Taylor's Eye Witness
Taylor's Eye Witness have been producing kitchen knives, pocket knives and knife accessories for over 150 years. They are now believed to be the last remaining manufacturer of knives in Sheffield, North Yorkshire, the original city of steel.
Taylor's Eye Witness was founded around 1820 by John Taylor. Originally it was a knife and edge tools firm, located in St Philips Road in the Netherthorpe area of Sheffield. John Taylor's inspiration for the trade mark "Eye Witness" is rumoured to have originated from Shakepeare's Henry IV, part I, "No eye hath seen better." This registered trade mark was applied for, and granted to the company in 1838.
In 1852, John Taylor's "Eye Witness" was relocated to the newly built Eye Witness Works, on Milton Street, in the Devonshire Quarter of Sheffield city centre. At that time, the works consisted of only 5 bays and were powered by steam, with a 40ft chimney stack which still remains to this day. The company's unrelenting dedication to quality, good service and good old fashioned technical know-how in the design and production of kitchen knives, resulted in great success and helped to stand the test of time.
John Taylor died in 1854, and left the firm to his daughter. She had married into the Needham family, who were also knife producers, and Eye Witness then became Needhams Ltd. In 1876, they joined with James Veall, and later with the very well known Tyzacks, going on to become Needham, Veall & Tyzack in 1879.
The firm continued to grow and develop in the late 19th century, the number of employees rising from just thirty in 1870, to several hundred in 1890. In 1875 the works were extended and the small single storey building became a three storey factory with a further 9 bays. In 1897, it was made a limited company with £60,000.00 capital funding, John Tyzack as chairman and James and William Veall as directors.
After WW1, the success of the firm dwindled, with a downturn in demand for high quality pocket knives brought on by the invention of stainless steel. Needham, Veall & Tyzack saw the need for a change if they were to survive and so mechanised their production processes. Once these new processes were put into action, the company took a turn for the better and began to expand again, taking over several well-known Sheffield cutlery companies and their respective trademarks.
By 1950, the company had grown to such a level that it saw the need to expand into new buildings on Thomas Street. In 1965, it became known as Taylor's Eye Witness, taking advantage of the Eye Witness trademark.
Harrison Fisher & Co bought Taylor's Eye Witness in 1975, and although they continued to use the Taylor's Eye Witness brand name, they also produced their own label brand for department stores and supermarkets such as John Lewis, Tesco and Sainsbury's.
On June 1st 2007, Harrison Fisher & Co changed their name to Taylor's Eye Witness Limited, to make life simpler for the customers and the company itself, and to develop the Taylor's Eye Witness brand of high quality, cutting edge products.
This traditional company has been built on and survived on traditional values of great service, great quality, and exceptional knowledge and technical know-how and the future of Taylor's Eye Witness is still looking bright. 2009/2010 saw the launch of scissor sharpeners, different shaped knife blocks, coloured knives and the 2 stage Sabatier knife sharpener. They now run three distinct product lines, the Made in Sheffield range, the British Designed ranges and the Sabatier ranges.
Over the last 160 years, although the inside of the factory has been modernised to accommodate modern machinery and processes, much of the Eye Witness works remains the same. Similar could be said of the company's fundamental values of high quality, efficiency and expertise. What Taylor's Eye Witness don't know about knives is not worth knowing.