Wilkinson Sword Factory Faces the Chop

Acton factory closure as Army ends 300 year relationship

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The Wilkinson Sword factory in Acton is set to close due to a decision to terminate the contract to make ceremonial weapons for the Army. The Ministry of Defence have put the contract to make the swords out to tender and are likely to award it to cheaper competition possibly from China. There are currently 14 people employed at the factory at Brunel Road.

The company said in a statement, "As a result of falling demand over many years, we have been left with no option but to consider ceasing production of the high quality specialist sword and knife products made by Wilkinson Sword at the end of September 2005."

Members of the Household Cavalry have expressed concern that the new blades will not be of the same quality as those made by Wilkinson. Their swords will return to the original shape if bent unlike some imported ones.

Wilkinson Sword have been supplying the British Army since its establishment in 1772. They moved from their base in the West End to Southfield Road in Chiswick in 1901. During the first World War, this factory was engaged in producing over two million bayonets. It was a regular target for German bombers during the second World War. They moved from the site in 1993 but its presence is remembered by the name of local road Wilkinson Way.

The factory was chosen to make a specially designed sword dedicated to the people of Stalingrad to commemorate their defeat of the German army. This was presented by Churchill to Stalin at the Teheran conference in 1943. The forging of the steel blade was primarily the work of Tom Beasley - an 83 year old, leaving his sickbed to make the sword. He came from a family of sword-makers dating back over 250 years. Tom, a father of 23, had been making swords for Wilkinson Sword since he was 8 years old, and had forged swords for Kings and Queens across the world.

The Wilkinson Sword brand will remain with razors still being produced at the group's factory in High Wycombe.

September 23, 2005