Kenneth Wybert Hawley, tool collector and historian, born 29 June 1927; died 15 August 2014
I wanted to make draw your attention to the Guardian Obituary for Ken Hawley, who passed away in August 2014 aged 87 –
“Ken Hawley, who has died aged 87, was one of Sheffield’s foremost industrial historians, a former tool salesman whose inquiring mind, formidable drive and eye for an opportunity led him to assemble a collection of international importance. The Hawley Collection, comprising more than 70,000 tools from Sheffield together with complementary material from elsewhere in Britain and around the world, includes 2,000 joiner’s planes, 1,000 table knives, 260 micrometers, 50 anvils, 4,000 catalogues and thousands of associated documents. Having been housed for many years in a large shed in Ken’s garden, it now has its own permanent display space in the city’s Kelham Island Museum, and is widely recognised as one of the best places to learn about tools and tool-making anywhere in the world”. The Guardian
I met Ken whilst researching my commission for Sheffield Hallam University & had a very memorable day spent searching through the archives and collection with him bringing all manner of objects to me. His enthusiasm and passion were very much evident, as was that of the team of volunteers who assisted and managed the collection with him.
I made my last visit there on 18th June 2013 – but didn’t write up the experience until May 6th 2014 as I had only then started this blog.
This was my post from that time – with a couple of images –
I was keen from the outset to explore a site-specific response to the project brief. With that in mind I have been researching the many collections and archives housed by Sheffield Museums and Libraries. I am particularly drawn to the history and manufacture of cutlery in the city. Individuals such as Ken Hawley & the wonderful Hawley Collection at Kelham Island Museum, have made enormous efforts to preserve this legacy.
His keen focus upon the tools of manufacture draw you inexplicably to those individuals directly involved in the process of making & the evidence of the hand crafted & extraordinary skills upon which the wealth of the city was based.
Samples of Samba and red Deer antler used in the cutlery industry. The Hawley Collection, Sheffield. Image: Christopher Tipping
Raw materials and part finished handles at The Hawley Collection, Sheffield. Image: Christopher Tipping
Mother of Pearl, Ivory and Bone handles, The Hawley Collection, Sheffield. Image: Christopher Tipping