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Anyone know what the 'little mesters shop' is/was ?

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Does anyone know what the Little Mesters Shop was/is and whereabouts it was ?

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codeyes

The Little Mesters were the backbone of Sheffield's cutlery industry and were instrumental in helping the city achieve its worldwide reputation for quality craftsmanship. The phrase Little Mester is a regional term used to describe Sheffield's self employed cutlers who rented space in factories and had their finished goods sold by the factory owner. However the term is also more widely applied to almost any self-employed craftsman working in steel or metal.

Little Mesters were an essential part of the unique system of organisation that developed in the cutlery industry during the late eighteenth century. Before this time cutlers made their wares through to completion and were responsible for finding their own markets. But the trade boom of the late eighteenth century led to a huge diversification of products and saw the introduction of specialisation.

Little Mesters and the cutlery industry

Each type of knife now required three different specialist craftsmen to complete the job. The forger fashioned the blade, the grinder gave the blade its edge and the cutler finished the blade and fitted the handle. This system was co-ordinated in one of two ways - by cutlers or factors.

Cutlers who could afford to obtain commissions from forgers and grinders were able to complete the item and sell it themselves and many cutlers became very prosperous. But the more usual method was for factors (people with capital who hitherto had been outside the cutlery industry) to farm out the work to craftsmen and then sell the finished goods under the factor's name.

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Sheffield History

Nice one codeyes - thank you

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RichardB

Early in the century a working mans gardener and small farmer lived at Shiregreen. His family consisted of three sons and one daughter. The eldest son had served his apprenticeship to a cutler, and was of age in I72I. One evening when the family were sitting together, the father spoke thus

'- Oi'l tell yo what oi've been thinking on this good bit, an' as yo're all here together, oi mud as weel tell yo; then yo'll all kno moi proposals to yo. Sam (to the eldest son) tha knos tha's getten a good trade i' thee fingers. Naw tha sees thee brother Bill has allas been at hooam wi' me, an' has worked hard all his loife, an' has been a good lad. Then here's thee sister, sho'll want summut dooin' for her. Then here's yore poor bloind brother, he mun be taen care on. Now Sam, oi'll tell thee. If thou ll give up thee claim as t eldest to this place, oi'l gie thee ten pund, an' that'l set thee noisely agate o' mestering. An' oi'l do t' best oi can for thee sister, an' yore brother Bill 'al tak t' lots place, an' t' gardens, an' he'll do for yore bloind brother."

Sam agreed, and with the £10 set up as a " mester cutler" in a yard below the old Lord's house in Fargate, and prospered. This was in the year I730.

Thus a " mester " required no more capital than would pro- cure an anvil and a few tools, with enough ready money to purchase materials in small quantities, and to pay a modest rent for a mere shed with a hearth in the corner.

Nor did it involve much change of habit, for the " Little Mester" continued as before to labour with bare arms and in leather apron. But he was now the employer of others, not the employed by others. And in the moral dignity accruing there from lay all the difference.

The employed might mean only a man and a boy; a striker and an apprentice; but the cutler was his own master: a freeman in truth. And that achieved, nothing but a few years of patient saving stood between him and the office of Master of the Cutlers' Corporation of Hallamshire. They all did it in this way. Not by birth, not by inheritance, except in so far as that was a help to freemanship; but by work and frugal industry. The humble position of the Masters Cutler is shown by the fact that it was no unusual thing for them, after they had passed the chair, to become recipients of the Company's charity.

Source : http://www.omnesamici.co.uk/MemoriestRELeaderChapter01.html

********************************************************************************

********

This out of copyright material has been transcribed by Eric Youle, who has provided the transcription on condition that any further copying and

distribution of the transcription is allowed only for noncommercial purposes, and includes this statement in its entirety. Any references to, or quotations from, this material should give credit to the original author(s) or editors.

