The Crown Nail Company

The company was established in about 1850, the same date as the oldest building on the site, and called the Crown Nail & Stamping Company. By 1884 the name had changed to the Crown Nail Company. Until the early 1950s the company was owned by the Lloyd Family and it is believed that they were the founders.

In the early years the company was run by John Lloyd and it seems that his wife Rose Lloyd, a rather strict and domineering woman, took over at a later date. She had two sons, Jack and Harry who went on to run the business for many years.

The works in 1871.

Harry Lloyd ran the office and his brother Jack, an exceptional engineer, ran the factory.

The company produced cut nails until about 1910 when nail production ended until 1986.

From then on blued tacks were produced in large quantities and sold to many countries throughout the world.

Many of the tack machines were designed and built in-house and always ran from overhead line shafting.

Their machines were very advanced and kept the company at the forefront of the industry.

A special bluing machine was also designed and built at the works to blue the tacks.

The works in 1901.

The office and warehouse building in Commercial Road.

Under the Lloyd brothers the business was very profitable, but by the 1950s they were both well into their 70s and decided that it was time to call it a day.

Late in 1953 the company was purchased by the Somerville family, who ran J. & W. Somerville Limited, Caledonia Nail Works, St. Ninians, Stirling.

In the early 1970s there was a lot of competition amongst tack manufacturers and prices fell.

In order to cut production costs and keep ahead of the field Dennis Somerville decided to automate the tack machines, so reducing the number of people that were required to feed them.

There were no commercially available automatic feeds on the market and so the only solution was to design and build an entirely new auto-feeding system.

The end result was a cleverly designed, pneumatically operated machine that had an upright magazine holding between 100 and 150 strips of steel.

The tack shop showing some of the autofeeds.

They were automatically fed into the tack machine and allowed a girl to feed fifteen machines instead of five.

A large nail machine and bowl feed.

In 1986 nail production returned to the Commercial Road site using modern presses to cut the nails which were traditionally made on nail machines. This was the first time that nails had been made in this way. It resulted in a more consistent and cleaner product than the traditional variety. Many of the traditional manufacturers soon began to distribute Crown Nail’s products in preference to their own.

In the beginning there were 5 presses, all of which were hand-fed.

Within a short time very clever bowl feeds were developed which automatically oriented the blanks in the right direction to be loaded into the magazine that fed the press. Many types of nails were produced, including cut floor brads and cut clasp nails.

 The company had become the last surviving tack manufacturer in the country, but in 2003 the decision was taken to end production and so the works closed in December of that year.

To read the full story about the Crown Nail Company visit the display in the Museum's Engineering Hall

Return to the Canals
and Industry Menu