Black Country Living Museum

The chainmaker at the Black Country Living Museum


The organisers of the 2016 conference have been busy firming up a programme, which will be made available in good time, along with all the booking arrangements.

In outline, the schedule is:

  • Afternoon/evening Thursday 31 March gather at the hotel.
  • Friday 1 April - all day visit to the Black Country Living Museum; Mark Rees Memorial Lecture by Richard Arnold in the evening.
  • Saturday 2 April - day based at the hotel, to include
    • a morning lecture on leather working
    • the AGM
    • Members' displays and talks
    • Conference Dinner
    • Tool Auction.
  • Sunday - to be confirmed.

The conference hotel will be the Holiday Inn at Walsall and the focus for the conference visits will be the superb Black Country Living Museum at Dudley, West Midlands.

 Keep these dates free, and watch the website and Newsletter for booking information.


Since the re-launch of the website in Autumn 2014 we have been making our old Newsletters and Journals available for download as pdf files.

These publications contain a wealth of fascinating, specialist information not available anywhere else, and in line with our aim of educating the general public about tools, we will continue to add more back issues to this site.

Ten more newsletters have just been made available, numbers 51 to 60, published from 1995 to 1998.

So download them to your tablet, PC or smartphone and have them available whenever you want them.

These newsletters have articles about early planemakers, the Tyzack family, how to make a Roman hammer, how to measure timber and much more besides.

You can buy most of these as printed publications in our shop, or better still join the society and get every publication as soon as it is available.

The Hawley Collection now has a new exhibition on show, illustrating the life and work of the late Ken Hawley, past president of TATHS and outstanding collector of the toolmaking history of Sheffield.

The exhibition runs from September 2015 to February 2016 under the title "Brace Yourself" - an allusion to the carpenter's brace which was the tool that began the collection. It aims to give an insight into Ken as a family man, salesman, shopkeeper, historian and tool collector. and includes personal items, photographs and film footage.


We are pleased to announce that we now have a new volunteer editor for the newsletter, Richard Smith.

Richard will be pleased to receive articles and correspondence for the newsletter. These can be sent to him by email at or by post to him at his business:

Richard Smith
Studio 7 Music Repairs
6 Leonard Lane
Bristol    BS1 1EA.

Please contact Richard immediately if you have material that you would like to appear in the Autumn issue.

Brian Read will still be handling "whatsits" and can be reached on

Some time ago, TATHS published a DVD of scans of the 1919 Register of Trade marks of the Cutlers' Company of Sheffield.

This register is a tremendously useful reference source for identifying makers of tools by their marks, which can be punning, allusive and downright  cryptic.

We are pleased to announce that pdf versions of the directory can now be downloaded, as a members' benefit, by any TATHS member who has registered as a user of this site.

Many thanks to Brian Read for his sterling work in finding, buying and sharing this resource.

THE Ken Hawley Collection Trust receives many queries from the public concerning hand tools.  To answer these, they call on the specialist knowledge of their Volunteer Curators (currently there are 25+ volunteers) and anyone else they feel might have suitable knowledge.   Of course, with the sad loss of Ken Hawley last year, his massive source of knowledge is no longer available. With the closer relationship that is developing between our two organisations, the idea has developed of TATHS members with particular fields of knowledge becoming External Curators for the Hawley.

Do you have specialist knowledge of a particular subject?  Would you like to become an External Curator?

The way it will work is that you let me have your name, preferred contact arrangements, and specialist subject; I’ll pass these to the Hawley for adding to their register.  Queries will be passed to you from the Hawley; and you’ll reply to the Hawley.  Your name will not be passed to the public unless you wish it to be.

What, me, an expert? 

You don’t have to be the No 1 World Expert on the subject, just reasonably knowledgeable.  You can resign at any time.  It’s an honorary role (i.e. you don’t get paid)  The information you provide will be passed to the person enquiring with the proviso “this is opinion” and your name will not be given unless you wish it to be.

Already David Blagg has agreed to offer his knowledge of Spiers planes; and Richard Arnold his expertise on early wooden planes.   (Two excellent choices, you’ll agree).  I can think of several more; you will no doubt have names that will come to mind. 

So, as they say up here, “think on it” and if you think you might possibly be able to help, or would like to know more, please get in touch with me (Hugh Thompson,  e-mail: or with Judith Smith (  tel 0114 201 0770)

Hugh Thompson, TATHS/KHCT Link Trustee.