'A uniquely Sheffield tradition' - what it was like to attend the installation of the new Master Cutler

With almost 400 years of history, the installation of the Master Cutler holds a special place in the city’s annual calendar.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 10:16 am
The Beadle leads new Master Cutler James Tear, left, and members of the Company of Cutlers to Sheffield Cathedral.

On Tuesday it returned to the city with all its pomp and ceremony after a break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Outgoing Master Cutler Nick Williams was one of only a handful to stay in post for more than one year, with the previous two such occasions relating to the two world wars. He spoke of having to innovate with Zoom black tie dinners during an extraordinary year and despite restrictions, his Master Cutler’s Challenge raised £120,000 for Weston Park Cancer Charity.

Inside the grand Cutlers Hall, several hundred Freemen (manufacturers) and Friends (supporting companies) of the Company gathered to see James Tear become the 382nd head of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, taking in a sherry, coffee or browis beforehand.

Mr Tear spoke with pride of learning the trade of making cutlery from his father, and pledged to champion the city’s manufacturing industries – locally, nationally and further afield if possible.

The chief executive of metals firm The Solpro Group and wife Jo will also raise money for Cavendish Cancer Care during the year.

Wardens, searchers and 24 assistants were appointed, before Mr Tear led a top-hatted procession across High Street, with police stopping traffic and a tram, for a service at Sheffield Cathedral.

The procession – which must take place in a specified order – led its way back to the hall for drinks and a lunch where the varied array of guests could mix. There was Henderson’s Relish to go with the pie, naturally.

At every table, in a hall simply steeped in Sheffield history, were business minds behind some of the city’s finest companies or institutions, landowners, specialist makers and for the first time, this newspaper editor.

Toasts called an end to official proceedings for another year, and opened another chapter for The Cutler’s Company, which was founded in 1624.

The installation of the Master Cutler is a uniquely Sheffield tradition – how wonderful to see it return.