Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vanished Tool Makers: Skarsten Manufacturing Co., Welwyn Garden City, Herts, England

Years ago I picked up a Skarsten No. 62 scraper:


Later, I found a No. 80 scraper:

Recently, I found a scraper file made by the same firm:

The Skarsten Manufacturing Company was started in 1934 by Anders Rasmussen Skarsten, who emigrated to Britain from Norway.  An entry in the London Gazette of that year indicates that his company produced "chrome plated castors and hardware specialities."  In 1937, he patented a paint scraper in the U.K., and a year later in Canada:

This became the company's primary product.

Below, photos of the Skarsten factory in its heyday, courtesy of the Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust, which has posted many fascinating photos from this time period on its Facebook page.

The company eventually added awlscrews (a combination screwdriver and brad awl--I'd love to have one!) and then plastic letter plates, with most production being exported.

The Skarsten trademark was registered in the U.S. in 1986, but cancelled in 1992, which would suggest that the firm ceased operation sometime in the late 1980's.  

Although the scraper above is stamped "London," the company was always headquartered to the north of the capitol in Welwyn Garden City, founded in 1920 as one of Sir Ebenezer Howard's planned cities which was intended to combine the benefits of city and country with the disadvantages of neither.  As an aside, one of the city's attractions is an old Roman bath, preserved in a steel vault underneath the A1(M) Motorway.  The city warns, "You can't take a hot bath any more - the boiler went out about 1,800 years ago when the Romans left!"

Welwyn Garden City.  The Official Handbook.  1962.


Bboonie said...

Crickey, I live in Welwyn Garden City and work just around the corner from Hyde Way. I can just about remember Skarsten as a kid. Now sadly gone rebuilt as office complex.

Don Wood said...

One of those names I remember but sadly now gone. I just done a bit of research and ended up here after seeing one of the files on ebay. Shame coz we dont seem to make anything much here anymore.

Anonymous said...

I am actually trying to learn how to work my awlscrew right now.

The Duke said...

Hey, let us know how that turns out!

Autoharp Maker said...

Having acquired a used Skarsten No. 62 scraper recently I became interested in its history.In every post that I have read the poster refers to Welwyn Garden City as the place of Manufacture, but the model 62 that I have is clearly stamped on the blade as being made in:Corby England. I did a bit of research and I came across the website listed below. Well worth a visit for those wanting to know more about Skarsten MFG.

Mister G said...

Thanks for the additional information!