A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002


Henry, William and Thomas Vaughan were the sons of Able Vaughan, who is listed as a lockmaker in the 1851 census, employing four men in Russell Street, Willenhall. 

Henry, aged 13, and William, aged 11, are both listed as lockmakers, so they could have been two of their father’s employees. 

Henry and younger brother Thomas (born 1842) joined together to form H & T Vaughan in, their literature says,1856, to manufacture all types of locks.  They eventually became one of the largest lock makers in the Willenhall.

Willenhall Local Board approved plans for a works in Wood Street for Henry on the 6th December 1869 and in 1872 they approved plans for works in Union Street in Thomas’s name.

In 1879 they were one of four Willenhall lockmakers who protested that American-made locks supplied to the Admiralty had mostly been produced in Willenhall and had been supplied at higher prices than would have charged by the makers.

They were the first company in Willenhall to develop the manufacture of a cylinder pin tumbler lock about 1910. 

Their famous 04 lock was designed by Percy Bryan, who was also responsible for sales and marketing.  He eventually would take over Albert Marston and Co. (q.v.). (Information from Bill Williams 12/8/99).

Two images of an H & T Vaughan key that was manufactured for the Art Metal Construction Company, London, that manufactured steel office furniture and factory equipment. Courtesy of Phillip Collins.

In 1928, on the death of the then MD Joseph Starkey, the Vaughan family decided to sell the business to the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co., who were based in the USA.  They then became Yale and Towne (qv) in Willenhall. (Information from Horace Davies, Willenhall History Society)

The following is from County Biographies 1901, Staffordshire:

County Magistrate Henry Vaughan. President of the Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce

Henry Vaughan, J.P., Millfield, Willenhall. Son of the late Mr. Abel Vaughan. Born at Willenhall, on January 2nd, 1838; educated at the old Wolverhampton Grammar School; manufacturer, and sole proprietor of the well-known firm of H. and T. Vaughan, of Willenhall; commenced business on his own account in 1860, and is now the largest manufacturer of door locks in the world; was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1887, and in 1901 elected president of the Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Vaughan has travelled extensively in foreign countries; he has visited all the principal cities and towns of the United States of America, and has also taken trips to Norway and Sweden; he has been many times to Rome, and in 1867 had the privilege of seeing the late Pope, Pius IX.. say High Mass on Easter Sunday, an experience which nowadays must be considered somewhat unique.

Penny Street, of Vancouver, BC, has kindly provided this photo of a rim lock on the bathroom door of a bach [a kind of beach hut] on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand; and notes:  "Interesting logo".

Presumably the location of this lock is an indication of Vaughan's exporting activities.



William (born 1840) was brother to Henry and Thomas, the sons of Able Vaughan. 

As the company literature shows them as being founded in 1837, it could be that William took over the lockmaking business of his father and renamed it with his own name. 

They manufactured mortice, sash, and dead locks and latches.  At 95 Wood Street in 1921.  Existing in 1935 but no later reference (Kellys).



Joseph Waine & Co. Ltd, were general lock, latch & bolt makers, brass & iron founders at Imperial Works, Wood Street, Willenhall. It seems that the company would have been founded about 1850. (Note: this company is not to be confused with John Waine and Sons (Willenhall) Ltd of Brittannia Works, Lower Lichfield street,  Willenhall. There is no connection known between the companies).

   An advert for garage bolts, date
Joseph had three sons, John Vincent Waine, G. A. Waine and Horace T. Waine.  John Vincent Waine, and his brother G. A. Waine, started the Vulcan Manufacturing Company at Blackheath,  Birmingham, in about 1910. The company manufactured heel tips and toe plates in vast numbers; and also " garage bolts, cabinet bolts, shelf brackets, aluminium door and gate latches, casement stays and fasteners, hasps and staples, hinges, brass and steel gate and tee, gutter brackets, swivel ties, tinned angle brackets, rim, dead and mortice locks, latches, padlocks, stamped brassware and  household soldering sets"  The company developed a large overseas trade. 

In 1913 the Directors decided to move their three factories to one site.  In June a large disused works was purchased in Colliery Road, Wolverhampton and the three factories were combined under one roof and called the New Griffin Works.

In 1928 Theo Waine and G. A.Waine took over the Wearwell Cycle Co. Ltd. They made bicycles and, later, motorbikes.  They continued to develop the general ironmongery side of the business, including locks and bolts.

Advert of unknown date.

Company letterhead of 1965.

In 1953 in the Wolverhampton Official Handbook, they describe themselves as

Manufacturers of door bolts in japanned and galvanised steel.  Also brass, chromium-plated and special finishes, stainless steel, garage bolts, cabinet bolts, shelf brackets, aluminium door and gate latches, casement stays and fasteners, hasps and staples, hinges, brass and steel gate and tee, gutter brackets, swivel ties, tinned angle brackets, rim, dead and mortice locks and latches, padlocks, stamped brass-foundry, household soldering sets, cycle bells, boot heel and toe tips (steel).

The letterhead above shows separate trade marks for heel tips, nails, locks and bolts.

In 1969 the Vulcan Manufacturing company went into voluntary liquidation, and the goodwill was sold to Tippers, who were in the same line of business. The Wearwell Cycle Co was also sold.

Note:  all the images for this entry were provided by Trevor Dowson, to whom we extend our thanks

Return to Locks and Safes Return to the list of makers