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Nathan J. Staniforth

Staniforth Works - Hackenthorpe

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Hello, my name is Nathan Staniforth and I've been doing extensive research into my history and at this point I have a rather large pedigree chart with quite a few branches of Staniforths going back to Henry Stannyforthe who died 27th January 1575 at Norton. From Henry we seemed to go off in three directions, Hackenthorpe, Eckington/Mosborough and Darnall. My gt x6 Grandfather was Stephen Staniforth, he was born 1749 and died 1830 in Beighton, and it was his brother Thomas Staniforth b 1721 that opened the Scytheworks/Sickleworks on Main Street, Hackenthorpe in the 1740s, which ran until the 1980s before closing down. The Works building still exists and has now been separated into various businesses including the Dental surgery.

I have attached a few advertisements from various publications throughout the years, mostly from the 1800s Derbyshire Times newspaper and I'll continue to add to this thread, unfortunately there isn't much online at the moment regarding the Staniforth Works which I hope to fix soon enough as I'm currently in the planning stages of putting a research website together.

I hope people find this post interesting and I look forward to having discussions with you all.

 

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Thomas seems to have been very well thought of, he is quoted as paying a good rate of pay, and his employees gave him a silver claret jug as a token of their esteem.  He was also on the committee running the Birley Spa Baths:

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Thanks for that most interesting of posts. I have an interest in the sickle trade, living as I do, in Mosborough which was also a thriving centre for their manufacture, As an aside, I worked as a young man for a local rolling mill and we supplied all of the manufacturers in the district ( and as far away as the Black Country) with special profiled sickle, hook and scythe section steel. It seemed to be quite a seasonal trade and, truthfully, wasn't very profitable owing to the small demand.

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Thanks for the replies, that's a very interesting piece from the newspaper, here's a brief history of the family:

The Staniforth family was very prominent in north Derbyshire for hundreds of years, I have a list of Beighton baptisms between the 17-1800s and there are almost 200 Staniforth baptisms in that period. Before entering the sickle trade the family seemed mainly involved in farming, which as I noted in my first post, the earliest ancestory I have found so far is a Henry Stannyforthe from Herdings farm, Norton.

The Staniforth works itself was setup by John, son of Samuel Staniforth (1675-1756), with the help of his brother Thomas. The works then passed down to each generation after that, Thomas (1721-1776) then Thomas (1756-1808) then Thomas (1785-1847).

The later Thomas is perhaps most notable for building up the business and expanding it into a thriving worldwide name. Steam power was introduced in the early 1800s which helped expand business however they continued to manually hand forge blade right up to the late 19th century. 

If anyone is familiar with the Shirebrook Valley in Hackenthorpe, now a nature reserve where the Shire Brook flows through, this area originally had five water mills which were used to power the grinding wheels. The most notable of the wheels were Carr Forge (Who's remnants can still be seen today), Cliff Wheel, Rainbow Forge (Again this can still be found).

Beside the Staniforth Works at Hackenthorpe is a large listed residence known as Greenside House, this was the residence of Thomas Staniforth abt 1825. Thomas Married Ann Hibbard (1785-1844) and their next son, also named Thomas (1810-1873) took his place in the business.

It would have been around this time where the above listed article where the silver claret jug was given at a celebration.

By 1851, as inicated in Census records and other articles from the time, the works had a workforce of abt 120 people, which is incredible when you think of the size of the Works itself. By the time of the 1861 census a total of 120 men and 26 boys were on the workforce. It was around 1872 when the Staniforth Works took on the name "Staniforth Works & Co", and William (1839-1900), one of Thomas's brothers was brought into the business. Around this time many of the Staniforth siblings married into the Hibbard family, we well known Handsworth family at the time. Son in law John Hibbard (1845-1923) who married Thomas & William's sister Louisa Staniforth and Rowland Hibbard were also brought into the business. It should be noted that this was the first time a non-Staniforth was brought into a major role. Thomas died on 24 September 1873 and based on his will, left a sum of 7,000. After Rowland Hibbard left the business in 1874, the business passed to the next eldest son William (As mentioned above), and John Hibbard. As a side note, stories of John Hibbard seem rather sketchy to me, in my personal opinion he sought to take over the businesses, moving himself into Greenside House with Louisa and it has even been mentioned that William seeked to extend a lease he had at Brookside Farm at the time and John forbade this and sent him spiraling into a drinking problem. Walter Staniforth (1841-1894) was another of William's brothers that assisted in the business but as articles from 1894 show, he took his own life at Woodhouse, literally calling his wife into the back garden and slicing his throat in front of her. His grave can be found in Woodhouse Cemetery.

