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Knife grinding machine used by Billy Kelly

Date made: 19th century

Maker: Kelly, Billy

Description: A knife grinding machine used by Billy Kelly, a Douglas pedlar until his death in October 1940. This is a home-made machine, using elements of other items. The large wheel, which would have been driven by a belt (now missing) and a treadle, was probably from a handcart.

Billy Kelly was a common sight in Douglas in the early twentieth century, using his machine to sharpen knives and repair items such as umbrellas. He was also a petty criminal and was charged with numerous offences.

Catherine Dodd in her memoirs (MS 13657) recalls Billy Kelly sharpening knives in Peel around the time of the First World War, and Frank Cowin (b.1935) in 2017 remembered the machine coming around to the back lane behind his family boarding house on Douglas Promenade, indicating that it was still in use right up until the death of its owner.

Measurements: overall: 153 cm x 65 cm x 125 cm

Materials: wood

Object name: knife grinding machine

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2011-0003

Subject tags : #MM100


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