Craftsmanship is one of the founding values of the Thomas Lyte brand, and this couldn’t be more pertinent than with our silver craft. Design and production of Silver and Gold in the brand’s London workshops is a company obsession, and yet a sometimes overlooked, aspect of our brand.
Silversmithing is unfortunately a dying trade in the UK. In the late 1970’s early 80’s there were perhaps over 4000 workshops thriving in England compared to possibly 200 which remain today. This is why, when CEO Kevin Baker brought Essex Silver under the Thomas Lyte brand in December of 2007, many said he taking too big a risk. However with dedication and inspiration to revive the Silver making industry, 7 years later our workshops are arguably one of Europe’s largest. Supported by a dynamic apprenticeship programme, we have created over 1000 leading trophies/awards worldwide as well as designing, making and restoring for many Royal Households. In addition leading edge contemporary creations have been designed and made in sterling silver for private jets through to public spaces. We are bucking the trend and growing year on year.
Stepping into the workshop, on an industrial estate in East London, is like stepping back in time. Although the machinery has developed since the beginning of the trade, the skills are timeless. They are passed down through the generations and if the silver business is gone, so is that heritage.
However, this is more than nostalgia for past manufacturing industry, it is preservation of our British Heritage. While there is a huge demand globally, particularly in China, for ‘Made in England’ branding, as Kevin Baker said, ‘our mission is more about preserving an industry that has got quintessential qualities and has great demand.’
We are responsible for the restoration of iconic pieces, such as the Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup, golf’s Ryder Cup and football’s FA Cup - ‘queue Kevin Williams, silversmith, to the rescue.’ We are also producing contemporary pieces of silver for our bespoke clients and retail.
While they may not whistle while they work, the Thomas Lyte team of silversmiths and apprentices are part of the future as the luxury industry goes back to its roots.
by Lauren Franklin