David Mellor cutlery is manufactured in a unique purpose built factory designed by Sir Michael Hopkins. The circular factory has been described as a minor masterpiece of modern architecture and has received numerous important architectural and environmental awards, including the Financial Times Architecture at Work Award, RIBA National Award, Civic Trust Award, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Award and the prestigious BBC Design Prize for the Environment.
David Mellor worked closely with the architect, Sir Michael Hopkins, to evolve a design which is highly functional and technologically advanced and which at the same time enhances its setting in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The five acre site just outside of Hathersage, in the Peak National Park, was previously the village gas works erected in 1906-7 and the concrete foundations of the old circular gas holder provided the basis for the design of the factory.
The circular shape of the factory is perfectly suited the manufacture of cutlery allowing for a circular progression as processes anti-clockwise round the factory floor, moving from the cutting and manipulation of metals to semi-automatic grinding to hand finishing processes and then to the final stages of cleaning and packing.
The aim was to combine traditional materials with modern structural techniques resulting in a building that sits comfortably in its surrounding environment. The factory is constructed from natural stone and steel. A thick stone rim runs around the perimeter of the building and from this rim the giant bicycle-wheel structure of the roof rises towards its central glass hub which allows natural light to flood the interior of the building. A steel perimeter tie bar holds the structure together.
The roof itself is built up of a series of double-skinned sectional panels in Finnish pine plywood hooking onto the circular purlins, this allows the building to be ventilated by the more or less traditional method of passage of air through the panels, and the exterior is leaded.
Working closely with the architects, David Mellor supervised the construction and manufacture of many of the components of the building. He and his workforce laid the huge circular concrete floor over the original gasometer slab. They cast the concrete quoins and padstones used in the walls, and constructed the 480 Finnish plywood roof panels of varying sizes.
Free of charge factory guided tours giving an overview of the company, buildings and how David Mellor cutlery is made are available at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.