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Wilsons & Co (Sharrow) Ltd

Business Address: Wilsons & Co (Sharrow) Ltd, Sharrow Mills, Snuff Mill Lane, Sheffield, S11 8AD.

Country: England,

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About Wilsons & Co (Sharrow) Ltd

One of the oldest snuff manufacturers in the world.

The first Wilson to come to Sharrow Mills was Thomas, a shearsmith, who rented the water wheel and buildings from the Duke of Norfolk in 1737. He was an important figure in Sheffield industry, being Master of the famous Cutlers' Company in 1731. He was followed by his son Joseph, a highly succesful international merchant and entrepeneur, who was associated with Boulsover in the manufacture of the first Sheffield Plate.

Joseph carried on this silver-plating and various other manufactures such as saw-making at Sharrow Mills and at other places in Sheffield. His main interest was in snuff making; at some point he had come in to the possession of the secrets of this trade, and he was able to expand from this into his other ventures. In 1763 a fire at the Mills destroyed thousands of pounds-worth of his stock-in-trade which included 'tobacco snuff', and the business was considered so vital to tax revenues that a national collection was ordered to recompense Joseph and his partner (insurance was by no means universal in industry at that time).

By the 1760's Joseph decided to continue the snuff business entirely by himself. It had become the most important part of his activities at Sharrow Mills, and it was at this time that he started making SP, for which Sharrow has been famous ever since. A further six generations of the Wilson family have followed Thomas at Sharrow Mills and the business which is now known as Wilsons & Co. (Sharrow) Ltd. is still wholly owned and run by members of the Wilson family.

Steam-power was introduced in 1797 and the capacity of the mills has been gradually increased over the years but the water wheel is still working, deriving its power from the little river Porter. Sharrow snuffs were originally sent out in barrels, boxes and bladders. Today a wide range of packing, the most popular being 5, 10 and 25gr. tins (approximate weights).

Snuff is made in an increasing number of flavours. These include the older blends such as Wallflower, Rose of Sharrow, Royal George, Jockey Club, Crumbs of Comfort, Aniseed and Eucalyptus, S.P., S.S., Tom Buck, Sharrow Medicated, Irish High Toast and Queen's Extra Strong, as well as the newer additions such as Super Menthol, SM 500, Rum and Blackberry, Vanilla, Irish Whiskey, Tangerine, Honey Menthol and Prime Minister.