Exquisite examples of metalworkers’ craft

From: Don Alexander, Knab Road, Sheffield.

Congratulations to the Galvanise Festival organisers for putting together such a celebration of our metal workers, past and present, at more than 20 venues across Sheffield this month.

It was particularly encouraging to hear Grace Horne speak about her work, at the famous Sheffield shop, and see samples of her exquisite folding knives. Largely self-taught, she has had help from Sheffield stalwarts Stan Shaw, Trevor Ablett and Reg Cooper.

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The only other female knife makers I can recall are Ms Stephenson, who worked with Mr Durber and Ivy James, who continued making bowie knives when husband Fred died.

It must be difficult for our pocket and sheath knife makers today, when these useful articles, once thought of as essential, with their myriad uses, are now thought of merely as weapons. Why the change over the years? Lack of parental, school and neighbourhood discipline? Broken families? Mass immigration with foreign ways? No more military service? Malign influence of alcohol, drugs, TV, film, internet? Are the British, once known for stiff upper lip and self control, now reduced to quivering lip and mass hysteria?

It would be inconceivable today, but in 1953 Sheffield youngsters received an Ibberson pocket knife, as a coronation gift (my wife, as a schoolgirl in Leeds got a half-pint glass beer mug!) Every boy scout had a Sheffield sheath knife in his belt.

Keep at it, Grace. Times might change again and self-control might make a comeback.

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