famous Japanese higonokami folders. Supposedly the younger generation is not interested in learning the traditional Japanese knife and steel making techniques, and go into other fields that they consider to be more fashionable and/or lucrative like technology and computer and other things. They look at the former generation of smiths as backwards. The anti knife laws have also effected this. Do you think the anti knife laws in England have also effected the Sheffield knife making industry badly?

And so now in Japan you have a handful of older and middle-age men and even some women (the women work on some of the final finishing steps like polishing and buffing and sharpening and packaging) who make the Higonokami and the youth don't.
TBH, I don't know the knife laws in England, so I cannot say if that has affected the Sheffield cutlery industry. But I doubt that's the reason. I would imagine that Sheffield's cutlery industry was dying out long before any modern restrictive laws were enacted. I HAVE heard that Japan's knife laws are very restrictive, especially in the cities. I don't imagine that many in Japan carry a pocketknife in current times, but I can't be certain about that. In spite of Seki being known to produce quality knives and blades, I just don't think there is a big pocketknife-carrying culture in Japan, at least nowadays.

I know that when I lived in Taiwan back in the '80s to early '90s, not one Taiwanese person that I knew carried a pocketknife of any kind. Back then, the only pocketknife I carried was a Victorinox Spartan SAK. When I would use it, some would express surprise that I had one, but they knew what an SAK was. I did witness two Triad gangsters in suits chase down a woman who tried to escape a high-end brothel in Taipei, and one of them pulled out a very large switchblade and pointed it at the crowd of witnesses across the street (of which I was one), daring anyone to try and do something about it. The blade on that thing looked about 6" to 8" long (no kidding). That's the only time I saw for sure that someone there was carrying a knife.

It's common all over the world, in all sorts of professions and pursuits, for the younger generation to have no interest in or outright reject those of the older generation, not just knife-making. For example, I've had 42 years of experience in martial arts, and although I've never had kids, if I had, I never would have made them learn martial arts. Because in all likelihood, they wouldn't have wanted to, and would have hated it. Especially the school of hard knocks methods in which I was taught. I've seen examples where well-known (and not-so-well-known) masters forced their sons or daughters to train; and even in the rare instances they chose to stay with it, they never even approached the level of their fathers, because they lacked the same motivation, passion, talent, and that "it" factor that made their fathers so great at it. More often, though, forcing them to train created resentment, and once beyond the cutoff age, they never trained again. I would say it's probably much the same with Seki's knife-makers and the younger generation. You can't nurture passion or talent for a given subject where there is none.

Anyway, I'm rambling... :o

Jim

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby SpyderEdgeForever » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:42 pm

That is some major insight, thank you Jim. Regarding that poor woman in Taiwan that you and others saw, what happened to her do you think if you were to speculate? And why do you think the masses of citizens didn't grab sticks and clubs and bats and knives and whatever they could get, and beat those wicked hoodlums down? Were they likely afraid of retaliation?

I wish we would see more situations end like that, where armed civilians smash the violent gangsters and others who harass and attack and harm people.

Do you think such things were more prevalent back in the Old West?

Also, speculate on this: What would the likely result have been if a man or woman had decided to go hero on those gangsters, and pulled out a good strong and sharp knife of his or her own, and engaged them, and stabbed them and tried to get that woman away to safety?

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby James Y » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:27 pm

Hi, SEF.

I saw the woman (who was wearing an expensive-looking white dress) pulled back into the business, which had darkened windows, by her hair after a couple of slaps. There are some things you don't stick your nose into. There are very powerful Triad organizations (with international ties) in Taiwan and elsewhere. These guys weren't lowly little street punks. Any thoughts of playing hero on them are fantasies. Where there are two, there are many more. I won't even speculate about what happened to her afterwards, or what caused her to run out in the first place. TBH, I'd rather not speculate any further. My main reason for bringing it up was that it was the only time I ever saw anyone in Taiwan (other than myself and an American friend I once saw use a Boker folder to cut some fruit) pull out a knife for any reason.

Jim

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Re: Sheffield, England Steel and Cutlery: What happened and can it be "rebooted"

Postby ChrisinHove » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:01 am

SpyderEdgeForever wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:42 pm
That is some major insight, thank you Jim. Regarding that poor woman in Taiwan that you and others saw, what happened to her do you think if you were to speculate? And why do you think the masses of citizens didn't grab sticks and clubs and bats and knives and whatever they could get, and beat those wicked hoodlums down? Were they likely afraid of retaliation?

I wish we would see more situations end like that, where armed civilians smash the violent gangsters and others who harass and attack and harm people.

Do you think such things were more prevalent back in the Old West?

Also, speculate on this: What would the likely result have been if a man or woman had decided to go hero on those gangsters, and pulled out a good strong and sharp knife of his or her own, and engaged them, and stabbed them and tried to get that woman away to safety?
In America, with lawful gun ownership, would citizens intervene with guns? I’ve been involved with other bystanders to halt fist fights but once weapons are possibly involved ... hmm .. no thanks.


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