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Westall Richardson Knife

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Hello, a couple of days ago I my wife was using an old knife to trim up a square Xmas cake she had previously made. It was a big carving knife she had and being “me”, I had to check the blade markings. Picture is below.


My wife said it had been her Grandma’s knife and apparently there had been a steel with it. I checked the “forum” for the company and the only detail I found was the address of the ”Cavendish Works” impressed on the blade, which happens to be on Cavendish Street.

The inter net added

 1839  Richardson was established in Sheffield by Westall Richardson

 1984    Richardson change the company name to Richardson Sheffield Limited

 1986  Richardson Sheffield Ltd is acquired by McPherson's Ltd, an Australian Housewares Company

 2005    Richardson Sheffield become a privately owned company

 2007  The Richardson Sheffield brand joins Amefa a Dutch concern

 2013 1839 range of knives are launched, designed and finished in Sheffield

  Shop opens in Meadowhall Centre 2017

This is mainly the late history of the concern and elsewhere it is suggested that after “Amefa”, stuff was sourced from the far East. Where is the flesh on the top part of the skeleton of this “Westall Richardson”? I did find however, information that gave another address as follows.


  Westall Richardson Ltd. Cavendish Works, Morpeth Street, and Regent Cutlery Works, Upper Allen Street, Sheffield 3.

There must be more “meat” to go with making of this carving knife. I do not want to let the secret out that I left secondary school more than 5 years ago but family history should suggest that the knife was likely to have been made before WW2 and maybe well before. This looks like it was a very good quality item when made and viewing the handle with a lens does not suggest it is of bone but perhaps it is sadly of ivory. Nothing can be done about that now though.

Does “Shear Steel” or “Hand Forged” give any dating?

Hope my photo is of interest and will stimulate some more information.


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12th August 1815 - Westall Richardson born in Sheffield, son of Westall (grinder) and Ann

27th September 1818 - William Richardson born in Sheffield, son of Westall (grinder) and Anne

1841 Census - Mr Westall Richardson (born 1815) is a table knife cutler living at Clarance street

1851 Census - William Richardson (born 1818 states in Manchester?) table knife mnanufacturer living at 4 Monmouth street, family includes son Westall Richardson (born 1844)

4th March 1854  -  Cavendish Works Broomspring Lane, for sale due to decease of Thomas Harrison, table knife manufacturer

13th November 1857 - Lost from Cavendish Works, an ass, white with brown spots, Mr Richardson owner

10th February 1866 - William Richardson of Cavendish Works Broomspring Lane fined 14s for allowing dense smoke to be emitted for 21 minutes in the hour from his steam engine furnace

14th January 1869 - Richardson advertsing for a man to make blades for 2 and 3 bladed pocket knives for the American trade

29th November 1869 - Isaiah Stych, engineers tool manufacturer, Cavendish Works, Cavendish street making screw wrenches and Clyburn spanners - note different works with same name, in 1890 William Mitchell making engineers tools there

11th November 1872 - Boy wanted to buff table knives - Westall Richardson, Cavendish Works, Broomhall street

4th September 1875 - Outrage at Cavendish Works Broomhall street, eight whellbands cut into pieces

5th November 1881 - Advert for fork maker includes information that the Cavendish Works Broomhall street is opposite the Fitzwilliam Hotel (ie corner of Fitzwilliam street)

20th November 1884 - Mr Westall Richardson of Cavendish Works plaintiff in a case about delivery and payment of steel

18th October 1890 - Cavendish Works, 60 Broomhall Street to let, a three storey block used as a grinding wheel

22nd April 1892 - Westall Richardson of New Cavendish Works, Sarah Street in court as defendant in false marking case - knives marked London

4th October 1897 - Westall Richardson (Junior born 1844) died at Mulgrave House, 450 Glossop Road, leaving £7164 13s 11d. He had fallen down the Cutlers Hall steps in November 1896 and been knocked unconscious.


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Thank you Edmund, for adding some early history about this Sheffield “Richardson” cutlery concern. However do we need a spreadsheet for it now though? Too many “Westalls” and “Williams”, and not to mention four or five “Cavendish Works”.

If we accept that the “Cavendish Works” on Cavendish Street was not used by Westall Richardson” we have the following list for Cavendish Works.

1854    Broomspring Lane

1872  Broomhall Street

 1892  Sarah Street ( Google shows this to be in Rotherham)

 1964 Morpeth Street (and Upper Allen Street which seems to be an adjoining street)

Does anyone have any corrections or additions?

I do have 2 other questions from Edmund’s input though. I wonder if the white ass with the brown spots was returned or did November 1857 give a few extra hearty dinners to the locals? Also who would have believed that Environmental Health was so much on the ball in 1866?



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Sarah Street was off Brook Hill, now underneath the Netherthorpe Road dual carriageway as it comes up the hill to the roundabout.  The Cavendish Works seems to have been a block of premises that Westall Richardsons gradually took over, as in 1893 they had 2 premises (218 Brook Hill and premises on the west side of Sarah Street).  The Lightng Dept photo shows they took over most , if not all of the Brook Hill premises nos. 214 to 220.





