IN the 1970s, the centre of Sheffield had a scissor-making company on almost every corner.
Over time, globalisation and foreign imports led to the closure of around 150 firms, leaving just two in the city today.
With a tiny workforce all labouring past retirement, Nick Wright feared for the future of the business which had been in his family since 1902.
But help was at hand in the form of Sheffield Council’s Apprentice Challenge, backed by The Star, which finds employment the city’s for out-of-work young people.
The council gave Ernest Wright and Son, based in Broad Lane, a boost by subsidising the wages of apprentices Jamie Bowden, 18 and Natalie Charlesworth, 17.
Jamie, from Frechville, is learning the ropes under the expert guidance of Cliff Denton, 69, who began work as a ‘putter-togetherer’ more than five decades ago.
Jamie said: “Before I came here I was on a college course doing plumbing but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I really like it here, I feel proud to be part of Sheffield history.”
The firm has just opened a visitor centre and shop, where retail apprentice Natalie, from Hillsborough is based.
She said: “I always thought I wanted to do hairdressing but I love it here, I have creative input with the shop and I find the history really interesting.
“I learn something new about scissors every day.”
The firm welcomed Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore and Master Cutler Pam Liversidge to the official opening of its new visitor centre and shop.
Coun Dore, who began her working life as an apprentice, said: “I’ve been council leader for 18 months and this is one of the things I am most proud of.”