I was going to save this one for later, but on the Saw, using collecting, cleaning and buying thread, Stumpynubs asked if anyone knew anything about W. H. Armitage & Sons saws. Well it just so happens that I do and here’s what ...
I was going to save this one for later, but on the Saw, using collecting, cleaning and buying thread, Stumpynubs asked if anyone knew anything about W. H. Armitage & Sons saws. Well it just so happens that I do and here’s what I’ve managed to find out.
Some time ago now I acquired a 14” brass-backed backsaw and just by looking at it, I can tell it is the oldest backsaw I own.
This saw plate is very rusty and black. There are a few missing teeth and the handle is loose and ill-fitting. Funny how the seller never mentioned that. This one is definitely going to be a challenge to bring back into service, if indeed the saw plate can be rescued. When it was new it would have been a first class saw, since it is made from London Spring Steel and has a brass back. The trade mark is a weird creature that has a horses head and front legs, but the rear half of the body kind of morphs into a curly tail.
You can see the logo more clearly in the drawing below.
If anyone knows what ‘CAPS ANY.’ means, please let me know. The initials W H stand for William Henry Armitage and this is what I have been able to find out about him from various online records. On 4th October 1833 he got married to one Rachel Cookson.
The London Gazette dated 24th July 1844 has the following entry:
So prior to 1844 he was in partnership with William Blackford (also a saw maker). The London Gazette dated 2nd February 1849 has this to add:
So between 1844 and 1849 he was in partnership with Alfred Parkinson and Adam Knowles. In 1852, W H Armitage & Co was registered at a house at 41 Netherthorpe Street in Sheffield. The street is still there, but it now has a block of flats and a primary school on it.
Netherthorpe is a district in Sheffield. The photograph below shows how it looked in the 19th century with row upon row of terraced houses and cobbled streets.
This was the environment in which this saw was made. The smoke from the furnaces turned all the buildings black. It is said that the tilt hammers could be heard and felt everywhere and the town shock with every blow. The tables in the public houses had bars around the edges to stop the glasses vibrating off onto the floor. The working conditions were atrocious for the working men and women of the day. The ‘wet grinders’ (the men who ground the saw plates) started work when they were 14 yrs old and by their early 20s, suffered from chronic asthma after breathing in steel and stone dust. Isn’t it incredible that even in these conditions, they managed to turn out such high quality products that we now fight over on eBay?
I found an additional reference to confirm the Netherthorpe address at Backsaws.net who site Whites (a trades directory published in 1852) as their source.
If you look at the reference below the red line, it has William working out of the Burnt Tree Lane works in 1849 and the house on Netherthorpe Street. Burnt Tree Lane was only a short walk from Netherthorpe Street and just around the corner from a public house called The Saw Makers’ Arms, which incidentally was later owned by Joshua Ibbotson (brother of Thomas). The following entry shows that in 1852, William went into partnership with John Pacey (also a saw maker) and they worked out of 31 Burnt Tree Lane together under the name of Pacey and Armitage.
In the following advertisement, you can see the type of products that bore their name.
I also found this entry on the OldTools Archive which has Pacey and Armitage at Burnt Tree Lane from 1852-1855 and confirms Armitage was working there before that in 1849.
On 20th October 1858, the partnership was dissolved and Pacey carried on the business alone.
The only other references I could find to W. H. Armitage after 1858 were three advertisements.
The first is dated 1876:
The second o