In August 2005, the very distinguished sword makers Wilkinson Sword, who had been established for over two hundred years, ceased trading as sword makers. Robert Pooley, who had been commissioning swords from Wilkinson’s for over forty years, purchased from Wilkinson’s their drawings, spares and much of their tooling, including both heavy and light machinery.
Pooley Sword, formed in November 2005, has an outstanding reputation for craftsmanship. Each sword is made in England specifically for each individual by highly skilled Sword Cutlers using traditional materials and methods. A genuine, traditional British sword.
All Pooley swords are forged from carbon steel and tested to the highest standards in the traditional way, as laid down by Henry Wilkinson. The finished blade is finely etched and the sword is assembled by hand in our workshops, to the same fine standards expected by the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces. Pooley Sword is established as the leading supplier of swords to the British Armed Forces as well as many Commonwealth and Overseas Defence Forces.
Pooley Sword is privileged to donate the Swords of Honour to many military colleges
Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth
Commando Training Centre Royal Marine, Lympstone
Royal Air Force College, Cranwell
Royal Military College, Duntroon
Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra
Royal Australian Navy College, Creswell
Royal Military College, Saint-Jean
Royal Military College Of Canada
Royal New Zealand Navy College, Devonport
Officer Cadet School of New Zealand, Waiouru
Royal New Zealand Air Force Training School, Woodbourne
Every Pooley Sword is registered by number and recorded in our archives. These archives are regularly transferred to the West Sussex Records Office, to ensure safe keeping. The legacy of Wilkinson Sword, with over 200 years of history and innovation, is held within the archive at Pooley Sword, this includes all their screen prints, production files, drawings and all their original engraved etching plates.
Pooley Sword Publishing is responsible for reproducing many of Wilkinson Sword’s publications and we are only too pleased to provide any information that may be required by a fellow sword enthusiast.
Pooley Sword is also tasked with the responsibility of the refurbishment of all Wilkinson Swords and has a fine reputation for achieving the highest of standards.
Robert Pooley is Managing Director and founder of Pooley Sword Ltd. Robert’s career began in the RAF and at the end of his service he joined de Havilland, the famous aircraft company. During his time at de Havilland Robert obtained his pilot’s licence, he also formed his own company, in 1957, Pooleys Flight Equipment. Run now by Robert’s son Sebastian, since 2007, Pooleys Flight Equipment has great respect and longevity in the aviation industry. During his aviation career, Robert enjoyed many achievements. He became Master of the Guild of Air Pilots, now the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, and the Chairman of the Helicopter Club of Great Britain. Robert created the CRP-5 Computer, a manual navigation slide, for commercial pilots - this is still used as part of the CPL (Commercial Pilot’s License) test today. Robert pioneered Pooley’s Flight Guide and this publication is now in its 6th decade. The Air Pilot’s Manual series of training publications was first written by Trevor Thom, in 1985, and this publication is kept updated to this day.
Robert has always had a keen interest in swords and, at the age of 14, his father bought him a sword stick from India - this is where his collection started. It was after buying his first Wilkinson Sword that the idea was born, for giving swords as prizes and awards to aviation organisations and individuals. Recipients included the Royal Aero Club, Helicopter Club of Great Britain and the Guild of Air Pilots (now the Honourable Company of Air Pilots) to name a few. All these swords were purchased from Wilkinson Sword.
In September 2005 whilst at Cranfield, home to Pooleys Flight Equipment, Robert read the news: ‘Wilkinson Sword cease trading as sword makers after 200 years. Robert went and saw Wilkinson Sword, they were selling everything relating to the sword business. Within a couple of months of purchasing Wilkinson’s production files, drawings, various tools and some of their heavy machinery Robert had registered Pooley Sword Ltd and this is where the adventure began.
Since Robert established Pooley Sword in 2005 one of his priorities has been to pass on the time-honoured skills of sword making to the next generation. Apprenticeships. This ensures these skills are not lost, as we march forward into an ever more mass-produced, off-the-shelf and digital age.
To that end, in September 2013 he set up a bespoke Apprenticeship Scheme in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Cutlers. It is a four-year training program, which results in the certificated graduation from Trainee Sword Cutler to Sword Cutler. The trainee learns every aspect of the trade under the expert tuition of the Master Cutler Mr Peter Harmsworth, formally of Wilkinson Sword.
In addition, Robert has felt, and continues to feel a personal responsibility to educate the young officers of our Armed Forces in the history, traditions, care, and maintenance of swords. Without this knowledge and understanding, the provenance of important parts of our nation’s history would be left unrecognised and historical artefacts left to deteriorate.
Robert passionately believes that it is not just the swords on display in museums that are important; a family sword passed down through generations is a tangible link to our forbearers that is irreplaceable and thus should be preserved. At his own expense, Robert carries out lectures globally at Military Colleges here in the UK as well as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Robert is hugely passionate about The Commonwealth. Through swords, he actively directs his energy and enthusiasm towards building strong relationships and creating joint endeavours with our Commonwealth partners, both based in the London High Commissions and in their home countries. He has had business and diplomatic dealings with 21 Commonwealth countries, to date. His strongest relationships are with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which he visits regularly.
His overseas endeavours are not limited to the Commonwealth. He has created swords for individuals in 54 countries to date. With the First Sea Lord, Robert created a reciprocal Sword of Honour, in the name of Chilean Naval Hero, Admiral Cochrane. The Cochrane Sword is presented to the Arturo Prat Naval Academy, Valparaiso, by the Britannia Royal Naval College annually and, in return, Britannia Royal Naval College receive a sword from the Chilean Embassy, both of which are crafted and donated by Pooley Sword. There now remains a strong bond between the Royal Naval College (Dartmouth), the Chilean High Commission (London) and The Arturo Prat Naval Academy (Valparaiso, Chile).
With strong links to the Armed Forces, Robert proudly supports our service men and women through affiliations, donations and charitable fundraising. Robert has signed the Armed Forces Covenant, and Robert is committed to continuing his support of our Armed Forces wherever possible. Robert supports the local branch of RAF Cadets (formally ATC) assisting the young people with training manuals, equipment, and donations. He also supports many Combined Cadet Forces (CCF) in many schools around the country, including our closet on at Lancing College.
Robert is also exceptionally supportive of his local community and has been working with the volunteers restoring Shoreham Fort for over a decade. It is now a tourist and educational destination, run by volunteers, with further restoration projects planned. Based on Shoreham Airport, Robert contributes to local initiatives and events and is a longstanding, well regarded part of the local community.
OSt.J – 1987
CSt.J – 1992
FRIN – 1979
FRAeS – 1981
MBE - 2015
LVO - 2023
Liveryman Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators 1971, Freeman 1964, Master 1987-88.
Freeman of the City of London 1971.
Liveryman Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers 2005.
Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Cutlers 2009
Liveryman of The Bowyers Livery Company 2012
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