Past Exhibitions

For more information on any of these subjects, please contact us

 

WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT HOLES?

September 2016 - February 2017

A history of wood boring tools made in Sheffield for over 200 years.

This exhibition showed the manufacturing process and the many different types of augers and gimlets made.  There was also a fascinating display case from William Ridgway & Sons Ltd. as well as film footage of John Ridge forging gimlets in Ecclesfield in 1965.

 

THE GOLDEN RULE

February 2016 - August 2016

This exhibition dealt with the history of boxwood rules, their manufacture, marketing and export and their development for use in many trades and occupations.

BRACE YOURSELF!: The Life and Work of Ken Hawley 1927-2014

September 2015 - February 2016

This exhibition was dedicated to the life and work of Ken Hawley and aimed to give an insight into his many facets as a family man, salesman, shop keeper, historian and tool collector. It featured the first object that began the Hawley Collection as well as personal items, photographs and film footage.

THE STORY OF MAGNETS: One of Sheffield's Hidden Industries

June 2014 - January 2016

This display celebrated the history of one of Sheffield's most unusual industries which grew during the 1900s as the demand for electricity, telephones and radios increased. Sheffield was able to provide the special steels needed to manufacture magnets.

 

NICKER PECKER STORY

February - August 2015

This exhibition highlighted the skilled work of Sheffield’s file cutters. Prior to the advent of precision engineering, files were needed by many trades across the world for shaping and finishing. Hand cut files made in Sheffield were renowned as the finest and were much in demand.

Visitors found out how Sheffield files were cut using the very distinctive tools of the trade. A file cutter’s hammer is like no other and is absolutely useless for any other task; the origin is a mystery. They saw examples of some of the different types of files that were produced ranging from the needle files used by jewellers to an intricate exhibition file.

TAKING LIFE AND SAVING LIFE:

Made in Sheffield and the War to End all Wars, 1914-18

August 2014 - February 2015

This exhibition showcased items from the collection which reflected Sheffield's role in the Great War.  Instruments to take and save lives were both made in Sheffield and the exhibition had examples of both, from a sword taken to war by a local cavalryman to a tool used to help fit a wooden leg for a wounded soldier. Items on show included: swords and bayonets made from Sheffield steel; measuring instruments used for the production of heavy calibre artillery guns; medical instruments to help the wounded; veterinary instruments to tend horses;  and postcards sent home by Ken Hawley's grandfather who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps.


STAY BRIGHT - KEEP BRIGHT: THE IMPACT OF STAINLESS STEEL ON EVERYDAY LIFE

April 2013 - July 2014

This exhibition celebrated 100 years of stainless steel, highlighting the significance of Harry Brearley’s ground breaking discovery and its effect on the way we live today, from the humble table knife to cutting edge surgical instruments. Examples of everyday products for the home, leisure and surgical markets ‘before’ and ‘after’ the use of stainless steel, were all on display as well as unique and unusual stainless pieces from the Hawley Collection.

 

 

THE FINAL CUT

250 YEARS OF SMOOTHING PLANE DEVELOPMENT

March 2013 - July 2014

This exhibition chronicled the development of commercial smoothing planes from the 1750s to the present day with particular reference to the involvement of local Sheffield firms and the well-known 'Record' brand.

A CUT ABOVE THE REST!

CUTLERY FOR THE VICTORIAN TABLE

December 2012 - March 2013

Sheffield is renowned for its cutlery and tableware industry.  This exhibition looked at how and why the industry grew in Sheffield during Queen Victoria's reign as well as giving an insight into how tableware was made.

Amongst the items on show were photographs of workshops with work in progress, a full Victorian table setting and a fascinating variety of tableware from a nut pick to a lunatic knife!

WHAT GREAT GRANDFATHER DID

THE TRADES AND OCCUPATIONS DOWN YOUR STREET

August 2011 - November 2011

This exhibition was based on work carried out by volunteers at Heeley City Farm and Heeley History Workshop alongside the Hawley Collection, looking at what lay behind the Heeley Census Returns that said ‘Great Grandad was a pen knife cutler, or scissor setter, or button maker, or file cutter'. The exhibition combined family stories with a display of tools, catalogues and photographs from the Collection to illustrate some of the Sheffield trades carried out by their ancestors.

If you are researching your family history, new trade sheets giving information on a variety of Sheffield trades are available to download - click here.

EXHIBITION OF PRECISION MEASUREMENT TOOLS

August 2010 - August 2011

This exhibition by David Eaton highlighted the importance of the manufacture of precision measurement tools in Sheffield.  In the 20th Century, the manufacture of these tools was dominated in Sheffield by three companies: Moore and Wright (Sheffield) Limited, James Chesterman and Co Ltd and Ambrose Shardlow and Co Ltd. The exhibition gave information about the three companies and showed examples of the tools they made.

MAKE YOUR MARK!

THE 'WHYS' AND 'WHEREFORES' OF PRODUCT MARKING

April 2011 -July 2011

Marks or trademarks have been used by individuals and firms throughout history to identify a finished article and guarantee its quality. The Cutlers Company registered marks used in the cutlery and some tool trades.  This exhibition looked at some well-known Sheffield marks, and how marking devices are made and applied to an article now and in the past.

Inspired by marks from the Collection, pupils from Silverdale Secondary School designed marks for a product of their choice as part of the 'Design for Life' project (in partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum and Museums Sheffield).  Their finished marks also featured in the exhibition.

SHEFFIELD’S GOT THE EDGE!

SKATE BLADES THROUGH THE AGES

December 2010 – March 2011

Sheffield has a long history of making skates and skate blades. This exhibition featured Victorian skates from the Hawley Collection and investigated how skates were made in the past. It also discovered how skate blades were sharpened or ground by hand and now by machine – how they get their edge!

We would like to thank Peter Gribbon and Puck Stop at Ice Sheffield for their advice on grinding and Sheffield Steeldogs for their generosity in providing an ice hockey kit which featured in the exhibition: www.sheffieldsteeldogs.co.uk.

THE LIFE AND SILVER DESIGNS OF WALLACE SMYTH

THE MAN, THE ART THE SKILL

March 2010 – July 2010

Wallace Smyth was chief designer for Mappin & Webb, having worked for the firm from the age of 16.  The exhibition featured some of his tools and his silver pieces, and in particular a silver teapot he made by hand in his nineties.

There was also information gathered by Jean Thornton, a volunteer, who was asked by Ken Hawley to discover whether specially-commissioned designs donated to the Collection by Wallace were ever manufactured and,  if so, where in the world they were today.  Jean traced many of the designs, for example the Amy Johnson commemorative plate which is now at Sewerby Hall, near Bridlington.

Jean showing one of the original designs

Jean showing one of the original designs at a recent event