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Thank you Edmund again. Its great! Lost history not lost anymore and available to anyone who cares to search.


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I used to go to Westall Richardson to service equipment used to put handles onto their cheap range of knives. They had 3 machines with induction coils at about 12 work stations with a girl at each coil heating the tang of the knife and pushing it into plastic handles so it would melt its way in and the plastic would set around the tang. These knives were very cheap with a blade just pressed out of steel strip, and you  would find them hung up for sale in a sealed plastic sheath in every supermarket. Now for the naughty bit. When I became Service Manager I sent a fairly new guy down to Westall's to do a service who was greeted by a girl on the end of the line nudging the girl next to her and declaring loudly "I could f**** him. Our engineer left rapidly and would not go there again. This process ended when Westall's bought a plastic moulding company who had moulded onto a competitors blades automatically. This action closed down their competitor!

I was able to purchase from them a set of their professional range cooking knives pictured below. 

Westall R.jpg

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As so often happens, you are researching one thing, and you find a  fragment of information that sends you off in a totally different direction. This why I am back at my previous "Westall Richardson" post after seeing a Sheffield Indexer's entry. It reads.

RICHARDSON, M. J. (Miss, Cutlery Manufacturer (Westall Richardson)).
Address: h. 78 Ivy Park Road, ~ in 1925.
Recorded in: Sheffield & Rotherham Kelly's Directory.

This name, of a "Miss M.J.Richardson", Cutlery Manufacturer was definitely not mentioned in the sketched history previously given for Westall Richardson. I think it merits a follow up. We have a "Miss", and likely a very close relative.  
I found my library "ticket" and had a look on line at the 1891 census. "Westall Richardson" born 1844 did in fact have a daughter "Minnie J  Richardson" who was born circa 1884. There was also a son born circa 1893, unsurprisingly, another "Westall Richardson".  
The  1901 census has "Westall Richardson" born 1844 still alive (contrary to earlier reference) but Minnie is now the senior child in the family home.  
In 1911 Minnie has become "Minnie Jane" and is still with both her parents. Now her brother "Westall" born circa 1893 is a cutlery works manager and I have an alternative death record for their father "Westall Richardson" born 1844 to offer.

 England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
1917 Q4-Oct-Nov-Dec:    Westall Richardson 74 Born abt 1843

This above Westall's father, "William" born about 1819 is a "Retired Cutlery manufacturer" in the 1891 census so assumingly was involved in the business up to the 1880's. A possible death reference for him could be:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
1892  Q1-Jan-Feb-Mar     William Richardson Aged 73 (Ecclesall B.) 

I did say earlier, too many Westalls and Williams but how involved in the company was "Minnie Jane". After her dad died in 1917, did she drive the company as the elder sibling or was she the big sister just helping her younger brother? 


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In February 1929 a new limited liability company was set up in February 1929 - to be called Westall Richardson Ltd and  to acquire the business of Westall Richardson and Minnie J Richardson, carried on at Cavendish Works, Brookhill.  The initial capital was £8,000. Westall Richardson was to be permanent governing director and Minnie was the secretary. At the 1939 register, Minnie was still "Director + Secretary of Private Company", living at 78 Ivy Park Road with her unmarried sisters Ada and Bertha.

Minnie died on 20th February 1949 at "The Retreat" mental health clinic in York, but her address was still given as 78 Ivy Park Road. In her will she left £10,728 17s 8d and the executors were Westall Richardson Speight (H.M. inspector of schools, son of her elder sister Ellen) and John Pryor (retired bank official).

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Could the knife handle be made of "Xylonite". This was a cheap replacement for ivory and normally had no striations or markings in it. It was a form of celluloid and highly inflammable but was easy to mould into small objects like handles. It's been around since Victorian times 'so not much use in dating the knife. My mother's family mostly worked for Walker and Hall and "xylo" fires were commonplace. It was basically the same material as the old cinema film base and that burnt down many a cinema projection room. If left near a lit cooker hob or open fire it readily caught fire with an alarming white light and loads of acrid black smoke. My mother regularly set fire to cutlery handles but luckily repacements were available.

If you rub the handle onto coarse cloth you should smell the unique smell of celluloid. Just don't rub too hard unless you have the fire brigade on speed dial. 😃


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Thank you "Edmund" for the added in depth information on  "Minnie Jane Richardson". I would have thought that her role in the firm would have made her a leading women in the Sheffield cutlery industry?  I did do a search on Google for notable women in Sheffield and her name did not come to light. What do other Forum members think?  I did however find the first female Master Cutler was not until 2011 and that was Pam Liversidge OBE. 
I have not forgotten your observation "Hilldweller". You may be correct about the handle of the knife being "resin" and not ivory. I take my ivory ideas from a photo of the structure of some glove stretchers (described as ivory) I bought some time ago with some spoons in a mixed auction lot.



The "Richardson" knife's handle is the middle handle in this next picture.


They look striated to me but in one of my previous posts "Tozzin" said there was a  "Xylo Grained" handle that had striations. 

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