********************************************************************************

********

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RichardB

The origins of the term ‘Little Mester’ are uncertain, but it is used to refer to a particular kind of craftsman in the town of Sheffield and the surrounding area. Often described as the backbone of Sheffield’s cutlery and toolmaking industries, the Little Mesters enjoy a reputation as highly skilled and specialised workers. They worked for themselves, sometimes alone, and sometimes employing apprentices or another worker or two. At the height of their population in the mid 1800s, they were making a vast contribution to the variety of products with a Sheffield stamp on.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/work/england...ire/index.shtml (there is more)

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darra

Just found this

Does anyone know what the Little Mesters Shop was/is and whereabouts it was ?

There were many Little Mesters shops around and about Sheffield. I remember visiting one in the mid 80's somewhere near the Leadmill to have bits of metal tubes that housed pistons for the oil industry buffed up for the firm I then worked for.

For anybody interested there is a book called

MADE IN SHEFFIELD

A photographic survey of little mesters workshops

by Rob Steerwood & Peter Machin

Published by Applebaum

It's full of Photo's of the workshps and write ups about the craftsmen and women who work there.

such people were

Ernest Mills (pen & pocket knife maker)

Brian Colley (pocket knife blade grinder)

Ken Croft ( blade hardener)

Fred & Ivy James (bowie knife makers) Their workshop was on Broom spring lane.

Mrs Wright & Mrs. Grayson. (mirror polishers)

George Sadler (hafter) his workshop was overlooking West Street but at time of writing of book 1986 was derilict)

Jack Cheetham & Cyril long (Silversmith & Fibre handle Maker) Their workshop was on sylvester Street.

Bowers & Burnside (Scissor makers)

There were also some workshops on Milton Street.

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Sheffield History

Excellent - many thanks

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carlie167

Here is a picture of a "little mesters workshop". Its a Jim Butler who worked in the building of J Elliot around Arundel St, or that area, might not have got that right. Jim was a scissor grinder, wonder if hes still there. The photo was taken about 1983. Hope it helps, a real shame to see all this skill dying out!

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belfrybum

There were many Little Mesters shops around and about Sheffield. I remember visiting one in the mid 80's somewhere near the Leadmill to have bits of metal tubes that housed pistons for the oil industry buffed up for the firm I then worked for.

For anybody interested there is a book called

MADE IN SHEFFIELD

A photographic survey of little mesters workshops

by Rob Steerwood & Peter Machin

Published by Applebaum

It's full of Photo's of the workshps and write ups about the craftsmen and women who work there.

such people were

Ernest Mills (pen & pocket knife maker)

Brian Colley (pocket knife blade grinder)

Ken Croft ( blade hardener)

Fred & Ivy James (bowie knife makers) Their workshop was on Broom spring lane.

Mrs Wright & Mrs. Grayson. (mirror polishers)

George Sadler (hafter) his workshop was overlooking West Street but at time of writing of book 1986 was derilict)

Jack Cheetham & Cyril long (Silversmith & Fibre handle Maker) Their workshop was on sylvester Street.

Bowers & Burnside (Scissor makers)

There were also some workshops on Milton Street.

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CJ78

Hi,

I'm researching more about my grandparents who were Little Mesters called Fred and Ivy James.

Does anyone have any tales about them or knew them?

Thanks!

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RichardB

Hi,

I'm researching more about my grandparents who were Little Mesters called Fred and Ivy James.

Does anyone have any tales about them or knew them?

Thanks!

Welcome to you !

Any more clues please ? Location ? Dates ?

Here's a stab at it ...

Frederick Unwin JAMES cutlery manufacturer ( James J. U. & Sons ) h 161 Myrtle Road, Heeley White's 1911

Frederick Unwin JAMES Cutlery manufacturer (James J U & Sons) h. 25 Chatfield Road White's 1919

Frederick Unwin JAMES Cutlery manufacturer (J U James & Sons Ltd.) h. The Nook, Bradwell, Derbyshire Kelly's 1925

Frederick William JAMES 61 Dobbin Hill Kelly's 1925

Wilfred JAMES 108 Lydgate Lane Kelly's 1925

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RichardB

This could be Fred Unwin James' birth, if so, he was born the same year as my Grandfather

JAMES Frederick M 18 U Son Sheffield, York, England Stag Horn Cutter Abbeydale Gardens Ecclesall Bierlow, York, England

