Our History

Although Robert Sorby was first registered in 1828, its roots go back much further.


The Company of Cutlers was first formed in Sheffield by an Act of Parliament, with the aim of ensuring high standards of workmanship and establishing a register of approved marks.

This would lead to the ‘Made in Sheffield’ mark enduring as a globally-recognised symbol of assured quality craftsmanship for centuries.


Robert Soreby (also known as Sorby) became the very first ‘Master Cutler’.

The role of the Master Cutler was paramount. Although elected annually, he controlled the Company of Cutlers, and was responsible for finance, granting trademarks and issuing penalties. Soreby went on to be re-elected in 1628. During the next forty years, two of Robert’s sons also held that high office – Malin in 1647 and 1657 and Robert in 1669.

During the 17th century, cutlery marks were granted to no fewer than five members of the Sorby family – Malin (1635), Robert (1658) Thomas (1682), John (1699) and Ephrim (1710).

In the early 18th century, scissorsmiths’ marks were granted to another five members of the Sorby family – Josiah, Thomas, Jeremiah, Benjamin and a second Thomas.


1760 – 1840


Robert Sorby & Sons was first registered in Union Street, Sheffield in 1828 as a manufacturer of edge tools, saws, scythes and hay knives.

In 1837 the company moved to new premises in nearby Carver Street. Robert Sorby, the great, great grandson of the very first Master Cutler, ran the company until his death in 1858.


The world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC, held its inaugural meeting.

The ‘Sheffield rules’ had a major influence on how the modern game of football developed. Among other things they introduced were the concepts of corners, and free kicks for fouls. Thomas Austin Sorby (son of Robert Sorby), was vice-president of the club from 1857-59.

The RMS Titanic sank

15 April 1912


ROBERT SORBY & SONS Ltd was formed, based at Kangaroo Works, Trafalgar Street, Sheffield.

The Kangaroo Brand

During the latter part of the 19th century, many of Sheffield’s leading businessmen travelled widely overseas, seeking new markets. This was often reflected in the names of their factories and brands. In the case of Robert Sorby and Sons, the factory was known as Kangaroo Works. That building still stands today, in dilapidated condition. Nevertheless, the famous Kangaroo motif can still be seen carved in stone over an archway. The kangaroo itself was one of a number of registered trademarks used extensively until the 1980s.


The company relocated to Chesterfield Road. After WWII, the firm continued to advertise a wide range of edge, joiners’ and gardening tools.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

2 June 1953


Robert Sorby Ltd relocated to Athol Road, Sheffield in 1985, focusing on wood chisels and turning tools.


Robert Sorby Ltd was acquired by the Spear & Jackson Group.


Spear & Jackson Group of Companies was acquired by SNH Global Holdings Ltd.


Robert Sorby Ltd moved into the newly refurbished 26,000 sq ft Atlas site, as part of the Spear & Jackson Group.

Robert Sorby has a wealth of history which we are sure you will find interesting.