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BBC2 - Made in Great Britain

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Made in Great Britain, BBC2, Series exploring how the craft and manufacturing skills have shaped Great Britain

 Friday 26th October, 2100 hrs. run time, 59 minutes .

 Episode 1  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bpz4ks

The makers experience Sheffield's transformation into an industrial powerhouse known as 'Steel City', famous throughout the world for making high quality steel and cutlery.

In this episode, four craft-makers experience Sheffield's rapid transformation from a rural market town to an industrial powerhouse that built modern Britain known as 'Steel City'. Sheffield became famous throughout the world for making high quality steel blades and cutlery. Steph McGovern takes them through the ages and they are guided by local Sheffield cutler Corin Mellor.

Starting in the 18th century, they are tasked with hand forging a scythe at Abbeydale Works. This farming tool found recent fame when used by a shirtless Poldark, but the makers discover it was one of Sheffield's biggest exports that launched Britain's steel industry. The process proves to be a hugely physical challenge.

Next, they step into the heart of a Victorian production line to make cutlery stamped with the fashionable King's Pattern. Steph learns that the extravagant Victorian middle class had a different piece of cutlery for every type of food. They prepare the knives, forks and spoons ready for electroplating - 'blinging' up the cutlery by covering it in silver.

The biggest innovations are yet to come. Travelling forward to the start of the 20th century, the makers learn that stainless steel was discovered in Sheffield, bringing affordable cutlery to the masses. They experience Sheffield's transformation into a war machine to defend Britain - making WWII Commando Knives using a heavy duty drop stamp.

Now in the 21st century, Corin Mellor takes the makers to his state-of-the-art factory, David Mellor Design. Here, they make high-end stainless steel forks from one of factory's bestselling ranges. With the city's focus on quality rather than quantity, the craft-makers discover that Sheffield's historic cutlery industry is still thriving.


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Corin Mellor is NOT a cutler, he designs things, a Cutler is man who shapes to be handles out of Stag, Wood, horn etc. and fits them to knives. His father and himself brought an Italian collapesable drinks table onto the shop floor one day, it was dis-mantled with the hope they could improve the design, they couldn't , the only thing they altered was the handles on each end of the table, I polished the prototypes, David Mellor was happy with these new handles and from that day on it was sold as a Mellor designed drinks table, the poor bloke who fully designed it was gone in the wind. David Mellor, like his son wasn't a cutler, he designed cutlery and had other people make it, any cutlery worker of any experience would laugh at the way they made cutlery at the Hathersage factory, it was archaic, inefficient and costly in production. No coatings were ever made on the production of cutlery, one man could produce say, 100 knives per week making them cost at least £5 each  to produce, while I could produce 950 per week, that's shows the experience of their workers. 

Please don't call it a state of the art factory, there were no health and safety procedures, museum piece polishing machines had broken safety bars, which when hit should have cut off power if the operator touched the bar, they were death traps,useless dust extractors, I had safety knock off switches fitted to double end spindles while the other workers, four in all, were to scared to approach David Mellor on safety issues. He stole a design from a Danish female student who produced a prototype in the few weeks she worked there, when she returned home after  a few months she asked if she could come back to Hathersage but was told it wasn't convenient, the real reason her design was in production and named "Paris" I polished her copper prototypes, she was call Katterina.

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I watched the programme. Certainly David Mellor'.s son, Egginbottam's(?) and a few others are still producing cutlery... but I would hardly say the industry was "thriving". The drop stamp was a toy when compared with the" real" stuff which used to be found in the heavy sectors of the steel industry ..  and latterly, scythe blades were produced out of rolled special section  bars... The programme didn't skirt around the appalling conditions under which Sheffield workers had to work and, in the case of cutlery, to provide the burgeoning middle classes with status symbols. Nevertheless, the programme left me feeling proud of our City and it's history.

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