English Pewter Company are the UK's largest manufacturer of quality pewter giftware. Established in 1977 the family run business exports worldwide and our products can be seen in some of the worlds leading retail outlets. A commitment to Quality, Service and Price is at the core of our business.
All of our pewter products are handmade in the world famous manufacturing city of Sheffield. For centuries Sheffield has been synonymous with quality manufacturing. Although somewhat smaller than in previous decades this trend continues today and Sheffield still leads the way in the production of quality silverware, steel and pewterware.
Pewter, an easily worked alloy, has been with us since biblical times. The earliest record of pewter in Britain dates back to the Roman era around 250 AD. The importance of pewter as a metal and commodity did not develop fully until the middle ages. This period, often termed as the "Golden Age of the English Yeoman", marked the transformation of the material into everyday usage made possible by economic growth, notably through Britain's massive export of wool and woven cloth, and the increasing availability of raw materials from which to manufacture pewter. Pewter making remained a cottage industry until the 1770's when Jessop and Hankcock developed a new pewter alloy in Sheffield, incorporating antimony instead of lead and a little copper, it became known as Brittania metal and was capable of being given a bright polish. A new method of manufacturing called metal-spinning soon developed which resulted in a vast increase in the production of pewterware. The outcome was a light, highly polished product which soon became a popular alternative to more expensive silver plated goods.
Robert Shaw (left) and Alan Sharp (right), 1978
Sheffield, England, has long had a tradition and industry based on metalwork, silverwork and cutlery.
In 1977, pewter spinner Alan Sharp and metalworker Robert Shaw founded the English Pewter Company. Renting a small workshop in Stag Works, John Street, they undertook all aspects of production themselves.
The aim of the company was to produce high quality products at a fair price. Soon their hard work began to pay off, and as their business grew they employed people with the same attitude towards quality.
Matilda Street, 1980
The company's reputation among clients for providing quality and service led to an increased demand for their products. The company soon moved to larger premises on Matilda Street, alongside other Sheffield manufacturing companies. With a team of 14 employees the firm bought a 6,500 sq ft workspace on Princess Street in 1988.
The commitment to quality was recognized in the marketplace, and as sales grew, so did the workforce, with 25 employees within one year
St. Andrews Golf Course Tankard
Tankards had always been a large part of the business, and English Pewter Company began to produce these in a wide variety of decorative and commemorative styles - traditional shapes such as 'straight' and 'Georgian', and with decorative elements such as handles in the shapes of Golf clubs, pistols and keys.
Engraving and design had also become a part of the range, with tankards and hip flasks offered in styles such as Golf, Country Sports, birthdays, weddings - all with the opportunity to have items personalized with a name, date, or any text the customer wanted.
Princess Street, 1991
The company not only could, but would make almost anything from pewter. Model petrol pumps, miniature photocopiers and pewter CD cases were supplied to promotions companies and private businesses. The workforce expanded to 46 and included a scupltor who was soon busy producing sporting figures, a range which quickly gained the interest of the trophy trade.
This continued success allowed the company to buy the other half of the building in 1994, expanding to a work space of 12,000 sq ft.
Alan Sharp's son Jason had joined the firm in 1990 as Sales Manager, followed by his other son Andrew as Works manager in 1993. In 1997 Robert Shaw retired, selling his share of the company to Alan, making the company a family run business.
By 1996 the company had over 25,000 sq ft of production following further expansion.
The company was also expanding into the international markets, opening a permanent showroom in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the world's largest commercial building. Despite having to design and open the display in under five weeks, English Pewter met the deadline and beat 500 other competitors to gain the title Showroom Of The year.
The Merchandise Mart, aimed at buyers, is a permanent equivalent of the UK's Spring Fair, the annual giftware exhibition in Birmingham. The success of the Chicago venture, and a similar one in New York, would lead to displays in other parts of the US and from then on, sales staff would travel regularly between England and the United States.
The Macintosh Bud Vase
English Pewter Company had secured it's position as Britain's largest manufacturer of pewter goods. The catalogue had expanded to include ranges inspred by Celtic art, and celebrating Scottish, Irish and Welsh national identity.
The range of items inspired by Glasgow architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh was particularly successful both in the UK and overseas, and in 1999 the exclusive Mackintosh Bud Vase came second in the Gift of the Year competition, the most prestigious award in the industry.
By the turn of the millenium the company was employing over 70 craftsmen at it's historic factory in the heart of Sheffield.
The company, like many other Sheffield businesses, suffered from unexpected flooding from the bursting of the River Don during the wettest June since records began. A fantastic effort from all our fabulous staff meant that production was returned, albeit in a small capacity in just under 2 weeks. The entire clean up and replacement lasted just under 4 months costing an estimated £250k.
January 2012 saw the company move to a 20,000 sq ft modern factory unit. The manufacturing area was purpose built to increase the efficiency of production, whilst the warehouse area almost trebled in size to that of our previous warehouse. Each and every department was ugraded and heavy investment in the latest machinery has yielded great benefits. Now after more than 35 years of sustained success and growth, English Pewter Company are proud to continue to offer only the finest quality hand crafted pewter items.
September 2013 saw the company complete the purchase of a pewter rolling mill factory situated in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. The facility, which had supplied the factory with pewter sheet and casting material for over 15 years, is essential to the continued growth and success of English Pewter Company. This new addition means we have control over our supply chain from the very first process to the last. It also ensures that production of all processes remain entirely here in the UK, helping secure jobs and the future of the pewter industry as a whole.
Who knows what the future will have in store, let's just hope it's as good as our first 40 years!!
In the summer of 2018 the company increased their presence in the USA, Canada and Mexico with the formation of English Pewter Company USA Inc. With a registered office in New York City the company will use it’s presence in the US to increase awareness of the brand across North and Central America. With a vastly improved supply chain in place, they are now able to serve most customers across the USA with next day delivery.
In 2019 we were proud to have not one, but two of our products shortlisted in the prestigious Gift Of The Year Awards. The awards are run by The Giftware Association who represent tens of thousands of businesses up and down the land and feature a panel of independent judges from leading figures within the gift industry.
In 2020 we were awarded the status of Export Champion by the Department For International Trade in recognition of our export achievements. The scheme seeks to develop knowledge and skills for businesses that are new to exporting, by using Export Champions as mentors through monthly programs organised across the country.
For the second time in three years the company was delighted to be shortlisted again in the prestigious Gift Of The Year Awards. This time the product entry was in the International category, celebrating entrants success in an overseas market.
For the second successive year the company were delighted to be awarded the status of Export Champion by the Department For International Trade for 2021 and 2022. Despite the huge difficulties faced by businesses through the pandemic, the company has continued to increase export sales through this very difficult time.