A family firm for 11 generations!

MASTER Cutler John Bramah saw a unique piece of Sheffield history when he visited the Garden Street works of scissor and shear manufacturers William Whiteley.

The company can trace its history back to 1760, held a Royal Warrant to make scissors for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and is run today by the 11th generation of the founding family.

What's more, although the company has moved over the years, it has always been based within the same square mile and reckons to have the last working grinding horse in the city. To cap it all, the company continues to employ traditional skills which, in the eyes of Whiteley's hi-tech customers, cannot be bettered.

"We operate in highly specialised, niche areas, supplying industries where special edges are required and not the domestic market," explains Sally Ward, the latest generation of the family to run the business and a Freeman of the Cutlers' Company, as is her husband, Jeremy.

Whiteley's customers include the aerospace and automotive industries where new materials have put new demands on traditional scissors.

The company even supplied special scissors to cut the panels of hi-tech material used by Swedish round the world balloonist Per Lindstrom.

Whiteley's also supplies some of the top names in the garment industry and was the company selected to make a two piece set of gold plated scissors which entranced the Queen, when they were presented to her during her last visit to Sheffield.

Following his visit, Master Cutler John Bramah said he had been impressed by the fact that Whiteley's was training young people in its traditional skills.

Mr Bramah even had a go himself. "It looks easy until you try," he said after trying his hand at grinding and bow dressing.