The very best overall history of the Marples dynasty, from a business point of view, was written by John Marples, [who relinquished his Chairmanship of the Company in 1962 after William Marples was sold jointly to William Ridgway & Sons and C.& J. Hampton Ltd. on a fifty-fifty basis.]   I can write no better a history, so I have composed here a brief history of the firm after which will appear his writings   [This list will be updated as more information is obtained].

(For History of the Family per se. go to that section.)


William MarplesSnr. born in Baslow 1773/4, and had a business on Sheffield Moor.

1819   He moved to Rockingham St/Lane.

1833   'Whites' Directory lists 'Marples William, sen, joiners' tool mfr. Solly Street'.

c1837  he moved to 237 Solly St.  [a different house than previously?]

1844   November24  William Marples Snr. died.


William Marples Jnr. was born 21 March 1809

1821  William Jnr. joined his father's joinery making business in Sheffield when just 12 years old.

1830  William Jnr. started his own business in Broomhall St. [Legally when he was 21 yrs old. not in 1828 as you will find reported elsewhere]

1833  Whites directory lists  'Marples Wm. jun joiners' tool, brace bit and skate manfr. Broomhall Street'.

1831-2 (or 1837) Moved to larger premises at 67/69 Broomspring Lane (aka Broom Spring Lane or Spring Lane)  "Hibernian Works"   Probably it was 1837 because 'Whites' stills lists Broomhall St. in 1833. 

1837  William Jnr. is already married to Jane with 2 children; Mary (3yrs) and Edwin (1yr) and Sarah is on the way [see Family History Section]

1845  Bought a house at 2 Cremorne Place, Western Bank, Sheffield.

1846  The FIRST William Marples Jun. catalogue may have been issued. [a Broadsheet]

1848  John Cartwright took out a patent for a carpenters brace, the rights to which William subsequently bought.

1849  Son Edwin Henry (b.1835) started work at the factory.

1854  The Ultimatum Brace is announced as being produced by William MARPLES

1856  New factory premises are purchased at 25/27 Westfield Terrace but the firm actually moved there in 1859.    It was called "Hibernia Works" and the IRISH HARP was now      

         the Trade Mark   (Note: previous name for the premises was 'Hibernian Works')

1860-1  'William Marples and Sons'  came into being with Edwin Henry 24 (b.1837) and William Kent  21 (b.1840) now being taken in as partners.

1861-2William Marples and Sons first real catalogue was issued.  Only one original copy is known.  [Please see the Catalogues and For Sale sections].

1862  The Shamrock 3 Leaf Clover became a Trade Mark.

1863  Another son Albert (b.1842) joined the firm as a partner.

1868  A new catalogue was issued but no copies are presently known to exist.

1869  William Marples Jnr. formally retires from the firm and the property is leased to his 3 sons.

1871 William Marples Jnr. bought a controlling interest in Turner Naylor & Co.for his youngest son, Charles 23 (b.1848). The firm started trading in 1875 as Turner Naylor & Marples at                  Northern Tools Works factory, John Street, Sheffield.

1872  Sheffield Directory still shows the Westfield Terrace address for the Marples Factory.

1873  A new catalogue was issued.

          Actually this may be 1872 as the accompanying letter to this Price List (as Catalogues were then called) at the 'Hawley' Museum is but a letter introducing a revised price list to the 'Illustrated                                                                                                          Price List' then in effect.

1875  More property was obtained at the back of the works (80/82 Division St. and at 126 Rockingham Street) enabling chisels and other edge tools to be made. (Previously they had all been made           for Marples at the Northern Tool Works. 'Turner Naylor & Co.'.)  

1875  2 new Trade Marks are introduced.  'Hibernia' and the 'Triple Shamrock'.

1877  2nd Oct.  William Marples Jnr. died.

1878 American Tools Catalogue No.1 issued.

1881/2or 1883 A new catalogue was issued.

1883  Nov 27th.  William Kent Marples died.

1883  Jan 1st.  No.2 Catalogue of the Imported USA tools was issued

1888  A new UK catalogue was issued.

1888 Jan 1st. "Moseley & Son" was registered as a Trade Mark of Wm. Marples.

1892  Aug 1st.  The trademark and goodwill of John Moseley & Son. (London wooden plane makers since 1730) was at last announced in a letter to the trade. MARPLES probably had control                 over  this company since 1883

1897   John Kent Marples  (youngest son of Edwin Henry) entered the business.

1897  A new catalogue was issued, but although no framed brace was illustrated,  it was still shown as offered. 

1897/8  'William Marples and Sons Ltd' was formed, and was therefore now a private company.

