CARPENTER AND TILDESLEY, SUMMERFORD WORKS, WILLENHALL
Curator's note: The Tildesleys have long been
associated with Willenhall and members of the family have, from time to
time, been connected with a variety of businesses. Much time and
effort has been spent in trying to sort out the history of these
inter-connected companies. What follows is Jim Evans' account of this
one firm, which started out as James Carpenter and became Carpenter and
Tildesley, under which name they continued until about 1919 when trading
under that name seems to have come to an end.
An advert from the 1897
edition of the
James Carpenter, although not a native of Willenhall, eventually became one
of its worthies. He was born in 1775 and come to the town in his early
life; in 1795 he started to make ironmongery. In 1815 he invented a
new type of curry comb for horses and patented it (no. 3956. In 1830,
jointly with John Young of Wolverhampton, he took out patent no, 5880, an
improved design of latch bolt and lock. The two agreed to divide the
patent into rim lock use and mortice lock use, James Carpenter going on to
construct rim locks while John Young had the right to make mortice locks. Carpenter named his rim lock "Number 60". It became known as "Carpenters
lift up lock". It was his invention to make the latch perpendicular instead
of horizontal, which renewed the vitality of the town's staple industry.
As his business grew he erected a large factory in New Road, known as Summerford Works. James Carpenter died in 1844, aged 68, and a memorial was
erected outside the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Union Street, Willenhall
where he was a member.
John Carpenter and James Tildesley, a local locksmith who
had married James’s daughter Harriet, inherited the company. The name
of the company was changed from Carpenter and Co. to Carpenter and Tildesley,
An advert from Peck's 1896 trade
||Trevor Dowson has found this
advert in the Birmingham Directory for 1845.
It shows that the
name Carpenter & Tildesley was adopted earlier than Jim Evans
They made an ornamental lock that was exhibited at the
Great Exhibition. In 1852 James Tildesley disposed of his various
business interests and dissolved his partnership with John Carpenter (died
1857), and became the sole owner of Carpenter and Tildesley. He
developed a large business exporting his locks to Australia. In 1870
James Tildesley patented number 2440, a new type of rim lock. The main
feature was that it was double handed, which means it could be used on a
right or left hand door. The lock was called the J25. James died in
1876 and the control of Carpenter and Tildesley passed to his sons, James C.
and Clement. They took out a patent, Number 14917, a new process for plating
An advert from 1851.
By 1888 they were experiencing problems with other
manufacturers copying their locks. Their entry in Kelly’s Directory
contained the following statement: "Sole manufacturers of Carpenter No. 60
lock, and all kinds of door locks. To avoid spurious imitations fraudulently
marked and numbered, buyers should in all cases specify 'Carpenter and
James was invalided in 1904 and died three years later in
1907 age 67.
In 1915 Clement signed a lease with G. R. Smithson and Co.,
drop forgers, for the lease of Summerford House, originally the home of
James Carpenter and then the Tildesleys.
Clement died in 1919 age 75.
By this time many Willenhall companies were making the No. 60 lock and it
appears that Carpenter and Tildesley ceased manufacture. And any
reference to Smithsons was at their Cannock Road, Wolverhampton address.
See article by David Hunt.
An advert from 1861.
CENTURY LOCKS LTD, CENTURY WORKS, MOAT
STREET, WILLENHALL (1814-1990)
When it is realised that this
company was founded in the year Napoleon abdicated, and that Wellington
was created a Duke, the mind begins to appreciate its great age.
In 1814 - the year before the Battle of Waterloo -
Humphrey and John Fox joined forces to set up in business as locksmiths
at Number 11 John Street, Willenhall.
The original premises comprised two houses with a small
workshop at the rear. One of the houses served as a store room and
It was adequate for the small amount of
administrative and office work necessary in those days, as hard, long
hours at the bench were the recipe for success then. Working hours were
from 6am till 8pm and lighting was by paraffin lamp and candles. When
orders on hand demanded it, often it became necessary to work on till
11pm, with only a short break for quick refreshment at the "Ring O’
Bells" opposite. However, the business prospered. A two-storey workshop
was erected and the horse-drawn vehicles of the day were regularly
delivering products to the whole of the Birmingham area.
