William Whiteley & Sons has been around for a long time, since 1760 to be exact. We were officially founded during the forefront of the industrial revolution, although our company is believed to have been trading even earlier than this.
Since then we’ve made scissors through storms, floods, strikes, world wars, depressions, recessions, and more. We’ve never stopped making scissors because people have never stopped needing them!
The oldest scissor-makers in the Western world, Whiteley’s began life on the outskirts of Sheffield, in an area called ‘White Lea’. Water power harnessed from a forging dam was used to power the forging and grinding wheels, until the turn of the Industrial Revolution, where Whiteley’s moved into town – freed from the water wheels by the development of steam engines.
In 1875, Whiteley’s incorporated Thomas Wilkinson & Son; another scissor-maker who was appointed ‘Manufacturers of Scissors in Ordinary to her Majesty Queen Victoria and Cutlers to H.R.H. Prince Albert’.
A renowned Master Cutler, Wilkinson invented and patented the ‘sidebent’ scissor. With cranked handles to tilt upwards, allowing for smoother cutting of cloth as the lower blade could run flat along the fabric, Wilkinson invented the blueprint for every pair of dressmaking and tailors’ shears you see today.