The Collection contains over 3000 photographs, slides and other illustrations recording the people, places and processes involved in the tool manufacture, cutlery and silversmithing industries.
Some of the industries have also been captured on film and video. Some of these were made as educational or promotional films by the manufacturers but others were made by Ken Hawley as a way of recording some of the trades which were in danger of disappearing.
Ken began the project in 1965 when he asked two friends to take a cine film of the last plane maker at work at William Marples works, just before he retired. He was the last man to hand make beech wood bench planes. This film led to the making of further cine films of many of Sheffield hand tool and cutlery trades, most of which are now extinct.
The Collection has over 100 recordings of craftsmen talking about their work. Ken Hawley can also be heard talking about items in the Collection including, for example, telling the story of the acquisition and importance of this brass back saw.