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Samuel
Osborn

1826 - 1891

Toledo Factory
Samuel Osborn Samuel Osborn was born at Banner Cross (Sheffield) in 1826. His father Samuel, was a partner in the firm of Clark and Osborn. The works were situated on Earl Street and produced pen and pocket knives, razors, brushes and tortoiseshell combs. Samuel (senior) married Elizabeth Clark in 1820.

Samuel (junior) left school when he was 15 and went to work for T.B. & W Cockayne who were drapers in Sheffield.

In 1848 he moved to Thomas Ellin & Son (tool makers) and then he went to Henry Russell & Co who manufactured traditional Sheffield tools. Here he became a travelling salesman making connections that would help in in the future.

In 1851 he set up his own business on Broad Lane called the Clyde Works, manufacturing files. Osborn had made many contacts in Scotland and wanted to continue the relationship. By 1856 the business had expanded and he was now renting a six - hole crucible furnace on Calver Street.

He needed to expand and in 1857 he moved to the Philadelphia district of Sheffield, setting up a tilt and forge, the new site was known as the Brookhill Works. Osborn married Elizabeth Fawcett.

Osborn became a member of the Cutlers Company in 1862. He took a strong interest in the health of his workers and looked into two major illnesses, grinders asthma and lead poisoning.

By 1864 he had discovered an amalgam that could replace the soft bed of lead which the files were placed in when being cut by hand. He also introduced a file cutting machine to reduce the direct contact the workers had when carrying out the operation. The craftsmen were opposed to the machine, fearing that they would lose their jobs and believing the machine could not equal the craftsmanship that their hand skills produced. Neither of their fears proved to be true.

William Fawcett (brother-in-law) was taken into partnership in 1867. New premises were bought in 1868 in the Wicker area, next to the site of the old Sheffield Castle. The works were named the Clyde Steel & Iron Works. John Edward Fawcett joined Samuel Osborn & Co. in 1871.

In 1870 Osborn met Robert Forrester Mushet who was living in Cheltenham. He had iron works in the Forest of Dean where he was producing a new form of alloy steel, which proved to be far superior even to crucible steel. Osborn immediately recognised its value and bought the sole rights to manufacture Mushet's Special Self Hardening Steel (R.M.S.). Mushet's two sons Henry and Edward moved up to Sheffield to oversee the manufacture of the R.M.S. steel at the Business was booming, orders were boosted by the Franco-Prussian War and the development of the railways.

In 1873 Osborn was elected as Master Cutler.

In 1874 Osborn was forced to file for liquidation.

New markets for R.M.S. were found in America and a London Office was set up. He took on new partners and travelled to the continent making connections in France, Belgium and Germany. In less than ten years he had paid off all his creditors and his company was now registered as the second largest private enterprise in the Sheffield & District Steel & Allied Trades. 1884 Osborn was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Brightside ward. He was re-elected in 1887.

In 1885 he bought and expanded the Rutland Works.

In 1890 he was elected as Mayor of Sheffield.

Samuel Osborn died in 1891.

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