1902  An engine driven hammer forge was started  (previously all forging was done by real hand hammer work).  Ultimatum brace production ceased.

1903  Another new catalogue was issued in which the Ultimatum brace is not listed.

1904  121 Rockingham St. (former premises of Robt. Sorby & Sons who had moved) was purchased and the 'John Moseley & Son' plane making business was moved to Sheffield from London.

1905/09?  The stock and goodwill of 'Thomas Ibbotson & Co', edge tool makers, was purchased [but not the premises at Paternoster Row, Sheffield.]  (This firm had existed since 1825 in the family until Peter Ibbotson had died recently}

1908   Edwin Henry Marples retired leaving John KentMarples in charge.

1909  'Turner Naylor & Co. Ltd.' (with the 'I. Sorby' trade and corporate mark) was purchased.

1909  A new catalogue was issued. [but no 'I. Sorby'  trademark is shown]

1912  Geoffrey Marples, son of Henry Edgar, joined the company.

1914  Listed as 'Manufacturers of Tools for all Trades including carpenters, engineers,masons and plumbers' with 400 employees.

1920 April   The adjoining properties of 84, 86 and 88 Division St. were purchased.

1923  Alan O'Connor Fenton, the great-grandson of William Jnr., entered the business.

1932  The manufacture of the 'M' series of Iron planes was started at 'Northern Tools Works'  (the premises of 'TurnerNaylor & Co. Ltd'.)

1932 June   'Turner Naylor & Co Ltd'  purchase the stock and goodwill of  'John Sorby & Sons' with the trademark 'I & H Sorby' and the Corporate mark.

1937  Listed as 'Tool Manufacturers'  with the 'Shamrock' small tools mark.

1938  'BB' brand wooden planes started [beechwood planes that were machine made as an alternative to the hand made wooden planes which were still offered as an alternative but at higher prices].

1940 Jan   Peter Stewart Marples, son of John Kent, entered the business.

c1946  Jim Marples, son of Geoffrey, entered the business.

1954  The X4 metal plane of "superior quality'' was introduced.

1961  A new range of built up beechwood 'Transitional' planes with an iron frog was first marketed [2690 (smooth) and 2691 (jack)].

1961  Still listed as  'Tool Manufacturers'  and having 400 employees.

1962   John Kent Marples relinquished his Chairmanship of the Company when it was sold jointly to  William Ridgway & Sons Ltd. and C&J Hampton Ltd.

1963  John Kent Marples died.

1963  'Turner Naylor and Co' disappeared and the Northern Tool Works premises were sold. [probably to make way for a new parking lot...how criminal can it get!]

1965  Best quality beechwood planes [Hand Made] are deleted from the Price List.  'BB' Brand machine made2nd.quality planes are still listed.

1968  'BB' brand planes are withdrawn from sale, as are the 2690 and 2691 Transitional planes.

1971   No wooden planes are now shown for sale...the end of a continuity of plane making lasting 240 years.

1971  The 'Westfield Terrace' premises were vacated and subsequently demolished, with the firm moving to new premises in Stubley Lane, Dronfield, Derbyshire. [So much history of the                      firm was sent to the dump at this time that it is definitely criminal, never to be seen again!!]

1972  William Ridgway Ltd  and C & J Hampton Ltd. merged to form Record Ridgway Tools Ltd. [containing MARPLES]

1981  A B Bahco of Sweden bought the company.  ' Bahco Record Marples' was formed.

1982 Peter S. Marples retired. [I do not blame him!]

1983  MARPLES became part of the 'Record Ridgeway Group'

1985  A new British company emerged called Record Holdings which purchased Record Ridgway Ltd. and 'Record Marples Woodworking Ltd' came back into existence.

          A return to British ownership, but only until 1998.

1988  The name Record Marples (Woodworking Tools) Ltd. was still in affect.

1991  Now just under the umbrella of Record Tools Ltd.

1993  Now called Record Holdings plc.

1998  Now [again] called Record Tools Ltd. but is now a Division of American Tool Companies Inc.

2002  The whole of that company now came to be owned as Newell Rubbermaid .

2003  American Tool Companies division is renamed 'Irwin Industrial Tool Co.'

After c.2008   IRWIN-MARPLES tools, were produced by  factories in either Udine, Italy or further  'East' [China, and are then but a shadow of their former quality.

So just after c.2008 you can kiss any good British craftsmanship goodbye forever. 


Below are the 'cuts' from various named catalogues that will show the transitions that occurred over time to the HIBERNIA WORKS site.

c1879-1897

1928

c1862

1909-1921