Editor’s View: How Sheffield’s past informs its future

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Will Ferraby is forging a new business in the 21st century that draws heavily on Sheffield’s proud past.

Will Ferraby is forging a new business in the 21st century that draws heavily on Sheffield’s proud past.

In crafting knives he is following in the footsteps of generations of Ferrabys in working in the cutlery industry, an industry for which Sheffield was world-famous.

Will - “from a long line of tinkerers” as he explains on page 18 today - tried another career before being drawn into the family trade that he had first tasted as a nine-year-old in his dad’ workshop.He learned from the best - the craftsmen still working in the industry in the city who were more than willing to pass on their skill to the young man. They proudly shared the know-how that had been handed down from generation to generation.

Will is doing what many others in this city are doing in using the skills of the past alongside the tools of the future; central to his business success is his website, which showcases his wares to the wider world where the Made in Sheffield label retains a cachet. He may be based in a Victorian cutlery works, but his approach to his business could hardly be more modern.

The same can be said of that historic organisation, the Cutlers’ Company. The Master Cutler will lead a delegation to Canada to seek out new business markets for firms from across the Sheffield region, many of which have grown, adapted and developed over the decades but which are still very proud of manufacturing in Sheffield. Not every city, or region, can boast that it still retains a manufacturing base; it is something that makes us rightly proud.

We live in a city region where the futuristic - the Advanced Manufacturing Park for instance that uses a highly skilled workforce educated in cutting edge skills at two of the country’s leading universities in world-leading research- operates side by side with the small-scale entrepreneur drawing on creative talents in food and drink, design, the arts to create a diverse economy.

In acknowlegement of the still important part making things - be it high-tech gizmos, complex pieces of machinery or pieces of hand-crafted art or textiles - plays in the city, 2016 is The Year of Making in Sheffield.

It will showcase all forms of making in the city and region – from advanced manufacturing, specialist steels, forged products, cutting tools, flanges, bearings and blades to award winning theatre, international art and design to ground-breaking research and world class talent. It aims to celebrates the past, present and future as a city of makers and promotes a world city with an international reputation for excellence and innovation.