Cutlers Hall

Shotley Bridge in the seventeenth century became home to nineteen German sword-making families from Solingen in Prussia. In 1691, these families were induced to settle in the area with a lucrative six-year contract to help fulfil the demand for swords in England. Belonging to the secretive and prestigious Guild of the Running Wolf, the German cutlers produced swords of international renown. Some of the best examples of their work can be seen in the Leeds Armoury. 

Sword-making continued well into the eighteenth century and the sword-mills enjoyed a renewed upturn in trade with the start of the Napoleonic Wars in 1785. This led to the construction of a new Cutlers Hall in 1787 for master cutler William Oley and his wife Ann. The upturn lasted until 1815 when the Napoleonic wars came to an end. The final sword mill closed in 1840.

Cutlers Hall, which is now divided into three residences, served both as a home and meeting place for the German sword-makers guild members. The initials W & A O and 1787 can still clearly be seen carved into stone above the doorway.


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