JAMES Frederick U. M 1 Son Sheffield, York, England Spring Knife Cutler 245 Pearl Street Ecclesall Bierlow, York, England

JAMES Fredrick M 18 U Son Birmingham Publican 57 Meadow St Sheffield, York, England

JAMES Fred M 26 U Brother Sheffield, York, England Cutler 8 Court 4 House Fawcett St Sheffield, York, England

JAMES Fred M 18 U Step Son Sheffield, York, England Labourer In Iron Works 161 Wallace Rd Brightside Bierlow, York, England

JAMES Frederick M 24 U Son Sheffield, York, England Hammer Driver (B Smith) 5 Ct 11 Woodside Lane Brightside Bierlow, York, England

JAMES Alfred M 12 Son Stowe, Huntingdon, England Scholar 11 Edgar St Brightside Bierlow, York, England

JAMES Fred. M 22 U Son Lichfield, Stafford, England General Labr 88 Sanderson St Brightside Bierlow, York, England

JAMES Frederick M 29 M Head Leeds Commercial Clerk At Steel Wks 33 Lord Street Attercliffe Cum Darnall, York, England

JAMES Alfred T. M 8 U Son St Johns, Worcester, England Scholar 22 Nightingale St Attercliffe Cum Darnall, York, England

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CJ78

Wow thanks for your help... that was quick!

My grandfather is Frederick Walter James cutlery manufacturer of Bowie knives on Broomspring Lane, Sheffield. He's featured in one of the earlier replies.

He also used to work for George Wostenholmes. This is a big knowledge gap for me... I don't know much about what he did there.

He lived in Freshville for the last 40 years of his life. He died in 1986 I think.

My grandmother was Ivy James (nee Ivy Spencer) also worked on Broomspring Lane.

Thanks again!

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sc cutlers

This was the Little Mesters workshop at J Elliots & Sons where my dad worked as a French Polisher the workshop next door was that of Jim Butlers Scissors grinder now the workshop has long gone like so much of old Sheffield.

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carlie167

This was the Little Mesters workshop at J Elliots & Sons where my dad worked as a French Polisher the workshop next door was that of Jim Butlers Scissors grinder now the workshop has long gone like so much of old Sheffield.

Great photo SC, any more like it.

I posted a photo of Jim Butler earlier in the thread, I'll have a looksee if I have any more.

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sc cutlers

Great photo SC, any more like it.

I posted a photo of Jim Butler earlier in the thread, I'll have a looksee if I have any more.

Thanks carlie167 that would be great. ;-)

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Raquel

There were many Little Mesters shops around and about Sheffield. I remember visiting one in the mid 80's somewhere near the Leadmill to have bits of metal tubes that housed pistons for the oil industry buffed up for the firm I then worked for.

For anybody interested there is a book called

MADE IN SHEFFIELD

A photographic survey of little mesters workshops

by Rob Steerwood & Peter Machin

Published by Applebaum

It's full of Photo's of the workshps and write ups about the craftsmen and women who work there.

such people were

Ernest Mills (pen & pocket knife maker)

Brian Colley (pocket knife blade grinder)

Ken Croft ( blade hardener)

Fred & Ivy James (bowie knife makers) Their workshop was on Broom spring lane.

Mrs Wright & Mrs. Grayson. (mirror polishers)

George Sadler (hafter) his workshop was overlooking West Street but at time of writing of book 1986 was derilict)

Jack Cheetham & Cyril long (Silversmith & Fibre handle Maker) Their workshop was on sylvester Street.

Bowers & Burnside (Scissor makers)

There were also some workshops on Milton Street.

I know this is quite an old post but I was just looking online for info about my great grandfather Wilfred Croft who was one of Sheffield's Little Mesters and found this post. His son (my grandfather) was Ken Croft mentioned in your reply. His workshop was at Beehive Works Attercliffe, He made his own furniss from scratch and when he died a local bigger company were interested in buying it but they had no idea how to use it lol. Im glad really because he wouldn't have wanted them to have it. It's sad really that the trade wasnt passed down but Grandad had daughters and his grandsons were too young to learn the trade before he died.