Back on track here, in 1874 the Staniforth Works took on the assets of a few companies most notably from the well known George Helliwell, another Scythe manufacturer in Hackenthorpe, and with the invent of machinery the company embraced machines which strained labour relations. By the 1880s the company was seeking to replace the workforce with machinery which caused an uproar. On 22nd February 1881 it was noted in the Sheffield Telegraph that an attempt to blow up the machinery was made by union workers, and Hackenthorpe was known far and wide for this event!

Trade began to decline from the 1890s onwards, in 1893 William Staniforth and John Hibbard parted ways and their partnership was dissolved. William filed for bankruptcy and retired to Heeley. He passed away at the age of 60 at Albert Road and it was remarked that his heavy drinking lead to his demise. John Hibbard continued to trade but continued to suffer losses. In 1911 the firm went into liquidation and John retired before passing away in 1923 at the age of 77, he left 13,188 in his will.

In 1912 the business and all of its assets were purchased by investors, the name Thomas Staniforth & Sons was used and with 7,000 and new directors the company was up and running again. It should be noted that by this time no Staniforths were on the Directors team.

The Company continued to function in the 20th century,creating the Severquick line of hatchets, but however it declined towards the later half of the century and ultimately close up shop in the 1980s.  

 

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I see that the house adjoining the works, on Beighton Road is presently up for sale at ~£400,000. Offered by Blundells.

Described as "Grade II listed five bedroom detached residence. Dating back to around 1700, this Georgian built property was extended around 1750. The bays were added around Victorian times. The property for over 200 years was owned by the Staniforth Family, who were local scythe manufacturers. Greenside is the oldest property in Hackenthorpe and is steeped in history and period features. Deceptively spacious throughout, standing in approximately a 1/3 of an acre of cottage style gardens. There is a further walled garden, where the wall is also Grade II listed."


Read more at http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/37783046#OIYrrSXFFLhB0zmo.99

There is also an excellent book written about the Staniforth family a few years back - I suppose though that you know about this.

 

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1 hour ago, Unitedite Returns said:

I see that the house adjoining the works, on Beighton Road is presently up for sale at ~£400,000. Offered by Blundells.

Described as "Grade II listed five bedroom detached residence. Dating back to around 1700, this Georgian built property was extended around 1750. The bays were added around Victorian times. The property for over 200 years was owned by the Staniforth Family, who were local scythe manufacturers. Greenside is the oldest property in Hackenthorpe and is steeped in history and period features. Deceptively spacious throughout, standing in approximately a 1/3 of an acre of cottage style gardens. There is a further walled garden, where the wall is also Grade II listed."


Read more at http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/37783046#OIYrrSXFFLhB0zmo.99

There is also an excellent book written about the Staniforth family a few years back - I suppose though that you know about this.

Hi United, thanks for posting that link, I noticed it was up for sale myself, if only I could win the lottery..

The book you're referencing is 'Sickesmiths and Spear Carriers' by Rosamund Du Cane (born Staniforth). The book was published in 2002 and is out of print and very rare to come by these days, unfortunately the author is suffering from late stage Dementia at age 80 now, I am in contact with her family and she's very far gone but it's great to have such an invaluable resource. She's really been the foundations of what my research has been built on.

 

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I remember the works at Hackenthorpe from passing it each day 1961 -1966 on my way to school at the Carter Lodge School. now renamed Rainbow Forge. In June 1966 I worked at the factory for one week on works experience followed by a week at the education office on Campo Lane in Sheffield.

It was a complete self contained factory, with everything from a forge to finishing department. It even had its own fishing pond inside the grounds, which I believe is still there. I worked in most department during the week and sat on the managers table for my dinner. His wife was the sister of the owner of a Sheffield Accountancy practice. I wanted to go into accountancy, so she arranged for me to have an interview, and I got a job there as a trainee accountant. Things went from there, and I have run my own accountancy practice for the last 35 years.

