The late David Mellor had a house and factory near Sheffield. It is still there, being run by his son. A visit back to Sheffield to see family inevitably means a few hints (OK, maybe more than a few) that a detour to his factory-shop-café-museum would be a very good idea indeed.
His living northward should not necessarily have made me like Mr Mellor any more. Yet it did and does. Especially since a large part of my childhood consisted of echo-y tramps through dusty, oily, ghostly cutlery works. They were, it seemed, closing down one a month at that time.
I still love good cutlery. It does make things taste better. It ties together – for me at least – form, function, food and the five senses.
Nice cutlery is made all over the place. But one of the best places to find it is still a David Mellor shop. There the cutlery is serious. The weight of each piece has been thought about, balance tested. My small horn and rosewood coffee spoon (as it is for me) was lusted after for several visits before I bought one. Despite it costing only £5.45. I like to know sometimes – most times – that I am buying something I really want.
I met Mr Mellor once, though I didn’t realise it at the time. A few years back during a cold New Year my brother drove us out to the factory. Noses were stuck to the windows when a chap came up and asked if we’d like to see inside? He gave us a tour. What a place. You could eat off the floor. Everything in its place and a place for everything. Boxes of knife handles. Interesting machines. Cool cupboards. All wrapped around with a great circular Michael Hopkins structure.
“Do you work here?” I asked. “Yes” he replied. I later realised from a picture that it had been Mr Mellor himself who had been so hospitable that cold northern day.