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Mr William Greaves
Dates: 1752-1830
Biographical Account: William Greaves created the first large scale cutlery factory in Sheffield in 1832, building the Sheaf Works on the Canal Basin, at Maltravers Street. It was located there in order to take advantage of the newly opened canal, which could transport raw goods and finished items of cutlery around the country more quickly. The factory itself was also a revolution because it attempted to bring together as many cutlery manufacturing processes as possible together in one place, something that had not really been attempted before. The money to build this huge works came from Greaves’ trade with America, where they sent razors, table cutlery and sturdy bowie knives. This made William Greaves very rich indeed, and it was reported that when he died in 1830 he left each of his five surviving daughters £30,000 each, an astronomical sum at the time. In today’s money that is approximately £2.3 million. The firm finally dissolved in 1850, but Sheaf Works continued to be used by many cutlery manufacturers until the 1980s. The main block was renovated in 2007 and still stands today.
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