The business was already "old-established" - in fact 40
years old - when the Crimean War occurred in 1854. This fact makes one
realise how many vicissitudes of war and peace it has survived to become
the source of livelihood of so many Willenhall people. The year 1880 saw
the beginning of a new era when Humphrey Fox II joined the business. As
the last decade of the nineteenth century approached the business was
growing to such an extent that more commodious premises had become an
urgent need. Thus, in the year 1890, the business was moved from the old
John Street premises to a site that was formally an old moat, to form
Moat Street Works.
|With the Boer War come and long gone, 1906
witnessed the arrival of a founder’s grandson into the business
- Humphrey Fox III. Eight years later, the 100th
birthday of the firm coincided with the outbreak of World War I
in 1914. Young Humphrey Fox joined up the same year but in 1917
he received severe leg wounds and was invalided out of the army.
His father died in that year.
In 1920, two years after the war ended, Charles Morgan,
who was an uncle of Humphrey Fox III, entered the business and became
the first representative of the Morgan family to be actively concerned
with the running and the development of the Company.
|Only a year later, in 1921, Charles Morgan’s
son Norman started work with the company at the age of
By this time they had started to
manufacture cylinder pin tumbler locks, and were founder
members of the British Cylinder Night Latch Association when
it was set up in 1928.
Trade catalogue entry
for a swing pattern locking bar. By courtesy of Trevor
||Norman Morgan recalled the ancient machinery and archaic
methods of those days - how lock cases were black-japanned hand-painted
and dried in coal-fired stoves taking ¾ hour to dry.
with more modern plant, components were sprayed and conveyed to an
infra-red drying oven taking only 10 minutes continuous oven time. It's
a wonder how the company ever managed in those days.
An expansion programme initiated in 1936 saw the erection of modern
factory workshops. The policy of modernisation was continued so that
employees were housed in open, light airy workshops.
|In 1929 Reg Morgan, Charles younger son, joined the company and
inaugurated a new side to the business when he formed R H Morgan to
manufacture tools and produce pressings for the motor trade and to do
die-sinking and make drop forging. Under Reg’s control development went
ahead. In 1940 a site of 9 ½ acres was purchased at Ashmore Lake.
|This purchase was originally made with the intention of
moving the parent company, as Moat Street was getting somewhat
In 1955 the neighbouring company of Samuel
Baker & Co., who made galvanised and brass padlocks, was purchased to
provide additional space and the two factories were joined together to
form a larger Century Works. So the lock making company was never moved
off the Moat Street site.
Reg Morgan passed away in 1961 and in the following year Humphrey Fox
III died, aged 81; and then, on the 1st February 1963,
Charles Morgan died in his 83rd year. Thus in a short span of three
years the company had lost three directors.
The board was reformed with the addition of Barrie Morgan, the son of
Reg, together with a number of non-family members. Between 1968 and 1978
the two companies split and the lockmakers changed their name from
Humphrey and J Fox to Century Locks.
Although only a relatively small lock and latch
manufacturer, they had built a high reputation for quality. In October
1987 the Chairman and Managing Director, Norman Morgan, decided to
retire at the age of 82 and sell the business. It was sold to Mr Barrie
Bernstein (MD of kitchen makers Home Charm) and Gordon Fernley (former
MD of Polycell). At the time they pledged to expand the company and to
increase its then 120 work force. Keith Whitehouse, the son in law of Mr
Morgan, remained as a director.
Less that three years later, in August 1990, the company
was purchased by Yale and by November 1990 the Moat Street works had
closed and production moved to Yale works in Wood Street.
(Ref.- A century and a half of progress 1814 -1964
published by the company)
CHATWOOD SAFE COMPANY, 56 GRACECHURCH
|They are listed in Whitaker's 1914 Red Book of Commerce
as manufacturers of fireproof and burglar proof safes,
specialising in safes, strong rooms for banks etc., strong
room doors and fittings, locks, cash and deed boxes.
Mr. Herbert S. Bruckshaw was appointed as a director of the
company in 1922.
In 1939 the firm were suppliers to the
An advert from 1944.
C. W. CHENEY AND SON LTD. FACTORY ROAD,
A manufacturer of locks and hinges for travel goods,
founded about 1920.
||In 1990s the company was purchased by a German Company,
Franzen, who then sold out to a venture capital company in 2000.
On the 1st June 2000 they acquired Liston Products
(Bridgetown) Ltd (q.v.) and all production was moved to Birmingham.
