Our History

The first Wilson to come to Sharrow Mills was Thomas, a shearsmith, who rented the water wheel and buildings from the Duke of Norfolk in 1737. He was an important figure in Sheffield industry, having been Master of the famous Cutlers' Company in 1731.

Thomas was followed by his son Joseph, a highly successful international merchant and entrepreneur, who was associated with Boulsover during the manufacture of the first Sheffield Plate. Joseph carried on this silver-plating and various other manufactures such as saw-making at Sharrow Mills, as well as at a number of other places in Sheffield.

His main interest, though, was in snuff making. At some point, he had come in to possession of the secrets of the trade, and he was able to expand from this into his other ventures.

By the 1760's, Joseph decided to continue the snuff business entirely by himself. It had become the most important part of his activities at Sharrow Mills - and it was at this time that he started making SP, for which Sharrow has been famous for ever since.

In 1763, a fire at the Mills destroyed thousands of pounds worth of his stock-in-trade, which included 'tobacco snuff'. The business was considered so vital to tax revenues that a national collection was ordered to recompense Joseph and his partner (insurance was by no means universal in industry at that time).

A further six generations of the Wilson family have followed Thomas at Sharrow Mills and the business - which is now known as Wilsons & Co. (Sharrow) Ltd. - is still wholly owned and run by members of the Wilson family.

Steam power was introduced in 1797 and the capacity of the mills has been gradually increased over the years. Despite this, the original water wheel - which derives its power from the little River Porter - is still working.

Sharrow snuffs were originally sent out in barrels, boxes and bladders. Today, a wide range of packaging is used, with the most popular being 5, 10 and 25gr. tins (approximate weights).

In terms of variations, snuff is now made in a number of flavours, although the range has recently been reduced.

These include the older blends such as Wall (formerly Wallflower), Rows (formerly Rose) of Sharrow, Jockey Club, Crumbs of Comfort, Ani & Euc (formerley Aniseed and Eucalyptus), S.P., S.S., Tom Buck, Sharrow Medicated, Irish High Toast and Queen's Extra Strong.

In addition, newer snuff flavours have been introduced such as Dynamite, Super Cool (formerly Super Menthol), SM 500 and Bee Cool (formerly Honey Menthol).