Thanks Jim on that detail of the Hollow Blade Company to which I refer readers to http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/tns.1934.012
an account of the spurious story outlined therein.
View the amazing underhand dealings that occurred with this company at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollo...d_Blade_Company
In an apparently unrelated article I discovered interesting facts on the Sword Makers obscurely...please see ; The swordmakers of Shotley Bridge from an angling association website http://www.derwentangling.co.uk/abo...to-flow-part-2/
Quote"1687 heralded the arrival of the swordmakers from Solingen in West Germany. The names of these refugees’ families were recorded as Oley, Vooz, Mole and Bertram. There are a couple of theories behind their arrival, one being religious persecution, but there is no evidence to support them having being expelled from Germany for being Protestant. Nevertheless it still remains the most popular theory as to why they came to such a remote village under a veil of secrecy. The second and on the face of it more likely explanation was the introduction of new machinery which was threatening the livelihood of some of the Solingen swordmakers. So it is possible that it was simply time to move on.
In 1831, a Newcastle man visiting the works was told that their German forefathers were brought to Shotley Bridge by a company of gentlemen with the licence of Government as a commercial venture. This seems plausible and there is evidence connecting John Sandford and John Bell of Newcastle to the company at that time. Both men being of this area, they would have known the suitability of the River Derwent for siting a steel works on account of it having soft water as well as the excellent mill stone grit in the riverbed which was also very good for sharpening the blades. Indeed, on certain stones today it’s still possible to see grooves left by “slipping” and tempering of the precious blades. So there were obvious reasons for them to build their shops and houses near the river. Perhaps the most important reason though was that the Derwent was a fast running river, so ideal for operating and driving the mills. The nearby woods were also a perfect source of wood to make charcoal for the furnaces. And transportation was no problem, with a road down the valley to Derwenthaugh and Newcastle, then on to markets in London and Europe by sea.
The quality of their product far surpassed the inferior English swords. At the time, the troubled reign of James II was in progress and a civil war a distinct possibility, so maybe they thought they could supply both sides with swords. The Hollow Blade Sword Company was formed, the hollow blade sword having a hollow inner with three flat sides; this meant with their combined lightness and rigidity the sword point could be bent back to the hilt, then when released would spring back to its original shape. The company was later renamed The Sword Blade Bank. The new company stuttered through the 18th century, but gained a new lease of life with the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars, which proved very lucrative. But when the war ended in 1815, the final decline began, with the development of other steel-making towns in Sheffield and Birmingham. Nevertheless the swordmaking industry continued in Shotley Bridge until 1840, ran by Joseph Oley (a former committee member of the Derwent Angling Association) who later became an auctioneer in the village for 50 years. Living to almost a hundred years of age, he was buried in 1896 alongside other members of his family, Richard and Christopher, in Ebchester parish church yard. On his headstone is the inscription: ‘The last of the Shotley Bridge sword makers’. The swordmakers’ buildings in Wood Street remained until just a few years ago, only being demolished to make way for a new terrace row which bears their name.
The sword in the hat
Many stories have been passed down over the years about the swordmakers of Shotley Bridge. On one occasion, Robert Oley became involved in a wager with eight of the top swordmakers in the country as to who could manufacture the best, most flexible blade. A meeting was set for two weeks to the day. When Oley appeared at the meeting place with no sword in his hand, the other swordmakers declared him the loser of the bet. Whereupon he took off his hat and threw it on the table. There for all to see, inside the hat coiled around the rim, was a double edge sword, and he was instantly declared the winner. He then offered his winnings to anyone who could remove it from the hat, but of course it was so tightly wound that no one could.
Another story was that a member of the Oley family travelled to London in the early 19th century to take part in a competition to produce the finest sword in all of England. Oley won the crown for his sword and The Sword Inn in the heart of Shotley Bridge was renamed The Crown and Crossed Swords in his honour. This pub plays a large part in the local community and is now the headquarters of the Derwent Angling Association. Some of these excellent swords are preserved and line the walls in Hamsterley Hall, home of the former Lord Gort. Some of the descendants of those first swordmaking families can trace their roots back to razorblade giant Wilkinson Sword, while some members of the Mole family moved to Birmingham and continued their business a few years longer. In 1889, Robert Mole and Sons was bought out and absorbed into Wilkinsons of Pall Mall, although not actually taken over until 1920. Wilkinson Sword (International) Ltd, chiefly noted for the production of safety razors and razor blades, still has a production plant in Solingen. The crossed swords proudly adorn the company logo, maintaining the link with their swordmaking heritage."Unquote.