Mr. Anderson’s Shears

Mr Anderson’s shears (of Anderson & Sheppard, the most respected tailors in London)

These shears were given to me by head cutter, Mr. Hallbery on his retirement, after forty years with Anderson & Sheppard. They were the original shears used by Mr. Anderson of Anderson & Sheppard, which first opened its doors in 1905. Before that, his teacher, Mr. Cameron gave them to Mr Hallbery, decades ago, when he retired. And before that, Mr. Anderson gave them to Mr. Cameron, when he retired. And doubtless I’ll hand them over to some young turk when my turn to step down arrives. The torch is passed on.

My teacher, the great Dennis Hallbery (circa 1990)

I was very fortunate to work at Anderson’s with Mr. Hallbery and the two other senior cutters, Colin Harvey and Brian Russell.
I was Mr. Hallbery’s striker (undercutter), and my future partner, Edwin was striker for Mr Harvey. Although this was comparatively only a few years ago, the company was still very much old school. Ed & I had to address the cutters as ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr.’… The use of first names was far too informal.

It may look as if I’m painting a very austere atmosphere of the company, but although it was quite Dickensian at times, it was a great environment to be part of. Mr. Hallbery was every bit your Swedish expat cutter, silver hair & steel blue eyes. His attitude to the profession was as sharp as his shears, he didn’t suffer fools gladly; neither staff or customer.

On a red hot August day in early 1990, I sneaked out of the side door of Anderson’s to a cafe, no more than 50 yards away, for a sandwich to go. Unknown to me I had been spotted by Mr. Hallbery.To go out at lunchtime was not a crime, however I had committed a cardinal sin. Not only was I without a jacket, but I was wearing braces (suspenders). For this I was summoned and duly berated for my sloppiness. As Mr. Hallbery said, cutters of A&S do not go out in their shirt sleeves, let alone their underwear.

When I write of my time with A&S it feels as if I worked there in the 1950s , not the 1990s. But you got used to such a formal atmosphere- no idle conversation, no whistling, no music or anything that could distract.

You remember how unique it was to just hear the clipping of shears into endless privileged clients’ clothes (Royalty, movie stars, that sort of thing) and the soft drone of the overhead fans. We had no air conditioning, and the fans were kept slow or they’d blow the patterns off the boards, if they were turned up to any worthwhile level. Comical really, but who’s complaining, we would’t have dared. Mr Hallbery is well and living in Harrow. We send Christmas cards and talk from time to time, but he’s never been back to check on the old place. Mr Harvey sadly died in 1995 and is greatly missed.

Brian Russell left A & S and I still think he has a sitting within Tom Brown’s (they’re the tailors that cut the school uniforms for Eton College). I‘m not sure, so don’t quote me. If you can find him, he’s a good cutter. Very fastidious. Edwin came to Cumbria with me and we started Steed together. We parted company a while ago, though we had a great time while we were together. We’re still pals and he’s doing well.

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About Thomas Mahon

Thomas Mahon is one of the most experienced tailors on Savile Row with a list of clients including royalty, celebrities and business icons. Tom has almost thirty years experience of hand tailoring in Savile Row including five years at Savile Row’s most famous and respected tailor, Anderson & Sheppard. His clients experience the traditions and expertise of the finest bespoke tailoring available today using a soft and unstructured style typical of Anderson & Sheppard. His workshop is based at Warwick Hall in Cumbria and also meets clients at his office in London, Tom also makes regular trips to visit his growing international client base in Europe, the USA and further afield. When not creating beautiful bespoke suits, travelling to see clients or sharing his sartorial advice with his internet followers, Tom enjoys teaching sailing and is the boats officer for the Sea Cadet Corps near his Cumbria home. For the full story visit www.englishcut.com
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