Most of the building is still there, but the wooden steps that were inside the building which went up to a wooden building, have long since gone. On Main Street there was a door were the employees entered and clocked in and off. I remember an old man sat  just inside the door in front of an open fire to keep his eyes on things. Just through the door and to the left was the forge.

The thing I really remember of my week there was one department with older women in it. They were real oggers, and the other workers at the firm took great delight in sending the young trainee lads to them to be  tormented. Possibly the equivalent of fetching the glass hammer trick that were played on new workers in those days. Fortunately, only being there for a few hours I was left alone by them. But I will always remember the fear of the lads as they game it.

It was a shame that the property was not kept in tact to act as a museum as I have always felt that it was more of an interest that Abbeydale Museum, being a self contained works

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4 hours ago, Nathan J. Staniforth said:

Hi United, thanks for posting that link, I noticed it was up for sale myself, if only I could win the lottery..

The book you're referencing is 'Sickesmiths and Spear Carriers' by Rosamund Du Cane (born Staniforth). The book was published in 2002 and is out of print and very rare to come by these days, unfortunately the author is suffering from late stage Dementia at age 80 now, I am in contact with her family and she's very far gone but it's great to have such an invaluable resource. She's really been the foundations of what my research has been built on.

 

I came across this web page, whilst idly browsing around: https://mydarlingjanie.wordpress.com/tag/darnall/

I'm not sure if you have a copy of the book or not, but there are some copies on Amazon and AbeBooks for £35-40 ish, or maybe you could ask nicely for the museum at Handsworth to lend you their copy? I also read that Sheffield Central Libraries Reference Section have one to take out?

 

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CJ thank you very much for sharing your experience, I loved reading your post, other than a couple of other people I've really not heard from any former workers and nobody has ever gone into as much details as you. You are right in saying the pond is still there in the back.

It's funny you brought up the building being used as a museum because that's always been at the back of my mind, it would've made a brilliant museum and great for the local area. It's such a shame it's just a shell of it's former self these days, if I ever won the lottery (fat chance) I think that would be top of my list although I don't think the current tenants would take too kindly to being evicted

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I am really sorry to hear about Rosamund, as I spoke to her and corresponded with her some years ago.

In fact, she was the only source from which I could obtain a copy of her book, which has you state, is now quite hard to come by.

She did have quite an extensive archive, much of which never made it into publication, but I have no real idea as to what became of that.

I do know that she did sell off some of the less specific stuff, trade directories, etc., (I bought an 1840s trade directory from her myself), but I would imagine that she either retained the specific stuff, or perhaps donated it to some trust worthy depository.

My own family history research revealed that my Great-Great Grandfather, George Dannatt [1824 - 1891], a scythe-grinder moved from Belton, Lincolnshire to Hackenthorpe, and it seems probable though not certain that he would have worked at the Staniforth Works.

He and his family variously lived on Occupation Lane and Main Street and most of his grand-children were baptised at Hackenthorpe Church.

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Demand for sickles and scythes may have fallen during the post War period and the numbers of companies rolling the profiles  fell dramatically. Tinsley Rolling Mills was one of the few left and when Hadfield's took them over they ceased production. This may well have contributed to the cessation of sickle production.

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4 hours ago, Unitedite Returns said:

I am really sorry to hear about Rosamund, as I spoke to her and corresponded with her some years ago.

In fact, she was the only source from which I could obtain a copy of her book, which has you state, is now quite hard to come by.

She did have quite an extensive archive, much of which never made it into publication, but I have no real idea as to what became of that.

I do know that she did sell off some of the less specific stuff, trade directories, etc., (I bought an 1840s trade directory from her myself), but I would imagine that she either retained the specific stuff, or perhaps donated it to some trust worthy depository.

My own family history research revealed that my Great-Great Grandfather, George Dannatt [1824 - 1891], a scythe-grinder moved from Belton, Lincolnshire to Hackenthorpe, and it seems probable though not certain that he would have worked at the Staniforth Works.

He and his family variously lived on Occupation Lane and Main Street and most of his grand-children were baptised at Hackenthorpe Church.

