Graffiti vandals strike at Sheffield toolmakers four times in one week

Graffiti on the gate at Robert Sorby in Woodseats.
Graffiti on the gate at Robert Sorby in Woodseats.

A historic toolmaking business in Sheffield has been forced to repaint its premises four times in a week because of persistent vandalism.

Staff at Robert Sorby Ltd, on Athol Road, Woodseats, have had to repeatedly paint the factory’s outside walls to cover up graffiti that keeps being left there.

Robert Walton with a wood turning tool made at Robert Sorby. Picture: Andrew Roe

Robert Walton with a wood turning tool made at Robert Sorby. Picture: Andrew Roe

The company’s managing director, Phil Proctor, said: “Night after night this is happening, and the police will not do a damn thing. We have CCTV footage, but they still won't do anything. They have told me I can use reasonable force if I catch the vandals.”

The business has been going strong for 191 years, and claims to be 'the world's premier manufacturer of specialist woodworking tools’. Every year thousands of boxes packed with items such as chisels, scrapers, lathe chucks and sharpening devices leave the gates bound for customers across the world, from America to the Far East. 

Forty-six staff work in the factory and at the firm's shop just outside Doncaster. Turnover has doubled over the past decade, driven by a boom in craft hobbies.

Robert Sorby was a descendent of Robert Soresby, who in 1624 was Sheffield's first Master Cutler. He registered his company as Robert Sorby and Sons on Union Street in 1828, meaning it is one of the oldest surviving companies of any type in the city.

Graffiti on the wall at Robert Sorby in Woodseats.

Graffiti on the wall at Robert Sorby in Woodseats.

The last Sorby was involved around a century ago and the move to Athol Road happened in 1985.

Mr Proctor added: “The whole of Woodseats is a mess. The vandals are targeting the whole area. We repaint the wall during the week, and they come back at the weekend.”

Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101. The force was approached for comment.