Our workshop at 31 Hatton Garden had been part of the workshops of Richard Hodd and Son, a large Victorian manufactory little changed from the mid 19thcentury.

Hodd had taken over the workshop of John Edward Terrey, who, in turn, had been in partnership with Samuel Hennell of the famous Hennell family of silversmiths whose work can be traced back to the early eighteenth century.

 We bought the last 9 years of Richard Hodds 150 year lease from the Cordwainers Company (the London gild of shoemakers) in 1981. Hodd had one employee left, Tom Saddler, who was in his seventies, who had joined the firm when he was fourteen. He was employed as a polisher, mostly re polishing antique silver. All Hodds drop presses and dies were still there, but had not been used since the late 1970s. R. Hodd and son had survived for many years refurbishing antique silver, the London trade having been hit badly by purchase tax of up to 150% on new silverware, but none on antique silver, imposed after the Second World War. They had quite a trade in 'electrifying' silver candelabra with ceramic bulb holders to take electric light bulbs.

This was a sad end to a firm that had once employed 200 silversmiths, 60 of whom, according to Tom were chasers. 
They had a mark, that of Minerva, the Greek goddess of industry. Their two substantial buildings on Hatton Garden were known as Minerva Works.

Hatton Garden

Situated just outside the City walls and close to the river Fleet, Hatton Garden has had an association with metalworking for over a thousand years. Nearby Fetter Lane was home to Armourers working for the Knights Templar at their base on Fleet Street. The nearby Gunmakers arms on Eyre Street Hill celebrates the continuation of skilled metalworking in the area. Hiram Maxim, though not a gunmaker, invented the first machine gun at 87 Hatton Garden. By harnessing the power of new smokeless propellants his gun could fire, eject the spent cartridge case and reload by itself. Cinema, as we know it, would probably not exist without  Robert Paul the camera and projector pioneer whose workshop was at 44 Hatton Garden. However it was in the extraction of platinum from gold by Percival Norton Johnson and Barney Barnato’s diamond enterprise (now De Beers)  one facing the other on Hatton Garden, that give the street the reputation for which it is famous today..