As far as I know, her son Leslie now has all of her paperwork, he's into Geneaology himself obviously and I've had him send me a few things but I'm not sure what he'll do with it all, it was really odd because when I told him my link to the main line of Staniforths he suddenly invited me to see his Ancestry tree and he literally added in my whole line without any help from myself, right up to me and he had even gone as far as adding in my mothers last known address before she passed, I was blown away

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I have attached the pedigree charts that Rosa had typed up for her now out of print book, as well as the siblings sheet, my link is the Stephen Staniforth that marries Alice Wragg, brother of Thomas II, he was already a freeman by the time his father passed which is why the works went to the second eldest son Thomas as he was still living at home at the time.

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On 2/22/2017 at 16:18, Nathan J. Staniforth said:

Hi United, thanks for posting that link, I noticed it was up for sale myself, if only I could win the lottery..

The book you're referencing is 'Sickesmiths and Spear Carriers' by Rosamund Du Cane (born Staniforth). The book was published in 2002 and is out of print and very rare to come by these days, unfortunately the author is suffering from late stage Dementia at age 80 now, I am in contact with her family and she's very far gone but it's great to have such an invaluable resource. She's really been the foundations of what my research has been built on.

 

Available at Annie's Books ( If you haven't got it ).

 

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Thanks for posting the link syrup, Rosamund who wrote that book is suffering with end stage dementia unfortunately but the book and research she provided has been a God send, her research has been the foundation for which mine has been built, I basically took what she came up with back in the early 2000s and built upon it, honestly if it wasn't for her we wouldn't have half the Staniforth tree we have today.

I should point out that if you know a Staniforth with roots in Beighton, Eckington, Ridgeway, Mosborough or Hackenthorpe then you'll surely be linked to the rest of us in some way.

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As I have already remarked I have found this thread extremely interesting and I am reminded that Sheffield was, for very many years, a major manufacturer of agricultural and horticultural implements and components...S & J Kitchen ( who latterly moved to Chesterfield), A Spafford and Co, Wm Parkin, Tyzack Sons and Turner, Wm Tyzack, and Tempered Spring being just some I remember .

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Here's a Trade Union certificate of one of Staniforth`s workers, Mr Samuel Darwin dated 1908.

 

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You know it's strange, Samuel Staniforth from that company is obviously a distant cousin as all the Staniforths link up somewhere down the line, but I've never been able to find out anything about the man, only the company as a whole, if I could just get a bit of information about the Samuel Staniforth that setup the cutlery company I might be able to try and link him up.

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It seems I hit a bit of luck, I came across this  information:
 

Samuel Staniforth was born in the year 1840 and opened Samuel Staniforth Ltd in the year 1864. A Sheffield directory in 1871 has Staniforth listed at No.49 Carver Street, Sheffield, as a manufacturer of fancy pen and pocket knives, scales, blades and springs.

Forged blades, springs and scales became Staniforth’s speciality and the company was quick to gain a reputation for consistency & high quality. Sooner rather than later, Staniforth installed machinery for blanking knife blades from steel sheets into his factory. This increased the company’s versatility, allowing them to produce a wider product range. The speciality was then described as ‘fancy shape carvers, shell blades and forks of every description’ and this was now the focal point of the business.

Staniforth retired in 1894, but his legacy continued. Due to the foundations he had built, the company was able to successfully continue manufacturing knife blades and in 1940 it expanded into the production of a wide range of trade and military knives, which are now used across the globe.

Staniforth built a path of versatility, which the company has followed enabling them to adapt from its competitors and become the progressive company it is today.

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Hi Nathan

Samuel Staniforth (cutler of Carver Street) was the brother of my great grandmother Sarah Ann (married John A Cousins) (there were 4 other brothers and 2 sisters also). Their parents were Samuel Staniforth and Prudence Stacey. Do they fit with any of the Staniforth lines you have researched so far? Unfortunately I haven't managed to identify the older Samuel Staniforth's parents but Prudence Stacey's parents were Samuel Stacey and Prudence Langthan.

I research thoroughly and do not take anything at face value preferring to find more then one line of corroborating evidence, so my info. has been verified by both official records and anecdotal evidence from the family. Samuel employed his niece as housekeeper (my grandmother's sister) for a number of years until his re-marriage. He never had any direct descendants and left many bequests to institutions in Sheffield when he died in 1910.

Hope this has helped

Elene

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