Our legacy is rooted in Sheffield, England—a city that has held its reputation as the cutlery center of the world ever since the Father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, referred to it in his 14th-century poem, “The Reeve’s Tale.”
Sheffield is the center of the machine knife universe. Nearby quarries filled with rich deposits of iron and coal provided the material for grindstones while the surrounding woods were used as charcoal for smelting. Another ideal geographic feature that the people of Sheffield made sure to take advantage of was the flowing streams that flowed down the surrounding hills. From those streams, Sheffield was able to power the grinding wheels and other cutler equipment many years before the advent of steam or electric power.
In 1745 the first George Wolstenholme started the cutlery business of the House of Wolstenholme. George, assisted by his son Henry, built a small but satisfactory business in a village outside of Sheffield. When George eventually died, Henry took over.
Henry Wolstenholme was a clever and intuitive cutler. One of his most notable achievements was being one of the first makers of pocketknives. However, these pocketknives had blades that worked on a spring. In fact, Henry applied for and obtained the right to use the word “spring” as a trademark in 1757.
When Henry died in 1803, his son (also named George) continued the business and moved it to Sheffield. The new location would be named Rockingham Works and it became a workshop where men would craft mostly razors and penknives. George also decided it would be best to shorten his surname to “Wostenholm” as a way to easily fit the name on the small penknives. When George died, his son (again named George) became the sole proprietor of the business.
This third George Wostenholm saw the great amount of opportunity that was in front of him and despite his critics, who forecasted his bankruptcy, bought Washington Works where the business was carried on until 1945. At the time, Washington Works was considered to be the last word in factory design and was amongst the first large Cutlery Works in Sheffield working on factory lines. The workshop is a significant part of Sheffield history having even survived enemy action when a bomb was dropped on it in December of 1940.
George did much more than purchase a notable building, though. In 1843, he acquired The Pipe Trade Mark—the oldest cutlery trademark on the Register of the Sheffield Cutlers’ Company (granted in 1694). George also acquired the I*XL mark in 1826 and The Tally-Ho mark in 1860. These marks were a visual representation for one of his guiding principles—to maintain the quality of his knives and enhance the reputation of Sheffield cutlery.
George Wostenholm’s dedication to the reputation of Sheffield cutlery was so strong he often asked to view his products before they were taken into stock. Even during his last days, batches of knives would be examined while he laid in bed. George may no longer be around, but his dedication and perseverance toward quality knives remain today in all that we do.
The legacy started by the first George Wolstenholme was continued in 1908 when our modern founder, Thomas Gilbert Wolstenholme established his factories as a single source provider and developed strategic supply relationships with many of the leading manufacturers and knife companies throughout the UK and Europe.
Thomas G. Wolstenholme’s company grew significantly over the following decades and in 1993 our company, TGW International, was established as a subsidiary company to expand North American sales.
Between 1993 and 1998, we continued the evolution forward within our parent company when we moved all the existing machinery from 3 different former sites around Sheffield into our current Clough Bank Works building, as seen in the image on the left.
In 2010, Wolstenholme Machine Knives incorporated TGW Machine Knives Pvt Ltd in Indore, India, and built a 25,000 square foot factory to house the new production facilities. Manufacturing from this warehouse began the following year allowing us to provide European craftsmanship at a more affordable cost to our customers
TGW remains a family-owned business to this day, with Thomas’ great great grandson Richard Wolstenholme as our CEO and Jeff Litmer as our North American president. We also remain a knowledge leader in the industry, because providing superior quality knives isn’t just what we do—it’s a tradition.