Die-Sinkers and Cutlers Workshops
This reconstruction of James Dixon and Sons, Sheffield - a die-sinking workshop based at Cornish Place, Kelham Island - highlights how the introduction of techniques such as Sheffield Plate brought with them the mass production method of die-stamping.
Dies are metal blocks that stamp out shapes from sheets of metal to make items such as trays, spoons and forks. Dixon’s were known for their luxury products, but also as a maker of Britannia metal, pewterware and Old Sheffield Plate.
The machines in the workshop were powered by line shafting. This was used extensively in the Industrial Revolution before the widespread use of electric motors. The line shafting distributed power from a large central power source, such as a waterwheel, to machinery throughout a workshop. The power was transferred from the shaft to the machinery by a system of belts and pulleys.
Tom Parkin’s Workshop is a reconstruction of a cutler’s workshop from Rockingham Lane, Sheffield where it was in use until 1968. Here the cutler received the ground blades, made and fitted the handles and gave the knife its final finish. This workshop reflects the traditional and simple technology that was used by the cutlery trade before mass production methods.