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 have been contacted by the Director of Museum Studies at the University of Reading asking for TATHS members who would like to attend a one day workshop to talk about what they want from museum collections.

Dr Rhiannedd Smith has already talked to some of our team at our own Amberley Collection but is looking for anyone who visits museum collections to talk to museum curators and help them in their work. She writes:

I am running a one year AHRC research project with colleagues from the University of Birmingham and the Science Museum looking at ways to bring stored museum collections to life. We've called the project 'Who Cares? Interventions with 'unloved' museum collections'. I should stress that this is not because we believe that these objects are truly unloved. We've used the term 'unloved' as a way of provoking people to stand up for certain objects which the general public tend to overlook.

We are conducting three case studies with the lock collection at the Science Museum, the National Slag Collection at Ironbridge Gorge Museum, and the agricultural hand tool collection at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. In all three cases we are running one day workshops with people outside of the museum sector who actively collect, use and research these objects. The aim is to ask why some people love these collections and to explore what museums can learn from their expertise and enthusiasm. I was hoping that some members of your society would be interested in talking to me about hand tool collecting in relation to the MERL project.

The workshop at MERL is on Friday 11th September. There will be a chance to look around the stores and hear from Chris Green about his research on the agricultural hand tool collection.

I have around 20 spaces in total as I want people to be able to chat with each other easily. We are providing lunch and the project can cover transport expenses under around £50. I am looking at inviting people like Tools for Self Reliance and the Heritage Crafts Association as well as TATHS. However, it would be great if we could get a big contingent of TATHS folks there.

If you would like to go, please contact Dr Smith directly on  or on 0118 378 5631.

It has come to our attention that quite a few of the pictures on this website show TATHS members who are nearly as old as the tools that they collect.

That is not the whole story!

We are delighted to be able to offer some photographic evidence that the TATHS collection at Amberley provides interest and fun for all the family, as shown here. Readers should be reassured that the young whippersnapper providing the motive power for some of the collection of potato-powered machinery was in no way coerced by either his father or his grandfather! (At least, that's what they said...)

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.