Industrial unrest in the first half of the 19th century, and the great tinplate worker’s strike


During the 18th century, Wolverhampton became a town of small trades. Many tiny workshops were set up, often in yards behind a family’s home, where the man of the house carried out his trade, ably assisted by his wife and children. The town became the centre of the lock making industry, yet to be dominated by Willenhall. Sketchley & Adams’ Directory of Wolverhampton for 1770 lists 118 lockmakers, producing locks of all kinds. Other important industries listed in the directory included 116 buckle makers, 30 steel toy makers, and a small number of wood screw makers, watch chain makers, and chape makers.

Around this time steel jewellery became fashionable, and during the next 25 years, large quantities were produced locally, until fashion changed, and the industry became uneconomical. In 1773 the Mander family began to make a name for themselves because of the work of two brothers, John, an industrial chemist, and Benjamin who began making varnish for the flourishing japanning industry, which for around one hundred years, became one of the most important industries in the town.

  The story is told in the following parts:

  The growth of Japanning


  Early industrial unrest and the strike


  The strike at Jeddo Works

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working life
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growth of japanning