In January 2001 (Sunday Mercury)
Official Receivers were put into close the company down. There had been
some irregularity over the administration of the pension fund and
possibly £3,000,000 had gone missing. The firm was acquired by
F.H.Tomkins Buckle Company Ltd. of Brockhurst Crescent, Walsall on the
31st January 2001. Manufacture continued at Factory
Road for a short time but then transferred Walsall. The Receivers
settled all the liabilities relating to previous trading by Cheney prior
to the changeover. (FHT letter 14/2/2001)
GEORGE CHEADLE LTD. 142 HORSELEY FIELDS ROAD, WOLVERHAMPTON
Existing in 1936 and 1974 but nothing else known.
CHUBB LOCKS LTD. WEDNESFIELD ROAD,
WILLIAM H CLARK LTD. POPLAR WORKS,
WEDNESFIELD ROAD, WILLENHALL
Lever pad lock maker, established in 1905. In 1914
were at 55 Gower Street, Willenhall. In 1921 were at
Wednesfield Road. Taken over by George Anslow (q.v.) in 1965.
CLIFFORD BROTHERS, VILLIERS WORKS, VILLIERS STREET,
Established in 1868 as brass
founders. Went on to produce padlocks, and wood and cast
lock furniture. Directors in the 1930s were Charles, Alfred
and John Clifford.
An advert from 1954.
Jim Evans originally wrote here: "Existing
1970 but by 1990 were not making locks."
In the advert (left) from 1955 they refer to themselves
primarily as brass founders producing builder's hardware
but, amongst the door furniture, there is a padlock and
a hook and hasp. This seems to be another case of
a foundry which, for a while, made locks and the adapted
to the market, and gave them up again.
|An advert from 1955, supplied by
An advert from 1958.
JOHN CLULEY AND SON, ARGOSY WORKS, WOOD
Established in 1854. Trunk, suitcase, attaché case and
cabinet lock makers.
In 1881 John Cluley, aged 24, was trading as a
lockmaker, employing 19 men and 2 boys at 79 Wood Street.
Advert from 1920.
Existing in 1953, not in existence in 1970.
|COLLEDGE AND BRIDGEN LTD. 78 CHURCH LANE,
Lock makers of every description,
they also dealt in high-class builders' ironmongery and general
hardware. The company was founded by Charles Colledge in 1870. In 1876
Harvey Bridgen joined the firm.
They are listed in
Whitaker's 1914 Red Book of Commerce as lock manufacturers and hardware
merchants, specialising in high-class locks and builders' hardware, door
springs etc. They were still manufacturing locks in 1937, but were not
in existence in 1970.
The photo opposite, kindly sent by Keith Pescott
shows his recently purchased brass and copper drinking water tap.
full inscription on it is 'Birmingham City Council / Perfect Patent / Colledge & Bridgen / Wolverhampton 1928 / drinking water'."
The firm is also listed in the 1928 Wolverhampton Red Book. They were then in Powlett Street.
F. N. COOKSON & CO. GUARDIAN WORKS, WOLVERHAMPTON
||The advert is from the catalogue of the 1884
Nothing else known, other than a padlock
which shows a connection between Cooksons and the great lock maker,
Charles Aubin (qv).
|RICHARD COOPER AND SON (WOLVERHAMPTON) LTD. CHURCH
the history of Richard Cooper and Son
T. & C. COOPER, MERRIDALE STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON
An advert from 1851.
THOMAS COOPER, JUNIOR, ABLOW STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON
An advert from 1861.
COTSWOLD ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTS LTD.
MANOR PARK INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, MANOR ROAD, CHELTENHAM,
Incorporated as a limited company, 14th
February 1974. Manufacturers of locking handles and fittings
for window industry.
Directors in 1998 were Stuart Hewitt, Iain Morgan, Yurek
Wronski and Lesley McDonough. Employing 130. Also owners of Regent
Lock Co Ltd. Chippenham. (q.v.)
EDWIN COTTERILL AND CO. CLIMAX WORKS, LUDGATE HILL, BIRMINGHAM
Established in 1840, by Edwin Cotterill, as
manufacturers of rim mortice, dead ,chest, till, cupboard locks and
||On the 25th March 1846 Edwin Cotterill
obtained a patent, Number 11,152 for "Certain improvements in
articles applied to windows, doors and shutters".
This was a
wide ranging patent and covered several latches. Some had the latchbolt sliding in the deadbolt. This lock became known as
"E Cotterill Climax Detector Lock".
