Who are we?

PML Plating Ltd was formed in 2009 by Peter Ledger a silver plater who began working in the industry in 1978. Sadly Peter found himself redundant after the firm he worked for within the city went into administration.

Peter having excellent knowledge of the industry saw that silver plating was still an industry that could thrive and decided to use his savings to start his own plating company. He is now probably one of the only independent silver platers in the city.

The company has two managing directors a husband and wife team Peter & Sue Ledger. We have some excellent staff including Claire our warehouse manager who again has many years of experience in warehousing and Emma (Pete’s Daughter) who is here to complete the Lacquering of the Knife blades and administration tasks for the company but also to look into ways we can continue to thrive for many years to come.

The Ledger family are very proud of their heritage coming from a family who have worked in the key industries that form part of the steel city’s legacy. Peter’s father worked within the steel works and Sue’s mother worked in many elements of the cutlery industry including being a buffer girl. They use this enthusiasm for Sheffield and its history to bring this to life in every element of their work and pride themselves on providing an excellent service and end product using traditional methods.

Where are we?

PML Plating is currently based in Unit 2B, 3 & 4 of the Portland works. A building which is one of the last remaining little mesters shops in Sheffield.

The Portland Works plays a significant part in the cutlery industry being the home of the cutlery works owned by RF Moseley and Co Ltd who were the first ever manufacturers of Stainless steel cutlery in the world who continued to operate within the works until the late 1950’s. PML Plating remain one of the last industries operating out of the works who continue to work with Stainless steel cutlery.

Areas of The Portland Works like many other industrial units of its time sublet a number of units to other ‘little mesters’ immediately after construction a purpose for which the building is still used for today. The Portland Works was described in the 1888 directory of Sheffield industries as

“A well erected premises [that] provides every facility for the class of trade carried on. It comprises offices, handsome showrooms, systematically arranged stockrooms, well equipped packing, cutters, silver and electroplating rooms, forge shops and grinding mills. The different workrooms being provided with all the necessary steam power, machinery and appliances required. Messrs Mosley & Co. manufacture every kind of cutlery and have earned a high character for the quality of their productions British Industrial Publishing Company, 1888

As stated above as early as 1888 Electro Platers were operating within the Portland works an example of the early plating shops can be seen below.

The Process

Slide parallax image
Slide parallax image

In the 1840’s electro plating was discovered. An item that is made of either nickel silver or copper is then immersed in a vat of silver cyanide where pure silver is used. A current is then put across which deposits the silver onto the copper. This is known as the modern method and the method that is still used today.

There is an earlier method of plate called Old Sheffield Plate which was discovered in the 1740’s and the technique is to take an ingot of copper and an ingot of sterling silver heat them up and fuse the together. Then the ingot is rolled out into sheets and an item is made out of this. This technique was used up until around about 1840’s when electro plating was discovered.

At PML Plating we continue to use the traditional method of electro plating and as you can see from the picture below there are very little differences in the plating shop today as the one based at the Portland works in 1908. The work is still wired up in the same way and even some of the equipment retains its rustic charm.

What’s Next?

PML Plating currently works with well-known firms such as Arthur Price, they are a thriving business who are constantly looking for ways to ensure this Plating business remains operating independently out of Sheffield, we want to continue to lovingly restore your silver plated items and continue to provide beautiful Sheffield made/finished cutlery to the world.