© Ken Hawley Collection Trust - K.0136
John Henry Bramwell (1842-1910) was born at Sheffield, the son of John and his wife, Clarissa. John Sen. was a file cutter and later file manager, who died at Monmouth Street in 1860, aged 47 (Clarissa died four years later). They were buried at Ecclesall. John Henry followed his father’s trade. By the early 1860s, he partnered Isaac Newton as a file manufacturer in Bramwell & Newton, Milton Lane. This was dissolved in 1864. John H. Bramwell continued to trade alone as a file manufacturer at Milton Lane (with the help of one boy). In 1881, his workforce was four men. By the mid-1880s, he was operating at 55 Garden Street as John Henry Bramwell & Co, Garden Street File Works. In 1886, in a well-publicised contest between hand-cut and machine-cut files, Bramwell was an advocate of the former (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 4 May 1886; Sheffield Independent, 5 August 1886)
Bramwell’s son, Francis Archibald (1876-1946) joined him, alongside another partner, Ernest Henry Hancock. This was dissolved in 1899, when the latter withdrew. The Bramwells diversified into butchers’ steels and cutlery novelties. For example, they advertised a patent knife and scissors sharpener that apparently even a child could use (Yorkshire Telegraph & Star, 9 July 1901). In 1905, Francis was listed as a hardware factor, glue, and emery dealer. John Henry’s wife, Charlotte, died in 1905 (and was buried at Fulwood), and he retired to Hope View, Cannon Fields, Hathersage. He died on 17 February 1901, aged 67, leaving £1,815.
In 1919, the firm was registered by Frances A. Bramwell and Francis Botham as a private limited company (capital £10,000), manufacturing files, rasps, and butchers’ steels. However, three years later the plant, machinery, and stock-in-trade were offered for sale. The premises and machinery were said to be well-equipped for cutlery manufacture and blade forging. The forging plant was ‘almost new and of a modern type’ (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 14 October 1922).