It was derived from the Bramah lock (whose patent had long expired) although the sliders
moved radially with respect to the key.
|In 1870 E Cotterill and Co were at Climax Works,
Vittoria Street. In 1886 the address was 93
Great Charles Street, Biringham.
In 1890 they
took over F E Wilson and Co and made a lock to Peter
Wilson's patent, number 3257 of 1869. They
were sold as the Cotterill-Wilson Lock.
In 1920 the address was Climax Works Ludgate Hill
of Trevor Dowson.
Courtesy of Trevor Dowson.
|Which of these addresses was the works is
not known but, as Ludgate Hill is a road off
Great Charles Street, it is possible that these
two addresses were for the same building, which
could have been offices.
The company was almost certainly engaged in
war work during the Great War and afterwards
diversified into pressings for the motor
They then almost certainly
became victims of the depression as no records
can be found after 1930. (Locks and Keys Nov
STEPHEN COX & SON, DUDLEY ROAD SAFE WORKS,
Stephen Cox was established in 1890 and made
fire-resistant cabinets, strong room doors, floor and wall safes. Their
lock were mostly made by C. H. Buggins (qv). In 1972 they were at
Pensnett Trading Estate Brierley Hill. They went into receivership
|The Cox safe that can be seen in
Hall 1, in the Rolfe Street Baths building, at the Black Country Living
Museum, in Dudley. The lower
plate reads "Fire resisting safe".
CRANE FOUNDRY, HORSELEY FIELDS, WOLVERHAMPTON
The Crane Foundry was founded in the early 1820s and for
many years owned by the Crane family. The foundry produced a vast range
of cast iron and brass products. In 1917 William
Cyril Parkes of lockmakers Josiah Parkes & Sons Limited,
Willenhall became a majority shareholder. As a result the
foundry's production of lock cases
A Crane Money Chest. Courtesy of Marlena Fairbourne.
|One of the company's lock-related products from the late
1920s is shown opposite. It is a cast
iron Crane Money Chest. In places you can still see the
original green paint.
On 25th June, 1945, Josiah Parkes & Sons sold the foundry to Qualcast for £9,200,
and in 1949 the foundry was officially called Qualcast
The Crane trade mark was still
retained and the factory continued to be known as the
Crane Foundry. The company also owned the nearby Swan
Gardens Iron Works, off Swan Street.
The company eventually became known as Crane Cast, and
survived until January 2006.
THOMAS CROMPTON AND SONS LTD.
ASHTON-IN-MAKERFIELD, NEAR WIGAN
Rim, dead and mortice lock makers. Thomas Crompton
founded the company in 1866 when he purchased the bankrupt hinge and
builders' hardware company from James Billings. He had worked there as a
salesman. In the early days there was no factory as such. All work
was subcontracted to local blacksmiths and locksmiths, who manufactured
various products in their own homes in Ashton. Later a factory was
opened making hinges, hardware and stock locks by hand methods. In
1899 Thomas started making butt hinges by machinery methods. He
died in 1910 and his son Thomas took over the business. The firm
continued to expand as improved hinge making machines were added to the
factory. In 1933 Thomas died at the age of 69 and the firm passed
to his son John, who continued the expansion until they employed over
During the Second World War the company manufactured
ammunition box fittings, ammunition belt clips, Army vehicle fittings
and components for aircraft.
||On the 12th April 1957 a new, modern
factory was opened at Haydock, where most of the hinge making
was carried out along with modern Electro plating. John Crompton
sold the company in 1963 to Guest Keen and Nettlefold, who
already had a hinge making plant of their own, Nettlefold
Stenman Hinges Ltd. Cardiff, (Stenman being the name of the
Swedish lock maker whose trademark was ASSA, which at that time
was owned by GKN).
Soon after the take over the Crompton
family left the business. Thomas Crompton and Sons Ltd merged
with Nettlefold Stenman Hinges to form a new company called
Crompton Nettlefold Stenman Ltd. The Cardiff factory was closed
and it was probably at this time that they ceased to make locks.
They built a new £1 million factory on the
Gerard Street site in 1976, which brought all the Crompton
activities under one roof. Because the Stenman part of the
association became more detached, it was finally decided in 1980
to change the name to GKN Crompton Ltd. During its history GKN
Crompton was the largest employer in Ashton in Makerfield.
Taken over by J E Reynolds in 1995, they have a works at
Haydock employing 130, and specialising in ironmongery.
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