The Hawley Collection saws and the Simon Barley Saw Collection

These two collections are housed together in a small room known as the Saw Shop away from the main tool collection. Their foundation was the saws Ken had acquired – 500 or so – following his principle of saving saws which illustrate the history of the Sheffield saw-making industry and how saws were made at a time when not all the processes of manufacture were wholly mechanised. His professional work in selling new tools put him in contact with the industry when it was still an active force, and in its declining era when materials, tools and part-made saws were all being disposed of and could be made available to him. His collection is therefore unique and contains objects which will never be seen again, such as tradesman-made tools and saw-plate showing how it was made by methods which are now obsolete. He also acquired brand new saws in their original packaging and tools such as smithing hammers which are seldom seen in contemporary saw works. A small number of saws made by other national industries are also included for comparison. He was also able to collect the catalogues and business documents of many of the companies that were either active or closing down between 1960 and 2000.

Simon Barley’s collection was started in 1998 as a result of his being recruited by Ken to catalogue his saws and related tools. The aim of this collection is to complete what Ken started and by acquiring as many examples as possible of British saws to establish a reference collection, that is, one of everything that the British saw trade produced, in all the variations of type and variety, and including the very large number of tools which the Sheffield trade factored for tool dealers and ironmongers.

The resultant saws date back to the 18th century and total approximately 2000. With the related tools and paper documents they form, we believe, the largest and most comprehensive collection in the world, and we hope that they will remain as a permanent source for instruction, education and research. A detailed catalogue is in process of being compiled, and we hope to have it completed by 2017.