James Chesterman And Their Measuring Tools — Jim Nicholson

Jim Nicholson, a Cumbrian by birth, came to Sheffield to study Glass Technology, mar­ried and stayed.  The rest is his­tory and makes a very inter­est­ing story of his time at James Chesterman and his detailed know­ledge of the meas­ur­ing tools industry.

James Chesterman was born in 1792 and came to Sheffield in 1820 where he ini­tially worked for Dixons as a powder flask maker.  He was very invent­ive and during this early period, he formed the  James Chesterman com­pany with a busi­ness part­ner.  His inven­tions ranged across such diverse sub­jects as sup­ports for crinolines, cor­sets and hangers for top hats: no doubt vital in those bygone times. Patents were taken out for tape meas­ures, door springs and door bells .  The com­pany, which was based on Kelham island went from strength to strength but was severely dam­aged by the Sheffield flood of 1864. Rumor had it that James and his son took the remains of their busi­ness, in a hand cart to their new premises off Ecclesall road, but this was not so.

James ChestermanThe new com­pany premises, Bow Works on Pomona Street, adja­cent to Ecclesall Road was well under­way but the flood prob­ably hastened their exit from the Kelham Island area.  James died in 1867 and the busi­ness was taken over by his son William and a cousin: fur­ther suc­cess fol­lowed.  The busi­ness con­tin­ued to expand and build up a world-wide repu­ta­tion for meas­ur­ing tools and high pre­ci­sion equip­ment. In the 1990s the com­pany was bought out by Stanley Tools but they were not inter­ested in devel­op­ing the pre­ci­sion side .  James Chesterman and its suc­cessors cel­eb­rated over 200 hun­dred years of design and man­u­fac­tur­ing in Sheffield.

Jim Nicholson brought with him a ver­it­able treas­ure chest of meas­ur­ing instru­ments , includ­ing , micro­met­ers, ver­nier cal­lipers, height gauges, boiler plate gauges, steel tapes, steel rules, a blind man’s rule , dip tapes , feeler gauges wedge and wire gauges. Jim had col­lec­ted these over his career in engin­eer­ing and was still using many of them well into his retire­ment.

Jim’s enthu­si­asm was infec­tious and Stumperlowe respon­ded by having many ques­tions and showed great interest in the meas­ur­ing tools.