BURGON AND BALL - CUTTING AND HAND TOOL SPECIALISTS SINCE 1730
Souvenir programme from a visit by customers in the 1890s
The origins of Burgon & Ball can be traced back to 1730 to the manufacture of shears, scissors and knives in a factory overlooking the Don Valley. The business prospered and by 1873 we had moved to our present site and built La Plata Works at Malin Bridge in the West of Sheffield. The site had been cleared following the devastating Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 when the Dale Dyke Reservoir burst. The Works border the River Loxley which for much of the 20th century provided the power for production.
La Plata Works today
In the 1880’s the Ball family was bought out of the company but their name has lived on as part of the company name. It was at this time that the company’s production of patented design sheep shears rocketed, with sales in one year topping 300,000 pairs. Records show substantial exports to South America, North America, Australia, West Indies and New Zealand.
The development of a sheep shearing machine soon followed along with heavy investment in the business to develop markets around the world.
From a Burgon & Ball catalogue – early 1900’s
The legendary Daisy Shearing Machine took the shearing world by storm in the 1890’s and continued to do so until it was replaced by the Dreadnought in 1912 and later still by the Burgon.
Extract from the 1922 catalogue showing just a few of the hoe patterns
Over the years business gradually switched to include garden shear production. Burgon & Ball were also involved in manufacturing bicycle wheels and tyres as well as cars – records show at least 10 La Plata cars being made at the start of the 20th century.
Burgon & Ball workforce in the 1930’s – photographed outside the nearby Malin Bridge Inn!
By 1920 garden shear production had outstripped that of sheep shears and the company was becoming more versatile. A catalogue from 1922 includes just about every conceivable tool – including over 96 different patterns of Hoe alone!
Poster from early 20th century
The basic pattern of sheep shears has changed very little over the last hundred years and neither has the method of manufacture. To this day, Burgon & Ball are still the largest and best manufacturer of sheep shears in the world, still exporting throughout the world – from the Faroe Islands to the Falkland Islands, from Australia to Argentina.
The smallest union in the UK, the Union of Sheep Shear Makers, comprises only employees of Burgon & Ball.
With our age old experience in cutting edge tools, passed down over the generations, Burgon & Ball have a significant advantage over our competitors when designing & producing garden tools. Our invaluable experience has contributed to the ongoing & lasting success of our range.