Newbridge Silverware is the only cutlery manufacturer in Ireland, and only one of two that remain in Ireland and Britain.
The company was set up in 1934 with the help of Labour Party leader and local TD, William Norton, as part of a scheme to provide employment for the Newbridge area after the foundation of the Irish Free State.
One of the Kildare town’s main sources of employment until then had been supplying the local British army barracks. Production manager, Cliff English, told Liberty: “Norton and a local committee brought craftsmen from Sheffield to Newbridge to teach people the skill of cutlery manufacture. There were already forges in the town, many of which had been used previously for making horseshoes for the British cavalry.”
The original factory was based in the old British army barracks and at its height the industry employed several hundred local people. Some of the machines still used in the manufacturing process even predate the company, being brought in from the UK in the 1930s. Since the 1970s the factory has supported a workforce of approximately 70 people and has moved to a more compact site.
However, the type and range of items produced has continued to expand. As well as jewellery and ornaments, the number of cutlery patterns has expanded from two to 18 with Newbridge supplying several British hotels with their own styles. The industry has now come.
This first appeared in Liberty paper in April 2014.