Tuesday, 13 January 2009

George Hukin, razorgrinder

George Hukin and Edward Carpenter

Sometime last year, I discovered that George Hukin, - socialist razorgrinder and unrequited love of Victorian radical Edward Carpenter - lived with his wife Fanny round the corner from us in Brook Cottages on Mickley Lane. These were the same cottages (demolished in the 1950's) where Harry Brierley, the inventor of stainless steel lived. Brierley learned to make shoes and sandals from another of Carpenter's friends, George Adams. They must have met through Hukin.
Today, via Rony at Radio Sheffield, I had a postcard from Don Alexander. Don used to run a shop selling Sheffield knives and other goods on Eccleshall Road. He had found my mention of George Hukin - and his burial under a hedge at Holmesfield Church - in the Sheffield Telegraph and wrote to me to say that George's nephew, Billy Hukin, was the last of Sheffield's cut-throat razorgrinders and visited him most days in his shop. Billy died in 1994 aged 73. "A great bloke," Don says, " a typical independent Sheffield artisan - his own man, subject to no creed. Full of life, always keen to learn and understanding of today's youths."

He went on to say that the brothers - George, Walt and William all worked as razorgrinders at Turners near the Sheffield Midland Station and that a showcase of their products is at the Millenium Galleries. Bill's dad set up on his own and Bill himself started as a 13 year old in 1917 (the year of George's death - probably from grinders lung).

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