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Raquel

Hi,

I'm researching more about my grandparents who were Little Mesters called Fred and Ivy James.

Does anyone have any tales about them or knew them?

Thanks!

Hi, I knew Ivy when I was a child, my Grandad Ken Croft lived with her, after he died we never saw her again, tbh I think some fall out happened but I dont ask about it. What I can remember about Ivy was playing cards with her at their caravan in Ingoldmells when we went to stay with them one week in the summer hols, it was a lovely time spent with both. I take it from you wanting info about Ivy, that she is no longer with us????

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miked

Just found this

Does anyone know what the Little Mesters Shop was/is and whereabouts it was ?

It was on one of the roads between Division St. and Wellington St. (It may have been Trafalger St.) Always puzzled me as well.

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William c

Hi, I knew Ivy when I was a child, my Grandad Ken Croft lived with her, after he died we never saw her again, tbh I think some fall out happened but I dont ask about it. What I can remember about Ivy was playing cards with her at their caravan in Ingoldmells when we went to stay with them one week in the summer hols, it was a lovely time spent with both. I take it from you wanting info about Ivy, that she is no longer with us????

I have a Video with Ken Croft working i have pm you if your interested

William c :)

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RichardB

I have a Video with Ken Croft working i have pm you if your interested

William c :)

Send it to Sheffieldhistory@Gmail.com Williamc please; the tribal elders will deal with it as appropriate, I'm still young and handsome-ish

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adamd

Just found this

Does anyone know what the Little Mesters Shop was/is and whereabouts it was ?

Thats our old shop on Eldon Street.

It was on the ground floor of the family Scissor making company. G Darwin & Sons (scissors) Ltd

Regards

Adam Darwin

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MiniRice

Thats our old shop on Eldon Street.

It was on the ground floor of the family Scissor making company. G Darwin & Sons (scissors) Ltd

Regards

Adam Darwin

Can I ask that is the building still occupied by G Darwin & Sons (scissors) Ltd??

The sign of "little mesters shop" has already gone.

New photo:

http://flic.kr/p/ehnfYV

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tozzin

I would have thought that there was more than three craftsmen to complete a knife, the Forger,the Hand grinder, the Glazer, The Polisher, the Bolsterer, the Cutler fashioned, shaped and fitted the handle, the Handle finisher, the Mirror polisher, the Whetter, the Acid Etcher and final inspection.

The Little Mesters were the backbone of Sheffield's cutlery industry and were instrumental in helping the city achieve its worldwide reputation for quality craftsmanship. The phrase Little Mester is a regional term used to describe Sheffield's self employed cutlers who rented space in factories and had their finished goods sold by the factory owner. However the term is also more widely applied to almost any self-employed craftsman working in steel or metal.

Little Mesters were an essential part of the unique system of organisation that developed in the cutlery industry during the late eighteenth century. Before this time cutlers made their wares through to completion and were responsible for finding their own markets. But the trade boom of the late eighteenth century led to a huge diversification of products and saw the introduction of specialisation.


Little Mesters and the cutlery industry

Each type of knife now required three different specialist craftsmen to complete the job. The forger fashioned the blade, the grinder gave the blade its edge and the cutler finished the blade and fitted the handle. This system was co-ordinated in one of two ways - by cutlers or factors.

Cutlers who could afford to obtain commissions from forgers and grinders were able to complete the item and sell it themselves and many cutlers became very prosperous. But the more usual method was for factors (people with capital who hitherto had been outside the cutlery industry) to farm out the work to craftsmen and then sell the finished goods under the factor's name.

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Jen1984

Hi, my Dad was friends with ‘Uncle Fred and Auntie Ivy’ back in the 70’s/80’s as he was a fellow knife maker. Spent many a happy Sunday afternoon at their house. Auntie Ivy would always give us a £1 note when we left to buy sweets. 7D4C2EF8-EC48-4C62-93EF-6D0A35F8E9C1.thumb.jpeg.3e573f5fa049bf810d7ba9fcaf6e3481.jpeg

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