Swann Morton

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Company Headquarters, Penistone Road, Sheffield

Swann Morton Ltd. is a British manufacturer of scalpel handles, blades and other surgical equipment. It was founded in 1932 by Walter R. Swann, J. A. Morton and D. Fairweather to make and sell razor blades.[1]

Founding principles[edit]

Before they began trading, the founders drew up a list of four founding principles:[1]

  • Claims of individuals producing in an industry came first, before anything else, and must always remain first. They are the human beings on which everything is built.
  • If the industry cannot pay the rightful reward of labour (while they are producing for profit for the owners) then a new policy is required on the part of the management to make it do so.
  • If the management can't do the job, then a new management is required, as well as a new policy.
  • Individuals in any industry have a perfect right to demand and see that this objective is reached, because they produce the goods.

These four statements, written in W. R. Swann's handwriting, are displayed at Swann-Morton's head office.


When the Bard-Parker patent for a two-piece scalpel ran out in 1935,[2] Swann-Morton expanded its product range in this direction.

The company moved to its current site in the 1940s. Morton left the company around this time. The remaining directors took the decision to put the company in a trust where 50% was shared with the employees and the other 50% in a charitable trust.

In the 1960s demand for sterilised surgical blades increased and Swann-Morton developed, with the expertise of The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority at Wantage, a sterilisation process using cobalt-60 gamma radiation. It was one of the first commercial plants of its kind in the world and enabled Swann-Morton to be completely self-sufficient for all its sterilisation requirements. Today the irradiation and microbiological facilities are offered under contract to other healthcare manufacturers from Swann-Morton (Services) Limited and Swann-Morton (Microbiological Laboratory Services) Limited.

At the turn of the new century Swann-Morton marked its progress and achievements by embarking on an extensive expansion programme involving major construction works to increase the size of despatch, sterile storage, the laboratory and overall production facilities. The subsequent building of Cobb Works across from the main site in September 2006, providing purpose built space for the R&D and engineering departments and then Cygnet works in October 2008, some 400 metres away, adding much needed storage for the raw material stock, underlines a policy of ongoing investment.


External links[edit]