RETRO: Sheffield’s historic Joseph Rodgers cutlery works

L to R Susan James 10, Sarah Neale 10 and Sally McCulloch 11, admire the Year Knife on display in Weston Park museum, July 1971.
L to R Susan James 10, Sarah Neale 10 and Sally McCulloch 11, admire the Year Knife on display in Weston Park museum, July 1971.

A letter from Retro reader John Scholey to our regular contributor Vin Malone has some fascinating recollections of his family connections to the Sheffield cutlery industry.

John writes: “I contacted you a while ago about John McClory & Sons – John McClory being an ancestor of mine

The Joseph Rodgers cutlery works at Pond Hill

The Joseph Rodgers cutlery works at Pond Hill

I have just finished reading your piece about Joseph Rodgers from a week ago (Retro, January 16) and found it all very interesting.

I knew quite a bit but it was still good to be reminded of it.

My father worked for them all of his working life – he died while still working at the age of 58.

He started as the office boy and finished up as the warehouse manager.

August 20, 1969: The Norfolk Knife on show to the public

August 20, 1969: The Norfolk Knife on show to the public

He met my mother there when she worked in the packing department before the war.

I also had several great uncles who worked for the company.

My mother always reckoned that one of them was managing director at one point but I have no proof of that.

We have loads of Joseph Rodgers cutlery in our family – my father just used to bring pieces home.

I have a sheath knife that I used to have in the scouts and also some very fine penknives.

My father was always very dismissive of Richards cutlery and I have inherited his habit of studying the cutlery whenever I go to a hotel or restaurant – sadly it isn’t very often made in Sheffield these days.

Joseph Rodgers were in Guernsey Road at Heeley when my father died and I have a mind to think that they were owned by Richards at this time – something that my father definitely did not approve of.

It was interesting to read the letter from one of the directors of Eggington’s that was in The Star after your article.

I knew that they owned the name (as well as Wostenholms) and have always wondered why they don’t make more of it.

They were, perhaps, the oldest and most famous cutlery company in the world.

I did have my own copy of Under Five Sovereigns , the history of Joseph Rodgers, but I have now given it to a good friend of mine, Peter Machan, who is a keen Sheffield historian.

Keep up the good work. I always enjoy reading your column.

Not always on the day it is published but I always get round to it at some point.”

n The Year Knife is on display as part of the Hawley Collection at Kelham Island Museum and the Norfolk Knife is on show at the Cutlers’ Hall.