ONE of Sheffield’s oldest companies has begun a new chapter in its history – and scissor-maker Ernest Wright & Son is hoping that the move will put it at the cutting edge of modern business.
The firm, founded more than a century ago, is moving, lock, stock and grinding machine, from its long-established home in Kelham Island to premises nearer the city centre, in Broad Lane.
For managing director Philip Wright and his son, Nick, it is a fresh start that will reduce costs, raise their visibility and give them a chance to explore a new market.
It will also give members of the public a chance to see this traditional craft in action.
The focal point of the new premises is a viewing gallery where visitors can watch the hand-crafted scissors being made.
Ernest Wright & Son was once one of around 70 scissor manufacturers within a square mile of central Sheffield. Today it is the last.
Nick described the move as “really exciting, although it’s been a bit emotional too – we’d been in the old place for a long time.
“But this is the future for us. We’re part of Sheffield’s heritage and we hope things will be on the up from here on.”
He has spent the last three months up to the armpits in grease and grime, loading equipment on to his van and moving it to its new home.
“Each machine weighs up to two tonnes and we’ve been working 20-hour days to get it shifted. It’s been heavier work and taken longer than we expected.
“On the final day my dad was there until 4am, working to meet the deadline. He suddenly realised the building was surrounded by police who thought he must be a burglar!”
At the centre of the new factory in a former glazing showroom is a workshop where the scissor ‘putter-togetherers’ will hand-forge, shape, harden, sharpen and assemble their tools.
Once completed, there will also be a new Made In Sheffield shop, selling a range of locally-produced goods and offering an ‘as-you-wait’ sharpening service.
At the back of the shop, the viewing gallery will be lined with images of the craftsmen at work – taken by local photographer Luis Arroyo.
There will be other points of interest – the shop counter is a 1901 turnstile from Bramall Lane and over the door will be an eight-foot pair of scissors created by local sculptor Simon Wigglesworth-Baker.
Nick plans to equip the visitor centre with antique furniture, in keeping with the era – he is on the lookout for an old wooden floor.
All being well, the new shop should open next month.
Not a single day’s production has been lost during the move.