David Mellor Design Museum, Factory and Cafe

The peak of British design 

Roughly 11 miles south west of Sheffield is the village of Hathersage in the Derbyshire Peak District. This area is a centre for the outdoors with plenty of craggy hills and wide open landscapes nearby, including the dramatic Winnats Pass which was once an underwater coral reef hundreds of millions of years ago! 

hiker, Winnats Pass, Derbyshire, outdoors, landscape
Winnats Pass

The village, as you would imagine, is a hub for outdoor clothing and equipment with a number of suppliers including one of my favourites, Alpkit, along the main street. If you love hiking and are looking for new kit why not take a look at Alpkit products from their online store.

My trip to Hathersage on this occasion was not to get hiking gear, or even to get out for a walk in the Hope Valley, but to pay a visit to an amazing design location - the shop, design museum, cafe and factory of David Mellor, Royal Designer for Industry. David Mellor was one of the best known 20th century British designers. David's son, Corin Mellor, is now at the helm as Creative Director and has carried on his father's legacy.

Look around your local surroundings and you could well be looking at some of David's designs. Everyday things such as traffic lights, bus stop shelters, bollards, benches and public waste bins are included in David's design successes. In fact, after parking in the car park, visitors walk past a bus stop area with all the street furniture having been designed by him. The key designs can be seen here.

On site is a wonderful Country Shop full of beautiful designs and things you never realised you needed, for instance real feather dusters! Some of the stock are David Mellor designs, especially their main cutlery products, but other designers are on sale too.  The common theme being beautiful design and real purpose. It is the perfect place to find gifts for good friends!

Next to the shop is the design museum and cafe. Here you will find something unusual indoors, namely working traffic lights! There are displays showing collections of David and Corin's designs too. Some stunning silverware on display includes items used in Number 10 Downing Street and even at Buckingham Palace. 

David Mellor design, traffic lights, design museum, cafe
Working traffic lights in the design museum

Outside, nestled among trees, is the Round Building where all the cutlery is manufactured. The building itself has won design awards and is an amazing structure flooded with light from the bicycle wheel design roof struts, perfect for shedding light on the painstaking work done by the small team of highly skilled craftspeople who work there making David Mellor cutlery.

Round Building, David Mellor, cutlery, British manufacturing, Hathersage
The Round Building

If you visit on a weekend there is a chance that there will be a factory tour running in the afternoon, these can be booked in advance by contacting the shop. On the day I visited with friends we were lucky enough to be given the tour by Corin himself. He took us through the manufacturing process from receipt of the stainless steel to the pressing, then refining of the cutlery. 

Corin Mellor, David Mellor cutlery, factory tour, Hathersage, British manufacturing
Corin Mellor explaining the manufacturing process

We looked at the design bench Corin uses and heard how he creates mockups of new designs, then we looked at the very important polishing area. One of the last manufacturing stages, just before final checking, is the embossing of the David Mellor stamp on each piece of cutlery.  If this is done too lightly or too hard then that piece will be rejected.

manufacture, cutlery, forks, British manufacturing, David Mellor
Different stages of making a fork

Fork  manufacturing, processing, equipment, block
Block design to create a fork

Polishing equipment, Cutlery manufacturing
Different sizes of polishers

David Mellor cutlery
The finished product

No visit would be complete without a drink and some tasty food from the cafe. Lunches are filling and delicious and the cafe's selection of home-made cakes is super, we tried the toasted lardy bread too, it was so good (and very naughty I suspect)! 

David Mellor, stamp, manufacture, cutlery, equipment
The finishing touch - the David Mellor stamp.


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